By: Owen Maloy
I (Owen) left Mammoth at 4:30am and drove to the Middle Canyon turnoff from the Trail Canyon road. Because I had forgotten to fill my gas tank, I had to go through Bishop (no 24-hour gas stations in Mammoth!), and so lost half an hour compared to going by way of the partly dirt Benton Crossing road, leaving US 395 at Whitmore's, winding around behind Crowley Lake and over behind Glass Mtn, where it picks up Cal 120 from Lee Vining. This road,by the way, will soon be completely paved, and offers an alternate route to Glass Mtn.
I found Judy and Evan impatiently sitting at the road junction at 6:40am. We piled into my Subaru and bumped our way for an hour up to the parking place. It is more than ever not worth going the last few yards on the road; it looks even worse than it did a year ago last spring.
We hiked up the ridge on the south side just after crossing the creek. This was a poor idea, the ridge is rocky. We then followed the main south ridge as the peak guide shows. After a bad experience with the talus last year, I had hoped we would be smart enough to stay low and go around it, but I was seduced by apparently easy paths through the rocks into repeating the same boulder hopping experience. The flowers were terrific; Alpine Gold and Phlox everywhere, with what seemed to be a tiny dwarf Lupine with wine colored flowers.
We set our altimeters at an unmistakable place about 10,500', and were about to give up when we reached 12,500' with the saddle on the ridge still not in sight. Lo & behold, the weather was changing; stepping around the corner, I found myself about 100' above the saddle, with an altimeter that changed 600' in 2 hours. From this saddle it is a short walk up to the summit plateau, where on saunters a mile or so to the little pile of rocks that is the summit of Dubois.
We came down by simply dropping into the wash north of the ridge, the way a sane person would come up. It is deceiving; it is so huge a place that it seems the flattish area at the bottom of the gully is a depression, which is not at all the case. When we reached 11,000' the altimeter was off several hundred feet again. We contoured the ridge to the east to pick up the original ridge and go back to the cars, arriving at dusk. In the gathering gloom we went a bit past the usual stream crossing and had an interesting excursion into the blackness of the overhanging willows, pulling on willow branches hand over hand to get across the stream. We drove into Mammoth via the Benton Crossing road, reaching Grumpy's Bar for dinner at 11:45pm.
Note for those stranded in the Mammoth area at night: Grumpy's, behind the Shell Station, has excellent food and serves until midnight. Some other bars serve even later, but don't expect much. Von's is also open until midnight, but they have put away the deli food by then. The usual DPS group will of course camp at the cars anyway.
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