Northeast Gully of Laurel Mountain

I spent the morning sending slacks/emails/texts/zoomchats and, between correspondences, emptying my stomach in the bathroom. At 3pm, I ate half of a peanut butter banana sandwich and downed a liter of regular water and a liter of electrolytes. At 3:37pm, we began our journey.

Named for a group of escaped prisoners, Convict Lake proves to be an idyllic oasis for even lesser woes. Though, that is perhaps not a universal truth, given the faces of the local cross country team who were doing laps on the trail.

The first 1.5 miles are on a flat hiking trail. Coolers and fish rods litter the side of the lake. Little dogs and children on leashes make bids for freedom.

Once the flat ends so does the hiking trail, and you begin carving a path, following a dry creek bed. The line drops at the foot of the mountain, where the real climbing begins.

There, we fueled up and put on our climbing shoes. For the most part, the first third follows slot canyon. You tiptoe around snow melt, crush the no fall zone 5 easy moves, and zigzag to avoid the 5 hard moves.

You then arrive to do more slab climbing on sections with red and white dikes infused. Though you do dip back into the slot canyon every so often. The rock is glorious and one party member debated carrying a some home.

The last part of the ascent is up red and orange scree. It’s not terrible if you find a good path, but it’s definitely terrible if you don’t. This is where our group started feeling the altitude and the tiredness in the legs.

We reached the summit as sun was setting and signed our names in the summit box.

The descent ended up being in the dark and lots of scree surfing. Back on the trusty flat hiking trail, we took a 10pm detour to dip in the lake and commemorate our summit.

Another great workday in Mammoth Lakes.

‘Originally published at https://serenawanders.substack.com on August 30, 2021.

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