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Echo Ridge, September 16, 2011 - David and I had originally planned our week in Mammoth Lakes to coincide with the week Frank and Stella (and Ron and Alice) were to be there, too. Unfortunately, I came down with an unseasonably early case of influenza and had to postpone our trip for a week. There would have been little point in going sick, spending the week in bed, and passing on my germs to David and possibly others.
So, as it turned out our first hike in the Sierras was also Frank and Stella's last hike. My original plan for the first day had been to hike to North Dome via Indian Ridge, possibly adding Basket Dome to the list of summits. But, we put this hike off to the last day of our trip and then Indian Ridge only and substituted Echo Ridge for the first day, as the latter is a more epic hike and climb in the heart of the Yosemite high country.
David and I got up early that morning and drove up to Tuolumne Meadows. We did not meet Stella and Frank at the trailhead, but we did contact them by radio as they arrived in the Meadows a half-hour after us. We fully-expected them to catch up to us along the Budd Creek use trail, but we did not see them until after we had stopped at the outlet of Budd Lake.
I was surprised at our pace. I expected to be slow, having been in bed most of the week prior, and I expected David to be struggling with the climb at altitude. But, David was leading much of the way. I suspect he found some motivation knowing that he was in front and that Frank and Stella were hot on our tails.
From Budd Lake all four of us hiked up the gradual slope of meadows and slabs to the base of a broad chute on the north side and low point of the ridge that extends east of Echo Peaks.
My decision to leave my micro-spikes at the trailhead appeared to be ill-considered today. This year's snow had been heavy and with the cool spring and summer, substantial amounts of the white stuff still lay on the ground. To wit, our route up to the top of the ridge was buried under a solid layer one to three feet thick.
David felt he had climbed enough for the day and waited for the rest of us here. After a short snack break, Frank and Stella put on their spikes and began climbing easily up the snow. I determined to find a way around the east side of the snow on the steep slope of larger rock. In spite of the extra distance I found the way easier than I expected and managed to stay abreast of Frank and Stella on the snow until I needed to move back into the chute above the snow, where I ended up scrambling over some larger boulders.
Meanwhile Stella had moved to dry land and climbed quickly from there to the summit. Frank tried to stay on the snow the entire way but discovered that the spikes were good only up to a moderate slope, maybe 25 degrees. Lest he slip and slide in a disorderly and undignified fashion back down to David, he carefully moved off the snow onto nearby rocks and sand. It looks like one needs real crampons to get up anything steeper, which is too bad, because these microspikes are really easy to carry in a pack, unlike crampons.
At the top of the chute we regrouped. I radioed down to David a status report. He said he was cold until the sun came over him, but he seemed to be managing well enough to be left alone for another hour or so.
From the top of the chute we traversed east on the ridge, climbing through dwarf juniper pine until we reached an area with large rough granite blocks stacked in a haphazard fashion.
The granite here was very rough, full of quartzite deposits nicknamed "chickenheads" by climbers as they provide excellent hand and footholds, even when wet. We scrambled further up these boulders until the ridge narrowed to no more than a few feet wide and steepened as it made a final push for the summit.
At this point one must walk atop this narrow ridge with a drop of a couple hundred feet on the right, and maybe 20-30 feet on the left, followed by high-angle granite slabs. There is no railing. The good part was the granite was rough and provided excellent traction. The bad part was that the wind was gusting moderately over the ridge.
I crossed the narrowest section ape-like, on all fours, and did my best not to look down on either side. After the narrow ridge I had a short scramble up some large steps to the summit area that was unexpectedly capacious. It could have comfortably held a small orchestra.
I looked back to see Frank scooting back down the ridge, but I could not see Stella. I suspect they found the narrow part a bit too spicy. I admit that the last time I came up here I found it so, too, and I wouldn't think of dragooning them or anyone else into pressing beyond their comfort level.
I made another radio report to David. He could see my "tiny figure" atop the summit from the relative comfort and safety of his rock at the bottom of the chute. I took a photo looking down at him.
