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Nicolls Peak

4 April 1999

By: Joe Young

Leaders: Joe Young and Harvey Ganz

On Saturday hikers met at either Walker Pass or at Walker Pass campground. Following inconsistently worded peak guide driving directions, we drove west to one turn-off we thought might be the correct one, weren't sure, and followed Joe back to Vista Grande, where Joe explored the dirt roads. Joe wasn't sure of his explorations so we went back to the earlier turn off and Frank Dobos felt more comfortable that he was at the correct turn off. So we headed off to Nicolls. Joe failed to turn correctly and we drove past the Heald route 2 turn off to the end of a road. The group started hiking over a ridge and joined the correct road to the true west road head for Nicolls. But now it was after 11:00 AM. We started hiking up to the saddle south of Nicolls and soon bad weather settled in on us. When sleet began Joe and Frank decided to turn the group around. Safety was our concern.

Back at the cars we decided to drive to Kernville and dine at That's Italian. En route we encountered rain, snow, hail, high winds, and generally deplorable weather that made us feel that we had definitely made the right decision to turn the group around. Almost everyone joined in the party at That's Italian. Afterwards almost everyone decided to motel it somewhere. We agreed to meet early the next morning (daylight savings change!) for another attempt at Nicolls.

At 7:00 AM Sunday 5 hikers met along highway 178 for a caravan to the true road head for Nicolls. We left the road head at 7:30 and arrived at the saddle at 8:30. A dusting of the previous day's snow was everywhere. We arrived at the summit at 9:45. Some of the rock scrambling was made more difficult by the slickness caused by the recent snow. At 11:45 we were back at the cars.

Since this was Easter, we decided to have an Easter brunch in South Lake. But after brunch, only two hikers wanted to do more hiking. For the outing, only Nicolls was bagged officially. Lightner, Bald Eagle and Skinner remain for another day.

But Joe wasn't satisfied with the directions to the road head for Nicolls. So he drove to Vista Grande and recorded these directions: On Highway 178, 0.2 mi past Kern Airport road meet the Vista Grande Road. Turn left. In 0.5 mi pavement ends. Continue straight. In 0.3 mi meet Hill View Acres Rd. Turn right. In 0.8 mi meet Brooks Rd. Turn left. In 1.0 mi pass the "W" Ranch. Veer left but don't turn a sharp left. Just enough to pass on the left (east) side of the fence. In 0.3 mi a road joins from the left. Go straight. In 0.1 mi meet a fork. Go right. In another 0.1 mi meet another fork (turn off to Heald). Go left. In 0.1 mi another fork. Go left. (Look for ducks left by Dave Jensen.) Proceed for another 1-1/2 mile past a fence to the road's end. Park here.

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