Sage Flat Trailhead to Summit Meadow
(6 miles, +4,000 feet/-500 feet).
It’s been dry so far in the Sierra this year, so I thought we might sneak in one more trip before the whole place gets socked in. At just four hours door-to-trail, Sage Flat is an extremely convenient place to get up to the PCT and the mountains beyond.
For this trip I got together with my buddies Quercus and Sobo Baggins. MixMaster was also supposed to come with us, but he’s been busy managing the EPA’s response to the awful wildfires we had in Northern California this year.
By 9:30am we were at the trailhead and ready to climb!
The trail climbs up an unnamed drainage between Summit Creek and Loco Creek.
In this part of the Sierra, cowboys still herd their steers, so at a certain point the trail diverges. We took the hiker trail.
The climb is pretty steep, averaging about 700 feet a mile, but the cool weather was just perfect for it.
At about 8500 feet we crossed over into the Summit Creek drainage and it started to get very pretty. We stopped to smell the vanilla-soaked bark of the Jeffrey pines.
By 2:30pm we were nearly at the pass.
The trail descends a couple hundred feet from Olancha Pass down to Summit Meadow, a beautiful mile-long patch of grass that is protected by the pass and a ridge on its south. Our final mile of walking weaved in and out of snow-lined trails under the pines that lined the meadow’s northern edge.
Around 4pm we found a deluxe wrangler’s camp that included a fire pit, rake, shovel, hot box, and even a rough-hewn picnic table. A small creek flowed nearby, so we had absolutely everything we needed!
We set up our tents and bivvies then played cards until it got dark.
Then we ate dinner and sat by the fire until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more: 7:30pm!