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Red Peak, September 9, 2006 - Dad and I started our first hike of our trip from the Mammoth Pack Station near Lake Mary. We started up a trail toward the north end of the Sherwin Crest, but when the trail appeared to head downhill toward town, we struck off cross-country up toward the ridge. When we got to the abandoned mines we found a faint use trail that took us up to the nose of the ridge where we stopped to enjoy the view.
After passing under the nose of the ridge along a precipitous trail, a slip from which might send one sliding down the hillside, and a short but steep and loose climb through a notch to the top of the ridge, we hiked southeast along the ridge enjoying the views the whole way. After our final push to the summit of Red Peak we rested out of the wind in the small open shelter that had been constructed on the summit.
We descended Red Peak to the south. At the saddle we followed a faint use trail down the slope toward Heart Lake. When the use trail disappeared into a sea of scree, we decided to head straight down the scree. This was probably not the best decision as the scree was loose, lying at the angle of repose on the hillside. Even the slightest additional weight sent a hundred pounds of the stuff sliding.
After much slipping, sliding, and cursing, we found ourselves at Heart Lake. Dad had slid on his rear end a few times and had slipped a few times, too, and was covered with dust and grime. He surprised me by walking into the lake and submerging all but his head. A couple of other hikers who were at the lake simply stared.
Dad didn't stay in the lake long, not more than ten seconds. After he got out he wrung out his clothes, but he was still cool in his damp clothes for the rest of the hike. We returned to the car by hiking down the Heart Lake trail, then through the Coldwater Campground, around Lake Mary, and a short way down Lake Mary Rd.
(5.9 miles; 1890 feet climbing)
Duck Pass, September 10, 2006 - Dad and I started from the Duck Pass Trailhead near the Coldwater Campground and hiked up and over Duck Pass. We stopped for lunch at a nice spot overlooking Duck Lake and watched a couple of pack trains pass each other on the trail nearby. After lunch we hiked back to the trailhead.
(7.5 miles; 1910 feet climbing)
Mono Pass and Ruby Ridge, September 11, 2006 - Dad and I had planned to take it easy and hike up Little Lakes Valley, perhaps as far as Morgan Pass or to one of the lakes on the way. When we got out on the trail we felt strong enough to try climbing up to Mono Pass. I had always wanted to climb one of the peaks near the top of the pass, so we decided to continue up to the top of Ruby Ridge, about 700 feet above the pass. We didn't get to the high point of the ridge as that would have required a technical (Class 3+) traversal of a notch in the ridge, so we settled for the view on the north side. This was the highest point of our hikes for the week. The sun was warm and the air relatively still (but cool). A perfect day in the High Sierras.
(8.5 miles; 2550 feet climbing)
North Peak, September 13, 2006 - Dad and I started from the Saddlebag Lake trailhead and headed out on the trail that skirts the west side of the lake. We decided to climb the benches to the north of the creek exiting the Conness Lakes rather than deal with what appeared from a distance to be brush and steep wet rocks next to the creek itself. We discovered on the way back that it was easier to stay close to the creek and cross it upstream of Greenstone Lake.
We then climbed to the lower and upper Conness Lakes. At that point Dad, who hadn't had a good sleep the night before, decided to wait near the lake while I finished the climb up the ridge between Mt. Conness and North Peak.
I continued up on my own and got to the summit about an hour and fifteen minutes later. After taking pictures, finishing lunch, and signing the register, it was time to go down. Although the air was still and relatively warm, I could hear thunder in the distance, and clouds were gathering.
The descent to the upper Conness Lake took me about forty minutes. From there the two of us descended from the Conness Lakes basin by skirting the lower lake on its south shore and descending the well-worn use trail next to the creek. We stopped at Greenstone Lake for another break before walking the final two miles back to the trailhead.
(9.7 miles; 2500 feet climbing)
Treasure Lakes, September 14, 2006 - Dad and I drove down (almost) to Bishop and then back up to the Bishop Pass Trailhead at South Lake. Back in 1999 we had hiked up Chocolate Peak in the Bishop Pass area, so this time we decided to go to Treasure Lakes. The weather was blustery: cold wind and light snow/hail was blowing from the clouds, but there were sunny gaps, and the weather appeared to be local to the Sierra Crest. It was a good day to stay off the ridges and peaks.
When we got to the first Treasure Lake we stopped behind a rock to eat part of our lunch, but the rock was cold and soaked up our body warmth like an ice cube. We continued across Treasure Creek and up a faint use trail to the upper Treasure Lakes, but we turned around when the cold wind starting blowing fiercely and our path appeared to be blocked by a quarter-mile long boulder field.
Since we didn't want to hop these boulders both directions and since the lakes were likely to be cold and dismal in the weather and not pleasant places to sit and enjoy the rest of our lunch, we turned around and retraced our route back to the trailhead.
(6.6 miles; 1800 feet climbing)
Yosemite Valley, September 15, 2006 - On the last day of our trip before driving back to the bay area we decided to play tourist and visit Yosemite Valley. Neither of us had been there since the late 1970's when we made several trips to Yosemite.
We took a short hike to Mirror Lake, then back along the north side of the valley to the Ahwanee Hotel. I took a few more pictures while I watched climbers on El Capitan from El Capitan Meadow on our way out of the valley.
(3.3 miles; 310 feet climbing)
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