Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09 | High Sierra Topix  

Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Topics related to peak bagging, rock climbing and bouldering in the foothills and high country of the Sierra Nevada. Be sure to also check out the Information Booth forum category to learn from / see if you can contribute to a profile for High Sierra 13'ers, 14'ers and cross country passes.
User avatar

Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby MooseTracks » Mon May 11, 2009 7:52 am

"Sometimes this shortcut works very well." -- Tomcat

Two words: wear pants.

OK, more than two words. Wait, coffee first, then more words.

Eight of us (Tom (tomcat_rc), Lisa, Jim (sierragator), Nathan, Alice (moondust), Karen, Bob (Hue-master-B), and myself) hit the trail around, oh, 0430ish from Sage Flat Road. Belly flowers, still closed up tight in the warm night air, filled in the dust of the path as the herd mooooved up the cattle trail towards Olancha Pass. By the time the sun rose (was it 0330 or 0530??), tinging the smoke- haze bright orange, we were safely under the trees, escaping the heat of the valley. We jumped right, into a gulley cutting west and north from the pass, each of us picking our way up loose rock.

Then we got to the manzanita.

Image

It's a hard wood, good for burning, lasts a long time, lots of pretty colors. Or so my pop tells me. I told him we found the largest manzanita grove on the PLANET and that I might be happy to go harvest a few acres strictly out of spite. Jim was the big winner of the "I can navigate around anything" prize and he stood perched on an overlook above us as we swam our way into miseryville. Bob Huey was the smart one: bringing pant legs and a long-sleeve top, but not avoiding war wounds entirely. Me, not so much smart in ANY direction. Tank top, short shorts, short gaiters. Let the bloodletting begin.

We stopped to regroup and for snacks at the top of the hanging valley, and the mosquitos smelled their quarry immediately. Dive-bombers surrounded the group, and the bottles of goop went flying hand to hand in a vain attempt to thwart the attackers. The only solution was movement, so off we went, following the ridge to the north to Bear Trap meadow and the PCT. Drifts of snow alerted the herd to the fact that we were indeed not alone .

Past BTM, the PCT winds and contours north high up the western shoulder of Olancha Peak, and the views of the High Sierra opened to us. Above one bowl, we heard cries from what we assumed to be a mountain lion or bear cub, calling out to mama, and the herd tightened as we traversed to the saddle. The undulating valleys between Olancha and Horseshoe Meadows appeared melted out, the crest still bearing a torn coat of snow. Towering above it all shone Whitney , the jewel in the crown of the High Sierra. Jim immediately started drooling, feeling her forceful pull from a few weeks ago.

From the saddle below the western face , the herd migrated up, clambering amongst the rocks and boulders to the summit. I would HIGHLY recommend the views from Olancha Peak: there is absolutely nothing around that is higher, and the drop to the OV is beyond impressive. I stared into the depths of the High Sierra for a while, then leaned back, surrounded by my friends, and napped in the sunlight. A strengthening breeze signalled our time to descend, and the herd moved on.

We followed the PCT back to BTM, cutting back across our "shortcut" but then staying too high on the ridge. A route of any kind evaporated into the manzanita, and our only choice was to plow through. Claws of wood snagged already swollen skin, dragging across raw scrapes. I stepped as tall and gingerly as I could, sucking in breath at each new poke or prod. At last, the gulley, Jim's clear route up, and the trail back to Sage Flat, where the herd regrouped yet again, and the mosquitos zoomed in.

"BEER!" I hollered from 30ft down the trail , and the herd stood to trudge the last few miles to the waiting vehicles.

All told, 17 miles, 6500vf, countless cuts and scratches, and another beautiful day in the mountains with good friends.

A few moments from the day:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Rest of the pics are here .

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621



User avatar
MooseTracks
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 161
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:29 pm
Location: Bishop
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby Rosabella » Mon May 11, 2009 11:13 am

Looks like another great trip... and perfect blue skies as well. I love manzanita. It reminds me so much of where we would go backpacking when I was young. However, we never went thru anything near as dense as what your pictures show. :)
User avatar
Rosabella
Founding Member
 
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:58 pm
Location: Washington State
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby The Other Tom » Mon May 11, 2009 2:46 pm

Love the shadow pic of your moose cap. You should make that your avitar.
User avatar
The Other Tom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Upstate South Carolina
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby BSquared » Mon May 11, 2009 4:41 pm

Rosabella wrote: I love manzanita. It reminds me so much of where we would go backpacking when I was young. However, we never went thru anything near as dense as what your pictures show. :)

Yeah, me too. Moose, that picture of you in the sea of Manzanita definitely brings back memories. I'll never forget: first backpacking trip ever (no, wait, there was a shakedown trip first to Echo Peaks, in Yosemite), into the Gorge of Despair with some climber friends, and I wore jeans most of the time, they constantly telling me shorts were far, far better for mountain hiking. Well, OK, on the last day, on our way out, I yield and change to shorts. That's the day we got lost and had to bushwhack through about 50 miles (maybe 500, I forget) of manzanita. Oy.
—B²
User avatar
BSquared
Founding Member
 
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Jericho, VT
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby giantbrookie » Thu May 14, 2009 1:41 pm

Great trip report as always.As a veteran field geologist I can certainly say that my shins bear many scars from manzanita battles. Even with long pants on (and I never wear shorts in the field) one still gets beat up pretty bad. I do like manzanita as a decorative shrub and I have some growing in my yard.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby MooseTracks » Fri May 15, 2009 6:14 am

Thanks, guys. It was a super day, but I am still recovering from the cuts and scratches EVERYWHERE. I always say that it's not whining if its legitimate PAIN. It's funny when you're route finding in this case: instinct to me always wants to go and stay high, better view of what's coming, I suppose. But here, you need to stay low and beneath the hellish shrubbery.

Can't wait to get out there this weekend!

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621
User avatar
MooseTracks
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 161
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:29 pm
Location: Bishop
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Manzanita Madness: Olancha Peak 5-10-09

Postby Skibum » Sat May 16, 2009 12:31 pm

Fun TR! Thanks. :thumbsup:
User avatar
Skibum
Founding Member
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: Kings Canyon Nat'l Park, CA.
Experience: N/A


Return to Peak Bagging / Rock Climbing / Bouldering



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests