| A Sierra Double-Header
Mount Goode - 13,085 ft.
Roundtrip 10.2 mi.
Gain ~3,300 ft.
A few class 3 moves but mostly class 1 and 2.
Mount Dana - 13,053 ft.
Roundtrip 5.6 mi.
Gain ~3,100 ft.
I'll try to include as much beta/instruction for getting up these peaks as I can in this report to make it easier for anyone who heads out that way and wants some peaks to climb. Even Mt. Dana, which is popular, had little consistent information out there on the interwebs.
With family in Lake Tahoe, I figured going to visit them was the perfect opportunity to get up into the nearby high Sierras for a day. Originally I had planned to climb one of the local 14ers, but trying to keep up with Jed on one of his big hikes knocked some sense into me.
I decided that I would climb Mt. Goode, a low 13er near the Bishop Pass trail, near Bishop Lake, which is west of... you guessed it, Bishop, California! Goode is a popular mountain for rock climbers, as its north face offers great class 5 routes. For those who enjoy just hiking and mild scrambling, the southeast face is a perfect day trip.
After Mt. Goode, if I felt good then I would head up to Tioga Pass and hike up Mt. Dana, another low 13er but one that is very popular since it is so accessible; the trail starts right off of CA-120 at the Yosemite entrance station at the top of the pass.
So let's get started!
The evening of July 3rd, after a good dinner at the house, I started the trip down to Bishop. I grabbed a few things from Safeway and headed out of the lake basin, up and down Kingsbury Grade and met up with US-395, which would take me all the way to Bishop. A couple hours later, I was descending the hill into Bishop and looked for the turnoff for South Lake. Online info told me there should be an obvious turnoff with such a sign before town, but before I knew it, there I was in town. Improvising, I turned south on a city street in Bishop until I hit the next wide road, which I figured would be CA-168, and turned right (west) and started up the hill.
(The South Lake "turnoff" is supposed to be a shortcut of sorts, since US-395 turns east to head into Bishop, and if you take CA-168 west from the intersection in town, you will backtrack west several miles before heading up into the mountains.)
Now there are actually signs that got me to South Lake. I arrived at the TH around midnight, and was surprised how big the parking lot was. The overnight lot was full and the day use lot had a few cars. I parked in day use and checked into Car Inn for the night.
I woke at 3:30 AM and slowly got ready to head out. By 4:15 I was out on the Bishop Pass Trail. It starts to the left of the bathrooms and garbage bins and is very easy to follow as it is very busy and well-maintained. The BPT ascends a little over 2,000 feet to the top of Bishop Pass in 6 miles of distance, so the grade is very mellow.
I had always heard the words "California", "bear", and "psycho" used in the same sentence pretty often, and having never been to the Sierra before, I found myself moving slowly, looking all around for any crazy bear waiting to rip me to shreds. Eventually I met a pair of eyes staring at me, but it was just a deer that ran off as I got closer.
As I kept going along the trail, the sun started to rise, and I passed a few trail junctions as I went along. These junctions are signed and will point you in the right direction.
Lake after lake I passed on the easy trail, until coming up over a small crest and being greeted with an awesome view of Mt. Goode.
Mt. Agassiz (13,891') - I considered this one, but didn't want to get too ambitious.
The mountain kept watch over me as I hiked further, eventually reaching the area between Saddlerock Lake and Bishop Lake. This area is important, pay attention! This is where you want to turn off of the trail and start heading up the slope of Goode. The area is pretty easy to identify - as you hike up the BPT you can see the east ridge of Goode come down and meet up with the area between the two lakes. I turned off of the trail (anywhere - there is a use trail but you probably won't find it when you're ascending) and headed towards the left (south) of the ridge and started to ascend up the steep slope with talus and slippery dirt, as well as krummholz pine trees.
This is what I ascended, and what you may want to ascend as well.
After getting up this slope, I reached a small bowl-like area, with the summit of Goode on the right, and two more peaks, one straight ahead and another to the left. The one straight ahead is termed "Mt. No Goode" because it is often mistaken for Mt. Goode. The actual Mt. Goode is to the right!
