Sunday Peak, Bohna Peak, Split Mountain, Black Mountain #5
By: Alan Coles
Leaders: Alan Coles, Frank Goodykoontz
The meeting point for this trip was Greenhorn Summit at 7 but several of us spent the night at the Black Mtn trailhead. It was a pleasant and quiet spot to spend the night for some of us who got there late on Friday evening until the Kernville Chainsaw Massacrer arrived at 5 am and began his carnage on the pile of wood left by t e loggers. Yes, I knew it was a firewood gathering point but who would have thought they begin at this time of the morning?
This place and the surrounding mountains have undergone quite a number of changes since I first saw them 7 years ago. The Big Fire of August, 1990 is the latest. It did not reach the buildings around our meeting point and the forest there is as dense and green as it always has been. The air was cool and dry and an almost perfect day for hiking.
There were 17 of us once all were consolidated back at the trailhead. After the perfunctory notices at the beginning of the hike, we set off down the road that goes around Black Mtn. I did not arrange a shuttle here because it would not have saved much time. The road that continues north past the Black Mtn Saddle is in good shape for another mile and 4WD vehicles can now drive to within 100 meters of the Black/Split Ridge. At this spot we took a break and surveyed the fire damage which extended over a broad area that includes most of Black Mtn and the canyons that run into Bull Run Creek, just west of Kernville.
This was a very intense fire. So hot did it burn that in places all that is left of many trees is the hole where the trunk once stood and the collapsed tunnels of the burned out roots. The brush burned so thoroughly in places that the entire crowns are gone leaving a gray lunar landscape. There were signs of life as we continued down the ridge to Split but in most places the fire completely sterilized the soil. Some of the crowns are beginning to come back and flowers appear in areas that were partially protected from the heat of the flames. The fire did not get much beyond this ridge which must have had the residents of Wofford Heights greatly concerned.
With almost no major obstacles on the way to Split, we reached the summit early around 10:30. After enjoying the fine views on this clear day, we returned on the trail our feet had made in the barren soil.
On the way up to Black there was ample evidence that this fire was heavily suppressed with an assault on the environment that was nearly as bad as the fire itself Rows of trees were mowed down to produce fire breaks with caterpillar tracks up and down everywhere. The upper part of the peak was saved but at a high cost. Proof once again that this forest belongs to the loggers.
We reached the top of Black much earlier than expected, around 1. This was a new experience for me since the group usually struggles to get here by 4. With so much time left over we took a long, leisurely break on top basking in the warm sun and enjoying the fine solitude that was occasionally interrupted by sound of snoring (I won't mention who).
I led the group back on a direct route since the old trail is obliterated in places. This worked out quite well except I got a little too far to the west and hit the road about 1/4 mile before the cars. We were back before 3.
The uptown ladies, Devra and Nancy, came out looking like coal miners so they and others in the group longed for the creature comforts of Tilly Creek CG with its hot showers and proximity to civilized dining. However, the leader prefers more rustic locations and the motoring sounds of urbanization around L. Isabella were not quite what he had in mind. So most of the group followed him over to Cedar Ck CG where, amazingly, the upper 2 sites were empty.
This was a beautiful spot with alders, incense cedars and mixed oaks shading a bubbling stream that runs through a deep canyon textured with rusty granite walls and florescent green slopes of miners lettuce. Some of us went for a short walk up this enchanting, colorful canyon to a waterfall.
I did not plan a community salad this time because most people tend to eat out when doing these peaks. But everyone, including those that went for showers, stayed and cooked dinner! After Frank got done burning up his Whisperlight stove, we had the real campfire with wood brought by Dave (none of us thought about taking some from Black Mtn). One by one, each left the scene ... (well) until the fire was put out around 9:30. It was a perfect night to camp out in the open and all had one of the best nights sleep in a while with no chainsaws to wake us up.
Too well for Frank, I had to jump start him in the morning. It was cool but not cold and things got going pretty well once we got the cars loaded. The meeting point for Sunday on Sunday was Sandy Ck Rd and Hwy 155 at 7:30 and the 14 returning participants were all there (George, Mike and Walia found other accommodations that night). We drove up the dirt road for 1.8 miles 0 miles further than the point mentioned in the peak guide) to where a jeep road intersects on the right and ascends the broad ridge. The high clearance vehicles parked 100' up the jeep trail near the cow watering trough while the other vehicles parked along the road. This is a trailhead for the forest service maintained trail that goes to Sunday and Bohna though few peakbaggers, know about it!
We squeezed into 3 cars and drove over to the Sunday trailhead and began our hike around 9. There were 2' to 3' snow drifts most of the way up and many seemed impressed by the contrast with the previous day's hike. It was quiet, shady and cool with the sound of feet crunching over snow. It didn't take long to reach the top of Sunday which has a fantastic view in all directions. The Sierra was covered with a fresh mantle of snow and a few clouds shrouded the highest peak in the continental U.S.
Reluctantly, we left about 30 minutes later and 1/4 mile down at the trail junction said good-bye to Alice who only wanted this peak. The rest of us continued west down this seldom used trail which descends steeply in places but is in otherwise fine shape. At 1 mile past Sunday there is another junction marked by a 4X4 post with nails in it. The main trail continues west but we took the left fork which goes south towards Bohna Pk.
At first this trail is deceiving since it travels on the east ridge, then crosses over below the spring to the main Bohna ridge. It was rebuilt about 5 year ago and is in fine shape most of the way although it can be hard to find in places. It follows the top of the main ridge so it's always easy to locate. We followed it over bump 6991' and then steeply descended into the saddle north of Bohna. From the saddle we left the trail and climbed the easy 400' gain to the top which we reached before noon.
Pink phlox were flowering in all the spots between the lichen covered rocks on this gentle summit. We relaxed for a while and some of us led by Frank climbed the impressive rock formation at the south end of the summit. This is an outstanding spot and is easier to climb than it looks. Those that do Bohna and never climb this rock have missed a really great view.
We left just before 1 and descended back into the same saddle. From there we continued following this really nice (and somewhat unknown) trail back to the cars reaching them in less than 30 minutes.
Many thanks to all participants (Jim Kilberg, John Rada1j, Alice Cahill, Leslie Metcalfe, Devra Wasserman, Steve Nardi, Dave Welbourne, Walia Ringeler, Mike Fredette, Nancy Bell, George Schroedter, Delores Holladay, Doug Hatfield, Hoda Shalaby and Jack Haddad) and especially Frank for making it a very nice weekend.
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