The actual summit block is on the south side of the summit area, but the rocks, though they have probably been there for years, do not inspire the greatest confidence. To start, the highest blocks appear to hang over the abyss to the south as if undercut. One imagines that the large cracks separating the blocks have been expanding over the years with the rocks just waiting for an appropriate amount of extra weight to peel away from the ridge and fall off to the south.
After taking a few more photos from the summit I headed down to rejoin Stella and Frank who had found some refuge out of sight of the precipitous drop-off on the southern side.
We then proceeded to retrace our route back to the broad chute where I made another radio report to David, after which we started down through the sand and gravel.
We descended the chute on sand and rock as far as we could before venturing onto the snow and glissading (Stella and Bill) or walking in spikes (Frank) down the moderate slope to join David at the bottom.
The snow was "watermelon snow" and left a bright stain on my white shell that I had used as an erstwhile sled to keep my pants dry. After soaking in diluted bleach the red stain had become a brown stain. Which is worse?
After we were all four at the bottom, we proceeded to cross the "Cathedral Plain", crossing a couple of slot canyons at their highest and shallowest point, to minimize any extra climbing for the day. We proceeded to the broad saddle directly south of Cathedral Peak and then descended the slabs to the west, our destination somewhere along the John Muir Trail (JMT) near Upper Cathedral Lake.
The descent was fairly easy with only one short steep section that required some care for tired legs. When we arrived at the JMT I suddenly felt weary, my adrenalin having been spent. My idleness during the prior week was catching up to me. Also, my muscles felt strangely weary. I worried slightly that I might suffer a relapse of flu. The next day I discovered I was sore in my quads, I suspect, from the scrambling on Echo Ridge.
The hike back to the trailhead on the JMT went without incident. We stopped to photograph Cathedral Peak from the west where the classic "cathedral" look could be seen. The trail seemed to climb more than it ought to have before descending gradually back to the trailhead at Tuolumne Meadows.
We were all happy to finish the hike. In spite of the threatening weather swirling around us for most of the day, we didn't feel a drop of rain.
This is a classic hike with much bang for the buck that we will surely repeat in future years.
(Distance: 8.7 miles; Climbing: 2650 feet)
Sky Meadow, September 18, 2011 - The day following our hike up Echo Ridge, David and I enjoyed a day of sloth and indolence. The following day we had recharged our legs. The idea was that we'd keep the hike under 6 miles but go somewhere new. Frank and Stella had hiked up to Sky Meadows the prior week, and I was now curious what that short hike was like.
We started at a reasonably late hour and began from the Emerald Lake Trailhead, climbing a few switchbacks to a ridgeline that we then followed to Emerald Lake. We continued past Emerald Lake up alongside a rushing creek to Gentian Meadow (where we saw no Gentians), then continued climbing a bit more to Sky Meadow, passing a noisy cascade along the way.
At this point we were both getting a little hungry, so we sought out a spot with a view from which to enjoy an early lunch. We found a faint trail that led up to some broad ledges that had clearly been used as campsites. Above these ledges we climbed further to the top of a rocky knoll that had just enough space between the trees to serve as a spot with a view.
After spending some time on this knoll, we climbed back down to Sky Meadow and continued up the use trail as far as we could. David had seen what looked like a climbable chute up to Mammoth Crest and wanted to explore it further.
The use trail petered out at a talus field that we crossed and where we found ourselves at the top of a higher knoll overlooking a small pond. We circumnavigated this pond by bushwhacking through a thicket of mountain willow. From there it was open land up to the base of the snowfield below the headwall guarding the Crest.
We found another viewspot to climb to before we stopped and ate a second lunch and enjoyed the view.
We probably should have pressed on up this chute and returned via Duck Pass, but that would have made the hike 8 or 9 miles, and I was determined to keep the distance short so we wouldn't need to take the next day off. We both made a mental note to return this way next year with others and explore the option of climbing the chute.
After our second lunch we returned to Sky Meadow the same way, and then down the trail back to the trailhead.
This was a good short hike, and the weather cooperated with blue skies all day.
