Camped up at Grass Lake with my buddy Matt 8-10 Sept. Went up Friday at 4 pm and there was heavy smoke in the air. Did not notice it again the rest of the weekend.
Got some drizzle our last two miles and then 20 minutes of steady rain once we tried to set up camp. Then it quickly went to clear skies. Slept in until past 7 am Saturday and took our time with breakfast.
A group of 4 came through camp on their way to Lone Pine Peak. We watched them start up the chute while we ate. We rolled out around 9:30 and found a solo hiker filling water bottles on the other side of the lake. He was also headed to LPP.
When Matt pointed out the chute we would be taking, I thought he was joking. I had read horror stories about it and from the bottom, it looked worse. Once we headed up it was taxing, but not horrible.
The solo hiker caught us about half way up. After we finished with the chute we looked for the route to the summit. I thought I read we were to take the ridge, Matt said we were to stay low and attack it later. We ended up staying low for awhile, but then headed up the ridge through a neat rock window. It was a fun route, but probably not the easiest. Just pick a route within your skill set and you will reach the summit easily.
We caught the group of 4 just as they were summiting. We never saw the solo hiker again. After signing the register and getting pics, both groups got ready to head down. We let the other group go first so we all didn't end up in the chute at the same time. Off the summit, down the ridge before the chute, they stopped to take a break. We pressed on quickly ahead of them.
Going down took all of my focus. I let Matt get well ahead and followed his line if it looked okay and picked my own if I found something safer. I did manage one small fall that rewarded me with some small cuts. Otherwise it wasn't that bad.
We got rain, snow and hail for an hour back at camp and then Matt tried his luck fishing Grass Lake. We headed down Sunday morning. Matt left and I joined my brother at his site in the family campground for our main trail attempt on Monday.
While waiting for my brother I headed up to the portal store. The kitchen is CLOSED and will remain so until the water situation is resolved as per Doug and Doug Jr. They will continue to "sell trinkets" for the rest of the season.
Monday morning we hit the trail at about 2:30 am. We took a small break at the log near Lone Pine Lake and then pressed on to Trail Camp. I brought a 2 liter bladder that I filled full before leaving, because it is a PITA to fill with the filter (I know they make adapters, but this is my running bladder, not my usual hiking bladder). I also brought one empty 20 ounce bottle that I filtered water from the Trail Camp lake. About 1/2 way through filtering I noticed some kind soul had dumped their unwanted food into the lake. I'm sure the filter kept it out. I ended up not needing any more water the rest of the day.
Up the 90+ switchbacks we noticed a used wag bag left 1/2 on, 1/2 off the trail. I'm sure it must have fallen out of someone's pack or they plan on getting it later. We found plenty of water on the lower switchers in multiple places. There was no ice anywhere on the trail.
The summit hut quickly came into view as we pressed on and it got much colder the closer we got. Just before you make the right turn to head up towards the summit proper, there is one small snowfield. If you have ever walked on snow in your life, you shouldn't have any problems. If you doubt your ability to walk on snow, bring micro spikes, crampons, trekking poles, skies, whatever makes YOU comfortable. It was fine when we went by today, but conditions change rapidly on the mountain.
We arrived at the hut about 9:45 to icy cold blowing wind. No side of the hut was out of the wind so we sat on the benchin the hut for 5 minutes to make adjustments and to eat a snack. There was a short line for the register so we snapped a couple of pics before we took our turn. Then we left after about 10 minutes.
As we headed down we were treated to some rain drizzle and super light snow. The summit was quickly obscured in the clouds, but people kept heading up. We saw several people from groups we had talked to earlier in the day who had split from their weaker members. I hope that plan worked for everyone.
Coming back down the 90+ switchbacks we got a little more rain. People were still streaming up, including one guy in jean shorts with a bottle of water in each hand.
Everyone on the trail was friendly and respectful, with downhill hikers always yielding unless told to keep coming. Very nice to see. Above Trailside Meadow we chatted with a lady who turned around because of the rain (she checked the weather reports and it was not supposed to rain), but her husband had continued up. She wasn't worried since they both had their cell phones. I explained to her where Verizon and AT&T had worked for us in the past (we didn't try today) and wished her the best of luck.
Once past the LPL sign we broke out in a brisk trail run, stopping only when we headed down the old trail. All in all it was a fine day.
Oh, we found no water crossings that could not be managed with the provided logs or by rock jumping. The only reason our feet got wet at all was due to the rain. If you are not comfy with rock jumping or you absolutely cannot risk a wet foot, bring water shoes or remove your shoes and wade. I would bet most people will not have a problem.
I'm supposed to be back on the main trail October 4th, weather permitting, to act as a guide and sherpa for my daughter's first attempt. If the weather doesn't allow for it, we will have to find another adventure.................DUG