Hoover Wilderness ◆ 9 Days ◆ 30.2 Miles
The millennium had dawned, and we were posed to make our Tower Peak trip after last years near miss. But it appeared at first that the powers of luck were not going our way. To start it off, George's flight from Boston was delayed by 24 hours because of severe thunderstorms in the Midwest. He arrived and we whisked our way up to the Sonora Pass before stopping to sleep for the night. As we made our way to Leavitt Meadows and we ran through alternate plans, we became acutely aware that timing was not on our side. We were hoping for a break of luck and that the Leavitt Pack station would be able to take us up on Monday, or otherwise we would be pushing our itinerary to meet George's father at Bonnie Lake. Luck turned our way, and thanks to Bart and company, we were able to get started.
Pack-in to Tower Lake
The ride through Upper Piute to Tower Canyon was quiet, peaceful and a relaxing jaunt with our guide and his daughter. We stopped off to visit the local Ranger who lives in the backcountry and found his cabin empty, but later spied him hanging his feet over a granite ledge above the trail. We were dropped off just below the last climb to Tower Lake and huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed our way to a spectacular lake bound by a ridge bowl that is the Sierra Nevada at its finest. Tower Lake was to be our base of operation for the next four days, and after the climb up we could not be more ecstatic.
Now to say that George had an obsession with climbing Tower is an understatement. He has lived, slept and breathed Tower Peak for an entire year and was ready to surmount his challenge. I was the somewhat hesitant partner who was going along to pull him out of harms way or knock some sense into him if need be. We used our first day to acclimate and popped over to Mary's Lake. The weather was going in and out on us, and we had to make a few stops to get out of the rain, but it was a good hike and prepared us for the ascent on Wednesday. Next day the sun rose bright and early and Tower invited us to scale it's challenging Peak. We were off in a dash and scrambled up to the saddle between Tower and Watchtower with relative ease. Now the run along the Northwest ridge was relatively sedate until we crossed 11.3K and it became a narrow ledge running to the North face of Tower Peak. That was enough for me and I was content to stay, watch and shoot photos from my vantage point. George then made his way up cautiously through the Northwest chute and soon was standing high above me on Tower Peak. Now the big question was how long he was going to stay up there to celebrate. Which was answered rather rapidly as a T-Storm rushed in from the south and made the decision for us. Another quick scramble down the mountain, ducking under windswept Lodgepole's capped off another perfect day in mountains.
Rest of the Trip
On to Bonnie Lake. This was a cross-country route up and over the ridge that encircles Helen, Stella, Ruth and Cora Lakes. A short distance, but a lot of up and down and path finding, that not always goes in your favor. We arrived early afternoon to find George Sr and Kathy set up and enjoying the scenery. Little did we know that they had packed in what seemed to be a ton of groceries to make our stay a pleasant one, which ended up entailing a lot of eating to keep our packs from weighing over 75 lbs on the way back!!!!! Gorgeous weather and the peace that penetrates into your soul from the high country sustained us for the next four days. Day hikes to Dorothy Lake and a quick hike over to and a scale up Grizzly Peak is all the medicine that one could need.
It was time to leave and we had planned a three day trip out to take into account our guests abilities. Well they showed us up, and we were out in just two days. A stop half way found us in a beautiful camp sight close to the Walker River and a nice big berry bush patch. A little more exploration around our sight revealed a scratching tree and some large scat. Old Smokey was nearby, but the night was quiet as we always keep our camp bear clean. Back to civilization after that. George, George Sr and Kathy all headed to Reno for some serious gambling and I headed back to my family for an extra day before hitting the grind. Next year can not come any sooner.
May our paths & errands meet
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