Owens Peak, Mount Jenkins
By: Patty Kline
This was a joint SPS/HPS trip. Owens is common to both lists and Jenkins is only on the HPS list, lied this with Rick Jail as assistant. He was Chair of the SPS in 1966.
Our group of 14 people met at 8:30 am off of Highway 14 at the beginning of the dirt road to Owens. Here are the driving directions. Take Highway 14 to Mojave. Continue north on Hwy 14 to the intersection with Hwy 178 (Walker Pass Road). Continue north on Hwy 14 another 5.3 miles to a dirt road on the left. Turn left. This is 0.4 of a mile past the Homestead Cafe. The dirt road driving is straightforward. On the dirt road starting at Hwy 14, note your odometer: At 2.6 miles Powers Well, a cattle watering tank is on left (a great camping spot), keep straight. ~ 2.~1 miles, fork, turn right. At 3.2 miles fork, keep left. At 3.8 miles fork, keep left. ~ 3.9 miles fork, keep left. At 5.2 miles fork, keep right. At 5.8 miles fork, go right. At 6.5 miles fork, go right. At 7.3 miles the remains of a cabin. This is at 5400'. Passenger cars park here. Supposedly 4x4 vehicles and vans can proceed to 7.7 miles, but the extra .4 of a mile isn't worth it. In my 2 wheel drive Pathfinder I almost got stuck about a mile before the passenger car stopping point.
By the time everyone was ready to hike it was about 9:45 am. The pace was leisurely and enjoyable. It was 8 miles round trip and 3200' of gain. We started out on a dirt road which eventually narrowed into a canyon with a sign "Owens Peak Trail." This trail goes to the right and up the canyon to a small meadow at 6100'. We had a nice break here. Above the meadow the canyon forks. Take the right canyon. There is a good use trail in the right canyon to about 7100' where the trail starts through a filed of dark boulders. Follow the ducks through these dark boulders being careful to not go to far east (right) to a field of white boulders which is off route. There is a gradual transition of the 2 fields of boulders. Eventually the use trail ends at a friction slab about 100-150' high with some scrambling. Above the slab are many use trails, which eventually consolidate into one trail near the top.
We spent over an hour on top at 8453' eating lunch and enjoying the view of the southern Sierra. I pinned an SPS patch on Gary Schenk, who became a member of the SPS on Owens. The peak's name sake, Richard Owens, was on Fremont's 1845-46 Expedition in California, bui Owens was farther north and never got to see the peak or the river he was named after.
The same route was taken on the return, getting back around 6:30 pm. The leisure pace gave us time to "smell the roses." Well, maybe pine trees in this habitat. Those on the hike were Robert Amaral, Gary Schenk, Rich Gnagy, Wayne Martin, Susan Gygax, Connie Leonard, Jan Anthony, Colette Simonds, Kathy Brown, Ginny and Jim Heringer and Bill Ramsey. That night we camped at Powers Wells, complete with a community happy hour and dinner. First, second and third prizes were given for the best items.
The next day we hiked Mt. Jenkins. We drove back to Hwy 14 and went south to the Walker Pass Road (Hwy 178). We turned right there and drove west 8.5 miles where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Hwy 178 at 5245. Our hike was 13 miles round trip and 2700' of gain. Mt. Jenkins was named after Jim Jenkins, who was killed in 1979 on Hwy 5 near Frazier Park by a reckless driver. Jim was a Wilderness Ranger in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Rick Jail was a personal friend of his and was very interested in climbing this peak. At about 6 miles out on the trail the ENE ridge from Mt. Jenkins can be seen. It meets the trail at 6950', UTM 111521. There is usually a duck here. Take the use trail on this ridge to a flat area at 7320'+, UTM 106520. The ridge gets steeper from here. Keep to the left until you get to the base of several rocking outcropping. The route is ambiguous here because all the tower like outcroppings look like they may contain the register. There is a lot of talus below them. On the far left there is a spire with very little talus and 30 feet of scrambling just below the top of the peak. The summit is 7921'.
Many people had to go home Saturday evening. Our smaller group Sunday consisted of the leaders and Connie Leonard, Kathy Brown, Wayne Martin and Susan Gygax. All in all it was a great weekend with perfect weather in an area that usually has strong winds in the late spring because of the on shore breeze along the foggy coast.
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