Mt. Goode is on the RIGHT here.
I started up the mellow slope, right towards the summit. The bowl is very sandy - it's like walking on a beach at times. Eventually, I met up with a use trail. I followed it up as the terrain got steeper and more rocky.
Faint use trail towards the left that climbs up the slope.
As I gained elevation, the sand gave way to a complete tauls and boulder field, and it was all talus hopping and climbing from here. Near the summit there are some easy class 3 moves - it's all very doable,very fun, and the rock is solid.
Rock field to the summit!
The closer to the summit I got, the more winded I got. Then it hit me that I hadn't eaten or drank anything since the TH. Oops! I pushed on to the summit where I then fueled back up, and by then I was actually feeling pretty fatigued, leaving me thinking that I wouldn't be able to go get Dana later on.
Reaching the summit at 7:30a, I rested for a little while, singed the register, and proceeded to take a gazillion pictures. "Amazing!" was all I could think at the time.
View south: A sea of peaks!
A look down the north face, as well as the numerous lakes in the basin below.
Gotta have a summit selfie.
The Sierras are warmer than the Rockies in summer. 7:30 AM and I was down to a t-shirt but comfortable.
I took one last look around and left the summit sometime around 8:00 or so. I downclimbed the same general direction but not exactly the same route, not that it matters too much. As long as you head down the rocky slope, you'll end up where you started, and the rock is, for the most part, very stable.
An example of the rock on the upper slope of Mt. Goode.
I kept going down the rocky slope until I reached a use trail. This use trail took me all the way down to the steep slope below the bowl. There are a lot of use trails here - they all will get you up or down. This whole part of the route is cross-country, so just roll with it. Just make sure that it takes you to Mt. Goode and not Mt. No Goode!
One of the use trails - they are all good to follow.
I reached the steep slope again and started to descend slowly and carefully. After not very long I was down in the grassy basin again, just above Saddlerock Lake. I made my way back to the BPT following a use trail and it threw me out onto the trail at a spot that seemed like a several minute walk closer to the TH than where I had left the trail on the way up.
The area between Saddlerock Lake and Bishop Lake.
Bishop Pass and Mt. Agassiz
A use trail descending the steep slope.
After meeting up with the BPT, I started to make my way somewhat quickly back to the TH, stopping every little bit to appreciate the scenery of the area.
The BPT goes right along some of the lakes, and the mosquitoes were horrible in these areas. In parts I just ran the trail to get away from them. As I descended, I passed numerous hikers and backpackers on their way up, all enjoying the beautiful day. I made it back to the TH at 10:15a and took this picture after staring for at least 5 minutes in awe:
The view just a minute or so up from the TH.
I got back to the car and ate the best egg salad sandwich ever. Thanks Safeway! By now I was actually feeling great, and decided I would be stupid to not at least try to get Dana. I drove back down towards Bishop, found a street to shortcut over with, and started back north on US-395 up through Mammoth and to Lee Vining. At Lee Vining, I turned west onto CA-120, starting up toward Tioga Pass.
I reached the top of Tioga Pass and parked on the shoulder of the road right before the Yosemite NP entrance station. I looked around for where the use trail is supposed to start and didn't see it on the non-Yosemite side. I got my stuff together and walked into the park. This was a very strange walk. Here are the rangers collecting the fee from cars and whatnot, and the "individual" fee was for folks on bicycles, etc. So I just kind of walked awkwardly through the gate...
Apparently this is okay because none of the rangers questioned me! I suppose pedestrians walk in free. There was a couple that left right before me who went the same way to look for the trail. Time: 12:30p.
The trail for Mt. Dana is entirely a use trail and "starts right at the Yosemite entrance station" and heads into Dana Meadows, a flat area at the top of Tioga Pass, before heading up the steep northwest slope of the mountain. Up and up it goes until it reaches another flat area about halfway up. It ascends from there in the same direction to the top through talus.
I caught up with the two who left before me while looking for the trail heading into the meadow. None of us had found it so we kept looking. We had been heading west looking for it, so I figured I'd find it if I started heading southeast, toward the mountain's slope. I eventually came across a very well-defined trail and headed toward the slope. This had to be it, so I followed it. (The other two met me at the summit, so they also did fine.)
