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Mt Dana - July 19-21, 2013

posted Jul 22, 2013, 11:27 PM by Brent Browning   [ updated Jul 22, 2013, 11:31 PM ]
What an awesome trip! This weekend 9 Scouts and 4 Adults went “peak bagging” and hiked to the top of Mt. Dana at 13,053’. 

Friday we all drove up and ended up taking three different routes. One car went up over Sonora Pass, another over Tioga Pass, and a third drove up from Arnold. We converged on our dinner destination, a Mobil Gas Station! Seriously, right at the junction of Highway 120 and 395 is the “Whoa Nellie Deli” which is an upscale deli right inside the Mobil Gas Station mini-mart. 

We had a range of food from burgers to street tacos to sushi. The picnic area overlooked Mono Lake and the weather was perfect. We tanked up and drove to our campsite at Oh Ridge just on the east shore of June Lake. After checking out the beach and lake everyone turned in to get some sleep. 

We awoke at 5am to eat breakfast and get our packs ready for the hike. We left by 6:15am for the drive to the trailhead at Tioga Pass at 9,945’. We were on the trail by 7:00am, here is the group at the trailhead ready and raring to go: 

The trail starts out through beautiful Dana Meadow:

It then climbs quickly and you can look back and see the cars on Highway 120 where we parked start to shrink…

On our way up we saw a marmot who was quite happy but not feeling very photogenic:

We quickly rose above timberline (hey, where did all the trees go??) as we snaked our way up the crushed granite trail: 

Looking ahead all we could see was more rock and the occasional "cairn" marking the trail: 

We made it up onto a relatively flat ridge and could finally see Mt. Dana looming in the distance. We would soon cross through those snow fields and eventually end up on the top. 

There were very few people on the trail in the early morning. We did run into this guy who only spoke French. Lucky for us we had Damien, our BSA French Interpreter handy… 

Remember those snow patches that were so distant earlier? Here they are… 

The "trail" was quite difficult to find at one point and we got a bit off track. We finally spotted a cairn and the group scrambled their way back to the trail. Check out the views already… 

At this point all we could see were rocks, except this lonely flower: 

We later found out from talking with one of the Yosemite Park Rangers that this is a Sky Pilot which only grows in the talus on high mountain slopes, typically above 12,500’ 

At that point we were almost at the top and could see it: 

To put some perspective on it here is a picture taken from the same location looking back from where we came. See the cars on the road? See the trail on the ridge just about in the two o-clock position? Yeah, we’re up there… 

We reached the summit of Mt. Dana at 13,053’ at 11:00am: 

The views from the top were stunning. Absolutely nothing higher in sight… Here is Mono Lake looking east: 

Looking south… 

Looking down onto Tuolumne Meadows: 

As you can also see the weather was cooperating and was beautiful, just a few white clouds in the sky off in the distance. 

Matthew placed a Geocache at the summit in a circular rock shelter: 

We soaked in the views, ate lunch, and rested up. After an hour we began our descent:

One of our Scouts had AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) from the altitude. We had him take it slow and steady but descend so we could get him to the lower altitude where oxygen is more plentiful. He bounced back once we were down and he was in camp. He is fine but it served as a reminder for all that we were way up high and altitude is to be respected.

We made great progress on the way down and in just a few hours were back in the meadow amongst the wildflowers: 

We arrived at the trailhead around 2:30pm. It took us 4 hours on the ascent, a 1 hour lunch, and 2.5 hours to descend: 

That is one happy bunch! 

That afternoon we visited Tuolumne Meadows and then headed back to the campsite for a brief rest. We went into the small town to June Lake and had dinner at the Tiger Bar & Café followed by ice cream at Cathy’s Chocolate Shop. Both well deserved. 

The next morning we woke at 7am and packed up for a trip to Yosemite Valley. We hiked to the base of Bridal Veil Falls and enjoyed the spray and water. We hiked to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls as well. 

Pictures and videos are available here:

I am very proud of everyone for making this very difficult, steep hike at altitude. The group stayed together as a crew, never got separated, took frequent timed breaks, and just cranked it out. This was our final test before Mt. Whitney and I think everyone is ready for the challenge ahead. 

Brent Browning 
Troop 33 Scoutmaster