Southern Sierra Exploratory
The first two days of this trip went almost as planned, despite the slowly drying out roads. Chuckwalla was canceled after checking with the owners of the mine who control the road approach. The road from Havilah to Lightner and Breckenridge is badly washed out, but these should be rescheduled. Harper is privately owned and no permission will be given.
We left the Jawbone Canyon dry camp at 8:00, caravaned up a wash about two miles, then made the steep 2000' climb of Cross Mtn. for a panoramic view of a new and colorful area. The 600' scree run down almost made us forget the trudge up. At 12:30 we caravaned some 10 miles to a saddle on Butterbredt, and ascended a straight-forward ridge to the summit. From here one can see from Tehachapis to Olancha and from the Piutes out across the desert to the East. Thence up Kelso Valley and the Harris Grade road (much better than the Geringer Grade) to a peaceful forested campsite by an abandoned lumber mill a couple of miles South of the site of Claraville.
Saturday morning we climbed Sorrell from camp. This is a lovely trail-less climb through a pine forest with a nice little summit block on top with a spectacular view. (A rough and soft logging road crosses a shoulder close to the top, and I walked out this road some three miles to a point where Lew and I had turned back in a VW the previous week.) The group was overwhelmingly (18 to 1) in favor of adding this peak to the HPS list. We next drove to the start of the Piute Lookout road and hiked out to the end. Lew Hill carried a watermelon for the group to enjoy on top, and what a treat it was! If possible, this view is even more spectacular, particularly of the Kern basin; but unfortunately, except for a soft spot at the start and a couple of snow patches which will probably be gone in another week, the road is quite passable (in fact, much better than the main road). Here we met a man who had come up the road from Bodfish, a road that was still boggy and utterly impassable just one week before. So, after bagging Piute Mtn. (the highest point, but no view at all because of the trees), we went on to Saddle Springs campground. A few hardy souls got Bald Eagle before supper.
By this time most of the group had dispersed. Some went home early, and some planned further peak-bagging (Nicolls, Onyx, or Pinyon) on their own. Seven of us finally found a nearby SPS peak none of us had done, so we drove up the Lamont Meadow road to Chimney Creek campground. Some hundred Sierra Club cars were already there for the scheduled car camp in that area. We seven climbed Sawtooth Peak to complete a very enjoyable and highly diversified weekend.