Alta Peak
June 30, 2020
15.6 miles, +4,500’
For Father’s Day weekend, I went down to Fresno for a couple of hikes with my dad. For Saturday, we settled on Alta Peak, an 11,200’ SPS-listed peak in Sequoia National Park not too far off the General’s Highway. This is a popular peak, according to peakbagger.com, it’s the 18th most popular of all SPS peaks, just ahead of Mount Russell. We planned to climb and descend the trail from Wolverton to the summit.
After a couple hours drive from Fresno, we arrived at the trailhead and started hiking at 8:30. It was reasonably quiet as we headed up the trail to Panther Gap. I didn’t take many pictures until the views got better near the summit, and I don’t think it’s necessary to comment on the route - it’s a maintained trail in a National Park, so let’s jump straight to the summit views.
Foxtails growing high above Alta Meadow with views of the Kaweahs and Great Western Divide to the south/southeast.
The Kaweahs (Black Kaweah is the dark pointy one at right) and the Great Western Divide from near the summit. The snowy peak in the background is Mount Whitney, recognizable from it’s flat-ish summit and the needles to its south.
Summit panorama of the entire Great Western Divide and beyond.
Close up of Black Kaweah.
This marmot was poking around the summit trying to steal food from people resting on top.
With my 200mm lens I was able to get a hazy view all the way to Mount Goddard (highest peak at left), the Black Divide, and Mount Darwin (flat-topped mountain at right).
The recognizable flat top of Table Mountain, and Midway Mountain to its south.
Close up of Mount Whitney. You can even see the building on the summit.
We decided to be a bit adventurous and descend cross-country north from the summit towards Pear Lake and then follow the Pear Lake trail back to Wolverton.
Looking back at the summit after traversing a little bit east. On this traverse, you have to either drop down a couple hundred feet and sidehill across sand, or scramble over some large boulders. We went with the latter, but I don’t think it saved us any time. The initial drop off the ridge was steep for two hundred feet, but then it got a lot easier.
A creek flowing down towards Pear Lake.
Pear Lake from above. To avoid the steep cliffs at the south end of the lake, we cut across and dropped directly west to the narrow part at the middle of the lake.
Looking back up at Alta Peak from Pear Lake. We found the Pear Lake ranger out cleaning up campfire rings from the night before, probably a weekly task for him. There were also several groups camped near the lake outlet.
Overlooking the Pear Lake Cabin from the trail.
The rest of the hike passed uneventfully, we took the direct trail over The Hump back to the car, passing a few parties heading in each direction. I tried to take some nice photos of the flowers and trees but couldn’t quite master the light conditions.