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I was up with the first light of a new day, rested but not so well fed. My last meal had been dinner, two days earlier. Partly by design, partly from lack of planning, mostly out of sheer laziness, I had neglected to make food consumption a regular part of the last 40 hours or so. In an experiment of sorts, I thought that for a few days at least, rest would prove more helpful than food. Rest did indeed do a lot to revive my body, but the thousand or so calories I had consumed in Gatorade the previous day were proving woefully inadequate.
Camped at Rodriguez Flat, a little-used trailhead on the east side of the range, north of Sonora Pass, I was after a few WSC-listed peaks between Sonora and Carson Passes. First up was Antelope Peak, perhaps four miles from the TH and a few thousand feet of gain. Later I hoped to make it to Mineral Peak, though I wasn't at all sure exactly where that one was since my maps did not cover the area north of Rodriguez Flat where the peak was located.
There was another hiker camped near me for the night, though I never saw him on the trail or knew to where he was headed. Just two strangers passing in the night. It was easy enough to find the start of the trail next to a large TH board (does anybody read the dozens of notices posted up there?), and shortly I was in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. I was also in Piute Cutthroat territory, as indicated by a nice sign put up by the Boy Scouts. I hadn't heard of this threatened trout subspecies. I can't say I'm much in favor of saving subspecies - a great deal of effort seems to be spent in preventing hybridization, sort of like protecting your purebred dog from breeding with the neighborhood mutts, only on a much larger scale.
The trail goes up 500ft in the first mile to a wide flat area on the East Ridge of Peak 9,361ft and a trail junction. There are some old fencelines here that don't seem to be maintained anymore, but I believe grazing is still very much alive in the area. I continued south over the ridge, dropping into Corral Valley with a fine view of Antelope Peak to the southeast. Corral Valley is a very large meadow, probably very boggy earlier in the season, but now only slightly so along the trail. My boots got wet from the dew on the grasses and did not take long to soak through.
Once across the creek I stayed on the trail only a short ways before heading cross-country towards the summit. The Northwest Ridge looked unhelpfully rocky in places, so I made a trajectory traversing up and left through the forest, staying below the ridgeline. At about the 9,800-foot level I moved up to the ridge itself, now past all the rocky portions and an easy climb. By 8:30a I had reached the highpoint.
There are several possible highpoints on either side of the broad summit area, but luck was with me this time in finding the highest point at the west end where I had approached from. There was a benchmark and the remains of a survey tower, no register that I recall. There was a good view of Whitecliff Peak to the west and a fire could be seen smoking in the vicinity of Highland Peak to the northwest. Views east to the Sweetwater Mtns were similar to those I had yesterday.
I found a sandier descent route off the north side that got me down to Corral Valley in quick fashion, but I had to weave around the edge of the meadow heading west in order to find the trail again - the meadow was too marshy to simply head directly across it as I would have preferred. I was back at my vehicle shortly after 10a. I had initially hoped that Mineral Peak was one of a clump of peaks immediately northwest of Rodriguez Flat, but came to realize it must be some miles further west. Though it was only 10a, I was already spent for the day, the lack of food having exhausted me thoroughly. I declared the experiment over and would make getting food a higher priority.
My first order of business was to stop at the Walker River along US395 for a quick dip and to put on some fresh clothes. This was a big help. I then stopped in Bridgeport for lunch and some light reading. I enjoyed this so much that I repeated the effort in Lee Vining a few hours later, dining at the Whoa Nelli. I had so much time that day that I burned through the book that I'd hoped would last me a week. Around sunset I drove up Tioga Rd to find a roadside bivy spot just below the turnoff to Saddlebag Lake. Though not far from the road, the site was right next to the creek whose sounds mostly drowned out the noise from the passing cars. I slept quite well that evening...
This page last updated: Thu Sep 2 10:31:25 2010
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