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Three Minus One

August 11, 2014

This was our last day of hiking and it was going to be the big one...we saved Mt. Conness for our final hurrah.

We had a couple things working against us, however… injuries and weather. I really wanted to go, in spite of being scared (Mt. Conness has a very exposed section on the final part of the ascent), but finally conceded I was too gimpy to even attempt it. And, the same weather pattern we’d been dealing with all week was still in effect: likely thunderstorms in the afternoon. Since climbing Conness is a full-day thing, that made summiting a little dicey.

I decided to accompany them, anyway, but not on the trail. I wasn’t very happy, but figured I could use the day to edit a manuscript (a draft of Toni’s third book).

So we drove out of the park and down to the Saddlebag Lake turnoff. I dropped them off at the Saddlebag Lake campground, and then I went back up the road a couple of miles to the Tioga Pass Resort to edit, eat another breakfast (as long as I was going to occupy a table for that long) and drink lots of coffee. They were really nice in there; it was pretty cozy.

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It was also lovely outside, but I was still grumpy:

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After two hours, I decided to return to the campground and just park and wait for them to return. I lay in the backseat reading and dozing. Much later in the afternoon, I took a walk (mostly to pee) and it rained on me, so I figured they’d be back soon.

Meanwhile, in much, much more exciting news….

Jim and Peter had taken off  down the same trail we used the last time we attempted to summit Conness two years ago. Long story, but Jim made it that time and Peter and I did not. That is why we returned.

Anyway, the trail starts out solid as it heads up this long and very pretty valley (the pictures from here out are taken by Jim on his Samsung phone):

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They took the trail to the very end (maybe three miles?) and instead of turning right up the talus bowl like we did last time and contouring around to the other side, they went straight, heading for a narrow chute at the top of the bowl. Here’s Peter with the slope they will climb behind him. You can’t make out the series of chutes; they are very far away:

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Here’s Peter approaching one of the openings, on the other side of which is a huge, expansive plateau:

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And here he is getting through the chute. I’m told it was very steep:

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Once at the top, they assessed the weather and determined it would not be safe to summit with thunder and lightening threatening. This is a shot down the valley from where they’d just come:

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So… they turned back. This is Peter going back down through the slot:

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They ended up back down in the flats (relative flats) and had lunch. It was cold and getting stormy:

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This was the view in a sunnier direction, but definitely not safe for climbing… good decision to come down.

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By the time they returned to the car it was pouring. We drove back into the park via the Tioga gate. Here are a couple of shots from the backseat by me, grumpier than ever. I was a terrible sport.

The Dana meadow with Mt. Dana in the background:

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And, while stuck in a bit of construction traffic, here’s a dog hanging out the window of a car going in the opposite direction… kinda how I felt… wistful, sad.

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The consolation, and there was one, Peter and Jim had a great day, even though they didn’t make the summit. We can go back and try again!

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