Alright, now here's a peak that I hadn't done. I'd looked at it a million or so times but hadn't gotten around to ticking it off the list. Sulfer Peak sits squarely above Tar Creek and is accessed via the old Tar Creek Trail which continues down to the Sespe. This was a really cool peak. A great climb culminating in one of the best "view summits" in our neighborhood. This is an adventurous climb, not too big on mileage, but mean enough to make up for that. This peak is, in hiker parlance, a "Seldom Visited Site", or in this case "Seldom Visited Summit" (SVS). The most recent signature in the summit register was dated 05/2009.
The weather forcast had improved a bit and the latest rainy system wasn't scheduled to hit SoCal until the afternoon. I figured I could get in and out before the rain hit. I got an uncharacteristically late start, began walking from the Tar Creek TH at 0645. I jogged down to the creek and continued across to pick up the trail on the other side. This portion of the route climbs out of the creek and heads roughly north before heading west across the foot of Sulfer Peak. This trail is in pretty good shape, though some portions are a bit brushy and there are a few washed out parts. If you find this part of the day to be brushy and unpleasant then maybe Sulfer Peak isn't your cup of tea.
|Left to Right: Bear Haven, sun on Topatopa Peak and Devil's Heart, and Sulfer Peak on the far right.|
|Bear Haven and the West Fork Sespe.|
I banged out a quick couple miles under Sulfer and I was soon beneath the largest and longest ridge descending from the summit. I jumped off the trail and started heading up. Here's where the day gets interesting. There is no trail up this peak. I can say this with authority. On my ascent I found several trail ducks but these didn't correlate to anything I'd call trail, historic or otherwise, so how about a nice big serving of brush, rocks, and charred manzanita? The ridge climbs for roughly 2 miles, gaining around 2,200ft of elevation. It's not a nice climb, but it is entertaining.
|I hung a right and started uphill shortly after passing this culvert and that rock.|
|Looking back down the "Brush Buffet" toward Tar Creek.|
|Ridge to the summit, which is visible way in the distance.|
|Find the rock slabs through the middle of the summit slog. It'll help considerably.|
|Easy street. Find the slabs.|
I achieved the summit in 2hours:58minutes from the truck. This is an open and rocky summit, perfect for taking in grand views of Topa, Hines, Cobblestone and Whiteacre peaks. I was a bit surprised to find a small cairn at the high point. Inside the cairn was a summit register with a handfull of scribblings dating to 2004. Like I said, not many folks have come this way. I really enjoyed this summit, the whole day really. Tough Peak. Good stuff. After a 40minute summit sojourn it was time to turn it around, especially if I didn't want to get rained on.
|The summit cairn with Whiteacre Peak immediately behind it.|
|Topatopa Peak from the west, if you enlarge the picture you can see a hint of the old fire tower on the summit.|
I started down, reversing the path that took me here. My recomendation for those who might want to do this peak is to bring a GPS and keep the track open all the way up and down. Getting off route on the descent can put you on the wrong arm of the mountain or even worse, in a drainage. Use care on the descent and it will save you from ending up in a true briar patch. If all else fails, below is a white sandstone slab that drains into Tar Creek. This feature is visible from almost anywhere with a view on the south side of Sulfer Peak. Before getting there the trail back to Tar will be visible. It's all about how much abuse you incur in the process of getting down, a little or a lot.
|When descending, aim for this prominent drainage which flows into Tar. The route back to Tar Creek can be seen on the left.|
|Sulfer Peak boasts some of the most dramatic views of our local backcountry.|