Joined: 12 Jun 2011
|Posted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:02 pm Post subject: Slide Mountain LO and Dome Mountain
|I spend way too much time twiddling with Cal Topo maps and thinking about different routes and possible highpoints to hit up. An obscure peak in the Los Padres caught my attention that is just under 5.000 feet so gets no love from the HPS crowd. It is located on the same ridge as White Mountain that you normally hike from the north with Cobblestone. I was relying on the Day fire having burned the brush completely and to not have a full growth back even ten years later in order to manage this one. I found one write up of this hike from late last year and the brush situation seemed manageable which meant a definite maybe.
The route would leave from Frenchman's Flat below Pyramid Lake and access Slide Mtn. which I have done before. The weather was perfect as I walked the two miles on paved road to the fireroad that leads to the ridge. The lower section was exceptionally buggy as it seems everything is out with the warmer weather. The higher section was more open and had some nice flowers including poppies and paintbrush This ridge always seems to have a nice breeze on it as you get a good view of the backcountry including the ridge you will hike. A burned wooden pole is the only evidence of the old trail down to Beartrap Canyon. Some switchbacking gets you to the top of Slide and the lookout in about two hours. You can climb the LO and look inside at all the goodies they have in there. For whatever reason this peak is rarely climbed even though it is a nice moderate hike.
To get to Dome you backtrack along the trail until you see the obvious ridge that drops ~400-500 feet to the saddle. Also note that there is a ribbon tied at this point as ribbons will be evident all throughout the hike and are helpful in getting through the brush. The initial descent while steep is essentially brush free. The slope in front of you when you reach the saddle that you need to climb is not and has some head high brush to contend with. Remember the ribbons, follow them, and contour to the south until you notice space opening up. Continue to follow the ribbons where you see them and climb a less brushy south-east slope.
Once on the main ridge the brush drops off noticeable as you head towards Pt. 4692. Once again stick to the south side of the ridge as you climb a gradual rise through more thicker brush to get to this point. Pt. 4692 is long and flat remember where you accessed it because it is easy to drop off too early on the return and have to contend with some shoulder high manzanita to transition back to the south side of the ridge.
The next section of the ridge is the most delightful as the ridge narrows and the brush is very easy to avoid. As you approach the final climb to Dome brush starts to get thicker so start to look out for the ribbons as they will help you ease your way through these sections. The final climb up Dome is easiest if you contour a bit to the north but overall has lots of spaces with a little push through the brush. I found it impossible to follow the ribbon maze and met up with them here or there. Finally you're on top which is completely brush covered and it is a bit difficult to find the benchmark until you see a parade of ribbons greeting you towards the south. There is some old rusted stuff there as well as miscellaneous garbage left over from previous people that have hiked here in days past. I was kind of hoping to find this spot pretty unspoiled but it does look like few people have been here recently. The views were poor as it was quite hazy and the clouds were coming in.
It had taken me an hour and a half to cover the roughly two miles to get here from the Slide LO trail. The remainder of the route to White looked like similar brush and would probably take a similar amount of time. I suppose a long car pool could be an idea for a hike. On the route back I was a little bit more cocky and stopped looking for best routes and just crashed through the brush as I saw it. I ended up scaring a couple of snakes which scared me a bit too but fortunately none were rattlers. The only section I wanted to be careful about was the descent of the initial climb with the really high brush. I didn't quite get it right but still found a reasonable route with minimal thrashing. The last 500 feet climb back to the trail was a slow affair but not too bad because the ridge overall was quite gentle with its elevation gain and most of the energy had been expended in the brush. I finally hit the trail and took a well deserved rest and descended back to the paved road.
The whole hike took 6 hours and 40 minutes with about 14 miles hiked and 3,500 feet elevation gain. A fun brush-fest adventure to a rarely visited peak.