(Distance: 5.3 miles; Climbing: 1600 feet)
|Bike Ridden:||Power Gold Rush|
|Cumulative climbing:||5900 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||10.18 mph|
|Max. Speed:||44.4 mph|
|Nominal System Voltage:||24|
|Battery energy capacity:||1024 wh|
|Battery energy consumed:||754.84 wh|
|Battery Amps-Hour Used:||29.639|
|Max. Current:||87.47 Amps|
|Max. power to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? watts|
|Avg. power to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? watts|
|Total energy to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? kJ (? wh)|
|Total energy from motor (calculated):||2504 kJ (696 wh)|
|Total energy from human (calculated):||? kJ (? wh)|
|Total energy from human (Polar HRM est.):||? kJ (? wh)|
Mammoth Tour and San Joaquin Ridge, September 19, 2011 - David wanted to spend the day relaxing and reading, so I went out and did my usual Mammoth Tour (Mammoth town to Red's Meadow Resort and back, then up to Horseshoe Lake and back).
I started by coasting downhill to The Village from the condo, then climbed Minaret Rd. Unfortunately, road crews were busy resurfacing the road, so the uphill lane was grooved in preparation for a new coat of asphalt. At the north escape road (a.k.a. Mammoth Scenic Loop) road crews had blocked the uphill lane and were permitting traffic only on the downhill side, one direction at a time. I waited with a line of cars for several minutes before we were allowed through.
When we started to go I started up in the grooved uphill lane to let the motor vehicles past, but when the grooved pavement became oiled, I jumped up on the new asphalt and gave it full throttle so that I wouldn't run afoul the downhill traffic on the next cycle.
It didn't take long to get up to the base lodge of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. I continued past the dormant operations--even the gondola was idle, the carriages having been taken off their cable--and pressed on to Minaret Summit at a slower pace.
At the pass I turned right and made my usual visit to the vista point that always has a nice view of the Ritter Range bathed in morning light.
After taking my usual photos I headed down Minaret Road toward Red's Meadow. I descended quickly, trying to coast over the few uphill segments as much as I could and to pedal as little as possible. The air was cool but not cold.
He told me that the horses had recently been transported over to their wintering corral in Bishop, and the Resort itself would be closing down by the end of September, as usual.
"The road isn't plowed, so after the first big snowstorm the only way out is snowshoes, skis or snowmobile."
I asked if a caretaker stays over the winter.
"Up until a few years ago we had a guy who stayed in that cabin over there." he pointed to an older cabin with a pitched roof, "Two or three times in the winter he'd ski over Mammoth Pass, and people from Mammoth would snowmobile down the road. But, the last few years no one is here in winter. It's a pretty tough life to be snowed in for several months."
I said my goodbyes, "Until next year," and proceeded to climb back up to Minaret Summit, stopping a few times on the way to take more photos.
When I reached the summit again, I got the bright idea to ride up San Joaquin Ridge. The road is open to "off-road vehicles", so I figure a hybrid recumbent would be allowed, if unanticipated. I figure I am probably the first (and perhaps the last) to make the journey on such a bike.
The first part of the road was fairly firm but had large whoop-de-doos (if ridden at high speed). Then the road started to climb steeply. Sharp rocks appeared in the surface, and I had to choose my line carefully not to bottom out some part of my bike. If I hadn't had a motor to help keep the rear wheel torque even, I might have had to walk some of this.
Mid-way up the road surface was firmly-packed, straight, and not too steep. I had no trouble riding. But, near the top, the road became very steep and sandy, and even with the motor I could only spin the rear wheel in the sand. I was not using knobbies, just road semi-slicks.
I got off and pushed the bike (with help from the motor) up this steepest section before getting back on the bike and continuing the climb to the end of the road above Deadman Pass.
The views were magnificent, as expected. Unexpected, though magnificent in its own way, was the rapidly changing weather. I had enough time to take a set of panorama photos (1, 2, 3) and to make a quick radio call to Frank in San Jose (KJ6PZV) through the CARLA linked repeater in Hawthorne, Nevada, that I could hit with good signal quality on "low" power (1 watt).
