On the first day of a scheduled SPS outing,14 eager hikers, some intrepid, a few somewhat more trepid, congregated at the Convict Lake picnic area at about 7700' elevation (end of the road, south side of lake) at 7 a.m., eager to bag this peak that looks so daunting from the east side.
The weather promised to be without monsoon, so we could be as leisurely as we wanted. A year ago, I reached about 600' below the summit, only to be turned back by lightning. You may imply from this that I am not a truly serious bagger of peaks.
We soon began the march up the brushy hill behind the toilet, a few bare legs wishing they were protected. 600' later we reached the west end of the Mt Morrison road [this seems to begin on hwy 395, just south of the Convict Lake turnoff]. We continued southward up an easily navigable gully, passing two large snow mounds, to an area at 9950' elevation (UTM 371588), about 200 yards to the west of a small lake. Some of us replenished water bottles from the feeder stream.
From this spot we could see a use trail heading up a shallow bowl. We followed this obvious trail, which heads west to UTM 365588, then turns south for a short distance to a flat spot, which invited a break. Only 1350' gain to go to the summit from here.
The hike now became class 2, in some areas perhaps reaching 2.9. We headed west just to the left of a ridge. The path is reasonably obvious. We took care in some chutes to avoid possible rock fall. A small group would not need to do this. At about 11,600' we turned right off the ridge into a steep gully. The true summit is obscured by the large block directly in front of us. We went left around this block, then veered to the right and easily reached the summit shortly after noon. We did the usual: reveled in the view, signed the register, lunched, and snapped innumerable photos.
The return, along almost the same path, was uneventful. We reached Convict Lake before 5 p.m.
Leaders: George Wysup, Pat Arredondo, Gary Schenk
Participants: Robert Amaral, Lisa Barboza, Bill Burke, Tom Connery, Mary Jo Dungfelder, Larry Hoak, Ron Eckelmann, Yim Lincoln, Zobeida Molina, Bettye Swart, Ron Zappen.
Bloody Mtn, July 11:
My plan was to drive up the Laurel Lakes road as far as we reasonably could, understanding that 4WD high clearance is necessary. I had heard mixed reports regarding the quality of this road. I had scouted the first mile of this road 2 days early. I found its condition to be abominable, at best.
Bettye Swart and Robert Amaral excused themselves after the Morrison hike and Ali Sanaei joined us, for a total of 13 unlucky hikers. Unfortunately, mine was the only real 4WD vehicle available. Larry Hoak offered the services of his Subaru Outback, giving us a capacity of 8 passengers (The Subaru carried only 3 passengers in the interest of decent ground clearance). A few hikers got an early start hiking up the road. Larry in his Subaru led the way up. That vehicle managed to negotiate the road for about 3 miles to a point near lower Laurel Lake. Most of us were amazed that this car did so well without mishap. Larry had driven that road 2 years earlier in the same car. He pronounced that the road had deteriorated very badly since.
My 4Runner had no problem getting in 3.5 miles to the trailhead, where a few other 4WDs were parked. On the return down the road I used low range 4WD, a definite asset. My poor vehicle was called upon to return part way to shuttle more of the group. I was unwilling to climb on foot the entire 5200' gain to the summit, so I couldn't ask others to do so.
From the trailhead we hiked easily to the saddle between Laurel and Bloody Mtns. Ron Eckelmann signed out to climb Laurel. He made the summit up and down an ugly steep and loose scree slope, then waited for our return. The rest of us ascended, without problems, the northeast ridge to the summit and returned. There was no snow along the route. The route along the NE ridge is obvious. Some stretches have loose rock, making for a rather slow pace.