Ascent of Middle Peak on 2017-12-23

Climber: Michael Gregory

Date:Saturday, December 23, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Middle Peak
    Elevation:5883 ft / 1793 m

Ascent Trip Report

It seems I had an easier time on Middle Peak than most! I parked at the Trout Pond area, near the sharp bend where 79 intersects Milk Ranch road. I walked a short ways down Milk Ranch Road before turning onto Middle Peak Fire Road. From there, it was about an hour's roadwalk up to the business end of the hike. Just after intersecting the Black Oak Trail, the Fire Road runs fairly straight NNW for .2 miles or so along the north slope of the peak. About halfway down this stretch, the brush clears abruptly to reveal a clearing littered with dead trees. Scattered about this clearing were a few cairns of reddish stone—good enough for me. I dropped the pack, put on my bushwhacking gear (a hard-shelled, hooded rainjacket), and hared off after the cairns.

The cairns continued through a series of clearings until the brush became thicker—the beginning of the bushwhack proper. From here, the trail basically consists of a series of overgrown pathways through tall brush. I found that I could make quick progress by a) following the widest and most worn-looking avenue, and b) retracing my steps to the most recent junction (and trying the other fork) whenever the "trail" appeared to lead into overwhelmingly thick brush. Occasional cairns or single rocks unnaturally placed confirmed the route. At one point along the way, the trail passes under the broken joint of a large log, and twice you will need to climb up on a fallen tree and walk a short distance along the trunk to resume the trail. But other than that, it was a cinch—I was at the summit 10 minutes after leaving the road. I did get lost once on the way down, shortly after the first trunk traverse—when the trail appeared to lead into a small dead-end clearing. Luckily, I recognized a rock shelf off to the left that I had seen from the other side on the ascent, and after thrashing through the bushes for 8-10 feet in that direction found myself back on the summit trail. In spite of this mistake, I was only 13 minutes in returning to the Fire Road.

All in all, it was not nearly as bad as I'd been led to expect and actually kinda fun! Perhaps I can attribute this to the work of Mr. Musser, who indicated that he cleared the trail out some on his recent ascent.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Start Trailhead:Trout Pond Parking Lot  
Descent Statistics

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