Recess Peak

1-3 Jul 2000 - by Debbie Bulger

Remember that euphoric feeling during 5th grade when it was time for recess? Recapture that feeling. Recess Peak has 1000' of pleasurable class 3 climbing on the southwest arete. As Secor says, "the problem is approaching the arete."

Richard and I left from the Bear Creek Diversion Dam and followed one of the most beautiful trails in the Sierra. At times one can look into the clear water of forest-lined Bear Creek and see trout swimming 12 feet under the clear, cold water. Whiffs of Douglas fir alternating with the vanilla of Jeffrey Pine scent the air.

It was peak wildflower time. We observed a huge variety of flowers including chocolate-dipped mariposa lilies, leopard lilies, Sierra crane orchid, California geranium, five-fingered cinquefoil, pussy paws, as well as the usual shooting stars, larkspur, lupine, columbine, and mule ears.

We left the Bear Creek Trail at its 9000' high point and climbed due north to intersect the John Muir Trail which we followed a short way west. We left the John Muir Trail at 9800' to travel north again. There we picked up a little used unmarked trail which went generally east to the snow survey cabin, then we continued to the 10,600' ridge near the outlet of the smallest lake due east of Recess Peak.

Others must have camped there before because we found a last year's peppermint tea bag. Was it yours? The ridge commanded an inspiring view of Recess and better yet, had a pleasant breeze which discouraged the mosquitoes. From our camp we could see firsthand the source of the discontinuity in the contour lines on the topo map.

After setting up camp, we left to climb Volcanic Knob, an interesting plug about a mile away with a little class 3 summit. A petite Yosemite toad (Bufo canorus) greeted us as we descended, and its buddies serenaded us to sleep that evening.

The next morning our route took us over bump 11,705. The most exposed section is from this hill to the southwest arete of Recess, but can be bypassed downhill if the exposure is bothersome. Then, climb the crest of the wave to the summit.

The views are terrific: Seven Gables as Hawthorne never imagined, Mt. Mills looking like a roller coaster ride, and even Ritter and Banner in the distant north. Lake Thomas Edison to the west. As I opened our plastic container of peanut butter for lunch, Richard thoughtfully reminded me that I had a Recess peanut butter cup.

The next day we returned directly to the Bear Creek Trail by following the outlet creek downhill to first the John Muir Trail and then the Bear Creek Trail.

There are few PCS names in the Recess register. Get going. You are missing something special.

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