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Mt Baldwin and Thor Peak weekend

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Mt Baldwin and Thor Peak weekend

Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Sep 05, 2006 12:25 pm

I'm a week behind . . .

Saturday, 26 August 2006
Mt Baldwin (almost) photos: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/553552744RzxDkX

Last fall I got stuck on one of the slabs when we took a wrong turn (descending) which cost us 2 hrs to get me to a safe spot. I wanted to do this peak again, but have it be a good experience. Guess this wasn't the day to try it.



Sunday, 27 August 2006
Photos: On Sunday my camera broke (again)! I have a few pics, but waiting to borrow photos from the others.

This was my 3rd time up Thor. BobR took us on another route on the North Fork, then up the Smiley Face Route, and down the SE Couloir. This is my favorite route up there so far!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby gcj » Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:58 pm

Nice pictures... that's a beautiful and interesting region. I went up Baldwin from my camp at Bright Dot Lake (spectacular place to camp!). The route was supposedly class 2, and I remember being surprised at how tricky and exposed some of it was. At the time I figured that I was just off route (as usual), but seeing your pictures reminded me that there weren't any obvious variations that seemed easier than the way I went up. The picture of Calhiker looking for a way down certainly reminds me of how I must have looked at the time. Overall, I did enjoy the climb... I probably just wasn't mentally prepared for the degree of risk that I encountered. Baldwin is an interesting reminder that not all the peaks in the High Sierra are made of granite...
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Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:35 pm

I imagine the route up is very much less clear nowadays then when I did it in 1972 (an era when more folks were going off trail). I don't know if the stunning remains of the Bausch and Lomb Iceland Spar mine (optical quality calcite mined for use in bomb sight optics in WWII) were still there as of your ascent (the remains consist entirely of this mind blowing pile of calcite rhombs, some the size of television sets); I had heard the USFS was considering some ill advised (and expensive) "remediation" of a site that didn't even look like a mine anymore. In any case, this was (is?) a premier rockhounding/mineral collecting spot. It was still there as of my last visit in 1987. There was (is?) a pretty well worn use trail going up a chute littered with calcite to the former site of the mine. This chute was very obvious from Bright Dot because it would have this surreal glitter in the afternoon sun (the glitter coming from those rhombs lying in the chute). From the impressive pile of rhombs at the old mine site (so much there you'd have to wear sunglasses because of the glare) the trail continued up to the summit class 1 upper slopes. IF you were on this trail when you rounded a corner and ascended to the summit slopes, the climb would be no worse than class 2 with a smidgen of air just as you rounded the corner. If you missed this use trail I can see how the "corner" might get a tad unpleasant with some loose class 3 metamorphic junk. I remember getting onto some unpleasant stuff above the mine while trying to hunt down some near gem quality grossular garnet (found one piece in the mine pile). I really don't like the quality of the rock in the Convict Canyon area for class 3; crummier than average even for metamorphic stuff.
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
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Postby gcj » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:11 pm

My Baldwin trip was in 1984 and I didn't have much info about the mountain or the mine... just what was contained in a brief route description in Roper's book. I did see the afternoon sunlight glinting off the calcite from Bright Dot and it was very striking. I didn't know about calcite at the time, and I wondered if there was some abandoned mining equipment or maybe even an old aircraft wreck. I began my climb before sunrise and I did find an old use trail that led up to the area of the calcite deposit. I guess I lost the trail in the steep chute somewhere below the mine where I found a couple of large calcite boulders. For me, the mystery of the glinting sunlight was finally solved. Unfortunately, and I write this with some regret, I'm pretty sure that I traversed straight across the chute to the nearest 'solid' rock and never saw the mine itself. :( I may have been trying to avoid what looked like a steep unpleasant scree climb that ended in a dangerous-looking headwall. Oh, well, it was still a pretty cool climb, but sometime I'd like to get back up there to see the mine itself.
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Postby giantbrookie » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:21 pm

gcj wrote:Unfortunately, and I write this with some regret, I'm pretty sure that I traversed straight across the chute to the nearest 'solid' rock and never saw the mine itself. :( I may have been trying to avoid what looked like a steep unpleasant scree climb that ended in a dangerous-looking headwall. Oh, well, it was still a pretty cool climb, but sometime I'd like to get back up there to see the mine itself.


