by Roger Gervin
It took more than two weeks, but we finally found a short window of time that provided relatively good air quality.
The N. Fork Teanaway Road is in excellent condition and we found at least 30 cars in the parking lot (~4260′) at the end of the road… where we started hiking on Esmeralda Basin Trail #1394.
After hiking the trail for a little more than two miles we stepped over 30 fist sized rocks that were lined up along the left side of the main trail and onto a well worn path (~5300′) that took us over to the abandoned mining area at the head of Esmeralda Basin… where we crossed over a dry stream bed and began a short bushwhack in a southern direction until we reached a large boulder field (~5540′)… then followed the left edge of the boulder field up to a 5800 foot pass.
Continuing south from the 5800 foot pass we traversed a short distance and got teased into turning SW up a steep gully (good hand and foot holds, but steep) that we used to gain 300 feet of elevation before traversing south again as we worked our way around steep cliffs on the Esmeralda Basin side of Esmeralda’s north ridge… then turned SW again and hiked on up to a saddle (~6450′) on the ridge.
From the saddle on Esmeralda’s north ridge we headed north along the rugged ridge where we quickly found a very long ramp that got us beyond the first major obstacle on the ridge and over to where we could see three prominent rock outcroppings a short distance further to the north.
Easy Class 2 scrambling got us over to the first rock outcropping (6621 feet according to CalTopo)… however, we could not find what we felt was a reasonable route over to the second rock outcropping which is the high point (6683 feet according to CalTopo) on Esmeralda’s north ridge.
Leaving our 6621 high point we more or less traced our steps back to the car with a couple of exceptions… (1) we were able to avoid the steep gully section of our up-route by taking a more direct route back down from the saddle to ~6150 feet before starting a downward-trending traverse back to the 5800 pass and (2) after getting back to the foot of the large boulder field, we found a better bushwhack down to the mining area than the one we used on our up-route… in other words, if you use our GPS track, use the down track going up and coming down.
From the mining area we made the short hike back over to the Esmeralda Basin Trail… leaving a two mile hike back to the car.
6.8 miles roundtrip, gaining 2592 feet of elevation.
We got some good beta on this trip from the trip that “FiveNines” did in November, 2016.