I was reading about the 2006 Sierra Challenge and got frustrated that I couldn't take time off work to go climb some peaks in the Sierra's. The weather was perfect and the thunderstorms seemed to have disappeared. So I thought, why not take a day trip up to the Lone Pine/Independence area? After some suggestions from SP members, I found Independence peak (11744') to be a good option. Not too high (I tend to get affected by altitude) and only a half day hike. Yeah, I got excited! I mailed Allen to see if he would be interested. Being a pretty hardcore hiker, he was immediately up for it.
Looking at the the TOPO map, I noticed some other higher peaks fairly close by. Hmm, maybe Mt Gould would be better. It's a little deeper into the wilderness and higher at 13005 feet! Hope I don't get sick. Oh well, let's do it!
The alarm goes off! Ouch, that's early after a long work week! I could care less though; too excited to go! We had some breakfast, threw our daypacks in the car and were on the road by 4:08am. Moments later Allen called us to see if we were already driving. I said: we sure are! He goes: holy shit! He clearly didn't expect us to get up that early and it sounded like he was still in bed. Nonetheless, we met him on time at REI in Rancho Cucamonga around 5am and carpooled to Independence. It felt good to drive without traffic; it made waking up early even more worthwhile!
Several hours and a gas refill further we arrived at the trailhead. We met up with Tom (a friend of Allen living in Mammoth) and were on the trail by 9:30am; finally after 5.5 hours! I noticed the altitude right away, not a
Beautiful Flower Lake along the Kearsarge Pass trail.
good sign! Chrissy doesn't get affected by altitude too much, Tom lives in Mammoth and Allen had just spent 2 weeks in the Sierra's. Needless to say I was lagging behind a bit. Taking it easy and trying to pressure breathe (a trick I once learned from Kurt Wedberg), I could limit the damage to a mild headache. The trail to Kearsarge Pass is beautiful, you pass several lakes and the view of University Peak is fabulous! We made it to the Pass at 12:30pm; a little slow but still early enough to bag Gould. After a little snack, we headed up the rocks; that was actually the part I was most excited about! There's a faint use trail but the rocks seem like a better option; it's less loose.
Now Chrissy was lagging behind as she slowly got altitude sick. She had to throw up a bit and decided to wait for us at about 12,500'. I still felt
A picture of Allen on the summit block of Mt Gould.
good and continued up until I reached what I thought was the summit. I climbed up the rocks and when I got to the top, I saw Allen on the summit block of the true summit across from me! Crap, I thought I was there! We took some pics of each other standing on the exposed summits and I continued on to Mt Gould's peak. Now I all of a sudden got nauseous and
Allen returned the favor and took a pic of me on the false summit just across from Mt Gould.
got a severe headache. I still climbed up the class 4 section to the top but didn't stay very long. The view from the top is absolutely awesome; even though I felt like crap, I couldn't be happier to be out there again. Maybe it's the lack of oxygen but every time, I feel like life couldn't be any better!
With a raging headache, I signed the summit register (I actually forgot to write the date) and headed down. Luckily I felt better fairly quickly! Climbing down to Kearsarge Pass, I was impressed with the North Ridge going up to University Peak and promised myself to come back and try that sometime!
I was intrigued by the North Ridge of University Peak. Beautiful!
We met up again with Chrissy and after some food and 'chocolate', we cruised down on a (almost) 'natural high' ;-). Back at the parking lot, Tom headed back to Mammoth and we drove to the Lone Pine cafe; great simple food and a typical small town atmosphere! A couple of soda's later, we were back on the road at a little before 9pm. Chrissy and I got home somewhere around 1am and a half hour later I was happy to see my good ol' bed to dream away after another great mountain adventure! From beach to 13k in a day! And at 22 hours, it was still within the acceptable 24h time frame :-). It was great, that Gould!
hi. i'm looking to follow on the same path as you and reach mt gould. i have a questions. what is the RT mileage of the trail? what was your total hike time from onion valley to mt gould and back? thanks in advance!