It's been a bit since I've been in a position to throw a couple "local" peaks at you. Here's the antidote, Antimony Peak and Eagle Rest. With names like these they'd both made my to-do list, and they'd sat there for a bit too long. I've been a bit busy with life stuff, like a 3-room house expansion which is now well under way. As a consequence of all the ruckus I've felt myself getting soft, weak, a shining example of American sloth. I needed to arrest the slide. I teemed with Jack Elliott for this one.
These two summits can be found in the San Emigdio Range just north of Mt Pinos. They are connected by a forested ridge which descends a fairly respectable unsanctioned trail. This day is deceptively tough for a number of reasons. The trailhead to Antimony starts high, and on exiting the truck at the trailhead I was immediately struck by the understanding that everything in this neighborhood is big, big and steep. As I've noted before, sometimes it's not the number of miles but what's in them that matters.
|A detail of the day's work. The elevation profile is below.|
Departing the Antimony trailhead we rapidly descended a densely forested ridge. In a couple places the forest parted and the bleached white face of the peak gleamed brightly in the rising sun. At the bottom of the base of Antimony we settled in for a pretty darn steep 900ft climb to the summit. The trail didn't waste any time going up, zig-zagging toward the sky. We soon topped out on a small flat, kind of a saddle, and a thin use trail headed up hill a short hop to the summit. Much of the view from the top is obscured by pine trees, but to the south a view of the Mt Pinos ridge is on full display. Back at the saddle we had a great view of Eagle Rest Peak.
|The summit on Antimony, and the view south toward Mt Pinos, which can be seen in the distance.|
|Looking northeast from Antimony.|
|The Antimony Peak register.|
|Eagle Rest, from the saddle under Antimony.|
Taking off from Antimony we descended a very steep trail through the forest. When I say "steep" I mean that this part of the morning descended more than 1,300ft in less than a mile. By the time we reached the bottom of this stretch we'd passed through the pines and into the scrub oak and juniper zone. Both of us stood there at the bottom for a minute, both of us commenting on quivering quads and expressing gratitude that we had no intention of going back the way we'd come. We switched gears and climbed 500ft up a brushy knob before descending another thousand feet to a saddle directly beneath Eagle Rest. I have to say, getting to Eagle Rest and returning by the same route seems like a recipe for suffering.
|Looking west into San Emigdio Canyon from beneath Eagle Rest.|
|Looking east toward the Plieto Hills and the Wind Wolves Preserve.|
|And finally, looking straight up Eagle Rest.|
From the saddle we faced another murderous little climb, this one ascending a bit over 1,000ft in just a half mile. That doesn't leave a lot of room for switchbacks. Essentially, this thing just goes straight up to the summit. It's a sporty little thing, a little steep, a little loose, some high stepping through the rock bands up high. This climb got my heart taching right along. We knocked it out quickly and were soon standing amongst a collection of weathered boulders which crown the summit. I was awash in sweat and after dropping pack I turned my back to the cooling breeze. Moments later I clambered to the top of the tallest summit rock and was greeted by a remarkable view. Much of the horizon was dominated by the vast expanse of the Central Valley. Looking northwest I could make out Maricopa and Taft, and could even see the glimmer of Soda Lake on the Carrizo. Somewhere northeast, snuffed by agricultural haze, lay Bakersfield. Just a few shadows above the haze represented the Tehachapi Mountains. Looking south I was reminded once again that no matter what our exit route might hold in store, at least we weren't going back up to Antimony.
|Looking east toward the Plieto Hills and the Tehachapis.|
|Jack, on the summit of Eagle Rest.|
|A view down lower San Emidio Canyon toward Maricopa, Taft, and the Carrizo.|
Done with the summit we descended a couple hundred feet off the peak and departed the trail, heading down a northwest ridge coming off the peak. The idea was to descend this all the way into San Emigdio Canyon, a drop of over 2,500ft. We found indications of a use trail, seldom traveled and somewhat overgrown, that traversed the edge of this steep and slender ridge. We committed to the trail and it took us all the way down, though the going wasn't always easy.
|Looking back up toward Eagle Rest from the descent ridge.|
|Lower San Emigdio Canyon, aka the Devils Kitchen.|
|Our route out and up to Pine Mountain Club, San Emigdio Canyon.|
|Eagle rest from a few feet above the canyon.|
Once more my quads were sparking with complaint at the steep descent, but here we were at the bottom of it all with just 4.5 miles of hot, brushy canyon to go. We set off immediately and without preamble. After fighting through about a mile of chest high chamissa we heard water in the creek to our right. We broke right and took a good cool down on a shaded gravel bench next to a happy little creek. After another couple miles of arduous and brushy creek bed navigating we hit an old trail which climbed us the rest of the way out. Good day, tough but enjoyable. Recommended.
|Gratuitous old guy selfie.|