Mt Dana: 'Touching the JetStream'

22-23 Jul 2000 - by Debbie Benham

[A Sierra Club sponsored PCS trip]

At 13,057 ft, Mt Dana towers above Tioga Pass, with its hulking mass visible from Tuolumne Meadows to Lee Vining Canyon. Many have hiked Dana due to accessibility of a high altitude gain, acclimatization and conditioning, and, spectacular views from the summit. With that in mind, and, in the tradition of John Muir, our wandering group of ne'er-do-wells sauntered toward the top, encouraged by the glorious sunshine and slightly cooling breeze. Participants: Debbie Benham (leader), Bob and Gretchen Bynum, Christopher Franchuk, Patty Haight, Prakash Jayaraman, Chris MacIntosh (coleader), Brad Mayer, and Jim Schollard.

Having taken the use trail from Tioga Pass, we rambled through carpets of larkspur, lupine, Indian paintbrush, and Yosemite aster. Climbing, steeply, Gretchen noted the beautiful structures of metamorphic rock interspersed with the granite seen lower down on the mountain. Jim remarked on the beauty of the day, not a cloud in the sky, with a full day ahead to explore more peaks. [And so he did! Jim went on to summit Gibbs.] From Dana's top, we marveled at the blue of Mono Lake, clarity of the far off ranges, and, tallied the peaks we had climbed (oh so many now ...). For Prakash, a first summit in the Sierra and a first time with the Peak Climbing Section! Congratulations. Heading down, many of us skirted a snowfield, but, Patty and Brad, brave souls, ran down, beating us to the Dana saddle!

Often, campground stays get short shrift. To let you know, our two campsites were lovely and on the periphery of Tuolumne Meadows Campground. However, we have some interesting moments, like: (a) when Chris MacIntosh arrived at 1:30 in the morning, along with Prakash and Christopher, and turned around to see a bear's butt sticking out of the rear of her Isuzu Trooper! (b) Saturday evening happy hour; (c) attending the Ranger Program Saturday night with Chris MacIntosh accurately answering the ptmarigan question and Debbie Benham knowing all three posted speed limits of Tuolumne Meadows; (d) admiring the ranger's oral tradition of story-telling and genuine love of the high Sierra; and, last but not least, (e) Bob's bringing of the marshmallows and subsequent roasting.

Sunday found us having brunch at the picnic tables followed by a short hike of Gaylor Peak at 11,004'. None really wanted to go home and we meandered to our cars ever-so-slowly. The camaraderie was remarked on and felt all 'round, and for this, I thank you all!


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