Vandever Mountain, Florence Peak


By: Patty Kline

This SPS Intro Trip was co-led with WTC. and everyone had a great Sierra weekend. This was typical Indian summer weather, barely reaching 32 at our camp at Franklin Lake Saturday night at 10.30. There was no wind and few clouds the whole weekend. It had snowed and melted the Thursday before.

The 6 of us met at 7:30 am on Saturday morning at the Mineral King Ranger Station. 9 people cancelled out on our permit for 15. People were waiting in line to use some of our cancellations. I had arrived at 715 to get the permit ahead of time. but that isn't possible. Everyone in our group had to be present to hear the bear and pollution lecture. 3 of our vehicles had to have on record the license plate and make. All vehicles in the party had to have a slip displayed on the dash showing exit date. By the time everything was taken care of we were hiking at 9:00 from Farewell Gap Trailhead at 8,000'.

Saturday we hiked up the Farewell Gap Trail 3.1 miles to the junction of the Franklin Pass Trail. We located some trees above the junction where we removed all the food out of our packs and hung it on a nice high branch. From there it was another 2.6 miles to Farewell Gap where we ascended the class 1 rocks on the E slope of Vandever 1,500' to the 11,947' summit. Then we retraced our steps back to the Franklin Pass Trail and went about 2 miles to the first of the 2 Franklin Lakes. By now it was well after dark and very difficult to locate a campsite. Franklin Lake is man made. There are 3 bear boxes on the NE side of this long narrow lake. The first box is a mile below the outlet. The next one is about 1/2 way up and was taken by a large group. We went up the trail another 0.1 mile in probably the least convenient of the 3 spots, being a 5 minute hike towards to lake to the bear box and another 5 minutes below that to the lake. We camped on small shelves with a great view. Darkness didn't hamper our community competition gourmet dinner. Bleu cheese on croissant crackers. Italian salami and rum coolers preceded the entry of fresh Oriental food. Angel almond cake was dessert. A prize was awarded to Marcia Keller and Tom Power for the entry. Stats for Saturday were 5,000' of gain and 11-1/2 miles.

On Sunday for Florence we had a leisurely start at 9:00 am for the 3 miles up to Franklin Pass. At the pass we took the NE ridge to the 12,132' summit. After lunch on the peak, we went back to camp to pack up, then went for the road head. Stats for Sunday were 2.000' of gain and - miles

The 3 participants were Larry Conn, Marcia Rellam and Tom Power. Thank you to R J and Joe for leading the trip with me.

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