Stop in at the Ranger station on Hwy 50 prior to heading up. The Day permits are located OUTSIDE the front doors...No need to wait untill 8am when they open. Continue up Hwy 50 east. Pass the Twin Bridges Parking area and Look for the CAMP SACRAMENTO signs. The Parking area will be to the left, there is a brown wooden sign that reads "Mt. Ralston". There is a lower and upper parking area as we would find out after slugging our gear up to the trail head. You can also Obtain a Day use permit here....The dirt road continues past this point to the right. Take the trail to the left and up Marked (17E14).
We begin with Gradual incline and switch backs for the first mile. Then after that we start getting down to business and the trail takes a more direct rout upwards. Stay the main path as there is a few side trails along here. You break into an open meadow on the way up and get some great views of the surrounding valleys.
Back into the tree line and up into the little bit of class two work. Chest high manzanita channels you along and up, steep and some scrambling up a few large boulder areas. I just put Owen in front of me incase of a slip. Deep sandy areas make for a bit of sweat work. Off to the left side before the trail hooks back to the right. Climb up on the large granites for a nice view of Strawberry (this is where some of the world class guys come to Monkey up the rock face). At mile 3.5 there is an unmarked intersection with a few large fallen trees. There are a few Cairns here to your right, and a defined trail straight up the next section. It is .6miles from here. This is a good place to drop packs grab some quick fuel and re-hydrate for 5minutes. It is a direct route up and a bit steep, with almost no switch backs.
You will crest into a little less of an angle after negotiating thru a large granite area (not much of a trail here) follow the Cairns. There is almost no trail from here to the Base of the summit. Again follow the Cairns. Once the Rock pile comes into sight you can just boulder dash to the top, or work your way left and there is a worn path to the Summit.
With 360 degree views of Desolation, Mt. Pyramid to the S. West, Mt. Tallac to the North looming over Lake Tahoe. Ralston and Tamaraek lake below and to the N. East. Incredible views and well worth the hike. The summit stands at 9235 feet. We looked for a registry but were unable to find it or the USGS marker.
This will be a great place to visit in a few months and snow shoe into.
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