Mount Florence, Vogelsang Peak
By: Patty Kline
This was a really nice trip. Originally Ron Young was to be the assistant. He was ill, so Jim Raiford substituted. Unfortunately a mile into the trip Jim's leg was bothering him so much he had to turn back. I appointed "Superman" Doug Jones as assistant leader. Doug had climbed solo about 80 peaks so for out of his 106 SPS ascents at the time of this outing.
We met at 7:15 am on Friday September 9th at the Tuolumne Meadows Kiosk. We were supposed to pick up our reserved permit at 7:30 am when it opened, per information given me by the Yosemite Back Country Desk the week before. Unfortunately there was a sign saying the station wouldn't open until 8:00 am, and the line was substantial by 7:00 am. I finally got my permit at 8:40 am due to bureaucratic procedures. So much for an early start.
Based on my 2 previous years of parking in the long term lot without bear incident, I had everyone park in the long term lot at the John Muir Trail about 1 mile east of the kiosk. Nobody had a bear break in during the trip. Between 6 of us we had 3: bear resistant containers. Only one person hung his food. Nobody was bothered by the bears. I highly recommend these containers in serious bear country. The only disadvantage is they weigh just under 3 pounds, but it is worth a good night's sleep and food to eat the next day.
It was a cool windy day as we walked the 8 miles to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. About 1/2 mile beyond the camp is the outlet to Vogelsang Lake intersecting the trail. Less than 1/4 mile south of the outlet, still on the trail, started the easy route we used for Vogelsang- Peak. It followed a faint gully to the northeast of the lake. When it met the north ridge of the peak, we followed it south top the top at 11,493'. Most of the way there was a use path on this class 2 peak. Doug Jones carried up an official SPS ammo box to replace our over stuffed cast SPS cylinder. The cylinder was returned to Vi Grasso so she could use it for another peak. Vi is in charge of the registers. I found a fresh yellow golf ball just below the summit. It must have been a tourist from Yosemite Valley going high for thrills.
Because of our late start we camped about 1 mile below Vogelsang Pass at 10,000'. We wanted to camp lower on the Lewis Creek drainage to be closer to Mt. Florence. The total mileage for the day counting 1 mile round trip to peak was 12 miles and 3,000' of gain.
The next day we started at 7:30 am for Mt. Florence. There are many 2nd class ways to do it. We chose the route just below the sign saying 12.6 miles to Tuolumne Meadows on the Iceberg Pass Trail. This was 4 miles from camp. We left the trail where an intersecting creek (occasionally disappearing) led us east to a great lakelet, complete with a view of Half Dome. The group ate lunch here. Pat Christie and Doug Jones found a dead hummingbird being eaten by leaches. What a strange zoological curiosity. Then we continued east just below the ridge line to the false summit of Mt. Florence. The group continued east to Mt. Florence at 12,561' and about 3 miles from the trail. The views of Lyell and Maclure were striking.
On the way back we took a shorter route. It was 2 miles back to the trail instead of 3 and intersected the trail 2 miles closer to camp. This is the route we used. First we dropped into a saddle 1 mile west of the peak. From this saddle we went down the 2nd class talus to Lake #10,541. Then we followed the stream west to Florence Lake. From there we went through forest to a series of 4 small lakes fed by Florence Creek. This took us to a drop off of 400' of easy slabs, stream being in the middle. V4 mile below the slabs was the Lewis Creek Trail. This route is a good way up if you want to save time from Vogelsang Pass. The views of Mt, Florence in pinkish peach alpine glow from Florence Lake were priceless. The group got to the trail just in time to use our head lamps for the 2 miles back to camp. The total mileage for the day including the peak was 11 miles and 4600' of gain. Al in all it was a fantastic day.
The group backpacked out leisurely on Sunday. Doug and Rheta went off to dayhike Gibbs, while the rest of us went home.
Everyone had a great time. Doug Jones became eligible for membership in the SPS on Florence. Congratulations Doug! Thank you to Doug for a very excellent assist. The other trip members were Pat Christie, Bill Lawrence, Ron Eckelmann and Rheta Schoeneman.
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