Trip Report
Brown Peak.
Thursday October 17, 2013 1:03am
10-5-13, early morning light on Brown Peak--the closer one--and Pinoch...
10-5-13, early morning light on Brown Peak--the closer one--and Pinoche Peak from Hite Cove Road.
Credit: mouse from merced

Yosemite's closed. Great. I'll go do some thing that I've always wanted to do since I began Yosemitizing in 1961...

Brown (5,600'+) and Pinoche Peaks (5,800'-) are in the Sierra (Nevada) Nat'l Forest. Pinoche Ridge connects to Brown Peak. Cottonwood Saddle is the area I traversed to get to Brown Peak. There are no restrictions on going through the Park to get there via Henness Ridge Road. El Portal is the USGS map. Turn left at the first intersection after turning into Yo West. Follow it to the sign that says 10 mph and follow the old log road to its end. No water, so bring your own freeze-dried Evian.

Once there, a brief look-around, pix of old junkers and other treasures and fire suppression tanks old and new. This guy has a good life out here in this lonely cabin. I took off up a trail passing by the tanks and came out on another log road which hadn't been used in a while. But it was clear sailing at my slow pace. This is the place that burned in the late eighties and three fires combined to threaten El Portal. A couple of burned-out places up there just before intersecting that road leading out to Cottonwood Saddle. Ugliness.

Nice thing about photography bugs. They slow you down, down, down. My physical state is not good, with asthma topping the list for sheer pain-in-the-ass and bad knees topping the list for sheer pain-anywhere-in-the-body. But I stop often enough to recoup and to hack and cough a bit and I'm good for the next leg. I usually go solo because I slow folks down and don't like to rush my photos.

Starting early is a bugaboo. I can't seem to get off at an early hour. I guess I'm not an alpine starter at all. I was farting around photographing still water and rocks and wasting time before the sun came up in the Merced Canyon at the El Portal bridge, the old one that managed to survive the flood, for so long that my idea of going up from there on one of the ridges (real bushwhacking) or following an old trail up a creek began falling through at an accelerated pace. I'm glad it happened so.

At the El Portal Store I spoke with a gent named Gerald D., who said Julia Parker's his auntie. He recommended abandoning the original plan and taking Henness Ridge Road and told me what to do. He's a lifelong EP resident and has the skinny, if anyone does.

It's a Class II ascent up oak forest mast from Cottonwood Saddle. I could see some folks ride up there on horses or mules. Some is steeper than necessary, but the trail is faint, when you can tell one is there. There is plenty of room for contouring and switching back, even lacking a trail, just keep getting higher by degrees and save the knees. That's the thing about oak forest. Leaves and branches keep building up over years and obscuring detail and snagging your ankles.

Near the summit ridge things level and open up and the sun's in full blaze. For the past hour it's been playing hide and seek with me in the trees at the top of the ridge. I reach the summit blocks around five o'clock. I kiss the gargoyle. I look around, swill water, eat a cheese sangwidge and smoke a bowl.

Other than the gargoyle and the raven I've seen, that's it for wildlife. Bear scat, though. And meat bees and gnats. Grasshoppers on the summit, too.

I see Pinoche, can't see into the South Fork, though. I'd have to be on Pinoche. I can't see down into either river from Brown at all, as it's too steep. Can't look into El Portal, either. I see Turtle, Crane, Elephant, I think Rancheria, and Eagle Beak above the Tioga Road. Foresta's plain to see, there's Reed's, and Indian Peak, as well as Ferguson Ridge, above that slide on 140.

It is so still up there and the sun is so friendly, too. The woodpecker calls. Summer is nearly gone. Fall foliage has begun. It is time to go now. My password. And so I do. Knees creak, up she rises, one last swig of Fern Spring and I'm on the flip side.

Timing it just right, I got back down to the logger's picnic area on Cottonwood Saddle just as it got dark, but had to travel downhill in the oak mast, so it was almost an awkward glissade with no arrest if I got going too fast. Plus the oak branches were little booby traps and the glim was indeed getting dimmer. I thought I might be lost, but timed my traverse straight left perfectly and came out where I needed to be.

