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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
With Veterans Day falling on a Tuesday I decided to take a vacation day on Monday and head up to Ebbetts Pass for what will likely be the last time until after the winter snows melt and Highway 4 reopens. Ebbetts Pass runs through an old volcanic area of the Sierra, and offers up some of the most striking scenery of the high country, with remnant rock spires dotting the landscape. The primary goal for today was Reynolds Peak, which would be my 39th OGUL and 36th WSC peak. The day's secondary goal would be a stop on the drive home to hike up to the top of Corral Ridge, the highpoint of Calaveras County and my 22nd county highpoint of California.

I got off to an early start, getting on the road by 6:45 and arrived up at Ebbetts Pass by 9:30. There is a small turnout on the south side of the Highway just past the Pass where I parked, although in retrospect it would have been better to continue on another quarter mile to the regular parking lot as that is actually closer to the PCT. I wound up going cross country for the first 10 minutes or so until I found the PCT, and followed the trail as it wrapped around the east side of Ebbetts Peak. There was little more than patchy snow on the ground, generally only problematic in spots which were shaded for most of the day. Although the turnoff for Reynolds is over 3 miles down the trail, it doesn't take long to get the first glimpses of the rugged ridgeline which includes Raymond Peak further along to the right. I followed the trail as it worked its way around the east side of Reynolds Peak, although the peak itself remained buried far behind the visible rocks above.

The trail continued alongside Raymond Meadow, where fine views of Silver and Highland Peaks rose above the trees, only about 7 miles or so away to the south. Eventually the full view of the Reynolds Peak massif comes into view, with cliffs guarding the majority of the east face. My plan was to continue along the trail as long as it was increasing in elevation and to avoid having to climb the cliffs as much as possible. It took about 1:15 to get to the point where the trail crests and I started off cross country towards the peak. The first few hundred feet are quite simple, with easy class 2 terrain. There always seemed to be a route to follow through the various rock walls, and although the rocks were loose it was nothing worth complaining about. Bits of class 3 were required to maintain upward progress, and it was a lot of fun to be back doing this kind of hiking instead of the regular trail stuff that I've been doing a lot of lately. The climb up turned into a puzzle as I reached the upper portions of the rock walls. I passed on ascending through a tunnel above me, opting to work my way towards the north. I knew that the actual summit block could only be reasonably climbed from the north, and so I was climbing with that directional bias in mind.

This plan was not successful, however, as I topped out looking towards increasingly steep rock faces, with the one in front of me having a dangerous looking snow chute to book. I carefully made my way across the snow and when I looked up the chute knew that it would not be a safe way to go. I would have to circle back in a clockwise manner, with me at 3 o'clock and the goal at 12 o'clock. The ground below the rock walls was very loose and steep, and I was much happier going up the rock than trying to edge my way around the base. But above me the rock looked Class 4, and I didn't want to try that by myself. The rock was also incredibly loose, and handholds would frequently dislodge in my hands when too much pressure was applied. This slowed progress as well. The slow walk along the base of the rock wall wasn't really dangerous, as a fall and subsequent slide wouldn't take me too far, but it wasn't at all fun. As if to rub it in, I could see the trail far below, as I now was heading back towards the direction I had come in from. At that point I decided I would not make this silly traverse on the way back, it would be better to just do straight down the face and save some distance back while I was at it. I finally came across a ramp that I took up higher, but still couldn't do any climbing as the rock was too difficult. Just keep going up the ramps. An hour after I started cross country I could see the final summit blocks looking as difficult as advertised. Clearly there was no access from this side, as I had figured. It was not difficult to complete the traverse to the north, and before getting all the way around I just started climbing the block when it looked safe. The summit block is pretty narrow, but not difficult or particularly scary. I avoided the bits of snow as they were really the only potential problem, and was on top by 12:40.

The top of summit block is pretty narrow, but comfortable enough to sit down and enjoy the views. Nearby was Raymond Peak, below me was the PCT, to the southeast was Highland and Silver, south had views towards the snow capped peaks of the high country, and way off to the west was Mokelumne Peak. The views were fantastic, and I spent maybe a half hour on top enjoying it all. I found the summit register a few feet below the actual summit, and found only about 3-4 signatures per year. The register was over 30 years old, having been placed in 1984. I flipped through 30 years of history in this little book, seeing the familiar names of Pete Yamagata, Bob Burd and John Fedak. There had only been 3 logged visits to the summit in 2014 - prior to mine. I took a summit shot of myself, and as I prepared to start down I considered my options. I really didn't want to make that slow traverse back around to the far northeast side of the peak, so I opted to start downhill towards the PCT after making the easy traverse from the north side back to the southeast.

I made the right choice in descending this way, the route was class 2/3, but nothing all that difficult. And the landscape was simply incredible. Much of it was down chutes and I consulted my GPS TOPO map to ensure I was on a path that would not cliff out later on downhill. It didn't take too long to complete the class 3 sections, and it was a simple walk down to rejoin the PCT about a quarter mile to the south of where I left it to start the ascent. The entire descent from summit to trail took only about 45 minutes, where the views back towards the peak looked even more dramatic as the afternoon shadows darkened the views. It was an easy hike back up the PCT, and I arrived at my car a little before 3 PM.

I drove about 45 minutes west on Hwy 4, looking for the unsigned turnoff for Corral Ridge. I knew it was just east of the county line, and I found it easily enough. It was a bit before 4 PM when I set off, and with a round trip distance of a bit over 6 miles I knew I would be hiking back in the dark. There isn't much to say about this hike, it follows an off road vehicle dirt track uphill through the forest . I was thankful to not see any riders the entire time I was on the road, as I remember the annoyance I felt on Signal Peak when they would drive by and kick up dust that would linger in the air for minutes. It took an hour to reach the first of 3 possible highpoints (they all have the same contour line). This one did not appear to be the highest based on my research, but it did have great views. The other 2 highpoints were in slightly different directions, one off to the west through the forest and the other straight ahead to the north. I opted to visit the west one first, figuring I wanted to get the forest travel out of the way while I still had a bit of sunlight left. So I went cross country, trampling through downed logs and branches until I found a clearing where a rock cairn was visible. No summit register was found, and I left to get started on the trip through the forest and back to the road. I made it to the 3rd highpoint just as the sun set. This appears to be the recognized highpoint, although I could not find a summit register. I took a few shots of the growing darkness and a summit shot of myself after putting on my headlamp and started down. It had taken 90 minutes to visit all 3 highpoints, and in total darkness it took me 60 minutes to descend. I was back at the car a bit before 6:30 and back to my house around 8:45.

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2 Comments

 

(4 years ago) Kerry said:

Pete - this was a really fun hike, I would like to do it again, but I think the roads will be closed soon. Maybe next year?


 

(4 years ago) Petesthousandpeaks said:

Thanks to let me know that my old register is still there! Looks like maybe somebody tore out a page, as I did it in 2003 or so for my 4X. Nobody for a 5X, too bad, it'd be a gratis buffet in SLT for a safe and successful ascent!