Mokelumne Peak; Highland Peak

26-27 Sep 2001 - by Eric Beck

I left Mammoth Wednesday afternoon, driving up to Carson Pass to bag these, the last I needed in Section 23. I had hoped to drive right to the Tanglefoot Trailhead for Mokelumne and spend the night. I should have left earlier.

Mokelumne Peak: 26 September 2001

As a reference, I used Mark Adrians writeup and also Pete Yamagatas NORTHERN SIERRA PEAKS GUIDE. The latter has proven very accurate on other peaks, however, some apparent changes in the road signs caused me big problems. Driving up from the two dams forming Bear River Reservoir, I was looking for the left turn marked 8N14 2.4 miles after the dam. I continued on, finally passing thru a summer home tract and then on roads degenerating into OHV trails. Nothing bore any resemblance to writeup. I finally realized that I didn't have the time to figure this out that evening and went back down to a (deserted) campground and spent the night.

The following morning I took a left at 2.4 miles past the dams signed:

This proved to be correct and the following distances and signs proved correct:

Notes on the climb. Ascending the switchbacks out of Tanglefoot canyon, there is a spring which is running well. This is the only source of water on the route. At the top of the switchbacks is a shrunken green lake which I don't count as water. From here I was concerned about finding the point to leave the trail as it appeared to be in deep forest with no visible landmarks and I had no GPS and only a Topozone map. I did it by time which proved usable. The idea is to pass below (south) of bump 8628 and then climb to the saddle between it and Mokelumne while avoiding brush. I encountered some brush on the way up and none on the way down.

I left the trail in an area where the forest opened and the ground was covered with 3 inch Manzanita. There were even two ducks leading east. I started ascending too soon and did get sucked into some brush. On the return, I dropped all the way down to the flat and then went straight west to pick up the trail.

The trail was damp from the rain earlier in the week and there was zero dust. Also saw a pair of bears. The road is in excellent condition, easy for any passenger car.

Round trip stats: 13 miles, 3700 feet, 7 hours 50 minutes.

Highland Peak: 27 September 2001

At Mark Adrians recommendation, I book Pete's route B, up Noble Canyon rather than the route from Ebbets Pass. This worked well and I unequivocally recommend it. The sign for the Noble Canyon trail is set back 100 feet and is not visible from the highway. Very easy hiking with little elevation gain leads up the canyon. The idea is to ascend a long ridge which gains the crest between Highland and Silver Peaks. Once again, I was concerned about locating this point. The hiking is in deep forest and one cannot see anything. I again did this by time, with slightly worse results. When I thought I had gone about the right distance, I just started uphill. Initially there was lots of deadfall, some brush and also some very steep slopes. These were dirt, still class 1, but no fun. As it would turn out, I should have gone further upstream before leaving the trail. I kept getting forced right and finally the forest opened and the ridge was visible above, looking interminable. Nonethless it went fairly quickly, 2 hours from trail to crest. All class 1 on firm vegetated dirt. I even encountered some ducks and added a few.

From the crest, one just follows the ridge to the peak. The first two obstacles are passed easily (class 1) on the right (west) regaining the ridge very briefly between them. A final step is passed on the left, really almost on the ridge. There is 8 feet of class 2 scrambling up the little summit cone.

The route from Ebbets Pass looks much longer and tedious with a long section on the ridge over the false summit. Looking back where I had come from, my ridge was now prominent and obvious. Descending it was only 40 minutes from crest to trail. I found a much better line at the bottom which will be described retroactively:

For someone walking up Noble Canyon, after maybe 1.5 miles one crosses the main creek, gaining its east side. After this, there are three lateral streams (running) which descend from the left. Go 0.3 miles past the third stream and start up gentle terrain in open forest.

Note: Don't try to count streams if doing this earlier in the year.

The ridge fans out into multiple toes at the bottom and it makes little difference where one starts within probably half a mile. I left a duck where I regained the trail.

Round trip stats: 9 miles, 3650 feet, 6 hours 40 minutes.

John Sarna adds:

I've climbed Mokelumne from both Plasse (a long hike in) and from the Bear River Reservoir side. There's a maze of dirt roads from this direction, and several will get you in. Hence, this is one area a GPS is really useful. Below are the directions I noted down. They're rather cryptic, but the GPS coordinates could be useful to others in finding this trailhead.

By the way, my wife considered this to be her best climb in the Sierra - given she likes hiking woodland trails.

Mokelumne Peak & Tetons - Aug 1, 1998

Drove to Lower Bear River Reservoir, across the Dam and along a paved road on south side of reservoir; followed paved road to turn southwest and continue in that direction at cross-roads at 38 deg 32' 45.2" xx 120 deg 11' 48.3"; turn left a campground at 38 deg 31' 35.1" x 120 deg 12' 32.0', pointing to dead end road to Shriner or Tanglefoot Trailhead; continue south then east 3.5 miles to trailhead at 38 deg 31' 24.1" x 120 deg 10' 24.5". About 3 hours drive from Sacramento.

Started hiking at 7:30 am and returned at 8 pm. Followed trail down into and out of Tanglefoot Canyon up to a small lake, then up a ridge to leave the trail near waypoint 38 deg 32' 01.2" x 120 deg 07' 37.5" to contour around brush and up the grassy watercourse to the saddle at 38 deg 32' 22.0" x 120 deg 06' 41.0", after which the walking on the ridge to the top of Mokelumne was easy. The old Peak and Gorge register, which I had signed in 1989 was missing, and in its place was another register placed there by PeteY in 1997.

We then hiked south to follow the ridge across to the highest of the Mokelumne Tetons, placing a register on the most prominent one that can be seen from the top of Mokelumne Peak (the next one down was Class 5 or 6). From there, we went slowly downhill and west cross-country to pick up the trail at the waypoint above; it was a bit brushy at times, but usually fairly easy walking.


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