“Gable Lakes Peak”

View down to Pine Creek

View down to Pine Creek


“Gable Lakes Peak” is a summit between Four Gables and Mount Tom on the rim of the Horton Lakes basin. This looked like an easy day on paper, with over 5000 feet of gain but not many miles, and much of it on trail. Had I been fully rested, this would have been the case. However, with advancing middle age comes slower recovery, and six days into the Challenge, my pathetically low maximum heart rate told me that I was performing well below my potential. While it was still short at around 6h45, it was enough effort that I had no energy for bonus peaks.

We left at 6:00 from the same parking lot as the day before, but this time took the subtly-signed Gable Lakes trail. I believe I used this trail to do Four Gables in 2013, and it felt pleasantly familiar to pass the mine tram towers on a steep, narrow trail built for humans. The tram towers are squat, solid things over-engineered in the way things were before CAD/CAM. Bob and I once again traded places, while JD, fresh off a rest day, surged ahead, even jogging some of the flats.

Pump at ruins

Pump at ruins

The three of us passed the mine ruins, consisting of a cabin, a couple pumps, a large motor, and various other debris worthy of Colorado. I dropped my camera while wandering around the ruin taking photos, and though it continued to work, the battery door broke. I found the pieces, put them all back in my camera bag, and stopped photographing for the day.

The trail rapidly fades and disappears above the mine, and we skirted the lakes above through low grass and a mass of frogs and tadpoles. Before fishermen seeded them with rainbow trout, all northern Sierra lakes were apparently like this. Above the last lake, we each took separate lines angling up Gable Lakes Peak’s northeast side. Our paths converged at a loose gap just below the summit, where I managed to start a decent rockslide down the chute. Fortunately no one was climbing down there, and we all safely reached the top.

The register showed the occasional ascent by locals, and Eric’s traverse from earlier this year, but few people bother with the traverse from neighboring peaks. We hung around taking photos, then JD continued to Four Gables, while Bob, Michael, and I headed for home, passing Bob P. near the gap. Bob was once again not in a running mood, so I took off by myself down the trail, eager to be done in the midday heat, then had time to eat and rinse off in the creek before heading in to town for a shower.

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