Shepherd's Crest

20 Sep 1992 - by Mark Woolbright

Tuolumne Meadows was the base camp for a hike to Parker Pass and a climb up Shepherd's Crest. Our cast of characters included leaders Debbie Benhan and Anouchka Gaillard, Carol Anton, Mike Johnson, David Cadwell, and Mark Woolbright, with a special appearance by Ron Linglebach on Saturday.

Saturday was a leisurely hike from Tioga Road to Mono Pass. From there we left the trail to investigate the remains of some log cabins from the days of the silver miners. We could see mines dug into the mountain side above us. We went cross-country to Parker Pass, and then to a small lake at the foot of a trio of craggy stone towers that were part of Kuna Crest. The lake had an intense blue color, perhaps due to traces of minerals in the water. We had lunch by the remains of another log cabin overlooking the lake. We picked up the trail and headed back to camp.

As the rest of us were fixing dinner, Mike suddenly decided to make a mad dash up Lembert Dome. He returned in the dark as we started to light a campfire, and described the view from the top of the dome as the sun set over the ranges of Yosemite.

Sunday we broke camp and drove to Saddlebag Lake. We followed an easy trail along a series of lakes. The highest lake was at the base of a ridge that runs from North Peak to Excelsior Peak, with Shepherd's Crest rising beyond it. Carol decided to stay by the lake to read, relax, and provide ground support. We considered various routes up the ridge.

There did not seem to be a direct way up this great stone wall, so we went diagonally up and southward over a series of benches. We went along the ridge top northward to the intersection with the ridge that forms Shepherd's Crest. We looked down on McCabe Lakes and had a unique view of Half Dome aligned with Cathedral Peaks and Unicorn Mountain.

We scrambled up the side of this new ridge on stable white granite. The ridge got steeper as it got higher until at the top of the Crest we found ourselves perched precariously between a cliff and a precipice. We looked out across a great number of peaks as well as Mono Lake. Members of the group pointed out mountains which they had climbed, and related stories of their adventures. We went down the crest to the first ridge. We found remnants of a trial which seemed to offer a way to the lake that was shorter than our roundabout way up. But after a while the path faded and we carefully worked our way down through nooks and crannies in the rocks to the lake where we rejoined Carol.

Looking back up at the ridge, it once again looked like a vertical wall and we could not see how we managed to find a way down. From there we hiked back to Saddlebag Lakes and began the ride home.


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