KING LEAR PEAK (8,910') May 26-28, 1979

This was a first for the chapter, and one of their best trips ever. I had a scheduled lead to do a snowy Sierra peak, with climbing gear required, but no takers. Allowed then to attend this popular trip, signed up for by mostly singles, I met them at Auburn Courthouse at 4 p.m., Friday. It was a big holiday weekend, so there was the usual madhouse on the highways. The price of gas had been going up, so the group was prepared with cans of extra gas. We drove east on Interstate 80, and dined somewhere along the line.

With a car caravan on long dirt roads, we made our way to the Jackson Range. The leader had directions for King Lear Peak, not even the range highpoint, but said to be a fine wilderness experience. We searched for the right route, and the cars followed dutifully. One driver had bald tires, so suffered three blowouts. The group chose to assume responsibility, so some time was spent trying to fix the situation. We tended to the ailing car, and dawdled in the rising heat of the afternoon, at the base of the range. I took pictures, and we were doing nothing, as is typical for many of these trips.

Finally, the leader chose to make ready for the climb. In the hottest time of day, we set out for the canyon that would be our base camp. Reaching a cool stream that disappeared into the desert, we sat and rested, and I took pictures. We soon began backpacking into the canyon, and the cooler air there was nicer, with small waterfalls making for photos. It was only a few miles into the range, and the leader chose a grove of cottonwoods to serve as camp. Setting up tents, we made our dinners, and rested for the night.

Early the next morning, we started up for the peak. The large group of hikers forged a use trail up the side of the canyon, the leader seeking the way. Many of the hikers did not like uphill, and some did not even have packs or water. We followed a stream up, from which some drank. I had my boiled water in my canteens, but others did not know good wilderness survival. We climbed up, and gained high views. At a point, the leader stopped as three others went ahead. They knocked rocks down, and seemed to be doing some class 3 climbing. The leader called for the teens to come back down, and they eventually complied. One adult made the top, and I kept track of which way that he went.

Most of the hikers weren't enabled for scrambling, but I was allowed to lead three other game hikers to the top. One was too slow, so dropped out. I found a good gully that led through the cliffs, and then we summited. I captured the views, happy that this effort was not a waste, and thought to leave a film can as register. This was a worthy amount of gain that we had done, about 5,000 feet total.

As I climbed down, one of the hikers yelled that this was not the way, and refused to climb down. I had to look for an easier way, then we heard the voices of another group of hikers coming up the chute that I had chosen to descend. The errant hiker then promptly climbed down the way I had originally picked, without a word, and I shot plenty of photos to document the route.

There had been a revolt. The first hiker to climb the peak had offered to take up any other hikers that had declined to go with me. Five sought to do this, against the leader's will. He taught a night class on wilderness survival, in addition to leading Sierra Club trips. He does run his trips like an army, with orders and commands, eagerly obeyed by weak minded hikers, but he does get them back, mostly.

Everyone was to make it down safely, and then we hiked down back to camp. Another night out, and we did the short backpack out the next day. With lots of time, we enjoyed the Nevada desert scenery, and as we drove out, saw some horses at a desolate ranch. With a long delay in Winnemucca, NV, as the group gave assistance to the hiker with the blown out tires, I had some food in a casino, and left my parka on my chair. I was to never see it again. Back home, I wrote the casino lost-and-found to see if they had my parka, and they generously mailed a replacement, but I returned it since it was not my climbing parka.

We finally were able to head home, and while others came here later to do this as a day climb, I liked the way this had been done, an easy backpack weekend, with a surprisingly challenging and scenic peak.