Ridiculous Amounts of Rock II: Bear Creek Spire and Mt. Williamson
Mike has been very on top of getting us backcountry permits in the Sierra this summer, and it paid off with great ascents of two classics: Bear Creek Spire, north of Bishop at the head of Rock Creek, and Mt. Williamson, located further south near the town of Independence. Back-to-back road trips and excellent Sierra summer weather allowed us to drive down from Reno and complete the routes. Bonus sightings of wildflowers — even in mid-August, thanks to the heavy snow year and late spring — added lots of color to the trip!
Bear Creek Spire
Unlike the Rock Creek trail, which started at 10,000′ and gained very little elevation over the course of the four miles it took to get to the base of Bear Creek Spire, the journey to Mount Williamson started a couple of drainages to the north of Williamson: beginning at around 5,000′, the approach involved eleven trail miles up to 12,000′ Shepherd Pass, then around and down another couple of miles into Williamson Bowl and the start of the route.
We decided that if we had enough energy we would walk out via Williamson Creek, a trail-less canyon that relatively few people travel. We got great scenery, solitude, a couple of creek crossings, and some moderate bushwhacking, but it could have been much more difficult. It was great to travel through this canyon, which showed little sign of human activity. We spent a bunch of time following bear and deer trails, which were helpful — the animals tend to know the easiest way to go.