For those of you who have been following my progress within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, especially my adventures along the San Joaquin River, you’ll know many historical places along this narrow corridor are difficult to locate because of its steep granite walls.
One area that I have visited many times since 1989 is a peak just north of this river along the road to Edison Lake. South of the mountain base is a road called Bear Diversion Dam road. I’m speaking of this 9,000-plus-foot elevation peak called Mary’s Mountain.
Recently I wrote of my solo adventure to its summit. I followed a western approach which led to the saddle. From that location I followed the north side before approaching the summit. Over the last 60 days I asked myself; is there an easier cross country route? While looking at my topography map my curiosity forced me to look at the eastern ridge. I thought, maybe, this ridge line could solve my problem?
On July 5, I convinced Nancy Morgan to join me on a cross country adventure following the eastern ridge to the summit. We departed from the cutoff trail leading from Edison Lake toward the Bear Creek Trail. At the saddle before dropping toward Bear Creek we started our adventure following the ridge. There are three canyons to maneuver through before arriving at the summit. On the second plateau we discovered a few huge trail markers. Could these boulders we discovered mark the path of a forgotten trail?
Further inspection revealed they followed down both sides of the ridge. The sun was starting to set in the west, which meant we were running out of daylight. So back we went to the trail to plan another attempt to the summit at a future date.
On Sept. 3 we set out using the same route to the summit of Mary’s Mountain. At the second plateau with the large trail markers our decision was to follow those markers on both the north and south sides. Maybe these are Indian Markers and may lead to another historic adventure. On the south side the trail led down to the Bear Diversion road. On the north side the markers led down to a steep drop-off. This trail was also a disappointment. Now the mystery is why so many large markers that lead nowhere?
To continue our hike we dropped down on the west side into the third canyon and started our climb to the summit of Mary’s Mountain. After a total of four hours, including our searching, we arrived at our destination. The rewards are in the views of this huge valley that surround all four sides of this mountain. In the distance to the north is Edison Lake and Devils Bathtub. To the east are Bear Dome and Florence Lake. Off in the distance to the south is the 12,500-foot peak of Hooper Mountain. Looking west I could follow the canyon, cut over time from the San Joaquin River as it flows towards the Minaret Mountains.
I must confess that my original route from the west was the easiest. But the latest route did create a new adventure and another mystery. Who placed those large markers on the second plateau? Is this another Sierra Mountain Secret?