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|Bike Ridden:||Rotator Pursuit|
|Cumulative climbing:||5250 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||18.7 mph|
|Max. Speed:||56.5 mph|
High Sierra Fall Century, September 13, 2003 - On our first full day in the mountains I rode the High Sierra Fall Century. This was the first year I rode my new Rotator Pursuit with F1 fairing.
My route took me out of the condo and up toward Mammoth Mountain and the start of the "scenic loop" drive (actually an alternate escape route in case the town needs to be evacuated). The Scenic Loop road had rather severe frost heaves that made the ride bumpy, even with the springy suspension on the Pursuit.
When I got to US395 I turned left and joined the official ride. I continued over a couple of low hills and across a wide valley before stopping briefly at Crestview rest stop.
The next couple miles was a climb to Deadman Summit before crossing into the Mono Lake Basin, where I had a wonderful downhill run at speeds well into the 40's (mph). At the bottom of this long downgrade I turned right onto CA120 and headed east toward Mono Lake.
I continued past the Mono Lake Rest stop and pressed on up the gradual climb to Sagehen Summit. The eastern side of Sagehen Summit has another nice, fast, sometimes scary, descent. I was able to coast all the way to the bottom at the right-hand bend where the highway starts its long undulating trek across Adobe Valley.
I stopped at the lunch stop and ate some of the provided lunch--I wanted to try to get my money's worth. By this point I was with the early group, and staff were just getting lunch set up.
After lunch I continued down Adobe Valley and then turned right on Benton Crossing Rd without stopping at the rest stop at the junction. The climb up to Wildrose Summit is my least favorite. For some reason this road looks not as steep as it is, and it seems to go on forever. Maybe, too, I am usually starting to get tired by this point. The road also gets steeper as it approaches the summit, amplifying the effect of fatigue.
I continued past the drink stop--should've stopped and had a drink--and continued down into the valley near Moran Spring before climbing gradually again to Watterson Summit, where I did stop. I was getting tired by this point, but I felt it best to press on to the finish with minimal delay as I was having a fast day on the bike.
I continued down Watterson Canyon and then the last ten miles around the north side of Lake Crowley into a gusty wind. By the time I finished I was feeling pretty beaten up. I had thought to ride back up the hill to the condo, completing 100 miles total, but I decided, after eating the end-of-ride meal, to take David up on his offer to come pick me up at the finishing area.
Overall it was a good ride in nice weather, but I had ridden hard, and as it turns out, I would be tired on the next few days of our trip.
Crystal Lake, September 14, 2003 - Since I was tired after riding the High Sierra Fall Century the day before, David and I did the short hike up to Crystal Lake starting from the Duck Pass Trailhead, and enjoyed a picnic lunch by the shore.
Piute Pass, September 15, 2003 - David and I drove from Mammoth south to Bishop and then back up into the mountains on CA168. Near the top of the long climb we turned right onto North Lake Rd. that turns to dirt shortly after leaving the main highway. We slowly made our way around the ridge separating the North Fork of Bishop Creek from Bishop Creek. We drove past North Lake all the way to the campground at the end of the road, but when we arrived we discovered that only campers could park there. We had to backtrack down the road nearly a mile before we found the day-use parking lot.
After unpacking the car and doing a few stretches we were on the trail shortly after 0900. The first part of the hike was a dusty trek back up North Lake Rd. to the trailhead. Our destination was Piute Pass or just over to the west side where we would eat lunch under the shadow of Mt. Humphreys.
The first hour and a half of our hike was up a shady canyon below the Piute Crags. This section was a minor slog as there was not much view, but when we broke above the trees the view opened up back in the direction we had come.
By the time we reached Loch Leven the trail became quite beautiful. Still the trail kept climbing gradually toward the pass, yet the distance always was further than it appeared it should be. We ate a snack above Piute Lake, but we reserved the rest of our lunch to enjoy once we had gained the summit.
We finally reached the pass around noon, and after taking a few obligatory photos we descended a short spur trail to Muriel Lake, a pleasant lake on the southeastern side of Humphreys Basin, a broad, relatively flat landscape beneath the frowning eminence of Mt. Humphreys to the north.
We spent almost an hour at the lake relaxing, eating, and napping. But, we couldn't spend longer as we still had a long hike back to the car, downhill though it was.
