Florence Peak, Vandever Mountain
By: David Underwood
Three of us met at the Franklin Lakes trail head on Saturday morning at 7:45 P.M. Al Conrad co- leader, Peter Rosemarin, and me. As usual it took more time than we would have liked to get the permit so we were 15 minutes late getting to the trail head. We started at a leisurely pace and arrived at Franklin lakes at 12:45 p.m.
This is a nice time of the year to do this area as the bugs are gone and the summer hiking crowd is gone. However there are still enough backpackers in the area to make for crowded camping at Franklin Lakes. Even though we had a reasonably early start we found the obvious sites occupied when we arrived at the lower lake. There is a nice leaking spot below the dam that was taken. Just above the dam there is a trail that leads to an obvious site where several tents were already set up. We found enough room to set up our own tents but not on level ground.
There is one bear box at this site and it was full. we had to jamb our food in the box as some other campers had filled it up with bowls, pots, and other containers. I had a suspicion that we might find another site up the trail but it was decided that we would rather ago for Florence Peak than look for a better space. Also there were other hikers behind us and we could have lost out on the space that we had. We started for Florence about 1:30 P.M. and as I suspected there are some more spaces a short way up the lake from the first site. There is a large granite ledge with another bear box and below that can accommodate three or four tents and there is a space below it that can handle a couple more. The one disadvantage to all the sites is the distance to the water. A collapsible water jug is well worth carIying in this area.
The hike to the base of the peak is straight forward, just follow the trail to the top of the pass. Just before the pass traverse below the ridge toward the peak to a saddle to the right of the pass. You can not stay on the ridge leading to the peak but must drop below it to the left and work your way up the large boulder field to a shoulder about 200 feet below the summit. At this point I followed a ledge to the left for a short way but found it to be leading into mole difficult climbing than the class two that this trip called for. The map shows the gentler slope to the right of the ridge but it is somewhat deceptive. To get to the summit one has to scramble over and through a jumble of large boulders there is no straight forward or obvious route to the top and you have to wander amid the boulders until you top out. Coming down the first 200 feet or so is the same and it seems like one can not find the same rout down as was used going up. Once you reach the shoulder of the peak the rest of the way down is obvious.
We made it into camp just at dark. Left camp at 0700 on Sunday morning and went to the junction of the Bullfrog Lake trail. About a Quarter mile up the trailwe saw a place to the right about 300 yards below the trail near the creek gully. The creek was dry but there was a place to leave the packs where they could not be seen from the trail. Fill your water bottles up at one of the stream crossings below Franklin Lakes as water is scarce for an hour or so. After leaving the packs we followed the trail to the top of the pass. There are a couple of small rills where water can be obtained on the upper trail. We climbed the obvious ridge to the summit of Vandever and had a leisurely lunch enjoying a great view. The trip to the parking lot from here is uneventful. I did not get this trip scheduled as early as I should have so there were only the three of us. I wish to thank Alien Conrad for Co-Leading this trip for me and Peter Rosemarin who came along and helped to make this a pleasant trip.
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