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Another shot of Andy's Jeep
Andy coming down off the first rock
Getting tippy on the second rock
The Grand comes over the ledge while Paul watches
My Jeep stopped on the trail
The lineup at the bottom
Eric G. climbing a granite slab
Randy heads down a very steep slab
Big Shiny coming down the same steep slab
A nice lineup at the summit of Bald Mountain
Another view with the lookout tower in the background
Look at all those Jeep freaks up on the tower!
One more group shot
Big Red climbing a scary crack on the way down
We ran into a group of Toyotas about halfway down with big tires and low gears. One of the guys worked for Marlin, and his truck looked bulletproof. I also saw a guy who stopped to check out my Jeep while it was spewing coolant all over the place on the drive up to camp. He was in a very trashed Samurai that looked like it had been rolled more than once. His group was doing the trail in the opposite direction, and they were doing it in one day rather than two! That would suck!

After eating lunch, we continued on up a windy trail through the trees. After driving down more rough, dirty trail we ended up back at the spot where we camped the first night (tired, filthy, and certainly hungry!) Some went to the campground to take a shower, while Amy and I found a great swimming hole at a nearby creek and had a dip before dinner.

The next morning about half the group left. Andy headed down for anew battery, while others had to get back to get ready for work the next day.The rest of us followed Richard up a relatively easy but very fun trail to the top of Bald Mountain.

The trail reminded me a lot of Moab, because most of the top section traversed rolling granite slabs and domes. There were a couple of tricky sections that could not be bypassed (one section made even trickier because I forgot to lock up before I hit a weird off camber ledge), and spun around into a tippy spot until I got locked and crawled right up.

There were also plenty of places to play around on very steep slabs, small domes, and assorted ledges. Randy had a scary moment in his YJ when it stalled halfway up a very steep bump. As he got on the brakes, the Jeep started sliding sideways and looked like it was about to flip. Somehow he managed to gently ease off the brakes and turn his wheels enough to back down. I folowed Richard up several crazy lines that I never would have tried without seeing him do it first. He's a great driver, and likes to challenge others by making sure they take a good tough line. I learned a lot!

From the bald granite summit, there was a great view down to Shaver Lake and Fresno to the West, and the high Sierras to the East. An old fire lookout tower made for a good place to pose for a few pictures and have lunch before heading down the other half of the loop. After airing up at the bottom, we said goodbye to Richard and the rest of the gang. Jim, Richard, and Paul were headed up to do the Rubicon several days later. Great group, great drivers!!! It's always great to go on a trip where you push your limits a little with a group of knowledgeable and friendly folks. We will certainly be hooking up with the So-Cal XJ bunch again, maybe to do the Rubicon next year!

The Swamp Lake trail is located in the Dinkey Creek Wilderness area East of Shaver Lake. It is accessed from Fresno (which lies about 50 mile to the West) by taking State Hwy 168 East through Prather. When you reach the small town of Shaver Lake, make a right on Dinkey Creek Rd and follow it East for about 10 miles. The trailhead is at the end of Rock Creek Rd on the left. Alternatively, you could continue down Dinkey Creek Rd, taking a right just before the Rranger station and across a bridge on the Forest Service Rd 40 toward Courtright Reservoir. Making a left just past the signs for Camp Fresno and following the dirt road (10S13) , you will end up at the other end of the loop where our group came out. The trail is not really easier or harder in either direction.

Click here for a map of the area.

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