Sunday, October 16, 2016

Monument Peak and Hays Peak

Hiked: 10/14/2016
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 6271' (Monument), 6160' (Hayes)
Elevation Gain: 750'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.6
Round trip time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Recommended water: 20 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sunrise Highway (S1)
Difficulty: Easy

The day started with Garnet Peak, Garnet Mountain, and Roost Benchmark. I completed those in time for another short hike, but hadn't prepared for one. The Peakbagger android mobile app came to the rescue. I knew Monument Peak (SDC #2) was along Sunrise Highway, but didn't know the distance or where to start. I found the peak in the mobile app, checked a trip report that was less than 4 miles, and downloaded the attached GPS track to my phone. The app tracked my location in real time allowing me to locate the trailhead, just the way John Muir used to do it (haha). This is the reason I upload my own tracks, hoping they will be useful to future hikers.

I parked at the Big Laguna Trail turnout where one other car was already parked. The lot could have held at least 6 cars. The single track heads into verdure meadows with large Jeffrey pines and black oaks. The oaks were showing off some bright yellow color. In less than a mile, the trail intersects the PCT, with the left branch heading toward Monument Peak and the right toward Stephenson Peak. I went left and walked past an older couple sitting about 50 feet off trail enjoying the scene. At a sharp left turn, just after catching a glimpse of the towers on Monument Peak, an unsigned and narrow use trail cuts directly up the slope. It deposits you at a laser research building, and I took the road the rest of the way. Along the short section of road, on the right, was a black cylinder with a warning sign "DANGER: Laser Target". I didn't go in for a closer inspection.


Pines and oaks

Monument Peak ahead

Fence around the laser research station


The view from Monument Peak was great, but not quite as dramatic as Garnet Peak and Roost. Looking north, there is a unique view of the transition from forest to desert. I found the spike-style benchmark and register cans, replacing the torn plastic baggie around the registers with a new one. Hays Peak was back the direction I came up a wide firebreak. On the way back, I stopped at the use trail junction and checked the time. I had enough time to tag Hays Peak so I continued straight up the firebreak. There was a good use trail on the firebreak and within minutes I was on top of Hays. There were no benchmarks or ornaments on Hays, but I could see the PCT carved out below. I returned down the firebreak to a point where the brush had been cut down. I turned right and followed the brush line down to the PCT, then back to the start. I ended the day with 5 peaks (4 SDC) and 14.9 miles, not a bad day.

Monument benchmark

Zoomed in to Stephenson Peak

Nearby Hays Peak

Transition zone from forest to desert

Looking southeast

Monument Peak from Hays Peak

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