I think the calcite deposit plus Bright Dot Lake is worth the return trip alone. I seem to recall that the exit stage right fromt the chute occurred right at the deposit itself that was below a headwall with a big calcite vein running through it. I have a real soft spot for Bright Dot, having camped there in 1972, 1981, and 1987, and all three times getting there via the outlet stream instead of the backdoor route from Mildred that some folks use (I even found evidence of stock entry via Mildred, much to my chagrin). It was the magic of Bright Dot that led me to take the chance and take my wife on her first serious backpack to the lake in 1987. That is not the type of trip one would normally take a novice (I always strongly advise folks to avoid this level of first trip), but the calcite plus the fact that she caught more fish than me turned her into a backcountry hiker/angler forever.
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
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Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:56 pm

This was our second time up there, and we were both saying "this seems harder than last time". Coming back, we followed a use trail and found the other calcite area (probably the one seen from Bright Dot Lake). Then there was that part that Calhiker didn't like. Once we got off the slabs, there was a use trail most of the way.

Both times we found the lower calcite area. This second time we found the other site up higher. I tried to photograph the colors with the light shining on the calcite, but they didn't turn out (flat white). The lower site is just a small hole and not very deep. The upper site was just blocks of calcite laying around. This year we were on the trail you're talking about on the descent. We didn't see it last year. I didn't like some of the crumbly hand holds. Last year it freaked me out when I got "stuck"

Definitely worth going back! giantbrookie, must have been good to get your wife outdoors and love it!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby gcj » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:22 pm

giantbrookie wrote:It was the magic of Bright Dot that led me to take the chance and take my wife on her first serious backpack to the lake in 1987. That is not the type of trip one would normally take a novice (I always strongly advise folks to avoid this level of first trip), but the calcite plus the fact that she caught more fish than me turned her into a backcountry hiker/angler forever.


That's really great! It could be that you're more than due for another visit to this beautiful lake. :) I'm hoping to be able to take my wife and my six year old up Convict Creek next summer for an overnighter. It will my first time up there since 1985 (and their first time ever).
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Postby Snow Nymph » Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:24 pm

Forgot to open up the Thor Peak - Smiley Face Route album :D

Photos from Sunday, August 27th: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/553554993SLgXLl


It was my 3rd time up there, and my first time up the Smiley Face Route! This is a little longer, but the best route yet! We came back via the SE Couloir. I really enjoyed doing this route!


My camera broke again on this trip (lens froze and wouldn't go back in). :( Sent it back to Canon. Borrowed a few photos from BobR.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: Mt Baldwin and Thor Peak weekend

Postby dbring » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:46 am

Years ago, I was bushwhacking down from Constance to Mildred, and the sun was at the right angle to show off one of the Iceland spar deposits on Mount Baldwin (not the old mine above Bright Dot — I never got that far). The two poems below may interest others who know Convict Canyon. Anyone who has followed the trail to Dorothy will have no trouble recognizing "frogs' porch".

Dave Ring
Palo Alto

Iceland Spar

Coming down from Constance Lake,
I looked off east over a basin
of marshy grass and meandering streams
that lies to the south of Lake Mildred.
With the sun behind I saw a shelf
bare and grey above the meadows,
smooth and sere, seeming lifeless,
moon dust shoulder of Mount Baldwin.
Not on my map, narrow but clear,
a path come up from unseen switchbacks
reached the shelf and ran across it,
straight and lonely, leading north. 
But back of the trail under Baldwin’s cliffs
a mound of scree at the mouth of a cleft
glinted like broken glass in the sun,
or sparks of water on a wet slope.

No time that day to take a detour;
another year I would know to look
in the wide meadow walking above Mildred
for a faint trail to follow upward
past the wreck of a ruined cabin,
finding the dusty desolate plain,
the broken crystals and Bright Dot Lake.


Frogs’ Porch

Steadily it mounts from Mildred to Dorothy
a clean trail over clinking rocks,
red-stained, oxidized under my boots.
Half way up, held on a ledge
of wild onions and water meadow,
is the frogs’ porch, where the path rests,
asks me to stop and eat my lunch.
Sitting on soft and seeping grasses
where a rivulet runs right to the edge,
I glance out over the glacial valley
and watch my hosts with wary eye,
sidewise looking, lightly enough
they will not notice or need to jump.
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