RAYMOND PEAK (10,014') 4X July 13, 2003

The Great Basin Group of the Sierra Club offered this fine hike to the top of this peak. I signed up way in advance, and tried to find out how many people would go to the summit.

I met the group at the Blue Lakes Road turnoff along CA 88 at 8:50 a.m. Three vehicles, with some nine of us, total, motored south. I had to help on the navigation when current road work obliterated a sign at a junction. We motored eastward along road 97, and I made a suggestion as to a quicker way to hike to Raymond Lake, the main, stated objective of the group. Parking where the dirt road crosses the Pacific Crest Trail, we were able to begin our hike just past 10 a.m.

Advising of a steep, cross-country route, from the west, to top the peak in my estimated three hours, I was assured that the hike to the lake would be followed with a summit attempt. Flowers were blooming, and the mosquitoes were fierce. My new bottle of repellent didn't work very well, and my older bottles were empty. A good wind, higher up, helped dispel the pests.

We crossed a few small streams, on the PCT, and had to hop over some big, fallen logs. Stopping at a good view of the valley with Grover Hot Springs, we posed for a group photo. I was resigned to do whatever the group chose to do, since now I was tied to their decisions by my part in a carpool. Dropping down along the PCT, we ran into a couple backpackers stating to come from Mexico. It is really incredible that people can really hike the 2,500 mile trail!

We hiked on, and the trail wound its way by steep, scenic cliffs. I shot pictures of the many high crags seen above us.

We came to the trail junction with the Raymond Lake side trail, and hiked the mile or so up to this beautiful lake. There at about 1 p.m., we rested and I advised against our doing the peak. Most hikers are out to have fun, and the steep, loose, route up the 1,000 feet to the top is quite debilitating for novice hikers.

One hiker had done the Mountaineers Route on Mt. Whitney, so we most all chose to try it. The gain went fast, but I was rebuked on my suggestions as to the route. I knew the best way was to the left, but every time I suggested that, the leader would head right. Soon there was a decisive juncture point. Only one way would lead to the top. Reprimanded, then, for making any suggestions at all, I departed the group to head left. They were clearly headed up to an impassable headwall, and I knew that wasn't the way. I soloed up a class 2, rocky section, with agglomerate ledges, and went fast. Soon, I was fixated on a clump of shrubby trees, above, that I knew was close to the summit.

Moving rapidly, I gained the summit at 2:24 p.m. Easy! I looked over the edge to the north, and saw the group maybe 150 feet below. The terrain between us was vertical. I yelled down, informing them I was on the top. They moved to a rocky spot to rest, and apparently had no desire to climb this peak.

I looked through the summit register, and placed a half-sized Mead Composition notebook. My entry and book from ten years ago was still there! Hundreds had signed in over the years. Summit registers are the finest examples of goodwill and sharing among peak climbers, with comments on the view, the weather, and the general blessings of the wilderness. We do all have a connection to each other in our summiting of these peaks! Placing the cans and books for sign-in is the best contribution by the Sierra Club peak sections to the climbing public!

I wandered over to a subsidiary bump to photo-record the views down to the south. I feared for a problem, since my camera had failed to start up, upon one, isolated, shift of the power button. Would all my photos be lost to a digital failure?

Gladly, I was able to download my images successfully, once home. Posted here are the views to the south, as promised. The other hikers had missed these views.

The group started down from their own viewpoint, by about 3 p.m., and I clambered down to meet them. The way they moved, I knew they had enough.

Following them down, I intersected the trail below the lake, then we, the lower hikers, climbed the 100 feet up back to the lake, where a hiker had been waiting. They all soaked their feet in the lake water, and I snapped pictures of the foot long trout in the clear shallows.

We hiked back to the PCT, and I enjoyed the pleasant breeze. It was mostly downhill, now, so I could concentrate on my photography. Many red, blue, orange, yellow, and white flowers lined the trail.

None of the others were upset by not bagging the peak. I resolved to guess our return time, and was off by two minutes. The mosquitoes were thick again, and one hiker wondered about the interaction of sunscreen and mosquito repellent. I spoke briefly with a ranger, who was sawing the logs fallen across the trail.

The group became spread out hiking. I luckily caught one hiker taking the wrong trail at a junction. Our participants do need guidance! On our return by 6:33 p.m., we ascertained that our one sign-out had indeed gotten back to his truck. The mosquitoes were biting, so we quickly loaded up and motored off. I advised keeping the other vehicle in sight, so they didn't take a wrong turn.

Back to the paved road, I gladly pronounced the trip as a success. I had done some 12 miles with over 3,000' gain, round trip. Starting with three liters of water, I was able to add to that with scooped up snow. I shot some 260 images, and plan to e-mail my digital image contributions to the GBG Photos and Links page. Everyone was happy with the day, which was mildly warm, and totally cloudless.