Mount Jenkins, Morris Peak, Owens Peak
By: Charlie Knapke
Leaders: Charlie Knapke, John Cheslick
Several years ago. I became interested in hiking in the Southern Sierra Nevada. As I normally do, I first made a trip to the book store for help. I found a promising book entitled "Self-propelled in the Southern Sierra." As I began to read this book, I envisioned the author (J.C. Jenkins) as a wisened old veteran of the mountains. Indeed his description of the mountains seemed more like poetry than prose. I was shocked to discover that he was younger than myself. I was saddened to find out that he was killed on the way to his beloved mountains.
Later, when I joined the Sierra Club and then the Hundred Peaks Section, I discovered that a mountain in one of his favorite areas had been named in his honor. I think that he would be pleased with the choice of peaks. From the day that I first climbed this peak, it has been my favorite peak on the BPS list. When John Cheslick offered to assist me on an HPS trip, Jenkins was my first choice.
On a very cold and windy Saturday morning, our group met at Walker Pass. As everyone was shivering and eager to be on their way, we headed north up the Pacific Crest Trail shortly after 7:00am. The cool weather continued until we reached the Jenkins plaque about five miles up the trail. Here I paused to explain what little I knew of him.
After this, became noticeably warmer. We continued until we reached the ridge which descends ENE from the summit. (I think this is incorrectly described in the peak guide). We then went up this ridge to the summit block. This last section is rather unique. The craggy area near the summit looks very intimidating from a distance. As you get nearer it seems to get worse and worse until you are almost there. At the last minute an opening appears and the summit is actually quite simple to climb.
We paused for a snack here and enjoyed the grand view of the Domelands to the west and the lower end of the Owens Valley to the east. When everyone was ready, we retraced our steps until we reached the saddle just north of Morris. We climbed the steep soft slope up to the top of the ridge and then a short stroll east brought us to the summit.
I had originally planned to descend the south ridge back to the Pacific Crest Trail but my memory of the route was that it was quite rocky in spots. Instead I opted to go down the west side. This slope is very soft and easy going. After reaching the trail, we headed on back to the cars.
I was disappointed to find that we lost several people Sunday who had to return home on Saturday evening. Can you imagine people letting little things like blisters and their jobs interfere with hiking? We did have three people join us for Sunday's hike to Owens Peak. I think we had nine people total for this peak.
Owens went well. We did have a close call with a failing rock. One of our party did have some scratched knees to show for it, but he came through it OK. One note here. This incident happened at the rest break! The victim was actually napping when this happened. It pays to stay alert on steep slopes!
Sunday was much warmer than Saturday. After a cold drink back at Powers Well we said good-bye to Jenkins and headed our separate ways.
I would like to congratulate John Cheslick on his list finish during a previous trip (he's starting to talk about the second one already!) and to thank him for his assistance.
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