By: Virgil Sisson
On May 29th a party of seven, Chuck McQuillan, John Vitz, Ralph and Don Gabner, Polly Connable, Bill Clifton (leader), and myself caravanned after Bill's jeep from Bridgeport on Highway 22 to the Silverado Canyon turnoff (23 miles) for the climb of Wheeler Peak (11664). John and Chuck decided to make this climb the next day from Patterson so five of us rode the jeep over the steep and narrow jeep road from 6800' to Boulder Flat at 10200' (7 miles). We had the company of three other jeeps at the flat, their occupants being busy exploring old mine ruins. After lunch we made the two mile climb to Wheeler. The return to Highway 22 was made during the afternoon without difficulty and we continued past the Sweetwater Ranch to the turnoff for Sweetwater Creek (4 miles) and the campground on the creek (7200' and 4 miles) where we met John and Chuck who had already established our camp site among the pinyon pines. The following morning all seven of us rode the jeep up the jeep road to the trailhead across the creek and a short distance from the Nugent Cabin (8300' and 4 miles). We then hiked up the remaining jeep road and the trail up Sweetwater Canyon, the trail ending a short distance past an old cabin at the Anglo Mission Mine. We followed the gully to the head of the canyon coming out on the crest (11000' and 3-1/2 miles). Mt. Patterson, being the highest point on the ridge, is apparent from there and is about a mile distant.
Having climbed the peak the year before, I waited on the crest for Don, Ralph, Polly, and Bill to make the climb and return for a cross country hike to South Sister (11339), the third named peak in the range. John and Chuck made their intended traverse to Wheeler, (2-1/2 miles) Our hike to South Sister (3-1/2 miles) was made during the afternoon with a descent from the peak to the jeep where we joined John and Chuck. The hikes from Patterson are over relatively gentle country with losses of elevation of 500 to 600 feet. All of us were in camp by five.
Our weather was excellent and the views from the peaks of the northern Sierra and surrounding desert ranges were outstanding. All climbing is first class and there is ample water in the creeks. At the end of May there is sufficient snow to be interesting and result in good pictures. All of us considered that Patterson would be a reasonable addition to the qualifying peaks list.
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