Mt. George Davis P500

Tue, Aug 7, 2018

With: AJ Kaufmann
Alberto Fitting
Chris Henry
Clement Guillaume
David Quatro
Iris Ma
Jonathan Mason
Ken Yee
Kristine Swigart
Matt Yaussi
Michael Chapiro
Michael Graupe
Cheryl Claes
Scott Barnes
Tom Grundy
Zachary Moon
Liz Levy
Rene Elsdon
Tom Becht
Rob Houghton
Sean Reedy

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

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Mt. George Davis is located in the John Muir Wilderness above North Lake, dividing the Piute Pass Trail to the north from the Wonder Lakes area to the south. A well-meaning group of folks visited the summit in 2014, dubbing it "Mt. Thoreau" to go with Mt. Emerson on the north side of Piute Canyon. They created a website, made an unsuccessful bid to get the name officially adopted and have now written a book about it. I don't mind folks wanting to name peaks in the Sierra and have far less qualms about it than the USGS and BGN, but like the ill-fated effort to name Brower Palisade, I don't like it when someone tries to rename a mountain with an existing name. Why not find one of the hundreds of unnamed ones to attach a name to? Perhaps they didn't realize that Peak 12,691ft already had an unnofficial name, proposed by Chester Versteeg in 1940 for the prominent High Sierra cartographer, though they quote information from RJ Secor's book (which is where this comes from) elsewhere. I felt that Sierra history needs to be preserved, not changed, and put the peak on this year's Challenge so that the original name can be reclaimed. As one of the easiest peaks ever assigned to the Challenge, it was no surprise that we had more than 20 folks at the North Lake TH for a 7a start.

Most of the first hour was spent plying the Lamarck Lakes Trail to Lower Lamarck Lake, by which time our large party had split up into a number of much smaller groups. I found myself alone when I turned off the trail near the lake's outlet to follow a use trail around its north side. A lone fisherman, bundled up from the cold, was dutifully casting his line into the calm waters as I went by. I met up with Tom B and a few others as we wandered through the woods and past unnamed lakes in the lower half of Wonder Lakes. Eventually the woods and lakes peter out, leaving more open terrain, green alpine meadows for a while, then a slog up steep sand, talus and rock. The gradient eases as one reaches the ridgeline where it becomes an easier slog to the summit. It took only 2.5hrs to get ten of us to the summit. It was a very fine morning and quite pleasant at the top, leaving no one in a hurry to get back. Well, almost no one. Zach, Rob and Clement raced off after we took a first group photo, Zach and Rob were preserving their close race for the Yellow Jersey and would finish together, but it was Clement who took the better cross-country line back to the trail to take the stage win 10min ahead of the other two. The rest of us were content to sit about the summit snacking and watching the remaining participants trickling in to the summit over the next hour.

We found the register left by the Thoreau fans four years earlier, adding a large page of entries from the Challenge participants. I then wrote in "George Davis" in places where "Thoreau" had been written, a petty bit of indignation on my part, to be sure. An hour later we took a second group photo with 15 folks, four having left already (Kristine had also decided to head back early). We all then began the sandy descent back down to Wonder Lakes. Sean Reedy was the first of what became a wave of swims in several of the lakes found here. I may have been the only one that skipped the swim, as I kept heading back down. There was a minor disturbance in the Force when I unexpectedly came upon Evan and my brother, the latter buck naked, standing in about a foot of water. I thought they had planned to fish today, but evidently there were other activities on the menu as well. I didn't stop to find out what the story was, but continued to the trail on my own and returning to the TH by 11:30a.

The early finish was expected as we dovetailed this easy peak with the first ever Challenge cook-off. Tom Grundy graciously allowed us the use of his home in Bishop, dubbed the "Church of Grundy" because it used to be a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses - in fact it's still shown as this on Google Maps. The spacious, open room was ideal for the large gathering of some 2 dozen folks, many who'd brought dishes for the competition. Michael Graupe won first place with a passion fruit mousse desert, though there were many fine entries with far more meat dishes than should be reasonably consumed at one sitting. Mmmmm...

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