This was originally an official PCS trip to North Guard starting from Road's End in Sequoia NP. First there was that sign at the ranger station declaring that the bridge over Sphinx creek was closed for repair. And when it was finally time to pick up the permit, the ranger confirmed the bridge was closed (as off May 25 2005). Well, officially closed: Dave Erskine had mentioned crossing the bridge 2 weeks before and we spoke with a California Conservation Corp worker who reported workers were crossing the bridge every day to work on it. It is just that there was no railing (on a 10 foot wide bridge). With the record runoffs, we were not going to attempt wading the Sphinx or, worse, Bubbs Creek to go to East Lake. Our leaders decided there was no crossing red tape on an official trip. Should anyone end up in the water, we would be in deep doodoo (not big doodoo, as Rick corrected (he now tutors me in ESL on his off-time)) Ok, so North Guard was canceled. How about a private trip somewhere else? Alta? Silliman? Harrington? Harrington won. We picked up a Topo map and finally left the Deer Cove trailhead (4400')at 10:11am. We traversed Wildman Meadow and continued on to Fry Pan Meadow (8000') which we reached at 3:40pm to set camp. Note that Fry Pan meadow can be reached via the Lewis Creek trail. We skipped this option because of the many creek crossings involved. We met several people later who reported getting quite wet while hiking the Lewis Creek Trail. The rest of Saturday was spent sleeping in the sun and enjoying campfire in the evening. I scouted the Grizzly Lakes trail cut off which starts at the North End of the meadow. The trail sign says unimproved and literally points to brush but a fairly good trail actually starts behind the brush.
Sunday, we were walking at 6:40am. The trail quickly led us to a crossing over the East Fork of Grizzly Creek. The trail continues straight along the creek after the crossing but we somehow lost it and got pushed by the terrain too far to the North West. After some minimal bushwhacking we were back close to the East Fork. We reached snow around 9000'. At 9200' we went West over a small ridge East of Grizzly Lakes and got our first good view of the peak. We headed toward the drainage East of Harrington. We followed the drainage as it curves around and parallels the North ridge. Some of us tried a short cut up to the ridge which ended up being steep and not worth the effort. Paul and Linda, the wiser ones, followed the drainage all the way where it gently meets the North ridge. Most of us walked in hiking boots on the fairly solid snow and we only pulled out ice axes for a short section of ridge just before the rock. We picked an easy class 3 route on solid rock. At one point we squeezed into a moat to skirt a small but exposed snowfield. We reached the 11,004' summit at 1pm and enjoyed a perfect weather lunch. Arun kept us entertained: when someone said, 'I am too tired', Arun replied, "then you are a bicycle", which is not a bad one considering the elevation
We left the summit at 1:45pm. As the snow had softened, we all wore snowshoes except on the steepest slippery slopes. We crossed the ridge above Grizzly Lakes at 9800' and followed the East Fork. We eventually intersected the Grizzly Lakes trail. This led us to the same trail crossing as in the morning at 8350' on my altimeter (which I had calibrated on the summit). The trail crossing on the map is shown at 8200'. We reached camp at 6pm, a full day! Most of us had wet feet from snow walking in leather boots. The camp fire felt particularly nice that evening, except for the couple burned socks (oops)
We were marching down the next morning at 7am. Balaji, a strong climber on his first private trip with us, met his own goal of reaching the car by 10am. Well done everyone!
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