Mount Stanford in the rain. A lot of rain.

  • Updated: August 03, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

August 2nd and 3rd, 2014
Mount Stanford (12,838’)

I led this exact trip back in 2012 as a WTC experience trip but turned back only a few hundred feet shy of the summit while helping some struggling participants.  I dislike not getting the peak but figured it was no big deal since I knew I'd be back in the area at some point.

And this weekend ended up working out.  I needed a quick two day so I could get out in the mountains without using vacation time I badly needed for other longer trips.  Also it was one of those weekends where the weather forecast looked rather dire so an easier trip like this fit the bill.

This is the normal trailhead for Hilton Lakes.  It was under construction so we parked at Rock Creek Lake and hiked up from there.

The trail starts high and actually descends as you head north before turning a corner west toward the lakes.  This means you climb on the way out.  Not much but you notice it.

This is a view of the Hilton Creek Lakes basin.  I've yet to visit any of the other lakes or peaks in the area but it looks promising.

I've seen people cut cross country to the lake but I didn't find that worth the effort.  The trail is fairly direct and easy going.

Because it was summer there were of course fires scattered across the Sierra.  And we had the first evening .  A lot of smoke.

We stayed in the same place I did several years ago on the north west corner.  There's a nice communal spot there and plenty of established sites up the hill.  And you can start climbing the peak from there.

We did our usual fresh backcountry dinner.  We swam briefly but the weather was to cold for that to be very comfortable.

The next morning we started climbing out of camp and found the weather to be somewhat less than promising but at least the smoke was gone.

If we'd stayed in camp I might have just hung out,relaxed, and enjoyed the impending rain but now that we were on our way up I was determined to make it.

It was a slow race up the long gully leading from the lake to Stanford as conditions grew more threatening.

We actually headed up to the wrong bump at first.  We were trying to move quickly since the clouds were dropping and it was getting colder.

We went over to the correct bump and enjoyed the last bits of what seemed like a rather nice view before the clouds dropped around us.

We headed down moving as quick as we could over the now we rocks.  Rain came down at a constant rate and the storm had a feel of one of those that was just going to sit on top of us vs blow over.  And sure enough it rained the entire way out.

Kristen had managed to forget her long johns and grew really cold before I parted with mine.  Since I don't generally bring rain pants (unless it's really looking like rain and sometimes not even then obviously) I had to improvise to keep my legs warm.  Behold the trash skirt.

The latest in DIY rain gear fashion
It was a long, wet, and cold hike out.  Pretty much everything was soaking wet by the time we reached the car and I had to clean all of my gear and reapply the water resistant coating to my rain jacket.  We drove home with the heater going full blast.

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