By: Igor Mamedalin
Oh, Mock-a-looney! North Ridge Route on Mokelumne Peak
Inspired by Pete Yamagata's suggestion, Ret Moore, Suzanne and Igor (and Smokey; the Rottenweiler) set out to explore a route up Mokelumne Peak via its north ridge. On previous occasions as recorded in the summit register, the peak was climbed via this route by Dale Van Dalsen (3.2 hours) and by Larry Tidball (3.0 hours). This route is suitable only to those with 4WD vehicles. Starting from highway 88 near the Tragedy Springs picnic area one heads south on a dirt road marked for "Mud Lake". Fifty feet from pavement one comes across an OHV sign for Mud Lake and Allen Ranch (5 miles). Follow the OHV track past a few A-frame cottages to a signed fork at 1.1 miles from pavement. Take the left fork signed for Allen Ranch; the right fork goes to Mud Lake. At 2.6 miles from pavement is another signed fork; take the left fork signed for Allen Ranch (2 miles); the right fork offers another opportunity to visit Mud Lake. At 4.2 miles from pavement one encounters Allen Ranch, a crumbling log home/barn at the edge of large fenced meadow. Continue past the ranch, past a sign post for the Cole Creek trail, and uphill to a major signed Squaw Ridge OHV track junction (5.6 miles from pavement on the odometer, but the sign advertises 7 miles back to highway 88). Turn west for another.2 miles to the Plasse Trading Post site (two welded rails and an inscription commemorating Mormon emigrants) and park. The OHV track to this point had plenty of steep ups and downs over proturding rocks and roots; a high powered, high clearance vehicle could probably negotiate this road, also.
Fifty yards down the OHV trail from the Plasse Trading Post site is the Mokelumne Wilderness marker and the Munsen Meadow Trailhead sign. The trail is signed for Cole Creek Lakes at 2.5 miles, Black Rock Lakes at 2 miles, Long Lake at 3.5 miles, Munsen Meadow at 5 miles, and Camp Irene at 9.5 miles. Follow the trail for about 1.5 miles to a fork signed for Black Rock Lakes and Long Lake (2 miles); take the right fork toward Long Lake. At about 2 miles is another signed fork with the right fork going to Cole Creek Lakes and the left toward Long Lake; take the left fork shortly passing a dinky lake or mosquito pond (presumably one of the Cole Creek Lakes). Here the trail briefly gets faint as numerous paths attempt to circumnavigate various obstacles. Follow the trail to another signed junction about 3.25 miles from the wilderness boundary. The left fork is signed for Long Lake (.25 miles), the south fork is signed for Munsen Meadow (1 mile) and the right fork is signed for Shriner Lake. The 15 minute topo map suggested that following the Shriner Lake cut-off would bring us closest to peak. Unfortunately the Shriner Lake trail cut-off proved to be a long abandoned and unmaintained trail. Following blazes and occasional ducks we hopped over fallen trees, rocks and brush past a dry lake and a drying lake until we lost the blazes and the ducks. Once lost, we headed southeast toward a prominent saddle at the base of Mokelumne's north ridge. Gaining the ridge, we followed it for another 1.5 miles without any problems to the summit.
On the return journey we tried to re-trace (find) the Shriner Lake cut-off trail but the elusive blazes and ducks got away from us again as we approached Long Lake. With Ret Moore navigating, we regained the maintained trail from Long Lake and headed north on it to the trailhead. Advise to future peak baggers: forget the Shriner Lake trail cut-off!!! After reaching the final fork before Long Lake, continue on the trail to Munsen Meadow (labeled on the 7.5 minute map) and then take the trail heading southwest toward the prominent saddle at the base of Mokelumne's north ridge. From the Plasse Trading Post (8,600') there is an 800' loss to the triple trail junction (7,800') before one starts going up hill again. Total distance and elevation gain for this peak via this route is about 13 mi. round trip, 2,500' gain.
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