One road to heaven must go through the Graveyard. It sure is pretty up thar! Yes, Sir! Bury my heart at Graveyard!
Our party was too small for such a beautiful fall trip: Janet Condino, Charles Schafer, and Roger Crawley. Saturday morning at the Mono Hot Springs Restaurant we all ordered the Mono Queen Breakfast and chatted with a mountain man who shared many profound thoughts. A sign said they were serving buffalo stew that night; that would be the Sierra Buffalo mighty tempting!
It's a gentle and pretty trail along Cold Creek to Upper Graveyard Meadow, then there is a part that's a little steeper up to Graveyard Lakes. We stopped at the largest lake in a beautiful granite basin at 10,000 feet. There was a full moon, no rain, no clouds, no wind, no mosquitoes, no potatoes.
Sunday morning we headed for a slightly low point on the ridge 200 feet south of the summit. When we got up there Janet and Charlie made their way over on the west side of the ridge while I dithered on the blocks on top.
We guessed the true summit and scrambled up there. The register was there on the north side and we say familiar names from (if I recall correctly) the June 1990 PCS trip (Kelly Maas was one of them). It took us three hours from our camp to the summit at 11,494 feet.
We went down the south side of the east ridge. This is the recommended class 2 route that looked to me, from below, to be class 3. The summit, which resembles a phallus, is located close to where the north and east ridges converge, and it is in clear view from the lakes. (WOW) Near the summit there is a rock that looks like an anvil's horn, or a ship's prow, or a chorus girl's chest.
The walk out was serene in the late afternoon sunlight. We saw a few tame deer (one of 'em even had blue eyes!) and even a great blue heron, apparently looking for trout. By this time poor Charlie was hobbling from bad blisters. He never complained though. No Way!
We ate a late supper at Mono Hot Springs and heard about the bear that crushed the restaurant stove and got into all the food. It was too late for a dip in the hot springs and it was after 1:00am when we got back to the Bay Area.