Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada

Backpacking the Silver Divide

I had promised Darlene a substitute backpacking trip when we found out she would no longer be able to go on our upcoming backpacking trip in Washington state.  We were able to take four days over the Labor Day weekend and I picked out a promising area that I hadn’t been to north of Lake Thomas A. Edison that would give Darlene another taste of the High Sierra.

We took off Saturday afternoon amid some unusual high temps as well as heavy smoke that had blown down from numerous wildfires in Oregon and Northern California.  It was a five and a half hour drive to get to the trailhead, including an interesting drive over a very rough, one lane road from Huntington Lake that goes over Kaiser Pass at 9184 feet.  We found a spot to camp along the road near the High Sierra Ranger Station on Saturday night and to wait to get a wilderness pass in the morning.

A meadow along Silver Pass Creek

We had our pick of numerous trailheads near Lake Edison but settled on doing a loop up and over part of the Silver Divide by following the John Muir Trail / Pacific Crest Trail over Silver Pass and then returning via Goodale Pass.  (View map.)  The smoke from the distant fires was still pretty heavy and worrisome on Sunday morning but we managed to just barely catch the backpacker’s ferry boat across Lake Edison and that cut out four miles of hiking our way around the reservoir to get started.  From the ferry landing (7643 ft), it’s about nine miles to the top of Silver Pass (10,900 ft).

Our room with a view over Chief Lake at 10,400 ft.

There’s lots of small, alpine lakes scattered along the divide and we found a lovely spot to spend two nights overlooking Chief Lake just below Silver Pass at about 10,400 ft.  Thankfully the smoke wasn’t too bad at altitude and it mostly cleared out overnight with the winds and occasional brief showers.  Not much to see in the way of stars though with a very bright full moon on display.

Sunset skies over the distant Minarets to the north

In the morning, we were treated to views of the distant Minarets (part of the Ritter Range) up near Mammoth.  There were a good deal of mosquitos in the morning and evening but not as much as I had feared given our really wet winter this year.  The weather alternated between periods of sunshine and heavy clouds with brief sprinkling while we ventured up a nearby ridge on the Silver Divide to get some more stupendous views of our surroundings.

Enjoying the panorama perched on a ridge above Silver Pass

Monday night was tough to sleep through as we had hours of heavy gusting winds but eventually it quieted down.  Our return journey on Tuesday was about 12 miles over Goodale Pass (10,997 ft) down to the Vermillion Resort on Lake Edison.  However, it was clear my boots were not going to make it – the soles were completely disintegrating.  They’re probably also why I lost my footing and ended up crashing into a creek when I attempted to push off one rock to leap to another.  I ended up using my shoelaces to tie the soles to the bottom of my shoes and keep them from coming completely separated before reaching the end of the trail.  I might need some new boots now though.

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Eastern Sierra Colors

Darlene and I headed over to the Eastern Sierra for a few days last week to catch the fall colors of the aspen climbing the mountain valleys. We came over Sonora Pass, visited Bodie and camped the first night near Lundy Lake, hit Mammoth Lakes and then camped below Rock Creek Lake before finally having to make our way back via Tioga Pass and through Yosemite.

Seems like we might have been about a week early to catch the peak but it also seemed that a lot of the aspen were really dry and drying out quickly after turning yellow (skipping over orange and red), presumably due to the extended drought.

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Eastern Sierra Cycling Weekend

Here are some pictures and video from a few days of cycling and camping in the Eastern Sierra in and around the Mono Lake Basin, Mammoth and June lakes, Long Valley and Rock Creek Canyon over May 24th-27th.  It was Darlene’s first time seeing the area.  We came over by way of highway 108 and Sonora Pass and down through Bridgeport and Lee Vining to camp out on national forest land near highway 395 and June Lake on Saturday night.

Mono Lake (click for full gallery)

Mono Lake (click for full gallery)

Sunday we set out for a bike ride to the South Tufa area at Mono Lake via the June Lake loop.  That worked out to about 38 miles.  Afterward, we stopped in for groceries at Mammoth Lakes and then set out on Benton Crossing Road to find a nice spot in the rocky hills east of Crowley Lake to use as our base camp Sunday and Monday nights.  That night I was up late exploring the wonderfully dark (and moonless) skies with my telescope.

Long Valley looking towards Mammoth

Long Valley looking towards Mammoth (click for full gallery)

Monday morning we left our camp standing and drove into Tom’s Place at the base of Rock Creek Canyon to set off on our bikes to climb the 2600 ft. up to Rock Creek Lake (at 9682 ft).  Alas, there was to be no Pie in the Sky today at the Rock Creek Lodge so lunch was back down at Tom’s Place.

After breaking camp on Tuesday we stopped in at Mammoth Lakes again for breakfast and a bit of shopping before heading home, this time via Yosemite and Tioga Pass/Road.

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Climbing Mt. Whitney

These are pictures and videos from a three day backpacking trip with Stéphane and Darlene to summit Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft).  Second time for me!  (Here’s the first.)

We chose to camp at Outpost Camp (10,400 ft), a relatively short 3.8 miles from the Whitney Portal trailhead at 8360 ft. However, this made for a long summit day of over 14 miles round trip. We made it though and enjoyed a beautiful day and stupendous views all along the way!

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More Mtn Biking near Truckee

Here’s some pictures from two days of mountain biking near Truckee, CA with Richard on Oct 4-5th. First day was Mills Peak, near Sierraville.  It’s a long but pleasant nearly three-hour climb to the top and the fire lookout tower and a very fun one hour ride back down.  The second day we did the “Super-D” trail from Watson Lake down to the 06 fire road south of Truckee.


There’s a great panoramic view from atop Mt. Watson, looking south over Lake Tahoe:

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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River

This is a collection of pictures from a four day backpacking trip down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River
in Yosemite National Park with the Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club:


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Backpack to Young Lakes and Mount Conness

A backpacking trip to Young Lakes in Yosemite National Park and a fantastic summit climb up Mount Conness (elev. 12,590 ft) – guided by Jed of the Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club.  Here’s a topographic map of the area.

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Backpacking Up Pine Creek/Italy Pass

Labor Day Weekend with Mike, Jeanie, Troy… and Chloe!  We camped out in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine with the intention of getting a trail permit to climb Mt. Langley (near Mt. Whitney) but given how quickly all the trailheads filled up that weekend, we were lucky to have any entry within a few hours drive.  So, Pine Creek it was.  This is the pass just north of Mt. Tom, near Bishop, CA.  We were out for two nights and did a bit of peak climbing/scrambling on the middle day and snagged some awesome views. After coming back out of the backcountry, we enjoyed a hot dip at Mammoth Hot Springs before heading home back over the Sierra Nevada.

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Backpacking into Desolation Wilderness

Melissa came out from Minnesota to join me and some friends (Jeanie, Mike, Llana, Nora and Chloe!) on a weekend-long backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness (near Lake Tahoe).  We worked our way from Loon Lake to Buck Island Lake, Rockbound Lake, and eventually Rubicon Reservoir.

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To the Summit of Mt. Whitney

Kamay invited me to join her on a backpacking trip to summit Mt. Whitney.  And here it is, from Mt. Whitney looking down into Owens Valley and the town of Lone Pine from 14,495 feet:

That’s the highest point in the lower forty-eight states, thank you very much.
Hey, plus six feet to my eye-level!


And that’s a marmot, of course!

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