|This was a straightforward climb up a short valley to a fantastic scene - no wonder it's so popular! On the week we visited it was pretty much entirely ours, so we'll take others' word that this is often crowded and ugly. While the drop into LeConte Canyon is hard on the knees, the views remain great.
|From Dusy Basin this is a relatively short hop into a pretty basin. While exits are possible by three other ways, none are easy - Potluck Pass is perhaps more intimidating from above than from below - and the drop via Glacier Creek looked mighty intimidating in '99 from Cataract Creek. Funny thing is, Cataract looked miserable from this side; so much for judging by the view..
|***||2002||x-c passes to Lone Pine Creek|
Both of the passes I crossed on my way to the Elizabeth Pass trail were special
and spectacular. Views of the Great Western Divide (my first close-ups of the
area) with Black Kaweah behind, the scoured Tablelands, and beautiful tarns
beset with golden grasses made the scene memorable.
|**||2002||Three Lakes camp|
My first solo trip, and late in the day I still had energy to spare. I
navigated through spectacular country and came to the exact spot I had hoped to
find a camp, by three pretty lakes. It was weird to be so totally alone, but
|***||2002||the hour around Lake Catherine|
I simply can't separate the two moments here. First, that view up to the
Ritter and Banner from intensely blue Lake Catherine and its snowfields and
glaciers. Soon thereafter, the discomfort of that first view into the North
Fork San Joaquin valley. Heaven and Gehenna, so close together - but the
down to Twin Island Lakes easily compensated for that initial burst of
Only when I was within a few hours of the top did I realize what a great view of
Mt. Lyell I was about to see. The climb was rough, but the reward beyond
Martha Lake and plenty of the north-central High Sierra was revealed from here -
even Mt. Humphreys, to my surprise! Goddard and its attendants blocked all
views south and east, but looking north down Goddard Canyon and all the way to
Seven Gables was sublime.
|**||2001||Blue Canyon pass|
Which was more amazing: the view due north at Mt Goddard, or the view nearly
straight down to unspeakably beautiful tarns, emerald and inky blue among the
white granite? And the view back to upper Blue Canyon wasn't bad either.
|**||2001||Blackcap Basin panorama|
After three rainy days of travel, the sun came out just before sunset, so I
climbed a small ridge just west of Portal Lake to see the basin. The spectacle
was undoubtedly enhanced by our endurance of the bad weather - but what a view!
And only two of the peaks (Blackcap and Reinstein) had names.
|**||2000||Fishing?!? at Evolution Lake|
Merely to be fly-fishing again after many years off was entertaining, but to be
practicing again at the base of Mt. Darwin was just amazing. The golden trout
were pretty too, as was the short break during which I climbed the minor summit
that attempts to split the lake in two.|
|**||1999||Darwin Bench camp|
Amazing scenery, and a lovely camp at well over 11000 feet. I passed this spot
a year later and never saw it; perhaps it was a mirage!
This was an incredible spot for several reasons. At the top of the list was its
access - none of the three routes into this basin are easy. We entered from the
south and were near exhaustion when we found a campsite, and our exit the next
day over Cataract Pass was equally difficult. As a result of this, our camp was
truly pristine - no clue could be found to show that anyone had visited here.
In fact, no life other than a few birds were seen in the entire time we were
here. The weather was threatening but never bothered us beyond a chill breeze
from down the valley. It was the true essence of wilderness.
You read about a place, you see a photo or two, and you think you're prepared
for it. It simply isn't possible to anticipate the view of Mt. Hooker towering
over Grave Lake. Remember the apes and the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey?
I'm slightly ahead of them (I think), but this monolith is several thousand feet
This route had everything - cross-country travel, complete isolation (alone from
Big McGee Lake to the Pioneer Basin jct - over a dozen plus dogs hung out in
that valley), major-league talus, a few narrow crevasses, and a 50-degree-plus
ice/snow slope with a cornice on top. We turned back after a bit of
reconnaisance, then found a better route with about a sixty-foot snowpack to
cross before traversing under the cornice up to the pass. I would not have made
that second attempt without my brother's enthusiasm and optimism, and I'm proud
that we made it.
|***||1997||McGee Pass views east|
A beautiful climb, with views back to Mt. Isaak Walton and the Silver Divide and
the upper meadows of Fish Creek. The few wildflowers added a nice splash of
color to the rust-colored slate of Red Slate Mt.
|**||1997||Little Lakes Valley|
This hike shows so much beauty only two miles from the trailhead, it's hard to
keep moving up the Mono Pass trail. This image is an 11x14 on the wall and
wallpaper on my computer screen.
|**||1996||upper French Canyon|
A beautiful walk from our camp near the base of 500' Royce Creek Falls to the
top of Pine Creek Pass - sound, scenery, and a last-quarter moon over the high
peaks. A true parkland.
|**||1996||Selden Pass / Marie Lake|
The view north, east and south from Marie Lake is over 180° of sheer
wonder, from the peaks of Silver Pass through the high peaks of Gabb/Mills/Abbot
to Seven Gables and Senger Peak. The hailstorm at sunset provided amazing
It's a mean hike, but the Pine Creek trail relaxes after 3.5 miles and provides
pretty lakes to relax by. The waterfalls along the way almost make you forget
the tungsten mine.
That first view south was staggering - a vertical drop to tundra, with the
Kaweahs and the Great Western Divide framing the scene. Traveling south to north
would not have the same dramatic effect.
It's understandable that this is a popular destination! Beautiful lakes,
multicolored peaks, and just enough trees for character!
|***||1989||first view west from Taboose Pass|
The deep trench of the South Fork Kings, the fringe of trees around Bench Lake,
and Arrow Peak behind the lake.. what a beautiful intro to the High Sierra!
|***||1979/98||Lizard Head Trail|
Pictures didn't do this region justice. It's a hike on top of the world [over
11500'], looking down on beautiful glacial valleys of lakes and trees, with tall
peaks reaching just barely above the trail's elevation. Amazing, and weird -
and just to keep things interesting, stormy in 1998!
|***||1979/98||Cirque of the Towers|
I had seen the pictures, but the spectacle of being there was indescribable [but
I'm trying anyway]. I shot an entire roll of 36 exposures in about fifty feet
of trail. The 24mm lens was a great improvement on the 1998 trip!|