Thursday, May 11, 2017

Peak 6691

Peak 6691, now this is another hike that requires some explanation. And the first question would be what is Peak 6691; the answer is a bump on a ridge that is so insignificant that it doesn’t even have a peak register. This ridge is on the south side of Freeman Canyon in the Indian Wells Valley. Freeman Canyon had an eBird gap, and on the other side of the ridge lay Calochortus invenustus, the Plain Mariposa Lily. Now we could have gotten to the lily by walking south a half mile on the PCT out of Walker Pass, but that would have eliminated the filling of an eBird gap, hiking to a peak, walking on a half mile segment of the PCT, and seeing Freeman Well.

Our birding went well with 27 species recorded including two new ones for Freeman Canyon – Plumbeous Vireo and Warbling Vireo. 121 species have now been seen in Freeman Canyon.

Slogging up the chute to the peak was not nearly so much fun.  It was steep.  Very steep. We invited our friend Brian to come along.  His PCT trail name is Nuts, and that seems to sum up what we were doing getting up and down the peak.  There were some interesting views of Owen’s Peak and the Indian Wells Valley from the top, but other views were curtailed due to clouds.  After the peak we headed straight down.  I mean so straight down that if we had fallen we would have rolled a long way in a short time.  It was easy walking though as it was all decomposed granite sand.  Along the way we found the rare and endangered Charlotte’s Phacelia. What a striking flower. 

Charlotte's Phacelia

On the summit
photo by Brian Veit

View to Owen's Peak

Indian Wells Valley to the east of Walker Pass

Yep, it is steep

Then we intersected the PCT and found our quest flower.  Plain Mariposa Lily is a calochortus and while not fancy it does have a subtle loveliness. 

Calochortus invenustus, the Plain Mariposa Lily

Now all we had to do was walk back to the car. From the Walker Pass campground we walked on a half mile of PCT that connects the campground to highway 178. We were parked further down the road so we headed to the Walker Pass historical signs and then down to Freeman Well.  

The view from the short section of PCT between the CG and highway is lovely

Walker historical marker

Freeman Well

While it is easy to find information on Walker, the same can't be said about Freeman. Freeman S. Raymond, an original 49er bought or built a stagecoach station in 1873 or 1874 at the intersection of roads that lead to area mines.This is the modern intersection of highways 14 and 178.  The stage station burned down in 1909. The actual well of Freeman's well fame might be from a homesteader for use in watering stock.

Some sources: which is interesting if you have ever traveled highway 178.

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