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Ascent of Panum Crater on 2015-10-21

Climber: Dan Baxter

Others in Party:Jerry Jarocki
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Panum Crater
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:7040 ft / 2145 m

Ascent Trip Report

I've been to the crater rim a half dozen times or more. Dad's favorite deer hunting area was just SE of here, around Sage Hen Meadows area, and we sometimes stopped here for the heck of it. This was my first time to the actual HP, however, and it took a GPS waypoint to guid me to it.
The previous day I was hiking in cold snow north of Saddlebag Lake, near Tioga Pass with my hiking Club. The group went home afterward, but Jerry Jarocki and I spent a couple more days exploring the east side of the Sierras. This was one of our stops, and it was much warmer and more pleasant here than it was at 10500' elevation the day before.
The heavily touristed trail from the parking area to the rim is trivial - perhaps a 5 minute climb at best. Here there are two choices - the Rim Trail which is a fine walk in and of itself. We took the other, the plug trail, which heads NE into the irregular jagged plug which formed in the heart of the crater after the initial explosion created the crater rim itself.
Here we occasionally found some fine specimens of obsidian, and occasionally foot long pieces of pumice which felt so light I assume they would surely float. The great find, however, was a 30 second or so view of a wood rat who's body was a foot long, and tail about the same!
The plug trail gradually got fainter, as we explored the depths of the plug where fewer tourists ventured. Also it would frequently split. We headed first to a prominent point more to the NW, which had fine views of Mono Lake, the Mammoth area, and the missing portion of the crater rim where apparently the lava flowed out northward toward the lake. We then followed the GPS waypoint and meandered across the the lower rough plug area. Here it was more an easy scramble XC than it was on rare intermittent use trails. The HP itself is obvious and an easy scramble when you actually approach it.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Trail then class 2
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear



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