Then I headed back down the road. As I descended I was amazed at the speed with which the clouds over the ridge had built up. By the time I was halfway down the ridge to the paved road, the clouds looked angry, indeed.
Without delay I headed back down to the ski resort and back into town as far as The Village. At Lake Mary Road, the weather didn't seem to be imminently threatening, so I decided to venture up the new Lakes Bike Path that parallels Lake Mary Road all the way to Horseshoe Lake.
Normally I don't like bike paths because every side-road and driveway requires at least a yield in practice (a stop, officially). But, I was in the mood now to take my time and enjoy the scenery. Besides this bike path was brand new this year, clearly constructed to high standards (though not for high speed) through rocky soil and at great expense, and I hadn't ridden it yet.
The path disappears at Twin Lakes. I assume this is only temporary as work crews appeared to be building this last section. The temporary detour went toward the Twin Lakes Campground and past the Tamarack Lodge. I took the road until I saw a bike path heading off alongside the lower Twin Lake.
At first I took the path until it ended at the campground entrance. I turned around and found myself at a road junction in front of the Twin Lakes store. A path continued into the forest on the other side, and I began climbing switchbacks up to Lake Mary Road again. This part of the path was the steepest.
After the path reached Lake Mary Road it continued alongside, passing a nice Scenic Overlook (only accessible from the path) where I could see big clouds building over Mammoth Mountain, rode past the pack station, around the bend past Lake Mary, and on up to Horseshoe Lake.
At Horseshoe Lake I stopped and chatted with an older couple from southern California who were vacationing. They took my photo. I took a few more.
Then I started down the bike path. I had thought of taking the road as it would have been faster, and the weather did seem to be closing in around the area, although so far I managed to keep myself in the sunny pockets, while dark clouds surrounded me above the mountains and ridges. My luck would not hold.
I left the path at Davison and Lake Mary Road, climbed up the steep and straight Davison Road, past the Canyon Lodge. As I rode through the acres of parking before the Lodge, less than a mile before home, the rain came down hard. By the time I pulled into the driveway for the condo I might as well have been out in it all day.
Rather than duck inside immediately, I rode around the complex, found a working hose, and proceeded to wash the pumice dust off my bike--the rain wasn't getting all of it, and then dry off the bike in the garage with a towel.
Thousand Island Lake, September 20, 2011 - In all the years I had visited the Mammoth Lakes area I had not hiked to Thousand Island Lake since 1996 when Derek Bennett and I did a marathon loop. It was, perhaps, the memory of my sore feet after this hike--I had hiked in inappropriate shoes--that put a block on my repeating the experience.
This was to be our big hike of the week. Weather would be nice until mid-day then cloud over with thunderstorms by the mid-afternoon. With that in mind we packed shells and got to bed early the night before so that we could be on the trail before sunrise.
We managed to get on the trail by about 0700. Our original plan was to hike up the River Trail to Garnet Creek, then take the footpath up to Garnet Lake where we would enjoy lunch. Our return would probably be on the John Muir Trail (JMT) past Shadow Lake, but if we were tired we'd return on the shorter River Trail. But, those plans changed.
We started off in the cold morning air. David smartly packed gloves, and his hands did not freeze as mine did on the first couple of miles of the day while we were hiking through 5C (40F) air.
We passed Agnew Meadow, still slumbering under morning dew, and made our way down past the cliffs to the River Trail. We passed Olaine Lake and then reached the trail junction with Shadow Lake. If all went well we'd be coming down the Shadow Lake Trail later in the day, but for now our route had us climbing up the River Trail.
The River Trail climbed irregularly, steeply for a short distance, then an extended section of level or slightly inclined terrain, repeating the pattern several times. The trail crossed open manzanita scrub, went through thick stands of lodgepole pine, or climbed over rock slabs. The River Trail never strayed far from its namesake, although it rarely ran within a stone's throw of the San Joaquin River. The latter spent much if its time in a narrow canyon too deep and narrow to share with a trail.
