Shaver Lake trip Report
With the lack of rain and snow this winter, I feared the 5th Annual outing of this trip would be a let down. Driving through Auberry an electric sign showed the outside temperature was 72*, this is the middle of February! There was next to no snow at the camp ground. We usually shovel a few feet of snow to expose the top of the picnic tables. Steps are carved into the snow to make your way down to your tent. Holes are dug to use as fire rings. None of this was happening.
We arrived around 2:30pm and met the SoCal guys, who had been there for a few hours. After introductions with everyone and getting the tents setup, a small group of us headed out to scout the trail conditions. Rock Creek Rd. (usually the “trail” for this run) was patchy with snow. What usually takes 4 hours of driving to reach the Bald Mountain trailhead was accomplished in about 15 minutes. The last section of Rock Creek Rd. and Bald Mountain itself was covered in snow. We walked a few hundred feet up the trail and headed back to camp.
The next morning we all left Camp Edison just before 9am, and aired down at the Rock Creek Rd. turnoff. After a quick driver meeting we were off. The weather was cloudy and foggy at times, compared to the near cloudless sky the day before. A couple minutes after we were on Bald Mountain we hit the first fork in the road. I didn’t have my trail book with me (from Charles Wells), but I knew going to the right was the North Loop, and the way I expected we would travel. To the left were tire tracks, to the right untouched snow. I figured the local guys knew which way to go so I opted to follow their tracks along the left fork, or the Southern Loop.
The gps route loaded on my iPhone was made by hand in Google Earth, using a scanned image of the trail from the trail book. It was pretty accurate, and coupled with the tire tracks route finding wasn’t too hard for the most part. There were times though, when visibility was barely 100’ and spotting/following the tracks proved difficult.
Our first obstacle was a rock ledge that made for a fun photo opp, but didn’t pose enough of a challenge for us. The first real section that had some technical challenge was a little off camber coming out of a stream and making it around a small tree on the left. This area was part of a trail maintenance project that NCLR was a part of a few years ago. It is marked by metal railings along the left of the trail. Alan slid a little too much and got some grit between the wheel and tire. You could hear the air escape at certain times as the wheel rolled and the tire compressed.
Right after that we were driving in the stream and got off camber to the right this time over a few sections. Eventually I reached a barrier that got me high centered and we had to take the bypass. The bypass involved climbing out of the streambed and over the bank covered with snow. We continued along the trail, making our way higher and higher.
There were a few Toyota’s on the trail and at one point I stopped and talked to one of the drivers. They said they made it to the top, and we were only 15 minutes away. We came to an uphill section that was giving me problems due to a ledge that I couldn’t get over. Lutz took a line to my right along some exposed rocks and was able to make it up. About half of the group continued up to the top, while the rest of the group stayed behind for lunch.
At the top is was very hard to see anything. I knew the fire lookout tower was nearby but I had to walk around to find it. There is a pretty shear drop-off from the backside of Bald Mountain, and if the weather was any worse, you may not be able to see where the mountain ends and the drop-off begins. We parked for a lineup shot, but you couldn’t get all of the trucks in the shot without them disappearing in the fog/mist. A Club sticker was left on the tower, hopefully it sticks, but it was frozen steel.
Graeme and Ann snow shoed their way to the top from the group who stayed behind for lunch. When they rejoined to group, Graeme realized he lost his key for the D2. Luckily Colin was there to remove the security lockout and got the truck to start with a screwdriver.
We slowly made our way down the mountain until we had to get back into the stream. I didn’t have a spotter and made it through after getting a little two wheeled tippiness. Tyler was second and made it through without a spotter too. Chuck got out and spotted the rest of the trucks over the bank. There were a few occasions when people were using themselves as ballast. In hindsight I should have been in more of the Trail Leader role and not had people touching the vehicles to get them through the obstacle. Thankfully no one got hurt on this occasion.
On the way down Colin managed to bend his tie rod, and Barron popped a bead, but they were able to join the group at the trailhead to air up the tires. By the time we were moving on Rock Creek Rd. the sun had gone down and we made our way to dinner, pizza at Shaver Lake Pizza.