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sierra's


John B
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A friend and I took a 9 day trip to the Sierra's, including a brief jaunt into Yosemite, and two three day backpacks (in John Muir wilderness and Ansel Adams wilderness).  We chose to fly from Denver into Las Vegas rather than Reno, as flights and rental car were both substantially cheaper.  We were able to secure all needed front country and backcountry reservations thru recreation.gov in March.  Arrived in Las Vegas Saturday, July 29 and made the 5 hour drive to our front country camp at June Lake (50 miles north of Bishop, CA).  Up early on Sunday, and took our quick trip into Yosemite to climb Mt Hoffman--this peak offers 360 degree views of the entire park.  We had been to Yosemite a number of times in the past, but for some reason never got around to climbing this peak--it's well worth it, and a pretty easy hike/climb--normally it would be a 5.5 mile round trip from the May Lake trailhead and 2000 of vertical.  However, we arrived at the May Lake turnoff from Tioga road to find that the two mile spur to the trailhead was closed--thus we got 4 "bonus" miles.  Still a worthy hike, and great views of the park:

Returned to our June Lake campground Sunday night, then up early on Monday to get our backcountry permit for Lake Sabrina trailhead in the John Muir wilderness (just west of Bishop).  Had a 6 mile hike up to our planned campsite near Dingleberry lake (love that name!). Our plan was to climb Picture peak (13,140) the following day.  We were up early, and found ourselves at the back side of the peak after a fun ascent of a ridge above Hungry Packer Lake.  Unfortunately, we found the easiest (class 3) coulouir route to be filled with snow, and chose not to attempt it--turned around at 12,500 and returned to camp.  We were blessed with many misquito companions at our campsite--a byproduct of all the snow that the Sierras got this past winter.  I had forgotten my headnet (only piece of gear I neglected to bring), and regretted it!   We were up early the next morning and hiked out.  Got showers and did a small load of laundry in Bishop, then back to June Lake campground.

The following morning found us again up early and off to Mammoth Mountain to obtain our backcountry permit for the Ansel Adams wilderness-devils postpile trailhead.  An hour before our 5am wake up, a bear chose to visit the campground garbage bin, which as about 100 feet from our campsite.  A few of our neighbors got up after hearing the ruckus he was causing, and jumped in their vehicles, scared him off with their headlights--exciting way to start your day!  We took the mammoth mountain shuttle to devils postpile, and were off to our next planned campsite at Minaret Lake.  Arrived there midafternoon and were relieved that the misquitoes weren't quite as vicious as in the Sabrina basin.  Had a thunderstorm move thru at dinner time, which forced us to retreat from our campsite (which was on a ridge above the lake) for an hour or so.  Things settled down after that, and we enjoyed unbelievable views of the minarets--took a short hike to a ridge above our campsite that evening for even better views.  The following morning, we ascended volcanic ridge, which was just adjacent to our campsite--about 1700 of vertical and 1.5 miles found us atop the ridge and staring across the valley at the minarets--a view not to be missed.  I should note that there was significant fire haze throughout our stay in the Sierras--we were told by a ranger at mammoth mountain that it was a result of numerous fires in British Columbia--evidently there had been 136 (!?) lightning initiated fires in one day a few days prior!

We packed out from Minaret lake the following morning, got a shower in Mammoth Lakes, back to our June Lake campground, and then drove back to Las Vegas, and flew home on Sunday.  All in all, a great (although too short) trip.  I did pick up a mapset of the John Muir trail (for future reference--plan to do this at some point soon as I am now retired, and have the time).  Here is a link to the complete pictures: pix.sfly.com/CCxR-Wi6 

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