RT Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1654’
I know these peaks are NOT named Covid and Corona, but they don’t actually have names, and these seemed appropriate. Also, I don’t expect these to become permanent names, as I know naming a peak is a process.
The story of these peaks actually begins a few months ago, when I ordered a topper for my truck. I ordered this topper weeks before the stay at home orders, but due to the Coronavirus scare it was slow to arrive. Very slow. Finally, this week it came in and I was able to have it put on. I spent the next few days sprucing it up, adding a mattress, blankets, pillows, and storage containers with necessities (food, cooking gear, toiletries, etc.). I added the curtains and lights. I was pleased with the setup.
We made it to the spot we planned to spend the night early, and had elk sausage and baked potatoes for dinner, heated over a fire.
We found a grub in some firewood. I wanted to eat it, but it slipped into the fire…
We cleaned up and waited for the sun to set. And waited. And waited. Steffen dug out some rhyolite rocks with my ice axe and I just relaxed and waited for the sun to set.
But it just didn’t seem to want to set! I wanted to see the city lights before going to bed. It took me way too long to realize we’d be getting up in the dark anyways, and I’d see them soon enough. I decided to err on the side of sleep and see them in the morning.
Lessons learned during the night:
• 4 blankets/sleeping bags aren’t enough for 25* weather
• Wear a hat and jacket and gloves to bed
• The metal on the side of the truck is cold
• Set out everything you need for the morning before you go to bed (clothes, food, toothbrush, etc)
OK, so it wasn’t as warm as I’d anticipated, but that’s why we were doing this the first time close to home, to figure this kind of stuff out.
My alarm went off at 4:30am and I didn’t want to get up. It had snowed a bit overnight. I wasn’t warm, but I didn’t want to give up the covers either. Eventually the need to pee won and I got up. We decided to drive to the trailhead with the heater running in the truck and warm up, then have breakfast/coffee in the truck before heading out for our hike. Oh, and the lights were indeed beautiful!
We made it to the Mason Reservoir trailhead, parked, and made breakfast. We were on the trail by 6:30am. To be fair, the drive took us over an hour (Old Stage Road is in need of repair!!!)
We did not head towards the reservoir but instead went west
Crossing a creek and heading up the mountainside to the ridge
In the beginning it looked like there might actually be a trail, but we soon lost it in the snow
At the ridge we turned right (north) and followed the ridge to the end
The snow ranged from non existent to several feet deep. We were able to get away without using snowshoes all the way to the peak
We just kept aiming north, towards the peak
The summit of the peak wasn’t obvious. There was no summit register or cairn or anything indicating we were at a summit. I figured that was because this peak was so obscure. So we decided to leave a summit register and name Peak 11,749 Covid Peak.
We left the summit register where someone would find it and were on our way
We followed the ridge northwest down, immediately needing snowshoes
The snow was very deep and we were both glad we’d decided to take this hike in a clockwise direction: this would not have been fun to hike up! At one point we saw a well defined (but old) trench that was pretty large and looked like a human trench but weaved through the trees without breaking any branches. We realized it must be a trench from a large animal (thinking mountain lion, not bear). This area was very steep
At the bottom of the ridge we came to a marshy area and headed east towards our next peak
The marshy area had what looked like water gates
We crossed a dirt road, and then just headed northwest up the ridge
Snowshoes were needed here. We came across some recent orange flags and figured they would lead us up the peak. They led us about ¾ of the way, and then disappeared
The actual summit of this mountain was difficult to surmise. We weren’t sure if it was on the north end or the south end of the mountain, as both points looked equal. We hiked all the way to the south end and found this rock.
It felt like the highest point, so we climbed on top and I took a reading with my altimeter. It’s a serious class 5 climb, and we used the tree as leverage to get to the top.
Then we hiked back to the north side (about 1/10th of a mile away) and I took another reading with my altimeter. This point was anticlimactic and measured 10 feet higher. I was kind of disappointed the summit didn’t require a class 5 move, but it made the summit more attainable for everyone. There wasn’t a summit marker/register/cairn, etc. so we made one, naming 11,510 Corona Peak.
We left the summit register in the middle of a pile of snow at what was the highpoint
Making this a loop we set out again towards the south side of the mountain, passing the large boulder and heading down the south ridge towards the reservoir.
We made it back to the road and followed it around the reservoir
We found a frozen drain and Steffen had fun trying to break the ice with my ice axe
The road was easy to follow
There was a major cornice forming off the reservoir
We made it back to my truck without incident and headed back down the mountain.
Here’s the topo:
Oh, and that truck that was off the side of the road last week? It’s still there…
We were now on our way to Cow Mountain. This took us further down Old Stage Road, and through a tunnel.
Unfortunately, we met up with some unanticipated locked gates and private property, so we had to change our plans. Scott’s Ranch blocked our drive with a locked gate. On the positive side, we saw a flock of turkeys