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Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Aug 30, 2014 - Markleeville Peak / The Nipple

 

Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 9.50 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,778 feet

Trip Time: 4:42

Maps and Stats:
For this weekends hike Kyle and I planned a trip up to South Lake Tahoe, with the primary goal of looking at potential vacation houses and then hiking with the time that remained afterword. The plan was to look at houses for 3 hours or so, and then head on over to Markleeville Peak and The Nipple, two OGUL Peaks, with Markleeville also being a WSC Peak. Markleevile and The Nipple would be OGUL peaks number 36 and 37, and Markleeville would be WSC Peak number 33.

As planned, we spent about 3 hours driving around South Lake Tahoe, and the various small enclaves in between Tahoe and Markleeville to the south. There were some nice places, but nothing that had everything we wanted. We were done with our house hunting around 2 PM, leaving about 5 1/2 hours of hiking time available to bag out two peaks. We weren't sure if we would have time to do both, but really wanted to try, as access to the peaks is provided off of Blue Lakes Road, which closes in winter meaning we would have to come back at a later date to get the one we missed if we weren't able to complete out objectives.

MARKLEEVILLE PEAK

We weren't really sure where to park for Markleeville Peak, as I had consulted my maps and noted starting locations of others but once we were within a quarter mile of the spot I had flagged we found a nice turnout and decided this would work just fine. We crossed the road and at 2:45 we just started heading up the slope. There is no trail, although given the terrain one really isn't needed as the view towards Markleeville was constantly present, making it obvious which way to go. I had tentatively planned on visiting the base of Jeff Davis Peak after doing Markleeville, a peak that is beyond my abilities, being the only Class 4 OGUL peak on the list. We figured we probably didn't have time to get both Markleeville and The Nipple, so why not at least scout the peak for a potential future ascent? Anyway, we turned away from Jeff Davis, and kept heading up towards Markleeville. This was not very challenging, with the biggest obstacle probably being the windy conditions. A little after 3:30 we were approaching the top where we arrived at about 3:50 for an ascent time of just over 1 hour.

This was certainly an easy peak, especially for a WSC listed peak but that was what we signed up for today. The views were pretty nice, especially towards the volcanic higher peaks near Highway 4, and we had a nice view to Jeff Davis Peak. Otherwise, it was more reminiscent of rolling hills rather than rugged mountains. Kyle took a summit shot of me, as I held my hat to protect it from blowing away in the strong winds. We looked for a summit register and found it, adding our names to the log. We decided that we could easily get back to the car and make the mile drive up to the trail for The Nipple, which we could see was only a couple of miles away. So we got started on the descent, taking an hour to arrive back at the road by 5:10. Better hurry if we want to get a second peak!

THE NIPPLE

I had read in online reports that The Nipple was accessed via the PCT, although finding the PCT junction with Blue Lakes Road was a bit tricky. I drove slowly, looking for the unsigned trail, and of course missed it but spotted a vehicle parked on the other side of the street, just past the trail. I turned around and pulled into a spot just as a couple of hikers approached us. I asked if this was indeed the PCT to which they replied it was. But then rather than get in the car in front of me they sat down in the dirt and talked about how thirsty they were. Hmm, why not drive off to get something to drink then? It took a few moments to realize that this wasn't their car, as they proceeded to try to thumb a ride, without success. They asked when we would be back, to which I replied 2 hours (it actually took 2 1/2 hours). I offered them each one of my Powerade Zeros, since I wouldn't need much for this easy hike and they accepted 1, stating that they would leave it by the car if they didn't drink it. Fine, but we needed to get started soon as daylight would be fading soon.

We got started on the PCT at 5:15, and after going cross country on Markleeville the trail made things that much easier. By 5:45 we could see the Nipple, with teh plan being to follow the PCT as long as possible as it wound underneath the 2 peaks, from where we would go cross country up to the saddle between the 2 and then turn right to double back to the peak. As we kept going, we could again make out the distinctive shape of Jeff Davis Peak, looking like quite the challenge indeed. By 6:15 we started up the cross country portion, and when we arrived between the 2 peaks we couldn't really tell which one was higher. I knew we had to turn right, but the peak to the left looked to be the equal of two. I consulted my GPS which showed that the peak to the right was in fact between 20-40 feet higher, so we turned right and started up the slope towards the peak. This was not too difficult, despite being off trail, winding up along the left side of the peak as we approached the final 15 foot summit block. It was easy class 3, requiring nothing more than a couple of large steps to get to the top.

By 6:30 we were both on the summit where we located the summit register and signed in. I took a summit shot of Kyle, with Markleeville in the distance, and Kyle took one of me. The views from The Nipple are a bit better than Markleeville, as we were closer to Round Top and had nice views towards the lower of the 2 peaks, Lower Blue Lake, Upper Blue Lake, and of course Jeff Davis. We didn't linger, however, as we wanted to get down before dark.

Our descent route was a bit different, as there was no need to circle back around to the saddle since we could see the trail below us, albeit down a very steep slope. This was easy to handle, and we rejoined the trail after saving nearly a half mile of distance. By this point the shadows started getting longer, but now that we were back on the PCT there was no reason to worry. We followed the trial all the way back to the road, arriving by 7:40 PM where we saw that the other vehicle, along with the 2 hikers were now gone. Kyle found a half empty bottle of Powerade Zero, next to my car wheel, which was a bit odd. He dumped the remains and we brought the bottle back with us to property dispose of it. All in all a worthwhile day, getting a lot accomplished both in the mountains and in our house search.

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