Round Trip 7.2 miles

My friend, Lynda, and I decided to try a hike that neither of us had previously tackled. We drove to Sonora Pass at an elevation of 9626′, the second highest highway crossing in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This pass saw its first wagons headed to the gold fields in 1852. By 1854 it was said that the pass was littered with broken axels and wheels emphasizing just how rugged this area is. In 1865 a toll road was completed over the pass allowing for regular commercial traffic. Now, Sonora Pass is mainly visited by those out to enjoy the stunning landscape. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses the highway (highway 108) here, and this is where our adventure begins as we enter the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness on the PCT.

Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

Although we did not realize it at the time, our first open view was an overview of the entire hike. After a series of switchbacks, we would cross St. Mary’s Pass at the far right of the photo and then scramble our way to the left where Sonora Peak is just out of sight beyond the large snow patch.

Sonora Peak just behind the snow patch in the center

The view behind us was that of Mt. Leavitt and surrounding peaks.

Mt. Leavitt

Still early in the season we did have to cross snow patches. As the day progressed we had to be careful not to fall through snow bridges into the streams gushing down the mountainside.

Early season snow patches

After an easy rolling trail, taking in the 5 star scenery, the uphill climb began.

The climbing began

In order to tackle the mountain before us, the trail followed along with a series of switchbacks.

Switchbacks begin

The higher we ascended the more far-reaching the views were.

Look to the south

There were sections of the trail where the earth was quite red as we approached St. Mary’s Pass.

Approaching St. Mary’s Pass

We left the PCT at St. Mary’s Pass and that was where the true scrambling took place. Going up was a little slippy, but on the return we had to be very careful.

Heading toward Sonora Peak

This part of our journey was cross country with occasional trails, just enough so that we knew we were on the right track.

Working our way to Sonora Peak on the left

Coming up the side of the mountain, we were finally able to peek over the top to see the view to the north.

Northern view from ridge near Sonora Peak

Behind us the southern view towards Yosemite and beyond was breathtaking. This would make a crazy jigsaw puzzle!

View towards Yosemite

And finally, Sonora Peak revealed itself to us! We still had a little way to go.

Sonora Peak, at last!

Wahoo! We have arrived on the top at 11,462′ elevation, the highest peak in Alpine County.

At the top at 11,462′

After hunting around a bit, we found the logbook to record our achievement. It is always enjoyable to read the entries made by other hikers which kept us entertained while we ate our lunch.

Signing the logbook at the top

To the northwest we could make out mountains in the Mokelume Wilderness such as Mokelume Peak and Round Top and even Pyramid Peak in the Desolation Wilderness just above Lake Tahoe.

2 thoughts

  1. Splendid pictures of the views from the peak as well as of the trail! I am still reading up about the trails in America and the logbook is making me curious. How’s it maintained? Are there personnel who look after the trail?

    1. Sorry to be so long in responding to your questions. I have found when reaching a peak involving an arduous climb that there is quite often a sign-in container which is usually covered by rocks to protect it from wind and weather. I do not know who formally maintains these containers, if anyone. I have presumed that random hikers add new notebooks when needed and some include small momentos such as sunscreen, a protein bar, lucky charms, photos, etc. Perhaps, on the well known peaks such as Half Dome, the US Forest Service keeps track of and maintains the canisters.
      As to your second question, the US Forest Service leads maintenance parties to improve the trails which are often comprised of volunteers who have paid for the experience to help out for a week or a weekend.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.