Spanish Needle Climb Debacle

Most likely many of you have planned trips with the best of intentions, trying to please everyone in a group, yet things plain old go awry. Yesterday Spanish Needle climb was my blunder.

Our winter weather this week has been unseasonably warm with no winds. Also, December has been the driest month in a number of years.  These are ideal hiking conditions.  Unfortunately, our family all caught colds the day after Christmas. After a 1 day break we thought a good climb in the Southern Sierras would get us back on the mend. I needed a trip that had enough miles for exercise and some class 3 climbing for the guys (climbing on rock with hand holds and some exposure). After some research online, I felt Spanish Needle in Owens Peak Wilderness was the best choice.

What I didn’t foresee was that the 4WD road we were supposed to take was way over the level our Mazda Tribute could handle, causing us to take the Pacific Crest Trail access which added 4.4 miles to the hike; AND that I would miscalculate the point of access to the peak from the PCT which added ANOTHER 2 miles; AND that we would run out of daylight to actually climb the summit block. Our little climb for recuperation from our colds ended up at a whopping 16.4 miles. On top of everything else, we didn’t get on the trail until 9:45 AM and got back to our car at 5:35 PM (dark). Do the math… we were flying.

I did however get my fix of being back on the trail again, but the guys…not so much. So my apology and reassurance that the next trip WILL be better.

First few miles of PCT

Spanish Needle from PCT

Lamont Peak and Pinnacles in background

Saddle to reach the summit

View northwest toward Lamont Meadow

LENGTH 13.9 miles round trip (the miles the trip should have been)
7841 feet
3000 feet
Intersection of the Pacific Crest Trail and Canebrake Road. Use T30 in Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side
Summit block is a difficult class 3 climb
Fall, spring (can be very hot during the middle of summer) and a great climb while the High Sierras are under snow
Head south on the PCT where it crosses Canebrake Road for 6.6 miles, climb from the saddle below peak the saddle of peak 7841 on the 7.5′, good description of route to the summit block in Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side.


  • View additional trip photos on Flickr
  • View topographical map with route and photos using EveryTrail and my GPS enabled iPhone


  1. Interesting stories and amazing photos! 🙂 Come to hike in Morocco, we have a plenty of beautiful and challenging places 😀

  2. Wow…you had a hard day…especially after/during having a cold. Hiking is my favorite form of exercise! Even though it’s cold here in Cincinnati, I still get out to hike. Thanks for stopping by my blog and Happy New Year to you! Keep Rockin!!

    • I think days like this makes me appreciate health, life, and just being able to get out and move. I just love your blog and yes we are 50 and FABULOUS! Happy New Year to you!

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