After a few hours of hiking we reached a perplexing junction of three trails. The right-most was the continuation of the River Trail, but one of the other two was the trail to Garnet Lake. We spent some time exploring these trails and discovered that they led to a number of campsites with fire rings. One even had a standing table. Another site had signs advising visitors to stay away as the Forest Service was attempting to let it return to nature.
We followed the most obvious of these trails to the River's edge but discovered no easy way across without getting wet up to the thighs or waist in the cold, swiftly-running water. It was too early in the day to take a cold bath.
We looked up and down the River but found no easier crossing. The distance across was not great, but the water was deep, the rocks treacherous, and the flow swift.
After some discussion David volunteered the idea of continuing on to Thousand Island Lake and then returning down the JMT to Garnet Lake, essentially taking the long way around. I advised that we could head up to the High Trail and return to Agnew Meadow that way without crossing the River, but David suddenly wanted to see Thousand Island Lake. I advised again that the hike would be minimum 15 miles round-trip if we visited Thousand Island Lake, but his mind was made up.
So, we pressed on up to Thousand Island Lake and would decide there whether to return the same way or make the longer loop on the JMT.
Above the outflow of Garnet Lake the terrain opened up. We came upon some other hikers resting at a sunny spot on some slabs. They had camped at Thousand Island Lake and had hiked down the trail that morning. They told us we had about 2 miles to go to Thousand Island Lake.
We pressed ahead and came to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We rested briefly before continuing up to Thousand Island Lake.
Before reaching Thousand Island Lake the trail reaches open terrain and passes a couple of small ponds just downstream of Thousand Island Lake. Banner Peak dominates the skyline to the west. Finally, we crossed the last knoll that leads down to the shore of Thousand Island Lake.
Unfortunately, the size of Thousand Island Lake cannot be fully appreciated from its outlet as only a small part of the lake is visible from that vantage.
After some brief consideration David decided he had enough energy to continue the hike on the JMT, including two intermediate climbs over to Garnet Lake and Shadow Lake. He still wanted to see Garnet Lake and all of the other lakes along the way.
We left Thousand Island Lake and passed by Emerald and Ruby Lakes before climbing to the top of a pass that overlooks Garnet Lake. We stopped at this pass, the high point of the day, for a lunch break in the warm mid-day air and to enjoy the view.
After our break we continued down the trail to the shore of Garnet Lake. We stopped again at the lake's outlet to replenish our water supplies by drawing filtered water from the lake. At my urging (and with some effort) David ate another sandwich. The weather was fixing to change for the worse, and I felt it would be easier to face rain and wet rocks on a full stomach than an empty one.
After our break at the outlet of Garnet Lake we pressed on up the JMT where it crosses the ridge and descends to Shadow Creek.
The descent to Shadow Creek started with a few switchbacks down to a hanging meadow below, then continued along a stream for what seemed like a long descent. We finally reached Shadow Creek just as the rain started.
We put on slickers--David donned his camouflage poncho that when fully-deployed looked vaguely like a children's baptismal robe.
We continued down to a larger stand of lodgepoles along the shore of Shadow Lake that offered some protection from the weather before stopping for several minutes to eat a snack. By the time we were ready to start again, the rain had tapered off and the mosquitos had discovered us. It was time to move on.
We continued to the outlet of Shadow Lake and then down the slope next to the dramatic cascade of Shadow Creek through its slot in the rock.
By the time we reached the bridge over the San Joaquin River the rain had stopped. We stopped again for a snack at the junction with the trail to Agnew Meadow where we put away our slickers and ate another snack. But, as we started up again, the rain resumed.
By the time we reached the trailhead at Agnew Meadow the rain had ended for good that evening.
(Distance: 16.4 miles; Climbing: 3000 feet)
Mammoth Crest, September 21, 2011 - The day after our epic hike to Thousand Island Lake I had expected to sleep in, awaken late, and maybe take a short to moderate length bike ride. David would certainly want to take a rest day.
