Early September 1996, I did a 16-day solo trip and have a few observations to share with the readers of the Echo. I can provide more details for anyone who is interested, if they call or write me at 2355 Pinturo Way, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670, (916) 635-2829.
Davis Lake Traverse (Evolution Region):
Although some guide books say that a south side traverse around Davis Lakes from Wanda Lake is not possible, other than one tricky buttress which required about 300 feet of 3rd class climbing and a moderately exposed snow field, it was a great route - remote good fishing, grand scenery. Sapphire Lake (Evolution area) to West Side of Mt Goddard - 2 short days.
West side Mt. Goddard:
One could see two west ridges from my camp at a small lake about a quarter of a mile upstream from Lake 11,184 (north of Martha Lake). I climbed the less prominent ridge immediately south of an icy snow gully. The ridge starts at about the 12,000 foot contour and intersects the true west ridge (a jagged, rotten, probably 4th-5th class route) at about 12,700 elevation. Here the route continues up Roper's "south side" class 2 route to the summit. I was on top in a little over 2 hours. Although the scree was miserably loose, the ridge was moderately firm with exposed 3rd class rock. I descended the same route. The small west-northwest snow gully would be another obvious route if one carried crampons. I did the ridge in tennis shoes.
Enchanted Gorge-Goddard Creek with a day pack:
At 9:00 AM, I descended a very icy snowfield at the outlet of Chasm Lake and stayed on the west side of Disappearing Creek for the entire descent. With the freedom of a daypack and willingness to do 3rd class scrambling, stream crossings can be avoided. The descent was full of boulder hopping, scrambling, and a large snow bridge. At the lower elevations the brush got nasty, the heat intense and the rattlesnakes active as my pace slowed to a crawl. I traversed about 200 feet above the actual confluence of the creeks, where the camping looked inviting, and ascended high on the east side through the crux of the canyon, crossed the creek to the west side at the 8,500 foot contour, and reached timber at Lake 9797 at 8:00, as night fell. A lower crossing and West Side ascent may be easier. The White Divide has fantastic waterfalls and granite cliffs equal to LeConte Canyon. After a night on a bed of wild onions next to a smoky fire, smelling like a roasted pig, I climbed up out of the canyon to Lake 10,232 up grassy ledges to Lake 11,818, over the hill to the lake below Scylla and the Three Sirens. Although only another 800 feet to summit on Scylla, sore knees dictated a photo session instead. Then it was north over a small pass, high traverse around Lake 11,837, down to Lake 11,592 and a southwest traverse over grassy slopes to Chasm Lake.
The highest point was 12,200 feet, the lowest 7,000. The loop is 18 miles and took me 11 hrs./bivouac/6 hrs. A climb of Scylla would be quite feasible. On lower Goddard Creek I ran into two fellows miserably on their second day from Chasm Lake with heavy packs. For this trip, a willingness to bivouac makes it fun and fast with only one creek crossing. Between the confluence and Lake 9,797 good bivouac sites are limited and once down, there is no easy way out. The young and strong could probably make it a grand day adventure with a pre-dawn start with mid-summer's light. I was thankful for my ice axe and mountain boots. Water was plentiful. I feel Enchanted Gorge is a- bit over-rated and that Goddard Creek is really more spectacular. Although I soloed, I recommend to do it as a group - makes for a warmer bivy too!