Mount Williamson
(via George Creek)

30 Apr 1995 - by Steve Eckert

Did you go on Tony Cruz's trip to Mt. Williamson this past weekend? Did Tony go? If so, how bad was the weather?

Gee, Dot, we missed you!

A day earlier and we would have made it. It was windy Friday night, with some clouds over the desert. Sat morning it was even windier, with clouds blowing over the high mtns and clouds over the desert. We only made it to 9400' Friday, and the consensus was that we could do a 5000' peak day more easily than we could do a 5000' pack-it-in day. Right. Some of us probably could have, but the wind gusts forced us to crouch and brace ourselves. It started snowing seriously about noon (raining down at camp) and we turned around at 13200' due to stinging snow, high wind, low visibility. Our tracks had filled up with snow above 11000', and below that the snow was soft enough to either snowshoe or posthole to the knee. It rained all of Sat night (from 1pm until about 3am) with incredible wind gusts that sounded like trains in the trees. If we had camped higher, it would have destroyed all of our tents (no 4-season models). The snow was very soft Sun morning for the hike out... softer than it had been mid afternoon of the hike in. The peaks showed obvious fresh snow - I'd say over a foot abouve 12000', but that's just a guess. George Creek was much higher on the way out, also. I ditched my plans to stay and do other peaks, because of the snow conditions and threatening weather.

You did well to stay home, but we got more exercise!

I noticed that you said that George Creek was higher on your way out than on the way in. Dee and I are still planning on giving this route a shot

It was higher due to warming temps and rain. The snow was softer, so runoff was increasing. Hiking in on the snow will also be harder if you don't stay on top. These temps are a daily thing, and hard to predict. I have no idea if it will rise or fall in the future.

If you go, you need a 4WD to get all the way to the trailhead. There is one steep hill with large rolling bumps that stopped us about half a mile short of the road end. From the road end, the best route seems to be staying on the north side of the creek, not climbing significantly above the creek but staying out of the creek-related brush: It's a sagebrush and thorn route, but there is a fairly noticable trail. I broke off branches on the way down, so look for that. When you see tall pine trees on the south bank, cross over and walk next to the cliffs in the cool shade. You will hit a 10-foot cliff with a cave under it: cross back to the north side for as short a distance as possible to get around the cliff, then get back on the south side for the rest of the way up the valley. Snow shows up around 8000'.

This is not what we did on the way up, and it is almost what we did on the way down. It is definitely what I would do if I were going there again. Wear long pants, no matter how hot it is! We took a light short rope for stream crossings, but used it only once (on the way out). Remember that the snow is much softer in the afternoon, so you will want to carry snowshoes up for the hike back even if it seems hard on the way in. Knee deep ruins the hike down...

do you hike in close to the creek?

Stay just high enough to be clear of the stream-related brush.

Sorry that I took such delight in your report

I knew you would. That's part of the reason I sent it! I can take as well as give...

about that road ... we took the dirt road from Manzanar, which goes west, then south, then west again, all square corners. The last west turn is marked by a steel fence post with a bit of red ribbon on it. Lots of other roads, but no telling where they go. The south turn is obvious due to the fence you are going around, the others are not.

How were the roads getting to George Creek Did you cut across thru Manzanar or come down from Onion Valley?

From Manzanar. No problem in my Honda CRX (very low clearance) until about half a mile from the road end. Lots of roads out there! The turn west is marked by a steel fence post with a bit of red ribbon on it.

Thanks for all the info on your trip. We are actually going up another canyon to acheive the summit - North Fork of Bair Creek. We are doing this only because the descent will be better for skis. Unfortunately we are not the best telemarkers, so we will be using Alpine skis ( I know a lot of extra weight, but it will be worth it for the descent with the conditions you are reporting.)

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