Pyramid Peak #2, Mokelumne Peak, Highland Peak, Disaster Peak
By: Patty Kline, Bob Michael
On this trip we did an SPS peak a day and experienced a combination of dining in great restaurants at night and moteling it or camping. Our group consisted of the 2 leaders, Pete Yamagata and John Dodds. We met on Saturday, August 23, at 7:30 am at the now defunct Twin Bridges Store. This is on US 50 about 16 miles W of South Lake Tahoe and 7 miles W of Echo Summit. It is necessary to get a permit for any entrance into the Desolation Wilderness, which Pyramid Peak is in. This self-issue permit is obtained 1/2 mile back at the Twin Bridges roadhead.
We took off for Pyramid at 8:00 am about a mile W of the Twin Bridges Store near some old cabins. We were careful to look for a spot to park where we would be well off the busy highway. The trail was nonexistent at first through heavy manzanita and ponderosa pines until we got to a use trail which went along the E (right) side of Rock Canyon Creek. This use trail goes a good part of the way to timberline and the class 2 talus blocks near the top of Pyramid at 9,983'. After a nice lunch on Pyramid we retraced our steps, getting back to the cars at 4:30 pin in 8 1/2 hours. The day was 3,900' of gain and 6 miles round trip. 2 of us grabbed the last room at Motel 6 back in South Lake Tahoe. All 4 of us had dinner at a good Mexican restaurant called Margantas. but the name was deceiving as they only had a beer and wine license.
Sunday we did Mokelumne. It took 1 hour to drive SW on Hwy 89 and 88 to the "Bear River Reservoir" road where we turned S. From here it was about 30-40 minutes to the roadhead. A good description of the complicated directions to the Tanglefoot Trailhead are in Pete Yamagata's Northern Sierra Peaks Guide. It was just John, Pete and me hiking today. Bob had a sore foot. We left at 9:15 am and were virtually on trail accept for the last mile. Then it was open cross-country with a little section of class 2 bouldering at the top at 9,332'. We congratulated Pete on top for his 1,000th ascent of a peak (repetitions included.) The totals for the day were 13 miles round trip and 3,700' of gain in 9-10 hours. That night we found a great combination restaurant and inn at 28-355 Hwy 88 in Pioneer - called the Black Stallion Inn. Decor in the tastefully decorated luxurious rooms with choices of country or Japanese was delightful.
Monday we got an early start for the long drive to Highland. The roadhead is located on Hwy 4, 0.4 miles W of Ebbetts Pass in the "PCT" South Trailhead" parking lot. John Dodds had water pump problems and spent the day getting his Cherokee repaired. Bob. Pete and I finally started hiking at 10:30 am. It was a piece of cake for the first 4 miles south to Nobel Lake at 9,450'. We took a faint use trail at a stream crossing on the E side of the lake. The trail soon disappeared on a flat bench above the lake. From there it was cross-country towards a steep, prominent gully which leads to the Tahoe base of the SW ridge of Highland'. The going was now on a loose, tiring class 1-2 ridge. This ridge lead to a 10,824' false summit from where the true peak is finally visible. The discouraging drop to the 10,550' notch between the two summits is done on some rather exposed sandy class 2 ledges on the E side of the false summit. We spent a little time on the summit at 10,394 enjoying the incredibly beautiful view before heading back. We got to the cars at 8:30 in 10 hours. It was 14 miles round trip and 3,200' of gain. We staved at Minden, Nevada at the Carson Valley Inn that night.
Tuesday morning Pete headed back to Sacramento and Bob, John and I drove the 1-1/2 hours to the road-head for Disaster via Hwy 395 S and 108 W over Sonora Pass. 17 miles W of Sonora Pass we turned N (right) up the paved Clark Fork Road for 9.3 miles to the signed "'Disaster Creek Trailhead" and a sign "Carson Iceberg Wilderness." The road ends 100 yards beyond. Our start time for Disaster was 12:45 pm. We went up the Disaster Creek Trail for about 2 miles; and then had trouble finding a decent route, especially because we had cut the time so close. A great use trail takes off E from the main trail on the E margin of a huge meadow. We were still on the main trail and failed to see that nice use trail. which has an obscure beginning. We came across it by accident after going N up the main trail about mile further and turning ESE cross-country up the heavily wooded flank of the peak. This trail took us S of peaklet 9,2521. It faded out in a grassy meadow at 8.800'. 1/2 mile SW of the peak, but the summit was in view. We headed up the grassy, sparsely forested bowl on the SW flank of the peak to the' broad ridge E of the summit knob. The summit at 10.047' was a couple 100 yards to the W with class 2 basalt boulders. We returned to the cars at 8: 15 and, yes we finally camped. The day's totals were 7 miles round trip and 3,600' of gain in 7-1/2 hours.
Pete's guide was very helpful and it was nice to have him along for the first 3 peaks. Everyone had a really good time on this 4 day leisurely paced trip.
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