Southern Yosemite Loop Through Red Peak Pass and the High Trail from Isberg Pass

Cloud-dappled morning sun at the lakes west of Isberg Pass

Who: Just me!
What: Backpacking
When: 7/14/14-7/18/14
Where: Yosemite National Park
Mileage: 53 miles
Elevation gain/loss: +9,400ft/-12,700ft
More photos: here

This would be my longest solo trip so far. I was interested in trying to do a solo trip without using my car (so that I could leave it in Oakland for my partner to use), so I decided to head to Yosemite, where I could use a combination of Amtrak, YARTS, and private tour busses to get around. I had a few close calls and some delays, but all in all it worked. The trip proved to be absolutely gorgeous and I found peace and solitude in southern Yosemite. I did find myself racing intense thunderstorms on four of my days out, but the dramatic skies and beautiful granite landscapes made up for the soggy gear and afternoons spent hunkered down in my tent.

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Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin and Knapsack Pass in Kings Canyon National Park

Upper Dusy Basin

Who: Just me!
What: Backpacking
When: 6/17/14-6/19/14
Where: Kings Canyon National Park
Mileage: 13 miles on trail, 7 miles cross-country
Elevation gain/loss: +4300ft/-4300ft
More photos: here

This was the second trip of my road trip encircling the Sierra and my third solo trip ever. I was really excited to explore Dusy Basin, hoping to find some solitude and fantastic scenery. I was not disappointed! I had considered heading over Knapsack Pass and down into Palisade Basin for the second night, but after a brutal talus slog with a full pack (due to a poor route choice), I decided to stay in Lower Dusy Basin for the second night. Two nights is not nearly enough time to explore this gorgeous basin. The cross-country travel is easy, with landmarks everywhere and little to no underbrush to worry about. It’s a great place to explore if you’re interested in getting accustomed to off-trail travel!

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Echo Lakes to Eagle Falls via Lake Aloha and Dick’s Pass in Desolation Wilderness

Sunset at our camp at Lake Aloha

Who: Liz, Alex, Patrick, and me
What: Backpacking
When: 6/20/14-6/22/14
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Mileage: 20 miles
Elevation gain/loss: +3600ft/-4200ft
More photos: here

This is the third and final trip of my whirlwind 9 day seminar talk inspired road trip all the way around the Sierra. After finishing my hike in Dusy Basin on Thursday afternoon, I drove up the 395 to South Lake Tahoe. On Friday morning, Patrick drove Liz and Alex out from Oakland and we met up to do a car shuttle, dropping a car at Eagle Falls trailhead before heading back to Echo Chalet. This would be Alex’s first backpacking trip and he hadn’t really trained, so we planned to keep the trip very easy. (This seems to be a bit of a theme this summer!) We had a glorious evening at Lake Aloha and perfect hiking weather the whole weekend.

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Moose Lake via Alta Meadow in Sequoia National Park

Checking out the alpenglow from our camp at Moose Lake

Who: Patrick and me
What: Backpacking
When: 6/14/14-6/15/14
Where: Sequoia National Park
Mileage: 18 miles
Elevation gain/loss: +4500ft/-4500ft
More photos: here

I was scheduled to give a colloquium talk at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA on Monday, June 16, so I decided to bookend the drive down from the bay area with trips to the Sierra. In less than 9 days, I drove 1,250 miles, hiked 55 miles, gave a seminar talk, spent 3 nights in motels and five nights in the backcountry. The first trip of this crazy week was planned to be a loop connecting Alta Meadow with the Lakes Trail via an off trail route around Moose Lake, but when Patrick suffered altitude sickness after our route up to Moose Lake, we decided to make it an out-and-back via Alta Meadow, opting to return on the off-trail route we knew instead of finding our way through the Tablelands. We had time pressure as well since we were hoping to have Patrick on a train in Fresno by 5:45pm. It was a beautiful trip and the sunset alpenglow on the Great Western Divide was some of the most dramatic I’ve seen!

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Four Lakes Loop via Long Canyon in the Trinity Alps

Upper Siligo Meadow

Who: Just me!
What: Backpacking
When: 5/27/14-5/28/14
Where: Trinity Alps Wilderness
Mileage: 18 miles
Elevation gain/loss: +6000ft/-6000ft
More photos: here

My second solo trip ever! After last weekend’s mellow backcountry excursion, I was hankering for a beating to help me get in shape for the High Sierra Trail in August. I headed up to the Trinity Alps Wilderness with plans to hike up Long Canyon and do the Four Lakes Loop (again), camping at Summit Lake before looping around past Diamond, Luella, and Deer Lakes and then returning back via Long Canyon. I’ve hiked the Four Lakes Loop via Stoney Ridge before and I set out thinking that this would be simply a training trip, but I was pleasantly surprised to find peace, relaxation, and solitude as I hiked this rugged landscape. The mid-week post-Memorial Day start offered me plenty of alone time. At the trailhead, I met couple who were planning on doing the same loop over three instead of two days, and on my way up Long Canyon I encountered four people (two solo hikers and one couple) who were headed out. After I hiked over Bee Tree Gap, I didn’t see a soul until my car rejoined Highway 3 the next evening.

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Heather and Half Moon Lakes in Desolation Wilderness

Allie and Miranda enjoy the alpenglow on the Crystal Range at Heather Lake

Who: Allie, Miranda, Sarah, and me
What: Backpacking
When: 5/23/14-5/25/14
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Mileage: 13.5
Elevation gain/loss: +1700ft/-1700ft
More photos: here

A different kind of trip for me—short distances, not much elevation gain, and a lot of great company. We headed out the Glen Alpine Trailhead with plans to visit Lake Aloha and come back down the Tamarack Trail by Lily Lake, but got stopped by too much snow. Miranda and Sarah hadn’t backpacked all that much (lots of car camping though) and none of the three who accompanied me had really spent much time in the Sierra. I planned this introductory trip to maximize beauty and minimize effort, choosing Desolation Wilderness for its easy access to High Sierra scenery. Even though we didn’t make it all the way as planned, I still think this trip achieved its goals!

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Canyon Creek & Boulder Creek in the Trinity Alps

Who: Just me!
What: Backpacking
When: 5/9/14-5/11/14
Where: Trinity Alps Wilderness
Mileage: 23 miles
Elevation gain/loss: +3650ft/-3650ft
More photos: here

My very first solo backpacking trip—I was both a little nervous and quite excited as I bumped SWV and Justin Timberlake in the car on the drive up from Oakland. Free reign of the stereo? Check. I planned to visit the popular Canyon Creek drainage in the Trinity Alps Wilderness west of Mount Shasta, hoping that the early dates would cut down on the crowds of people who swarm this area in the summer. On my way in on Friday morning, the only people I saw were a part of a trail crew rolling heavy boulders around just below where the trail crosses Canyon Creek, but on Saturday it’d be a different story! The canyon was crawling with day hikers as I made my way down from Upper Canyon Creek Lake. Turning off onto the Boulder Creek trail cured this, though, and from Saturday afternoon into Sunday, I had the entire Boulder Creek drainage to myself—bliss!

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