Mount Morgan adventure, September 10, 2016.

After a great hike to  Trail Peak yesterday, today should be pretty spectacular: hiking to the summit of Mt. Morgan.

Having endured a restless night at the hotel in Bishop, I got up around 06:00AM and after getting ready joined Jorge and Diana to a way too large hearty breakfast of eggs and walnut pancakes at Jack's Restaurant.  After we were all stuffed, we drove north on Hwy 395 for about 24 miles to the exit at Tom's place, where we took Rock Creek road for about 9 miles to Rock Creek Lake Campground where we parked, got our gear and walked to the trailhead. The elevation here is about 9,700 feet. 

As planned, we started hiking right at 08:00AM.  The steep and narrow trail quickly climbs to the larger pack trail where we turned left towards Kenneth Lake.  After a short while we were treated with great views of Rock Creek Lake below.   Soon after the trail became less steep, and we enjoyed the beginning of the changing colors of the Aspen Trees.  Near Kenneth Lake we took the junction to Francis Lake, and got some great views of the now much smaller Lake.  Just before Francis Lake, a short section narrow trail became very muddy, but with some careful rock hopping we managed to keep our feet dry.  Right after this section the trail ran straight into Francis Lake at about 10,875 feet.  This  lake is perfectly situated between two ridges, with a great view of Mount Morgan at the far end of the Lake.  We took a short break here to enjoy the scenery.

Continuing on, we walked around the western edge of the lake to a large open section, great for camping.  There was one tent there, but no people.  From this point, there is no more trail , and we had to find our own way to Mt. Morgan.  We continued south a for only a short distance when we decided to steeply climb the ridge on the west side of the valley.  Once we got to the top of this ridge we took a short break and had a good view of the route that would lead us to the saddle of the main north ridge of Mt. Morgan.

Back at it, it was time to hit the rocks!  We decided to go around the west side of the Bump ahead of us, rather than going over it.  After a little while the rocks became large boulders, and Diana and I climbed back up the slope of the Bump avoiding the boulders.  In the meantime, Jorge had decided not to follow us, but to go straight up the Bump instead.  That ended up to be the smarter way to go, and after a little while we were all back together on top of the Bump.  From there, we slowly followed the crest of the low ridge until it blended into the main north ridge of Mt. Morgan.  When we reached a saddle at about 12,350 feet, we took a well deserved break, while enjoying the ever better views of the valleys and lakes far below.

From here things were getting SERIOUS!  From the saddle, we had to climb straight up the very steep north ridge, slowly climbing up rocks, rocks, and more rocks!! About half way up the ridge, just below a vertical Notch, we took another short break, while encouraging each other to keep going.  Getting around the Notch was not too difficult, and a short while later we arrived at the plateau, which was an emotional achievement in itself, and from where we had a good view of the final stretch to the summit.  We now NEW that we would get to the top, and after a little while attacked the last part with vigor.  Just below the summit, we ran into four people who had hiked up from the camping spot at Francis Lake.  They told us they had not found the Register which is normally kept in a large metal box chained to the rocks on the summit.  Someone must have swiped it...  A few minutes later we all reached the actual summit of Mt. Morgan!!  Being that the summit area was  quite small, and some of it's rocks were very wobbly, we had to be careful moving around.  All the hard work of 6 hours of climbing and scrambling had paid off: the incredible views were amazing!!

After celebrating our achievement for a while, it was time to head down.  We carefully climbed down the first layers of stacked pancake rocks, and then took a somewhat lower route down to the plateau, avoiding the larger boulders.  Back at the plateau we took another break before clambering slowly down the steep rock layers on the north ridge.  By the time we reached the saddle, the hardest part was out of the way, and we started to breath a little easier.  The next tricky part was the stretch from the top of the low ridge straight down to the valley towards Lake Francis.  At first we followed what looked like a use trail going diagonally down, but after a little while the "trail" ended into bushes, causing us to "slide" straight down the rest of the way to the bottom of the ridge.  From there we walked down the valley to Francis lake, where we saw the 4 guys we had met at the summit earlier that day!  Now that we were back on solid ground, the last 2.5 miles back to the trailhead were easy.  We arrived at the car just before sun down, the 12 miles round trip trek taking 11 hours and 45 minutes.

The three tired but happy puppies drove to Tom's place for a well deserved dinner and dessert.