Mount Patterson, Mono Craters
By: Maris Valkass
Saturday morning at 6:30 all of the participants met shiveringly in a sportsman's cafe in Bridgeport. Frost was still on the ground, and everyone was. enjoying a warm and hearty breakfast.
At 7;3O we left on Hwy 182 for Nevada, and then continued north on Hwy 338 to a dirt road going into Sweetwater Canyon. The road is reached after passing Sweetwater Ranch and just going over the divide. Turn left and drive 4.5 mi, or as far as you can go (about 8200'). All passenger cars made it without any problems.
We started to hike at 9:00 following a steep road which turns into a trail on the right hand side of the canyon. After two miles there is a major canyon on the left leading to the saddle between the Patterson massif and a smaller peak to the left (you can not see the summit from here). The trail leads to the canyon, follow the canyon to the saddle, turn right and go for the summit. The weather was good, but it was cool and windy on the ridge and the summit. All except one made the peak. We returned to the cars at 4:00 pm, and were at the campsite at the site of Mono Mills on Hwy 120 at 6:00 pm to make the preparations!
Some people have said that the DPS'ers have an insatiable desire for the spirit of life! I say, let those without guilt cast the first bottle@#no stone! But I must admit, lately our rejuvenation periods on Saturday nights have slowly sunk to the point where some members have been seen guzzling covertly before their car engines have stopped dieseling. Therefore the leaders decided to turn the tide and reintroduce these straying sheep to the more refined things in life such as wine and cheese tasting (not guzzling and wolfing) accompanied by a stimulating conversation. This was duly noted in the trip sheet.
I must report that all of the participants supported this idea enthusiastically. There certainly were plenty of things to taste, and all of it was tasted. Some of the participants attempted to converse intellectually, but it did not last long since most of them wanted to sing.
Now some of you have had the pleasure of hearing the nightingale voice of Jim Farkas. This night our pleasure was boundless. We also discovered a new songbird among ourselves, none other than Suzanne Thomas. Suzanne appeared to have some trace of voice training, while Jim is just natural.
Sherry Harsh, as on all trips that she is on, was leading the rest of us in all kinds of one liner songs (nobody could remember the other lines) till well into the night. We have a newcomer who looks quite promising for these gatherings, John Sarna. We should keep cultivating him. Rose Certini and Mary Gygax, the resident language experts, were impressing all of us with many $20.00 words, they started this on the way down from Patterson. I wish they would explain them to me.
I would like to thank Betsy Lutz for bringing that fine stuff in the frying pan. What was it? It tasted good.
During the night I was awakened by this startling noise thinking that we were invaded by Hells Angels. But it turned out to be someone sleeping in "LeBurro" who sounded like a motorcycle without a muffler.
Sunday morning everyone was up bright and early and ready to explore Crater Mt. (9172'), the highest point of the Mono Craters. From our campsite we drove east 1.5 mi to a 7000' elevation marker on the road. We turned left on a jeep road and continued in the direction of the peak for 1.5 mi. We ascended the east slope to the saddle between the north peak and Crater Mt., then climbed the highest section of the crater rim reaching the summit in 1.5 hrs. Except for the last part, the main part of the climb is through volcanic ash.
The view from the peak is magnificent. You are looking down at the Moon like landscape, surrounded by the Sierras to the west and Whites to the east. Entire Mono Lake is visible to the north, and Long Valley to the south. I think that this is one of the most spectacular and unusual scenery in the world. All of the participants agreed with this conclusion.
We descended the volcanic ash slopes in 25 minutes. All participants made the summit. Jon and Betsy Lutz did not climb it because they went to visit the town of Bodie.
I think that Crater Mt. would make an excellent addition to the Desert Peaks List, and an informal polling of the participants indicated 100% support.
After the climb we visited the Mono Lake Tuff a Reserve and admired the unusual formations. The whole area is beautiful and unusual, and I think everyone should visit it when in the neighborhood.
I was happy to see Martha Flores, one of the survivors of my Owen's River Raft trip. I hope that she will join us on many other peaks. Anna Leong got her third Desert Peak, and second unlisted peak. Congratulations!
My thanks to Ron Jones for assisting me, and for providing us with a table for placing on the goodies.
I do want to thank all of the participants for coming on the trip and making this another great and happy weekend.
Suzanne Thomas Igor Mamedalin Adrienne Knute Ron Jones Bob Ferguson Martha Flores Betsy Lutz Jon Lutz John Sarna Mary Gygax Sherry Harsh Rose Certini Susan Hanna Jay Holshuh Jim Farkas Anna Leong
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