By: Patty Kline
There were 5 participants on this co-sponsored SPS/WTC trip led by Beth Epstein with Patty Kline assisting - Mary Am Kiely, Chuck Tribbey, Kim Gimenez, Barbara Alien and Mel Burns. Our group of 7 left the backpackers parking lot at the northeast corner of Convict Lake at 9:15 am on Saturday. It had been bitterly cold and windy at Convict Lake the preceding week, but we had great weather; winter seemed as delayed as summer had been; the aspens had barely turned and the first dusting of snow hadn't arrived yet in the Sierra.
The trail departs from the backpacker's parking lot and goes around the north side of Convict Lake to a stream crossing 3 miles from the roadhead. Only the concrete buttresses remain of a washed out bridge to testify to how tricky the crossing can be even in medium water because it occurs where the stream tumbling steeply down from Lake Genevieve joins the main stream of Convict Creek. Early in the season the crossing is supposed to be particularly difficult, and would have been especially so in this record snow year, the heaviest since 1969.
After an additional 1400 feet and two miles, we had a late lunch at Mildred Lake. The north face of Red Slate Mountain with its class 4 snow and ice coulouir dominated the southern horizon, a reminder of why it is a mountaineers peak, despite usually being done from McGee Pass as a class 1 climb.
From Mildred Lake the route follows a well-established use trail along the east side of the meadow.We went 1 mile south of Mildred Lake to the first stream crossing from the east. Here the use trail turns east on the south side of the stream at UTM coordinate 349557 and gains a few hundred feet over a hill. It is easily possible to miss this turn. RJ. Secor in The High Sierra Peaks, Passes and Trails says go to UT M 35155, a little further to the south, then gain elevation cross-country over talus. The use trail provided an excellent route all the way to Bright Dot Lake, and beyond and we guessed that it was probably the access to the calcite mine on the northwest slopes of Baldwin, which was formerly known as Calcite Peak.
Bright Dot Lake is aptly named. There are nice level camping spots on the sandy grassy south side. We had great views to the north bf the colorful slopes of Morrison, Bloody and Laurel. Baldwin was in clear view to the south, a swirl of smooth gray and white walls against the red rock around it.
Saturday night we had our happy hour contest, with the best contribution winning a prize. It was won by Barbara Allen, who brought a huge bag of fresh frozen cooked shrimp from Trader Joe's. plus sauce. There was hardly any reason to cook dinner after the happy hour.
On Sunday the group left about 8 am for the peak. Our route led south from Bright Dot Lake to the class 1-2 northwest slope. There was some minor class three unavoidable because of snow. The use trail ended at the abandoned calcite mine. This rock looks like translucent quartz but has more distinct symmetrical fracturing into rhomboidal crystals. At the mine there were many large and beautiful fragments on the ground. After a long lunch on top with magnificent views on a warm, cloudless day, the six of us who went for the peak returned to camp. We packed out and headed to the cars.
Two WTC students, Mary Ann Kiely and Barbara Allen qualified for graduation on this trip. Chuck Tribbey graduated three years ago. This was Mary Ann's second SPS peak! Thanks to all the participants - everyone had a great time on this late season backpack.
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