7.7 miles, 4000 ft
Had a big high-altitude hike up Mt Tyndall the following day, so I wanted to get some sort of acclimation hike in the day before. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was gonna do until the last minute; Thursday night I decided to head up to Onion Valley and attempt to hike Kearsarge Peak, which is at ~ 12,500 ft.
There isn’t a lot of information on Kearsarge Peak, but I saw a few trip reports. More mention the route of Lilly Pass on the west side of Kearsarge, while a few others mention a route the eastern and southern portions of the peak. Seeing as the description of the Lilly Pass route indicated signficant hiking on scree, I figured I could do a loop, heading up the eastern way and down the scree on the way back.
I drove out and ended up at the trailhead at 11 am. Eric (edenooch) drove up the night before and was up to do a moderate hike. I estimated this hike would be about 3200 ft gain which wouldn’t be too bad.
Well on cue with the weather forecasts calling for possible showers after 11 am, exactly at 11 am it started raining. We waited about 15 min for the rain to stop, then we headed out.
We backtracked down Onion Valley rd for perhaps 1/2 mile until a fire road appears on the north side. We took the fireroad up for a few minutes, which then turns into a trail. The trail was immediately brushed over and not easy to follow. The route that we followed is seemingly an old miner’s path, since according to my map there was 4-5 mine locations near the trail. The brush at the lower end of the trail was not very high, but after crossing a brief rock field, the brush got up to shoulder length and made following the trail a bit more difficult.
At perhaps 11,000 ft, the brush subsided into the usual rock terrain. Here the trail was easier to follow, and we continued up to the summit ridge to about 12,400 ft. Here we could see the peak- not much higher than us- near the other end of the rocky ridgeline. Given the shady weather (we heard thunder a few times) and not wanted to make a long day out of this hike, we were content to turn around here. It seems best to stay on the northern side of the ridge while traversing to the summit.
Since doing the loop required doing the traverse, we decided to head down the way we came, which was a good idea in terms of saving time and energy. We took a different route when I saw nice scree to descend almost 1,000 ft. It was great fun, as it became a form of skiing for me trying to avoid the big rocks.
After this side route, we cut across to meet up with the trail for the final 1400 ft of descent.
It seems that taking Lilly Pass would have a quicker way to the summit, although I don’t know how bad the scree would have been going up. Either way, I was simply pleased to get up to a reasonbly high altitude the day before going up to 14k ft.
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 6th, 2009 at 1:15 pm and is filed under Trail Information, Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.