I want to get back up there before snow flies and see the view from Pinoche. Taking the mountain bike next time. And camping. Too good to miss, too close for excuses, and best of all it's free and it's open.

It's Mariposa.

Merced River Bridge, El Portal.  Trout ring in pool.
Merced River Bridge, El Portal. Trout ring in pool.
Credit: mouse from merced
Very healthy lump of lichen on the upstream bridge rail.  Merced River...
Very healthy lump of lichen on the upstream bridge rail. Merced River Bridge.
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
Downstream dream.  Merced R. Bridge.
Downstream dream. Merced R. Bridge.
Credit: mouse from merced
Woody from El Portal said about the shut-down:  On reflection, O Bama ...
Woody from El Portal said about the shut-down: On reflection, O Bama can't run for re-election, so he's sticking it to the Gophers in the hole. That's my twisted view and I'm standing pat.
Credit: mouse from merced
Gerald D., of El Portal.
Gerald D., of El Portal.
Credit: mouse from merced
I stopped at Cascades, mea culpa.  No one there.  No traffic.
I stopped at Cascades, mea culpa. No one there. No traffic.
Credit: mouse from merced
Spooky.
Spooky.
Credit: mouse from merced
Chuck-ahs.
Chuck-ahs.
Credit: mouse from merced
The edge of Fern Spring.  It's closed.  I took no pictures of the fall...
The edge of Fern Spring. It's closed. I took no pictures of the fall there, just the autumn.
Credit: mouse from merced
The Ahwahnechee called it the crane.
The Ahwahnechee called it the crane.
Credit: mouse from merced
I'm historic.  I retired long before it became fashionable.  They call...
I'm historic. I retired long before it became fashionable. They call me 236, but I answer to Jimmy.
Credit: mouse from merced
Shoulda been here last winter.  I had it easy, man, partied with the s...
Shoulda been here last winter. I had it easy, man, partied with the squirrels and ravens.
Credit: mouse from merced
Cat.
Cat.
Credit: mouse from merced
Shadows on boulders on the way to Brown Town.
Shadows on boulders on the way to Brown Town.
Credit: mouse from merced
I found that the famous "light in the forest" is nothing more than a m...
I found that the famous "light in the forest" is nothing more than a meat bee, neebee! How disappointing!
Credit: mouse from merced
Looking back the way I'd come on the old log road at two o'clock.  I'm...
Looking back the way I'd come on the old log road at two o'clock. I'm thanking God this place is not under the rule of the NPS--yet. This may be part of the planned Park extension.
Credit: mouse from merced
On the log road.  I heard a couple of woodpeckers.  Saw one only brief...
On the log road. I heard a couple of woodpeckers. Saw one only briefly on Brown Peak near the summit, along with a huge raven riding the updraft.
Credit: mouse from merced
Hey, tHEY SAY what they hear out THERE, shadowkiddo.  It's mostly the ...
Hey, tHEY SAY what they hear out THERE, shadowkiddo. It's mostly the sighing of the trees and the calls of birds. You'd love it, and so would anyone else with soul.
Credit: mouse from merced
Thirty years after.
Thirty years after.
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
Leaves of three, let it be.  Poison oak, folks.
Leaves of three, let it be. Poison oak, folks.
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
On Cottonwood Saddle.  I'm suggesting this as a camping spot.  Those a...
On Cottonwood Saddle. I'm suggesting this as a camping spot. Those are gopher holes. I don't think it wood hurt to have a campfire here, but it must require a permit. Check with Sierra National Forest HQ, wherever it is, because...Smokey says so.
Credit: mouse from merced
Gopher.
Gopher.
Credit: mouse from merced
Rising ground.  Oak mast hillside.
Rising ground. Oak mast hillside.
Credit: mouse from merced
Rising steeeply.  An old barbed-wire fence line you might easily follo...
Rising steeeply. An old barbed-wire fence line you might easily follow if you have the gumption. Takes you right to the top. I went out left, switching back and forth.
Credit: mouse from merced
10-14-13.  Pinoche Peak from the summit of Brown Peak.  It looks like ...
10-14-13. Pinoche Peak from the summit of Brown Peak. It looks like a way better Class II scramble than Brown if you take the easiest line.
Credit: mouse from merced
Gargoyle.  The summit block on Brown Peak, from the north side.  At 4:...
Gargoyle. The summit block on Brown Peak, from the north side. At 4:20 I was grinding it, but this was at 5:30, after performing the ritual. That is, I kissed the gargoyle and stood on it like a madonnaonnasnake. Gooood shit!
Credit: mouse from merced
Summit Beautiful cover shot.
Summit Beautiful cover shot.
Credit: mouse from merced
Elephant.
Elephant.
Credit: mouse from merced
Turtle.
Turtle.
Credit: mouse from merced
Crane.
Crane.
Credit: mouse from merced
This shows why the view of the two peaks from El Mortal is non-existen...
This shows why the view of the two peaks from El Mortal is non-existent. Brown Peak is hidden by its own bulk and relative steepness on the north slope. Pinoche, too, is hidden back of its ridge.
Credit: mouse from merced
Looking sown into the South Fork from the scamper up the summit ridge ...
Looking sown into the South Fork from the scamper up the summit ridge of Brown Peak.
Credit: mouse from merced
The view west.
The view west.
Credit: mouse from merced
West-facing side of Pinoche Peak, the ridge intevenes.
West-facing side of Pinoche Peak, the ridge intevenes.
Credit: mouse from merced
Nearly out of light, skiing the slopes of mast and loamy soil in growi...
Nearly out of light, skiing the slopes of mast and loamy soil in growing dark, then coming out at the right spot, the level log road back. Here I've just emerged from the shadows.
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced

