Mount Morgan (South) trip report (July 25 thru 27th)
We started by picking up our permit from the Ranger station on the main street in Bishop and proceeded to Little Lakes Valley via Interstate 395 which bears to the Northwest of town. We drove 25 miles or so to Toms Place and got on Rock Creek road for another drive of 10 miles or so to Rock Creek Lake. The road takes a sharp right but you need to go straight to access the Rock Creek camp grounds. Right next to camp site #9 is a tiny parking lot. The road has “TH” (trailhead) spray painted on it with an arrow to point the way. The friendly camp host told us they would rather have us park in a larger lot just 40 ft. away which was no problem.
We decided to camp next to Francis Lake so we started off for a 2 hour hike with full packs. The trail was clearly marked and there were no problems with route finding. We passed several small lakes and as we approached Francis Lake we hiked along the right side of a small stream which partially flooded the trail. Soon we arrived at Francis Lake and were welcomed by a great view of Morgan along with a million mosquitoes. We found plenty of great camping spots on the NW side of the lake but the pesky mosquitoes found us a well.
We found the best route up to be directly west of the lake. Climb over a small ridge (20-30 feet tall) and head into the small sandy drainage due west of Francis Lake. Then continue following this drainage SW staying below the high ridge to your right. Eventually, you’ll arrive at a bowl directly below Mt. Morgan. Now, you need to head up to the saddle between the high ridge and Mt. Morgan itself. Once on top of this ridge (appx. 12,200 ft.) you’ll be greeted with fantastic views to the west of Little Lakes Valley, Ruby Peak, Mt. Mills, and Mt. Abbott.
Once at the high saddle, continue up the ridge to the south- this leads straight to Mt. Morgan. This ridge is mostly class 2, maybe low class 3 depending on route, and there is little to no exposure. Expect a 4 hour hike from Francis Lake to the top at a leisurely pace.
The summit is nothing short of spectacular- amazing 360 degree views. We were lucky that the Sierras had a banner year of snow during the winter 2010-2011 and the mountains were nicely decorated with snow in all directions. We were all very impressed with the views. The calm, clear day was a huge plus as well.
I would suggest descending by the same route you came up. We tried some “shortcuts” in hopes of cutting down toward Francis Lake more directly, but both alternative routes we tried were slow and time-consuming. After what seemed like a long hike we got back to Francis Lake. After a short break we packed up our camp and hiked the 1:45 hours back to our truck.
All in all a great trip for those who want to do a “walk up” but still get the summit payoff of a fantastic view.
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