FIVE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA PEAKS
Pyramid Peak #2 (9983)
We hiked to the base of the peak from Highway 50 up the Rocky Canyon drainage. The hike goes quickly, but there are no views until about 8500 ft at the top of the drainage. There is a good trail until it disappears in a heavily grazed meadow at which time it, or cow paths, appears from time to time. The last several hundred feet are up some very large but very stable talus blocks.
The view down to the lakes below i1lustrates the name of Desolation for this wilderness.
Dicks Peak (9974)
A trail from Fallen Leaf Lake begins after a couple of miles of road, which is blocked by a locked gate. About 1/2 mile beyond the gate the Forest Service has built a major parking area with rest rooms and plenty of parking but, for unknown reasons, has not yet opened the gate. The trail joins the PCT after a few miles, and the PCT ascends to Dicks Pass. From here there is a use trail over a small black rise, and then several paths lead up to some class 3 rock which is probably avoidable. We came down a ravine with much sand and loose rock but is quite easy and safe hiking for a small group.
It would be a very pleasant hike except for the tendency to "improve" the trail by dumping a layer of unstable rubble over the path. However, much of the rubble is placed between a boundary of 6-8" wooden beams which are much easier on the feet.
No register was found on the peak. It may be incorporated into a most impressive circular wall of stones built as a wind shelter.
Tinker Knob (8949)
A good trail goes up on the north side of Squaw Creek for about 4 miles, joining the PCT about 1-1/2 miles to the north of Granite Chief. The PCT is in good shape and goes past the foot of Tinkers Knob in another 3 miles, after first descending about 500 feet. The summit is a very easy climb of about 200 feet.
Castle Peak (9103)
There is a "Castle Peak Area" parking lot about 1/2 mile west of Donner Summit. From here we went directly to the base of the peak and up a loose drainage to the summit area. We climbed what appeared to be the highest summit block only to find a register book with a note by Pete Yamagata that the true summit was the second one to the east. This has the 40 foot of Class 3 on the south side with many firm holds; it presented no problem.
From the peak we could see the PCT and a route to it which appeared to save a lot of bushwhacking. The PCT crosses a dirt road which leads to the parking area, but the PCT goes parallel to the Interstate back to Donner Pass. Either walk on the road, or cut toward the Interstate on a conspicuous use trai1 to avoid walking 1/2 mile on the highway.
Freel Peak (10,881)
We have hiked this area from several directions, and prefer the following route: Turn off the Pioneer Trail on Oneidas (about 8 miles from downtown South Lake Tahoe). Oneidas continues as a paved narrow road about 5 miles to a gate which is usually locked. Follow the now dirt road keeping left at the N. Fork of Trout Creek drainage, where there is a use trail, steep and sandy in places, up to the new Tahoe rim trail at a saddle. From here the remnants of a relay station can be seen on Freel Peak. Freel be reached directly after a short rocky scramble. Alternately, the Rim Trai1 can be descended about 400 feet, shirting the North side of Freel and hiking cross country a short distance to the drainage between Freel and Job's Sister (which is almost as high as Freel). Here a trail goes the entire way to the summit.