Virginia Lakes is a beautiful area in the Eastern Sierra surrounded by a cirque of peaks in the 11 to 12,000' range. The Summit Lake trailhead is 9,800' and climbs gently past several lakes up to a saddle at 11,120' in a few miles, turns right and goes down to Summit Lake. But continuing straight west up the slopes to the crest and then to the left finds one on the summit of 12,446' Excelsior Mountain. This is the next highest peak on the northern Sierra crest north of Mt. Conness (12,590') and there is no higher peak until Mt. Shasta (14,162') way north in the Cascades. I did this moderate class 1-2 hike also in '98. This time I was absolutely waisted when I got back to the trailhead because of a flu/virus bug I thought I was recovering from came back to bite me! Had a fever most of the next day hanging out in Mammoth Lakes and decided to cut the trip short and head back to Marin County that evening. Bummer!
I'll be back!