When we had regained Piute Pass we discovered a dog that appeared to be disoriented. A pair of backpackers climbing from the east thought it was one of the packer's dogs that had wandered too far from his master and had become lost. As we began to hike down the trail, the dog followed eagerly. We wondered if the dog had been abandoned and if we might be delivering a dog to the Animal Shelter in Bishop on our way home.
The downhill trek passed with fewer breaks. The air was cooler, and shadows were cast across the canyon. By the time we reached the forest near the bottom the dog took off ahead of us. We did not see it again, so we figured it must have recognized the way home (to the Pack Station).
On our way back to Mammoth Lakes we were both too hungry to want to wait until we got home and prepared dinner, so we stopped at a Subway Sandwich shop in Bishop for an early dinner.
Distance: 12.5 miles; Climbing: 2200 feet
Gaylor Peak and Lakes, September 17, 2003 - We were tired after our hike up Piute Pass, so the next day way stayed home, read, and napped while the wind outside howled. I think I was still catching up from the High Sierra Fall Century a few days earlier. So, after a day off on the 16th, we were ready to head out again on the 17th.
We drove up to Tioga Pass and parked at the small lot near the entrance station. The first mile of the climb up Gaylor Peak (11004ft) is on a short, steep trail. Once we got to the saddle between Tioga Pass and Gaylor Lakes we stayed on the ridge, heading north toward Gaylor Peak.
The climb up the peak requires a bit of easy cross-country scrambling, although care must be taken to avoid twisting an ankle on some of the "klinkers" (broken metamorphic rock) that is small enough to move under foot.
The view from Gaylor Peak is grand given the moderate effort to reach the summit. Although the peak sits low in the area, it enjoys a nice view south to the Cathedral Range and Kuna Crest, Mt. Dana to the east. The view is mostly blocked to the north and the Saddlebag Lake area. Still, we explored the north side of Gaylor Peak as far as we could comfortably scramble.
After enjoying the view at the peak we returned to the saddle and continued down to lower Gaylor Lake, then Upper Gaylor Lake. Then we climbed further up to the crest where old cabins were still standing from the days of tungsten mining (Great Sierra Mine). One such minor bump on the ridge David dubbed "Bill's Knob".
After we explored the area near the old mines we returned down the trail to Gaylor Lakes, and back over the saddle and down to the car at Tioga Pass.
Distance: 5.2 miles; Climbing: 1760 feet
San Joaquin Mountain, September 18, 2003 - David and I started early on what was to be our ultimate hike of the week. The nice thing about hiking San Joaquin Mountain is that the trailhead is a short drive from the condo in Mammoth Lakes.
We started from Minaret Vista, although with a 4WD vehicle one could drive up to Deadman Summit and reduce the hiking distance by about 5 miles.
The trail starts with a short dip to the north of the vista point, then follows the 4WD road for the next 2+ miles up to Deadman Summit. Views along the way are unobstructed and outstanding of the high desert to the east and the San Joaquin River canyon and the Ritter Range to the west.
After taking a short break at Deadman Summit we descended to Deadman Pass and continued along the ridge on a well-worn use trail. The ridge can be described as being gentle and gradual except where there are "steps" or "peaks' along the way that must be circumnavigated or surmounted. Every time we surmounted one of these minor peaks, we could see there was another intermediate peak between us and our objective, San Joaquin Mountain. Of course, there was the "minor" peak of the Two Teats that we did want to visit.
After many hours we finally arrived at the Teats. The western Teat actually looks like a teat, but the eastern Teat looks more like a reclined bosom minus the teat. We decided to press on to the summit of San Joaquin Mountain before exploring the Teats further. David was not happy to be descending to the saddle between the Teats and the Mountain, but it was no more than 150 feet lost, probably less.
We spent a fair amount of time on the summit of San Joaquin Mountain taking photos, eating lunch, making a cell phone call, and enjoying the view. After a while the wind picked up, and we decided to head down.
When we arrived back at the Teats, we met another hiker who had started later than we, who took photos of us from a few different angles. We also hiked to the top of the eastern Teat. Climbing the western Teat was a technical boulder scramble that we felt best to avoid at this point.
After enjoying the view from the eastern Teat we returned to the use trail and headed back to Minaret Vista. The last couple miles down the hill on the 4WD road had us wondering if maybe we should thumb a ride from the other hiker (who had driven up to Deadman Summit). Our feet were tired by this point.
Overall an excellent hike and good weather. The only thing missing is an abundance of shade and natural sources of water.
Distance: 12.3 miles; Climbing: 3000 feet
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