Sierra Reprise

Sept 26-28 2022

random trip report

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Seth and I wanted to go down to Bishop, with M, and climb something big, but the Airbnbs were super expensive so we decide to go on a shorter trip to Lee Vining.

Mon 26 Sept

We leave around 10. On 205 around Tracy there's a plume of black smoke a bit off the freeway; we can't see what's burning. Then a few minutes later a 100' high cloud of dust looms over the freeway in front of us. A big crash has taken place < 30 sec in front of us. A car, bashed in front and back, possibly having rolled over, sits in the left lane. People - some of them injured-looking - mill around.

We stop in the Groveland city park to eat lunch and toss frisbee.

We stop at the Tuolumne sequoia grove. You have to walk a long way to see any of them, and I gotta say they're not as impressive as I remember.

At Olmstead Point, traffic is stopped for one of those things where a "guide truck" slowly leads cars while the other direction waits. In this case it's kind of BS - the section is several miles long, but a lane is blocked only in one place. So dozens of cars wait for 20 minutes pretty much needlessly.

We stop at Puppy dome, walk around to the swim hole in back, then climb to the top of the dome.

We check in at the Lake View Lodge, which has my vote for world's best motel.

We drive out to the Panum crater at Mono Lake and take in a spectacular sunset.

Another car arrives, and people get out and walk up. It's a bride and groom in wedding clothes, with a photographer; nice.

Dinner at Nicely's. Slow service. My usual (a Reuben and Mammoth Brewing IPA) are good; M's fish tacos have cold tortillas. At the next table there's a Finnish (?) family with an oddly old-looking teenage girl. M gets me the coveted Nicely's T-shirt.

Tues 27 Sept

I get zero sleep in spite of a comfortable bed and half a Unisom. We get breakfast at the Mobil station: coffee, egg sandwich, oatmeal (huge).

We drive to the May Lake trailhead, enduring more of the traffic nonsense. We hike to May Lake.

We climb Mt. Hoffman by the "mountaineer's route": going around the lake to the right, climbing the granite slabs, scrambling up the fairly steep slope to the ridge, going up the ridge which turns in to scrambling just before reaching the plateau.

Resting just after reaching plateau

Note patches of snow

View across plateau to summit block

Neither of us is feeling great. I have a weird muscle spasm, uncomfortably close to my heart, that triggers when I take a deep breath and exhale. Plus I'm feeling bad from no sleep. M is experiencing dizziness when she stops moving, possibly due to altitude.

We make it to the summit block. It's windy; we rest behind a big rock.

M has some hesitation about tackling the summit, due to dizziness, but she sucks it up and makes it to the top. We're extra careful on the way down.

The descent, by the path, is uneventful. I pay a visit to Bertha.

We dip our feet in the (fairly cold) lake for a few minutes.

More traffic nonsense - who's running this shit-show?

Dinner at the Mobil station; M has the crab/lobster taquitos, which are visually spectacular but taste only faintly of seafood. I have veggie chili, which is OK. We smuggle in our own beer.

The sunset is drab compared to yesterday, but there are no clouds, so when it's completely dark - around 9:30 - we drive a few miles away from town to view stars. The Milky Way is very clear. We see a flashing multicolor star, something I've only seen in this area. We see the moons of Jupiter with binoculars.

Wed 28 Sept

I sleep fairly well, having taken a different sleeping pill. We eat leftovers from yesterday's breakfast. We drive up to Saddlebag Lake, thinking of walking around it and then up to the glacial lakes. In fact a group of senior hikers is about to do just this. But the hike looks butt ugly - the shores of the lake are barren, the lake is low, no vegetation of any sort. So we head down to the Sawmill campground and take the trail toward Mt. Conness.

I feel better but still have the spasms, so I go very slow and keep my pulse low (around 90). Like Noah and I did last month, we keep going on the main trail past the usual turnoff.

My intent is go to Alpine Lake, but I don't have a clear idea of where this is and we don't see any obvious trail, so we keep going all the way up to the cirque at the head of the valley (where there should be a lake but there isn't).

The slope at left is how Rob and I descended on our first trip here

Toward the end, the trail becomes extremely sketchy and we lose it repeatedly. We end up in areas that are a combination of large boulders and impenetrable scrub.

On the way down we go too far to the right, next to the stream, where the scrub is worst. I realize that the trail is actually far to the left, closer to the wall of the valley. We traverse across and locate the trail.

The walk back is nice. Crossing the log bridge, my poles slip and I nearly fall into the creek.

On the way home, we dip our feet in Tenaya lake. We stop at Olmstead Point, which is mercifully free of traffic stops.

The drive back is plagued by the usual low sun, but we stop in Groveland to let the sun go down, and for the rest of the drive there's just a beautiful sunset. We get back to Berkeley around 8:30.

Injury report: legs/back/knees/feet all feel good. I'm worry about the chest spasm, and will get it looked at as soon as I can.

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