The trail started out mellow, and then the steep started. Up and up and up.
Part of the trail as it ascends.
Looking back on the trail and Dana Meadows below.
I was feeling fantastic, and felt like I would get the summit with some time to spare (Gotta make it back to Tahoe in time for fireworks!). And it was hot up here. Nice, but hot!
I had gotten myself into a great pattern with my steps and breathing that allowed me to move pretty quickly up to the "plateau" without taking any breaks. I reached the plateau and had this view toward the summit. Still quite a way to go!
Dana from the plateau, about halfway up. Steeper than it looks in this picture!
As the trail heads up from the plateau, a few other use trails split off. All of them appeared to lead to generally the same spot. I stuck to the main use trail and got back into my pattern as the terrain steepened again, but this time it was steeper and it was talus. I kept going up, following trail segments as they appeared.
The rock on this mountain was very neat. Mt. Dana and the surrounding peaks are actually very colorful, compared to the white granite of Mt. Goode. Up near the summit, the rocks became purple in color before becoming red/brown again, and more white at the top.
I pushed on and on, and reached the summit at 2:45p, a mere 2:15 from the TH, and that included getting semi-lost at the start. Strenuous hike, but somewhat quick.
I had the summit to myself for a few minutes before a group of 4 that I passed up arrived, and the couple from the TH shortly after them. Pictures, food, and water ensued.
Looking south-southwest from the summit.
Looking southeast. You can see Mammoth ski area as well as the southern Sierra. Goode is somewhere down there!
The view into Yosemite.
Mono Lake; looking east toward Lee Vining.
After a little while on the summit, I started down the mountain. This time I tried to aim for one of the smaller use trails below, and this proved to be a good decision; it was not as steep as the main use trail. Most of the west and north faces of Mt. Dana lead to the same drainage, so if you managed to get lost here, chances are you would end up at CA-120 since it uses this drainage to descend into Yosemite.
Starting down from the summit.
Down the mountain I went, to the plateau below. I enjoyed the relative flatness of the plateau before continuing down the steep trail. 2.8 miles and 3,000' of loss is no joke when a big chunk of that 2.8 miles is flat!
Looking north along the trail at the plateau.
It wasn't until the descent that I realized how steep the trail really is... very tedious, but quick!
I saw a few marmots on the way down, sunning themselves on the rocks. When I got to treeline, there was a marmot hanging out in a little tree. A second one ran over to it, and the one in the tree made the most adorable squealing noise EVER that was the epitome of cuteness. It was like a kitten!
Now that I was on the trail, it was easy to follow through the meadows and back to the TH. I followed it through the meadows and around the lakes that I had missed while looking for the trail earlier. The trail goes through an isthmus between two of the lakes.
One of the meadow lakes. The trail goes through an isthmus between two of these.
I was eager to see where it would spit me out along the road, and it ended up being right at the entrance station. So, since every piece of information I found online completely sucked at describing where the trail starts, I'll give it a shot:
The trailhead for Mt. Dana is the Yosemite entrance station. You can't see the trail from the station. Since it is a use trail, it takes a little bit for the trail to come together from the start, so you have to trust that it is the right way. Go to the station and turn south. You cannot see the trail from the road, or the station, but you will see it just after entering the trees. Walk right up to the station and turn south. Lee Vining side: turn left. Yosemite side: turn right.
I hope that helps.
I made it back to the TH and the car at 5:00p, 4:30 after starting. Since I was earlier than I expected, I took my time unwinding and eating a snack before starting back toward Lee Vining.
Mt. Dana from a pullout along CA-120 shortly before the pass summit.
I got back to Tahoe with a little time to spare. After a shower I headed out with the family to go see the awesome display of fireworks that the city of South Lake Tahoe does every year. Best 4th of July yet!
Thanks for reading, hopefully I provided some useful information. Mt. Goode and Mt. Dana are great mountains - I would recommend them to anyone who is going to the Sierra, with Mt. Dana being the easier one. Happy trails!
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