Footloose in the High Sierra

July 31 - August 7, 2010

Alpenglow over the Humphreys Basin and the Glacier Divide.



The mule!

We're back in the High Sierra, this time backpacking with our lifelong friend David and his son Rowan. For the first time, we hire a pack animal to schlep our stuff up 3000' to Honeymoon Lake on the first day.

And I predict this will not be the last time we employ beasts of burden (other than ourselves)...

This high country traverse takes us from Pine Creek pack station to North Lake -- over Pine Creek Pass, Puppet Pass, and Piute Pass. Eight days of rock and sky, between 10,500' and 12,000'. Every day is full of sun, every night full of stars, and every morning cold and crispy (low of 26 degrees F).


Lower Pine Lake, a welcome sight at the top of a 2500' climb.

Lush meadows and meandering streams in Granite Park.






Cool climbing rocks in Granite Park.





Italy Pass (left of center) and the full glory of Granite Park. Next time, we'll head over this pass and explore the Bear Lakes basin...




On a cross-country side-trip from Pine Creek Pass, we spend one night up at the austere glacial cirque that holds the blue depths of the Royce Lakes.

Nothing but granite up here.



Traversing snowfields in August at the Royce Lakes (11,750').


We are minding our own business, eating lunch at Pine Creek Pass, when a helicopter zooms right towards us, hovers for a moment, then lands in our meadow!

A hiker with backpack hops out, and the CHP chopper flies away. Soon we are talking with a member of a search and rescue team. This time, it's not me they are looking for. A 20-year-old hiker went missing five days ago -- but the really odd part is that his father and uncle waited until after they completed their backpack trip before reporting it; and then they drove home!

What an bizarre story. This day we are buzzed by helicopters several times as the rescue team deploys in the Humphreys Basin. We wave them off as they fly overhead. Then later in the day, all goes quiet. And we don't hear any more about it until we meet a backpacker a few days later who tells us the missing hiker was not lost, didn't want to be found, but was eventually located. Now we're curious to hear the rest of this strange tale...


Ice! Yes, it really was cold last night.

Venus (+Mars and Saturn) sink into the western horizon as dusk fades to night.




It's all meadows between Pine Creek Pass and L lake.


Our cross-country climb over Puppet Pass turns out to be easier than expected, but it's still an adventure!


Catching our breath at 12,800' Puppet pass.


Expert skipping at Humphreys Lakes!




Camp perched above Desolation Lake.