What's white and fluffy and warms the heart? Angora Peak of course! Over the Memorial Day weekend Richard and I climbed this seldom visited peak in the Golden Trout Wilderness.
Golden Trout Wilderness is a special treat for spring backpacking. We traveled through lofty old growth forest starting, at lower elevation, among cedar, majestic sugar pines and occasional giant sequoia. As we climbed, we moved through lodgepole to immense red fir and Jeffrey Pine. At higher elevations we found foxtail pines.
For bird watchers Golden Trout is a colorful feast. Woodpeckers of several kinds are plentiful. Chickadees and junco abound. I even saw my first female crossbill, an unusual yellow bird that feeds off pine cones using its strangely crossed bill. At night we heard the who-who-who of a great horned owl.
Since the Little Kern River was high, the ranger advised us to cross at the stock bridge instead of at Burnt Corral Meadow as we had planned. I had never thought about it before, but I'm sure that's where the city of Stockbridge (pick your state) got its name. Discovering the obvious!
At 5:30 p.m. we left Lewis Camp trail head (7680 feet) on the historic Jordan Trail built in 1857 and easily made it the seven miles downhill to the bridge (5940 feet) before dark. (On the way out this uphill section proved to be much longer.) Soon after leaving Lewis Camp, the trail affords a spectacular view of the Great Western Divide. We could see where we had twice crossed the Divide last year over Farewell Gap and Shotgun Pass.
The next morning we crossed the bridge and took a cross country shortcut due north over a bump to Deep Creek where we continued uphill to 8276 feet where the climb began to get serious. In about two miles we ascended to 9600 feet and dropped our backpacks. By then it was 4 p.m. and socked in.
Whenever I travel cross country, I have a heightened sense of awareness which usually includes a mixture of adventure, sometimes trepidation and great pleasure. It's always a thrill to successfully return to a stowed pack or find a landmark where the compass needle promised it would be. With the clouds swirling around us limiting visibility, we used altimeter and compass to navigate from 9600 feet through the snow to a 10,000 foot saddle and then the final 200 feet to the top of Angora. Entries in the register were few, mostly once a year during Memorial Day weekend. There were primarily SPS members & Bill Rauch.
Miraculously, the clouds parted to give us glimpses of the sheer wall of Coyote Peaks to the north and the warm meadows to the south. Photos taken, we plunge-stepped back to our backpacks and continued another two miles to a good campsite at 9400 feet. By then it was approaching dark, snowing and getting cold. I hadn't the patience to prepare a fire from all natural materials as I had the night before, so I sacrificed my candle and soon had a warming blaze. We had come 16.5 miles and about 5,000 feet elevation gain.
I highly recommend this fabulous Wilderness with many possibilities for exploration. Because of the old growth trees and generally dry climate, there is less underbrush than many other areas of comparable elevation making cross country travel enjoyable. Oh yes, Angora is on the SPS list.
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