But, at 0700 David knocked on my door to tell me he was feeling great and wanted to go hiking again. So, we went through our morning routine, and headed out the door.
The adventure for today was a short loop up to Mammoth Crest to explore its northern reach. I had read in Steve Roper's "Timberline Route" about an easy cross-country route from the maintained trail north along the crest and down to Mammoth Pass and wanted to explore this end today. Neither of us felt like taking a long hike, but the five or six miles of this loop we concluded was manageable.
We parked the car at Horseshoe Lake so that we would start with a warm-up hike through the forest to Lake George rather than finish with that somewhat dull section of the route. From Lake George we climbed the steady switchbacks up the ridge to the Crest. It was on this section that David discovered he didn't have quite as much energy as he thought. He rested several times on the way up, but he did make it to the top.
The views, of course, were magnificent. With the added drama of some interesting clouds and spots of rain or virga, we always enjoyed some interesting scenery.
The "red pumice peak" was the high point of the route. From there We descended a hundred feet to the southern end of the granite cliffs along the northern band of the Crest where we found a nice spot to have lunch.
After eating we picked our way along several use trails that wound through the whitebark pine forest. At the northern end of this section we strayed a little too close to the edge of the Crest and found ourselves having to scramble down some uncomfortably steep terrain before retreating to a spot higher on the ridge. Eventually we made our way to the top of a broad sandy chute that was to be our descent route off of the Crest and down to Mammoth Pass.
Many footprints going this way gave us confidence that the way would not be too difficult. It was, after all, a route recommended for backpackers, and we carried only lightweight day packs.
The use trail down the sandy chute was easy enough to follow as each step we took carried us an extra half-step. Going uphill would not be so easy, should we need to backtrack.
The bottom of the sandy chute was not, unfortunately, the bottom of the descent. The sandy chute seemed to end as a hanging valley above Mammoth Pass itself. It would be quite unpleasant to have to slog our way back up the chute. Footprints went every which way, suggesting some confusion on the part of other hikers. We followed what appeared to be the greatest number of footprints, and that took us over the lip of the valley and down a rocky, sandy section that was just within David's comfort zone. Looking back up this section it was apparent that an easier down-route was on the other side of the water course where the deep sand continued for the most part.
The remainder of the descent was an easy walk through lodgepole pines that could have been done in the dark, the way being marked with fine white granite gravel as if it had been laid there by a landscaping crew. We shortly found ourselves on the Mammoth Pass Trail, or rather the southernmost trail that crosses Mammoth Pass.
The rest of the hike was a straightforward descent from McCloud Lake down to the trailhead at Horseshoe Lake.
(Distance: 5.3 miles; Climbing: 1500 feet)
|Bike Ridden:||Power Gold Rush|
|Cumulative climbing:||7000 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||15.04 mph|
|Max. Speed:||51.8 mph|
|Nominal System Voltage:||24|
|Battery energy capacity:||1024 wh|
|Battery energy consumed:||925.53 wh|
|Battery Amps-Hour Used:||36.606|
|Max. Current:||81.54 Amps|
|Max. power to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? watts|
|Avg. power to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? watts|
|Total energy to rear wheel (PowerTap):||? kJ (? wh)|
|Total energy from motor (calculated):||3070 kJ (853 wh)|
|Total energy from human (calculated):||? kJ (? wh)|
|Total energy from human (Polar HRM est.):||1223 kJ (340 wh)|
Mammoth Area Ride, September 22, 2011 - David took the day off to rest after two days of hiking, but I had energy to get out of the condo and enjoy the good weather, so I headed out toward Tom's Place with the idea that I would climb up to Mosquito Flat on Upper Rock Creek Canyon Rd. and then return.
I was able to communicate with David on our FRS radios as far as Mt. Morrison Rd. and US395, about 10 miles from the condo as the crow flies, and with good line-of-sight reception. I continued down to Crowley Lake, staying on US395 past McGee and Hilton Creeks, through Little Round Valley, and finally to Tom's Place, where I turned right and began the long climb.
