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Return to Shuteye Pass Trail: Revisiting Sally's Mountain Lion Attack

It was back on February 17 when Rick, Gail, myself and my dog Sally had planned to hike up the Shuteye Pass Trail. We only made it up the trail about ½ mile when Sally was attacked by a mountain lion. She had too many stitches and sutures to count but is doing great now. She is a very lucky dog. My hiking buddies and I wanted to go back to the site where Sally was attacked and complete our hike that was interrupted that day. Sally stayed home this time. We accomplished our goal and had tremendous views of snow-covered mountains and cloudy skies along the trail.

Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 5.9 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 5,050′ – 7,360′
Date: March 24, 2015
Maps: Little Shuteye Topographic Quad, Sierra National Forest Map

We left North Fork, driving up Mammoth Pool Road and through where 2014’s French Fire had burned, up toward the Shuteye Pass Trailhead. The gate was still across the dirt road so we parked and walked up the road for about a mile to the trailhead. This is the third time I had hiked this area within the past month, and links to my prior Blogs about these hikes are at the end of this Blog.

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As we walked up the dirt road, the recent rain made it easy to see the animal tracks. We could pick out a few a few deer and coyote tracks and even a few mountain lion tracks that were fresh. Gail caught a glimpse ahead of us of a critter that was probably a coyote running across the road. When we reached the trailhead, we could see that the United States Forest Service had installed a metal sign with great information about hiking in mountain lion country. Nice work Sierra National Forest!

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Our first mission was to go up to the site where Sally had been attacked by the Mountain Lion. We thought we could probably locate it but I had also placed a waypoint on the GPS track from our hike on that fateful day just in case.

We didn’t have any problem locating the spot. Rick, in the red hat, is standing right where Sally was when the mountain lion grabbed her. I took a wider shot farther back to show where the cat came in to get Sally from the left. The third picture show the approach that the cat took when I saw it make a run for a short distance uphill to grab Sally. We noticed that the trail, which was also an old dozer line, had a well-worn path on it, as did the approach that the mountain lion took. To us, it looked like this area was also utilized as a game trail.

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We continued up the trail, catching some amazing views of snow covered Mammoth and the Minarets. (First photo by Gail Gilbert)

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Just before we reached Shuteye Pass, the terrain changed. The trees disappeared to reveal granite slabs, boulders and decomposed granite. Small pockets of blooming phlox were tucked next to the rocks. Very pretty.

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We made it to the top and looked around. The first picture is looking toward Brown’s Meadow to the north and the other pictures are looking toward the east and southeast. We could pick out Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, the Minaret Mountains, Kaiser Peak, and even down toward Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park.

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Of course, we found a wonderful spot to eat our lunch and admire the view. The immediate area had all kinds of interesting rock formations. Our great lunch spot reminded me of a granite dome that had been shattered in places. Close by, giant boulders of granite balanced themselves on the tip top of the peaks.

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Gail Gilbert captured this picture of Steve and I heading back down the trail.

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This tiny succulent was just starting to get ready to put out blooms.

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We also spotted our first snowplant of the year.

Shuteye 29We made it safely back down the trail. We didn’t see any mountain lions on the trip but we really didn’t expect to. We all were glad that we could get back here to take a look at the area where Sally had been grabbed by the mountain lion and share our memories of that frightening event. Gail and Rick hadn’t been up to Shuteye Pass before and we were very happy that we were able to get up there.

I think it is especially pretty up there when there are a few clouds that create interesting shadows and light on the surrounding snow covered mountains. Of course, I wish there was much more snow. But on the positive side, if it isn’t going to snow more I am hoping that the roads to the high country will open up soon and I get up on top of those high mountains that I could see from Shuteye Pass.

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We decided to see if the paved road that cuts over to Beasore Rd. was open. I have heard this road called various names including the Grizzly Meadow Cutoff and Soda Springs Rd., but the map shows it as 6S71 where it junctions with Mammoth Pool Rd. and 6S01 where it junctions with Beasore Rd. It is the road that comes out near Jones Store on Beasore Rd. Normally this road is closed because of snow and ice during the winter but we were able to drive across.

There were a few places with some ice and a smidge of snow on it, along with places where down trees, limbs and rocks had been partially removed from the road. It was drivable though! We were very glad that we opted to take this way back. The lack of snow in the area was striking though. We should not have been able to drive here in March. It is a beautiful alternate drive though.

Shuteye 31Prior Blogs in This Area:

https://www.sierranewsonline.com/hiking-with-sally-and-raven-to-shuteye-pass
https://www.sierranewsonline.com/lessons-learned-from-a-mountain-lion-encounter
https://www.sierranewsonline.com/update-on-sally

Sources:

http://www.rockclimbing.com/routes/Shuteye_Ridge/
http://www.summitpost.org/grey-eagle/173193
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4013/
http://www.scenicdrivesusa.com/node/36

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