We parked our cars at Camp 9K, crossed highway 120 and headed up Warren Creek. (It's well known that the Forest Service has closed down Camp 9K, but it was news to us that they have opened a pleasant, uncrowded, free, primitive walk-in campground right across the road alongside Warren Creek.)
We followed the muddy trail northwest up Warren Creek for about ten minutes, passed the first south flowing tributary, then turned north to make our way cross country towards the peak. For an hour we beat our way up a loose, sandy face, then crossed a bump and entered a shallow scree bowl. Continuing along a north compass bearing, we crossed the second south flowing year-round tributary, up a sparsely wooded scree slope to timberline, and over the right flank of Peak 12160. We didn't like the look of the ridge from this peaklet to our destination, so we dropped down 100 feet into the snow filled basin below the south slopes, then walked up to the 12327 foot summit of Warren Mountain.
The summit afforded us an unequaled view of Mono Lake, with a desert cloud bank reflected eerily off its saline waters.
We varied our descent route, going down the second drainage until we reached timberline, cutting east to the first drainage, and following it to the beginning of the Warren Creek trail. We were slowed down by the rocky footing above high and dense willows below. We spent 5-1/2 hours on the ascent and 3-1/2 on the descent. Last year's PCS group made a considerably faster trip to Warren Mountain. A couple of our trip-mates were learning how to keep their balance on scree, and needed some extra time. We returned to camp in the daylight, so our slowness was really no problem. Warren is actually a good mountain on which to practice scree surfing technique, because it's a short enough climb that the group can spend the time it needs but still not need headlamps.
Back at camp, we had a festive supper with much better fare than we usually encounter on PCS outings, and good campfire conversation about the President's troubles and the home run race.
I must have worn everybody out in a big way on Saturday, because almost nobody wanted to follow through with the original Sunday plan of climbing Mt Gibbs. Instead, a group of us took a much easier walk to Gaylor Peak. We followed the lead of Jim Ramaker, who had led a group of five people to the same destination on Saturday.
Camp organizer Cecil Ann, her children Joseph and Johanna, Kai Weidman, Joan Marshall, her grown daughters Laura and Claire, Dennis and Judy Severson and their son Matthew, Jeff West, Tony Stegman and I lit out from Tioga Pass up 500 feet to the spectacular granite rimmed Gaylor Lakes. Dennis and Judy rested at the lake with the young children, while the rest of us (Cecil Ann, Kai, Joan, Laura, Claire, Jeff, Tony and I) hiked east up the remaining 600 feet from the lakes trail to the 11004 foot summit of Gaylor Peak. Kai wanted to make the trip into a traverse, so we continued eastward down into the basin, then sauntered back along a use trail to rejoin the younger generation at the lakeshore. The whole leisurely outing took about 3-1/2 hours, including a long lunch break, a perfect day and a perfect length hike for the younger set.
Larry Sokolsky led a party on a technical climb of Cathedral Peak on Sunday, Peter Maxwell and Anouchka Gaillard took their babies to Tuolomne Meadow, Chris read his novel beside Tenaya Lake, and I'm afraid I've lost track of everybody else's activites. That's the beauty of the Tuolomne family camp; everybody finds the level of challenge they want, and somebody to share it with them.
Peter Maxwell adds:
> on Sunday, Peter Maxwell and Anouchka Gaillard took > their babies to Tuolomne Meadow ...
I'll add an addendum here, because we did something quite different and much more challenging. Our original idea was to to hike along the trail to Bennettville, starting from Tioga Lake, but hardly had we started when Tania (our 5 year old) wanted to climb up to where we could see snow. We turned left 90 degrees and ended up climbing up 850' to the top of the ridge separating Tioga Lake from the lakes just east of Granite Lake. It was a great climb, with nice rock, little creeks to negotiate and, at the top, a nice snow field to walk on and slide on, which gave both "babies" a thrill.
The weekend was fabulous, and we're looking forward to version IV already.