Four Gables and Pilot Knob
(On a whim!)

9-10 Sep 2006 - by Louise Wholey

Decisions, decisions, how does one decide where to go and what to do? We thought about Mt. Goethe but decided boulder hopping would be a drag. Besides it would probably be a long day Sunday, and we might not be out until near dark, a problem for flying our plane home in daylight. We decided to climb Four Gables, a casual hike which would give us a chance to catch up with news from Dee Booth on the way to Piute Pass. We had 2 1/2 hours to chat with Dee then continued to Desolation Lake to a beautiful camp site. After setting up camp, it was still quite early, about 2 pm, and the weather was beautiful, so we spent a couple hours climbing Four Gables from the south directly up the inlet to the lake. The walls dropped off sharply to the east; we were glad we had not chosen the Horton Lakes approach as it looked like a terrible long rubble climb. The new register is a memorial to Patty Rambert. After returning to camp we managed to create a way-too-fiery beef and potato curry from Sukhi's vindaloo curry paste. Perhaps we should have paid attention to "serves 4". The end of a brilliant sunset on Mt. Humphries and temperatures in the low 40's put us in bed early.

The only plan for the next day was to hike out, but after a rather lazy 9:30 am start, Pilot Knob beckoned us from across Humphries Basin. People we had met on the Piute Trail said it had a great view. It stands isolated at the edge of Humphries Basin overlooking French Canyon and lower Piute Trail. On a whim, we turned for the peak at about 10 am. We tried to travel at a constant elevation, passing Mesa and Square Lake across smooth tundra-like flats, then contouring along at about 11,400 toward the notch east of the peak. Trees, boulders and ledges made contouring difficult. We reached the notch shortly after noon and the summit in another 40 minutes. A short visit with others on the peak brought us back to the notch around 1:30. We dropped to Knob Lake for water and tried to avoid contouring because trees and boulders seem, unfortunately, to grow together. We passed the north side of Tomahawk Lake, then made a beeline toward Piute Pass, encountering the trail around 4 pm about 1/4 mile below the junction with the trail to Desolation Lake. We reached the roadhead by dark (about 6:30) and spent the night in Bishop after hearty meals at Whiskey Creek. An early morning flight brought us back to "civilization", the only benefit of which is (in my view) the Barefoot Coffee Roasters, yum!

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