Black Hawk Mountain
By: Patty Kline
I led this trip with Mars Bonfire as my coleader. All 8 of the participants got this peak on a picture perfect weather weekend. We had a relaxed pace, making it a 2 day backpack in the Stanislaus National Forest and Emigrant Wilderness. The group got under way about 8:30 am at the Kennedy Meadows parking lot. This is the Kennedy Meadow west of Sonora Pass off of Highway 108, not the Kennedy Meadows off of 395 south of Little Lake. It is about a 10 hour drive from Los Angeles via 395. Here are the driving directions from the east. Take Highway 395 north of Bridgeport 17 miles and turn left on 108 where it joins 395. Go west over Sonora Pass, a narrow, winding road which is one lane in spots to the Kennedy Meadow Road. The Kennedy Meadow Road is located between mile marker 57 and 58 on Highway 108. The parking lot is.6 of a mile from Highway 108 on the Kennedy Meadow Road. There is one night camping at the trail head parking lot. The is also a large campground at the intersection of 108 and the Kennedy Meadow Road, which allows several nights of camping. The Kennedy Meadow Resort is there with a store, restaurant and telephone. The somewhat shorter drive from the west is as follows. Take 99 to Merced, 59 and J59 through Sonora, and 108 east through Mi-Wuk Village to the Kennedy Meadow Road between mile marker 57 and 58. Permits are available up to one week in advance at Mi-Wuk Village Ranger Station or at Pinecrest (Summit Ranger Station). There is a 15 person limit. We walked the .6 of a mile down the paved road to the Kennedy Meadow resort, through the resort and on to a dirt road which soon became the Kennedy Meadow Pack Trail at 6400'. This trail follows the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River. The trail then went above the Relief Reservoir for a while before getting into a thick forest. Some of us took a split break in the forest since there was no relief at the Relief Reservoir. This entire trail was thick in several inches of finely churned dust, horse and pack mule droppings. It wasn't exactly a delicate smell or an ideal wilderness experience. About 6 miles out we passed Saucer Meadow. We were now on the 7.5 minute Emigrant Lake Quad and off of the 7.5 Sonora Pass Quad of the USGS Maps. At about 8 miles out we turned off the trail at UTM 355627 and dropped 100 feet to a stream. We found a very wide spot to cross on logs a few feet above the river and I walked through the water calf deep to cool off. We camped under the trees on the SW side of the stream along with the many mosquitos. There was an old fire ring where we centered our happy hour. Our camp was at 8400'. With the ups and downs of the trail, stats for the day were 8 miles and 2500'of gain.
Sunday morning we left about 7:30 for the peak going cross-country circling N of peak 9127 (located at UTM 342624) and reached the most easterly of the Lewis Lakes at UTM 338619. From there we went due east to a tam at UTM 349625 where we curved south up the N ridge of peak 9523. Then we went down the S ridge of the same peak to scenic Black Hawk Lake. Air Touch cell phones based Los Angeles works in the area if you forgot to make that phone call at the resort. Then we went SE towards the peak avoiding the steep snow field to the east. We stayed at the tundra like summit at 10,348'about 45 minutes taking in the view. The scenery was majestic for our whole cross-country route in contrast to the wooded rolling terrain for the hike in on trail.
I estimate we did about 4 miles round trip from camp to get the peak. The total stats for the weekend were 20 miles and 4500 feet of gain. There was plenty of water and no sign of bears. It is a very beautiful area and a peak that will stand out in my mind for a long time.
The participants were Jane Gibbons, Patrick Wood, Sara Wyrens, Gary Bowen and Barb and
Howard Eyerly. Thanks to Mars Bonfire for scouting it ahead and doing the route finding to the peak and the great group of people on the trip.
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