Mount Julius Caesar
By: Patty Kline
At 7:45 am on Saturday morning our group of 9 met at the Pine Creek trailhead. This trail goes to Honeymoon Lake, above which it is indistinct. This trailhead is found by driving about 10 miles north of Bishop on Highway 395 to Pine Creek Road and go west for about 9 miles to the end of the road at 7,400? just below a pack station. Walk on the road that goes through the pack station before reaching what looks like a trail. The wooded trailhead accommodates many vehicles on level ground for sleeping the night before. A few of the participants found nice places to set up tents. Besides myself and Bob Michael, my assistant and professional geologist, there were the following people: Bill Siegal, Gary Schenk, Stehane and Kristen Mouradian, Annemarie Mikolaitis, Janet Harvey and Bettye Swart.
It was after 8:00, after introductions, waiver signing, etc when we started our 8 mile hike with 3200’ of gain to a meadow continued pare 14 about Honeymoon Lake at 10,600’. Although the trail starts in a thick pine forest, soon you are on a road with nice views of the Sierra marred by a now defunct tungsten mine. It is hot too, but there are a couple spots to get water. After the road turned into a trail again we passed Pine Lake and. Upper Pine Lake. The dust was 6 inches deep churned by 1000’s of pack stock in 1998, but this seems to no longer be the hot destination for packers to go because the dust and pack animal flop has been just average this year and the 2 preceding years.
The trail above Honeymoon Lake is not maintained, but there are many ducks, a lot of them of them correct. Where the trail seems to end, take the short stretch of slabs and talus (class 2) to a stream crossing through brush. Go west up a hill about 1/3 of a mile to a meadow. Cross a large stream and you have your pick of beautiful campsites. It even says campsite on the Mount Tom 7.5 Quad.
This trip was led an “SPS intro trip” at a relaxed leisurely pace with time for naps, extended lunch hour and several geology mini lectures by Bob Michael. We were in camp at 4:45 pm. Next on the agenda was happy hour. Cream cheese/cracker appetizers by Janet Harvey were offered and well as Bettye Swart’s tequila shooters with fresh orange wedges dipped in cinnamon as a chaser were the best. Both of these women plus other participants got prizes such as bandanas and mini Nalgene bottles.
Sunday we left at 7:45 am for Julius Caesar. As the trail leaves the meadow it is very easy to follow. Granite Park starts above the tree line, and is one of the nicest spots in the Sierra. topped only by the Big Arroyo and Evolution Valley for me. The way becomes somewhat indistinct through her
e. At the upper most large lake, at the elevation 11,800 feet, be sure to stay to the north. There is a trail that leads down to the lake, which will take you out of your way. Italy Pass has a trail that has survived in pieces between the switchbacks to the top of the pass at 12,440 feet. Just north of the pass is a use trail that goes up the southwest side and deteriorates in many spots with too many ducts to be correct. Parts of this trail are class 2. Just before the top of the peak, the east side has some large blocks which are class 3, but on the west side there is a class 2 route which is harder to perceive on the way up than down. The views were wonderful, especially of Bear Creek Spire. Statistics for the day were 10 miles and 2600’ of gain.
Monday morning we went back to the roadhead, and then on to Bishop for lunch. I have given up on Whiskey Creek as a place to eat. They are starting to serve slop. Everyone in the group but Annemaire, Kristen and Stephane, who had a long drive north, ate at La Casita for good Mexican food at one big table for all of us. This was a scenic and great trip. Thank you so much to Bob Michael for being my very capable assistant.
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