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Forest Fire, September 12, 2004 - On our drive up to Mammoth we saw a great cloud of smoke from a forest fire that was burning on the north side of the Tuolumne River Canyon near the canyon overlook on CA120.
Crystal Crag, September 13, 2004 - On our first day at altitude David and I did a short hike up from Lake George to Crystal Lake and continued on (in spite of warning signs) to see how far we could climb up Crystal Crag. We started into the talus--big mistake--before we spotted a fairly straightforward use trail leading up to the saddle between Crystal Crag and Mammoth Crest. From the saddle we got only a short distance up the sharp ridge of Crystal Crag before we decided to find a nice place to sit in the warm sun and enjoy lunch.
(Distance: 4.3 miles; Climbing: 1400 feet)
Mono and Parker Passes, September 14, 2004 - David and I started at the Mono Pass Trailhead along CA120, just south of Tioga Pass. We climbed gradually through forest up to Mono Pass. We then set off cross-country to explore the old miner's cabins near the pass and continued over the low ridge and across a broad meadow to Parker Pass beyond, where we stopped to enjoy lunch.
We considered climbing nearby Mt. Lewis (one of the lesser summits in the area) but decided that would make for too long a day. So, instead of heading straight back on the trail we continued cross-country down the meadow to Spillway Lake to the west and then caught the trail from Spillway Lake back to the Mono Pass Trail and to the trailhead.
(Distance: 11.5 miles; Climbing: 1640 feet)
Mt. Dana, September 16, 2004 - David and I rose early and arrived at the Tioga Pass before 0900 and were shortly on the trail. It had been many years since we had last climbed Mt. Dana, and I couldn't remember exactly where the use trail started. So, we parked in one of the parking lots just south of the pass and headed cross-country toward the mountain. I figured we'd run into the use trail at some point.
We ended up mucking around on steep, rocky, grass-covered slopes and wasting energy on this part. But, during this excursion we saw a pair of pheasants, either ptarmigans or sage grouse--they were too far away to identify. I suspect ptarmigans due to the altitude.
Eventually we looked up and saw a diagonal cut in the hillside. I figured this would be the trail, so we made for that, and sure enough, it was the trail. We followed the use trail up to the half-way point where the slope levels off briefly, and where hikers over the years have built up a large cairn. We rested here for 10 minutes before pressing up the second half of the climb.
The use trail continues for another couple tenths of a mile then peters out. At that point the summit is plainly visible, so it's just a matter of hopping over the easiest boulders and rubble. We picked a path up that took us close to the edge of the precipitous north face. Along this edge we passed several wind shelters. We rested briefly in one of them when the wind kicked up and wondered if it would be more windy at the summit. It wasn't. In fact, when we got the summit, the air was still and warm. A beautiful day to be on top of the world, so to speak.
Mt. Dana stands higher than any peak to the north or west. Only Mt. Lyell to the southwest is taller. The feeling is that of being in an airplane or above the rest of the earth.
A couple other parties were climbing that day, and we shared the summit with them at various times, although we had a few minutes by ourselves, too. After lunch we descended a slightly different cross-country route to the cairn at the halfway point bench. Our knees were starting to feel fatigued from the talus-hopping, and we were glad to be back on a use trail, which was well-graded, as these things go.
We did not retrace our first steps in the morning but continued on the use trail that joins Tioga Rd. at the entrance station. We then walked back along the road to the car.
(Distance: 7.5 miles; Climbing: 3190 feet)
Ruby Lake, September 17, 2004 - Since we had done two hard hikes in the prior two days, David and I did an easy hike from the Mosquito Flat trailhead to Ruby Lake. Ruby Lake is about halfway up to Mono Pass (south) from the trailhead and is a nice spot to enjoy the high Sierras without working too hard.
(Distance: 4.1 miles; Climbing: 880 feet)
Miscellaneous Photos, September, 2004 -Various photos taken in and around the condo.
|Bike Ridden:||Rotator Pursuit|
|Cumulative climbing:||4970 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||16.9 mph|
|Max. Speed:||53.3 mph|
|Max. Power:||497 watts|
|Total energy to rear wheel:||2809 kJ (780 wh)|
High Sierra Fall Century, September 18, 2004 - On our last day in the mountains, I awoke early and departed from the condo on the High Sierra Fall Century. I started by climbing out of town and out to US-395 on the "scenic loop".
The weather was windy and threatening rain in the morning and later in the afternoon but was dry, if windy, during the middle of the day when I was out in the high desert to the east of the Sierras.
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