Kearsarge Pass August 2011

After a week spent backpacking in Dusy Basin, followed by an excellent day-hike to the top of White Mountain Peak, it was getting near time for us to head back home. Vacations don’t last forever. Sad, but true. Still, we knew that it would be an unbearably hot drive down route 395, crossing the Mojave Desert on a sunny August day in a car with no air conditioning, so we opted to spend the day at a higher elevation, where it was much cooler (more beautiful, too!), and drive home in the dark of night. We decided to hike from the Onion Valley Trailhead, as we’d been there years before in a car, but hadn’t done any actual hiking. It was time to rectify that omission.

Vicki and I at Kearsage Pass - 11760 feet elevation

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White Mountain Peak 2011

After spending the previous six days backpacking in the Sierras, far above 10,000 feet elevation, Vicki and I decided that our bodies were acclimated enough to tackle White Mountain Peak, elevation 14,246 feet, the third highest peak in California. Except for the lack of oxygen, White Mountain Peak isn’t a particularly difficult climb, but the views sure are breathtaking!

It’s probably the easiest fourteener you can climb, as there is a 4WD road to the top. Some people mountain bike up (and down!) this mountain. The only real issues in climbing it is the 7 mile approach and the oxygen concentration at that elevation. Still, being able to view the entire eastern Sierra at one time makes this mountain truly memorable. Besides, it was my first (and only, thus far) fourteener!

Our first view of White Mountain Peak

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Bristlecone Pines August 2011

Vicki and I took a visit to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest while on our way to the trailhead of White Mountain Peak.  We’d always wanted to visit these amazingly old trees, and this was our big chance.  The lower, more famous grove was closed due to construction, so we decided to visit the upper, Patriarch Grove instead.  And the trees were, indeed, amazing.  We got to visit “The Patriarch” tree, the world’s largest (but not oldest) bristlecone pine, up close and personal.  And we learned a lot about the trees and ecology of the White Mountains.  Fun!

Vicki standing next to the enormous trunk of The Patriarch, the world's largest bristlecone pine tree

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Bishop Pass & Dusy Basin 2011

For this summer’s big trek we decided, once again, to head for the High Sierra. This was our standard plan. But where to go? What to see? The Sierra was so large and varied, with so many trailheads on both the east and west sides, that it was nearly impossible to make a decision. After plenty of reading and searching on the internet, I eventually narrowed the choices down, and the one choice that beckoned the most was to visit Dusy Basin, a high-altitude region of Kings Canyon National Park just west of the Sierra Crest near Bishop, California.

Here’s the one-paragraph summary of our trek: We hiked up and over Bishop Pass, and made a base camp in Dusy Basin at 12,000 feet elevation, where we stayed for three nights. We hiked around the upper end of Dusy Basin for a couple of days, just taking it easy and enjoying the views. We day-hiked over to Thunderbolt Pass and checked out Palisade Basin, and also hiked along the rocky-ridged Sierra Crest just west (north) of Bishop Pass. Nothing too strenuous. We went on this trip insisting that there would be no pressure to actually DO anything. All we really had was the vague goal of getting to Dusy Basin and checking it out, and if we didn’t get all the way there, well, we’d still be high up in the Sierra Nevada, and how could THAT be bad? Anyway, we succeeded admirably! It was an excellent, no-stress vacation.

Looking across Dusy Basin from Peak 12286 near the Sierra Crest west of Bishop Pass

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Yosemite 2010

Overview: Vicki and I went backpacking for nine days in a large loop, south from Yosemite National Park on the Mono/Parker Pass Trail into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. We then bushwacked off-trail west above Waugh Lake and were rewarded with some stunning views of the Minarets, Mount Banner, Ritter Peak, Mount Davis, Rodgers Peak, and Mounts Lyell and Maclure. We eventually hiked back north to Tuolumne Meadows via the Lyell Canyon Trail. Side trips included visits to Marie Lakes, Thousand Island Lake, Ireland Creek, Evelyn Lake, Rafferty Creek and the Vogelsang area. It was a memorable and excellent experience!

Day 0 Summary: Get to Yosemite, camp in the Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers campground, get our final preparations completed, climb a dome, and have one last hamburger and bowl of ice cream.

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Day 1 Summary: Starting at the Mono Pass trailhead, hike to Parker Pass, leaving Yosemite and entering the Ansel Adams Wilderness (because we’re not allowed to camp in the Tuolumne River Watershed).

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Day 2 Summary: Hike over Koip Pass (elevation 12270 feet) and camp at Alger Lakes. Day-hike to Koip Peak, elevation 12962 feet.

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Day 3 Summary: Hike over Gem Pass (elevation 10477 feet), then head off-trail to the ledge above Waugh Lake.

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Day 4 Summary: Continue hiking off-trail arriving closer to the PCT/JMT and Donoghue Pass. Visit Marie Lakes as a day-hike. The hailstones, snow, and thunderheads were extra!

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Day 5 Summary:  Layover Day. Day-hiked to Thousand Island Lake on the PCT/JMT via Island Pass (elevation 10205 feet).

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Day 6 Summary: Hike over Donohue Pass (elevation 11056 feet), enter Yosemite, and camp in Lyell Canyon.

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Day 7 Summary: Hike up the Ireland Creek Trail, and camp at Evelyn Lake.

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Day 8 Summary: Day-hike to the lakes near Vogelsang, then hike down the Rafferty Creek trail and camp.

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Day 9 Summary: Hike out to the car in Tuolumne Meadows. Eat burgers, fries, and ice cream immediately.

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Click on the red “Day X” images to view that particular day’s Trip Report.



Kings Canyon August 2009

Vicki and I backpacked into the Monarch Divide region of Kings Canyon National Park in August 2009. It was an eight day trek. It was also the culmination of a lot of planning, as we hadn’t done a long backpacking trip for several years, not since our sons were in the Boy Scouts. Coincidentally, it fell on our 25th wedding anniversary, so we decided to celebrate that, too.

Lake 10515 in the Horseshoe Lakes basin, looking east toward the high tarn and Windy Ridge.

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