I rode up Upper Rock Creek Canyon to the Mosquito Flat (Little Lakes Valley) trailhead, spoke with a few people curious about my bike and where I was riding, and then returned down the hill again, cruising at about 45-48 mph on the straightaways into a gentle headwind as I descended. I didn't use the brakes too often until I got to the twisty parts in the canyon near the bottom.
When I got back to Tom's Place I returned west on Crowley Lake Drive to McGee Creek and then rejoined US395. I was still feeling energetic, so I continued north on US395 to Deadman Summit before turning around. I briefly entertained the idea of riding the scenic June Lake Loop, but my energy level wasn't high enough (battery or body).
I climbed back into town on the north escape road, euphemistically called "Mammoth Scenic Loop", where the only scenery is a dense lodgepole forest. When I got back into town, instead of returning directly to the condo, I rode back down to the Forest Service office to inquire about a missing bridge over the San Joaquin River on the trail to Garnet Lake we had tried to hike two days earlier. Then I toured through town on one of the bike path/cross-country ski routes that ended near Sherwin Creek Rd. and Old Mammoth Rd. I then climbed back to the condo on Minaret Road.
Indian Ridge, September 23, 2011 - On our way home from a week in Mammoth Lakes, we (David and Bill) stopped in Yosemite to hike up to Indian Ridge. This was to be a moderately easy hike as we had a long drive to do the same day.
We started at the Porcupine Creek Trailhead on Tioga Rd., a few miles west of Olmstead Point. The trailhead was crowded, yet when we got on the trail we encountered relatively few hikers during our outing.
The first and last 0.7 miles of the hike passes on an old road of broken asphalt to the crossing of Porcupine Creek, where the dirt trail begins. The trail passes through a forest of mature and large lodgepole pines and a few large red fir trees, many of which appeared to have fallen across the trail in recent storms. An occasional meadow and granite rock garden were also traversed.
At the major trail junction at the midway point, we continued on the trail to North Dome, although due to time and energy constraints we would not be visiting that particular rock feature on this trip. Our trip to North Dome in 1987 would have to continue to fill our memories of that spot.
After a short, steep climb we reached the trail junction to Indian Ridge. We turned left and proceeded to climb steeply to what first appears to be Indian Rock, but is, in fact, a lesser pinnacle featuring a natural stone arch. I call it "Indian Arch" in the photos.
After a short break at the base of the pinnacle we proceeded to climb around its back side to the arch and thence to the "keyhole" at the top of the pinnacle.
After taking our photos we paused again at the base of the arch to eat lunch just as a steady stream of hikers arrived to explore the arch as we had just done. After eating lunch we proceeded north along the ridge on a faint use trail to see the real Indian Rock, and the high point of the ridge.
Indian Rock was larger than the pinnacle containing Indian Arch, but was less interesting as a rock feature than the latter. We took a few photos from the base of the rock but did not climb it. It looked to be more difficult to climb, and from its summit grew trees.
On our way back south along Indian Ridge I spied a clearing beyond a narrow band of trees to the east. Perhaps there was a good view spot there. So, we made a bee-line cross-country to this clearing and found a wonderful spot from which we could see much of the Yosemite high country from Mt. Conness in the northeast to Sentinel Dome in the southwest.
We spent at least 45 minutes enjoying the view from the short rock pinnacle adjacent to several clearings that had obviously been used as campsites and fire rings. But, today we had the place to ourselves. Most of the other hikers to Indian Ridge were satisfied that they had seen everything there was to see at Indian Arch.
We finally left this wonderful spot and returned up the ridge and back down to Indian Arch that was now crawling with hikers, then returned back on the trail that we had taken in the morning.
This was a relatively easy hike with much "bang for the buck", a good hike to do on a travel day through Yosemite, and one we'll surely repeat in the future.
(Distance: 7.4 miles; Climbing: 1300 feet)
Mammoth Miscellaneous, September, 2011 - Various photos taken at the condo or at non-hike/bike events.
Frank and Stella Mammoth 2011 web pages - For a different perspective see Frank's web pages of the same holiday.
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