I was looking to get away for a day to beat the heat of the valley. After all, the cool downs were all the way down to the mid 90s. The Yosemite high country beckoned. I looked at maps and for something I had not done and Mount Gibbs caught my eye. I had looked and thought about it on my numerous trips to Tuolumne Meadows and over Tioga Pass. I checked it out on summitpost and found it had only recently been put up. I then did a Google search and found there wasn’t a great deal of information. I had to find out why. Looking at the maps I decided that I would head up the South Ridge and descend the Northwest Ridge.
I pulled out of my driveway at 5:15 and 130 miles and 2 hours and 45 minutes later I pulled into the Mono Pass trail head parking area. I took a bit to get everything set and at 8:20 I headed off into the brisk morning air. I even noticed some frost on some of the grass in the first meadow I came to. The trail follows along Parker Pass Creek alternates between open meadows and nice shady forest with Mammoth Peak looming off to the south and west. After a little bit I came upon a doe standing along the trail. Her stance reminded me of the elk on the Hartford logo. Alas, she was camera shy and I found out why as she scurried after her fawn who was bounding up the hill. A little further along the trail I came upon an old deteriorating log cabin. What is this doing in a national park?
Just past the junction to the Spillway Lake trail I came upon a couple from San Diego who had backpacked in to Mono Pass. They told me that the flies had gotten really bad in the afternoon and evening. Hmmm, flies and not mosquitoes. Shortly I came upon another old cabin. What’s with this? It was now 9:40 and I had traveled 3.7 miles and was at Mono Pass. What a beautiful area!
At the old mine shaft next to the trail I made a left and started up the hill and soon startled a young buck. The first / lowest part was good solid rock and made for some fun scrambling. Soon the route turned to talus, a seemingly endless hill of it. Slipping in this stuff wasn’t too bad a problem but it was slow going as I was constantly searching for as solid as possible footing. At about 11,000 ft, the size and quality of the rock under foot improved a bit and made for a little faster going although now I felling the altitude having come pretty much from sea level up with no acclimating. One thing that did make this mountain interesting were the different colors of the rocks, red, yellow, gray and almost black.
After about 40 minutes I started my descent down the Northwest Ridge, which was pretty much the same as the South Ridge I had come up, as far as the scree and talus goes. I stayed pretty much right on the ridge finding what appeared to be an occasional remnant of trail. Was it climber’s trails or animal trails? Once I reached the trees, the words of the backpackers from earlier in the day returned to my thoughts, “the flies are terrible.” They were and the deet did not seem to deter them. This whole section of descent was made through soft dirt on the hill side with my arms flailing like a mad man to keep the flies away. Even so, there were a couple that avoided the arms and managed to fly into my ears. I hit the Mono Pass trail about 3/4 mile from the trail head and met up with a nice couple from Southern California and hiked the rest of the way out with them.
It was an enjoyable, albeit tiring day. And all good things must come to an end as I climbed into my car for the drive back to the blast furnace I call home.