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We recently got wrapped up in moving, and got tied down for a couple weekends while we moved our belongings and unpacked. After a few weeks without getting our outside time, we could really start to feel the effects. On October 13th, we made some time for a day hike, despite still having much to do at the new house. We loaded up the dogs, who were also suffering from bouts of cabin fever, and headed for Round Top in the Mokelumne Wilderness.
Typically we hike into this area from the top of Carson Pass, utilizing a section of the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses the highway. During the summer months, this is the best way to avoid the swarms of mosquitoes that lurk in the woods below. For this Fall hike though, we chose the Woods Lake trailhead, just to the east of the pass. This a somewhat quicker route to Round Top Lake. As expected, we didn’t encounter any mosquitoes this late in the year.
We parked at the very full Woods Lake trailhead, paid our $5 parking fee, then found the nearby trail to Round Top Lake, also known as the Lost Cabin Mine Trail. Although this trailhead is more direct, it is a few hundred feet lower than Carson Pass trailhead. You can definitely tell there is more climbing involved as you make your way up to the lake. It’s an interesting trail though. It shares and parallels the old mine road, and even passes a few relics of the mining operation long gone.
For years, I was always curious what the names of the jagged peaks south of the Carson Valley were. Earlier this year, I finally got on Google Earth and answered my question. Raymond Peak is one of these mountains. The next question was, “Could I climb it?”. I don’t have any skills with ropes, and I don’t like exposures either. Further investigation revealed that the route to the top of the mountain was hikeable, so I put it on my bucket list of things to do before the end of the year.
At 10,014 feet elevation, Raymond Peak is the 3rd highest peak in the Mokelumne Wilderness, an area which straddles the Pacific Crest between SR4 (Ebbetts Pass) and SR88 (Carson Pass). The 105,165 acre Wilderness includes portions of the Toiyabe, Stanislaus, and El Dorado National Forests, and lies in the mid-Sierra region between Lake Tahoe to the north and the High Sierra to the south. The peak lies just east of the Sierra Crest, about six miles north of Ebbetts Pass. The Whitney Survey named the peak in 1865 for Rossiter W. Raymond, a US mineral examiner and commissioner of mining statistics in the Treasury Department.
On August 18th, three friends and I planned to climb the peak. The forecast was for thundershowers later in the day, but it was already pretty dark and cloudy at 7:00 AM when we left Carson City. As we drove through the Carson Valley, Raymond Peak was blurred in gray storm clouds off in the distance. We nervously joked that we sure picked a great day to do this.