I had to drive home in the dark so I took full advantage and used the tripod that Ed Hartouni gave me at Facelift. I have a little ways to go on the learning curve yet.
Climber on the Captain.  Peace reigns.
Climber on the Captain. Peace reigns.
Credit: mouse from merced

I hope you enjoy this little adventure's recap.

  Trip Report Views: 750
mouse from merced
About the Author
mouse from merced is a tard climber from merced, california.

Comments
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survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 17, 2013 - 01:47am PT
Right on Mouse.

Keep on shufflin'!!
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
  Oct 17, 2013 - 02:04am PT
I'll not forget this great TR soon, if ever. Thanks for bringing us along on this special journey.
silentone

Mountain climber
wisconsin
  Oct 17, 2013 - 02:42am PT
Nice report Mouse.
What is a meat bee?
S.O.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Author's Reply  Oct 17, 2013 - 02:56am PT
Go to Yellow Pines during Facelift. Or Camp 4. There were fewer this year than last, maybe the chill had some negative effect on the turd worshipers.
Last year we had three traps hung over the eating area. We had to empty them for the Meatfest.
http://www.kevinroderick.com/meatbees.html
Bargainhunter

climber
  Oct 17, 2013 - 02:50am PT
Cool report. Brown Mountain in the San Gabriel's is also a worthy traverse for those stuck in LA.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Oct 17, 2013 - 02:51am PT
Amazing day!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:17am PT
Glad you got out Mouse my friend!
TFPU
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:23am PT
Nice! Adventure is where we find it.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:28am PT
Thanks for taking us along!
Murzerker

climber
Away from Walhalla
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:51am PT
Thanks for taking this California mountain kid on your adventure. I can almost smell the sugar pines, and hear the Jays from my exile in Austin.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Oct 17, 2013 - 11:05am PT
Nice TR - thanks for taking me along
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 17, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Kool beans!!!!!
Thanks!!!
zBrown

Ice climber
BrujÚ de la Playa
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:18pm PT
Great trip, great reportin'.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:37pm PT
the colors of fall are most definitely out and about.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Author's Reply  Dec 25, 2013 - 03:36am PT
I shall return. Not real quick, but eventually.

This is the last transmission for this year from the Transition Zone.

Merry Christmas, it's 39.8 degrees in El Portal at this time.

I'm all toasted and warm. You do the same.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
  Dec 25, 2013 - 03:55am PT
Nice Yosemitizing!
jonnyrig

climber
  Dec 25, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Nice!
and Merry Christmas to you!
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