Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain


By: Tina Stough


Fifteen signed in at the Trail Canyon trailhead for my first provisional lead, and we were joined to our camp by Paul Freiman, who was dayhiking Mummy. Because the three assistant leaders listed in the Sage could not make the trip, Richard Fritsen became my assistant. We left just after 6:30 am as scheduled, and made our way up the steep trail to the saddle and trail junction where we turned onto the north loop of the Charleston trail and soon came to the spring where we filled up with water The 1984 provisional revision Charleston Peak 7.5' topo shows the trail accurately but does not show the spring. It depicts, however, two streams merging into one along the Trail Canyon trail, but there was no water at all in these. Also the beginning of this trail is shown as 4WD on the topo but is actually closed to vehicles. The 1957 Charleston Peak 15' topo no longer accurately depicts the trail which now makes a long switchback and then contours along underneath the ridgeline and finally comes up to a saddle on the ridge north of Mary Jane Falls. This gentle saddle makes the best campsite for a group of our size, and we were able to camp on the north side of the ridge to find some shelter from the wind. We had several convenient snow patches around the camp for chilling various libations. After an hour setting up camp and snacking, we continued on the trail at 11:30 for Charleston.

We encountered some soft snow patches along the trail to the summit of Charleston; especially across the avalanche chutes south of the Devil's Thumb before the switchbacks to the summit. These posed no problems. The snow from the Memorial Day weekend storm was gone, and the winter snow pack was quickly disappearing. All of the participants made the summit, arriving between 2:05 and 2:25, and soon made their way to the shallow excavation on the southeast side of the summit to seek shelter from the wind. Five people achieved emblem status with the conquering of Charleston: Graham Breakwell, Vicki Meagher, Tom Moumblow, John Sarna, and me. We almost left Graham asleep in the sun when we started down. Circling the peak and then disappearing, a glider seemed to salute our achievement.

Back at camp we had a fine happy hour with lots of champagne and wine, Chips, salsa, cheese, artichoke hearts, and raspberry pie. Though we were somewhat sheltered from the wind, the bristlecone pines were practically screaming in the wind as the night progressed. In the morning Keats and Bill signed out to head home. Despite cries of "slavedriver" from Graham and "Tina the Hun" from Richard, we started off at 7:40 Sunday morning, taking our packs along the ridge toward Mummy to the saddle southwest of the peak where the old trail used to come up. Here we dropped packs and went with daypacks for Mummy at 8:40. Vicki signed out to head for the car, and Gail and John signed out to go at their own pace for the top. Our strong group of ten followed the ridge up to the cliffs along the west side of the peak; were blown north a short ways under these to a V-shaped gully, quite visible from our camp; and quickly scrambled up this to the summit plateau. The summit on the Mummy's bellybutton is almost directly up from this gully. The group was on the summit in half an hour after leaving our packs (9:10--800+' gain, a bit less than a mile) and took shelter from the wind on the eastside. As we started down into the gully, we paused to let Gail and John come up and then proceeded one at a time the snort distance to the bottom of the gully to avoid rock fall problems-- it was more fun to bomb down the bottom part of the chute anyway and it only took several minutes to get everyone down. We quickly dropped back to the packs, repacked, dropped to the trail where it makes a long switchback, and hiked back to the cars before noon. The participants, besides the leaders, were Graham Breakwell, Chris Brong, Bill Gray, Gail Henna, Keats Hayden, Elaine Marquis, Vicky Meagher, Tom Moumblow, Jim Pursley, John Sarna, Dan Skaglund, Steve Smith, Bob Sumner. Thanks to a fine group for a very pleasant and successful trip.!

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