This was my end of summer vacation trip. A three day backpack and my usual Whitney dayhike interspersed with soaking and maintenance at my favorite hot spring. I could say it was a celebration of my 40th birthday, but I always go out at the end of the summer, when I take my vacation. As my trips often end up, I went solo. All in all, a good week away from home.
The Convict Creek drainage is a fascinating and beautiful glacial bowl on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, just south of Mammoth. Generally around 10K feet, with peaks to 13K feet around. As it is not on the granite to the west, most of the surrounding peaks can be scrambled up without great difficulty, also the colors in the rocks are spectacular. Access from either Convict Lake or Laurel Lakes.
Friday, I made a pleasantly early start, on the trail at 813am. First, over the minor ridge between Lake Dorothy and Lake Genevieve , where I crossed a family group hiking out from a week's stay, unencumbered, they obviously had pack support. When I passed their camp, on the way to Lake Edith, they had hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies to be packed out.
Past pretty Lake Edith [10,100] I left the badly shredded pack route and continued past Cloverleaf Lake, and the verdant meadows above it. From there I went cross country through steep alpine forest and across moraines and talus to reach Bloody Lake Pass [11,200]. As I had previously done Bloody Mountain [12,552], I was not tempted by the steep and talus-y SW ridge route to the summit. I dropped down to Bloody Lake [10,900] and more or less contoured around Bloody Mountain to its North Ridge, where I started dropping down into the Laurel Lakes basin, past a pair of pretty, shallow lakes and down until I could contour across to the old Bloody Mountain Mine road [10,100]. Once I got to the 4WD part of the road, I scored a lift down to the trailhead , making the hike, technically a double open loop! After the 1/2 mile car ride, taken at slower than a walking pace, it was time for the climb to Bloody-Laurel Pass [10,800]. A good trail, if badly torn up by the recent pack train (heading to pick up the gear).
(Looking down the local horizon on the Sevenhah Cliffs, Crowley Lake in the upper left)
from the south shoulder, near the summit.
(larger image: 1460 x 290, 129K)
From there, I headed up the SW ridge of Laurel Mountain to the S ridge and shortly to the summit [11,812]. Laurel Mountain stands proud on the very east escarpment of the Sierra, and despite it's less than legendary height, has amazing views. I descended (quickly) down the same route, and continued along the trail towards Lake Genevieve. Once again the maps were in error (first they have the trail crossing above Mildred Lake, when there is a bridge over the outlet), this time the indicated trail follows a use trail that drops down to the north end of Lake Genevieve, while the real trail contours over a minor ridge and past a small lake to meet the trail at Lake Edith. Be that as it may, I was able to follow the use trail to where it joined the main trail south of Lake Genevieve, and thence back to camp.
Once at camp, I was faced with the issue of hours of daylight and nothing to do, having finished my book the night before, and not in the mood for an additional hike, and neither paper for electronics for writing. When in doubt, take a nap. However, before that was achieved, a guy walks by and greets me...wondering if I was solo, and would I be interested in coming down to his camp at Mildred Lake and joining his friends for conversation, beer and fish (he was carrying 6-7 trout)...obviously someone who has soloed before. I told him I might be down later. After making dinner, I headed down. Found his camp and chatted and shared my whiskey while he waited for his friends to toil up the trail with the beer. Eventually we headed down the trail a bit to met them and share the packs, got back to camp around dusk and they unloaded a fairly spectacular amount of beer, some still pleasantly cold from thermal mass. We went up to the shore of Mildred Lake with beers, and I left them to go back to my camp a bit after 8pm...knowing that if I didn't I'd be in no condition to climb the trail in the darkness, headlamp or no. And as much as trout for dinner was tempting, messing up my hike the next day was a damper.
While it wasn't the beer I would have packed in, it was impressive enough to put my beer and booze packing accomplishments in the shade.
Continued sunny and pleasant.
About 11.5 miles, 4800 feet of ascent, 6:24 on the trail, mostly cross country. Bunnyhike Rating: 97.
Map of hike location and route detail maps, route in blue and red
Lake Dorothy Previous Day : Next Day Red Slate Mountain
Home . Trip SummaryBloody Mountain Circuit / Robert Parks / firstname.lastname@example.org / revised September '05