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Sheephead Mountain

10 March 1989

By: Carleton B. Shay

How to Spend a Whole Day Climbing Sheephead

First, when I wanted to climb Sheephead on March 10, the road to Kitchen Valley was gated, so I hiked the 1.6 miles to the usual starting point. Then I proceeded down the jeep road to Kitchen Creek and hiked towards Kitchen Valley. As I was nearing the gate about one third of a mile from the turnoff, I was stopped by a man and a young girl on horseback and told politely but firmly to get off their property. This man was "fed up" with all of the trespassers on his property, the damage they had done, etc., etc. He said there was no way to approach Sheephead except over his property and it had to stop. There were "lots of other places to hike." He said he had erected "No Trespassing" signs on all the trails around (and they were certainly more in evidence now than since the last time I was there), and claimed he was going to erect more fences to emphasize the point. Of course he "had nothing against me personally" but there were just too many people on his property and it had to stop.

Surprisingly he told me of a southern approach from Buckman Springs and Channing Meadow which would cross his property but that I was welcome to use for a limited time; after he moved some cattle up there that would be forbidden also.

He accompanied me up the trail to make sure I was leaving, which I did, and tried his southern approach which went well, but it was longer (3-4 miles) and very brushy above Channing Meadows. It took me about two hours each way, largely because of the brush.

Old timers will remember that Sheephead was regularly climbed from Channing Meadow after driving around from the north end of Sheephead from the Kitchen Valley Road. According to the rancher, he closed this road after the Forest Service tried to make it a designated ORV motorcycle trail ("I ripped out his sign and told him to get his ass off my property") and erosion did the rest.

Drive east on Interstate 8 to Buckman Springs exit (about 3 miles east of the Sunshine Highway). Cross under the freeway and drive up a four wheel drive road to its driveable end at 3.3 miles - this is the curve next to point 4812, to the left of the word "horse" on the map. Hike up the road to Channing Meadow (fenced and signed) and head directly for the summit. There are ducks visible, but the route has not been maintained for years; the brush is not quite so bad just north of the line of ducks.

I got the impression that when cattle are not on the range, the rancher might tolerate trespassers; at any rate we shouldn't antagonize him more.

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