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Dave Wyman | profile | all galleries >> Mule Pack to the High Sierra tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Mule Pack to the High Sierra

My wife, Kathy, and I joined a group from the Sierra Club, on a mule pack. We hiked, with just day packs, to Big McGee Lake, in the High Sierra, south of Mammoth Mountain and east of Crowley Lake. After eight miles and more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain, we reached our beautiful campsite.

The mule packers, from the McGee Creek Pack Station, had arrived ahead of us. It didn't take long to break out several containers of ice cream, which had stayed cold sitting on dry ice.

Beautiful day hikes, optional climbs up two mountains and two passes, spending plenty of down-time in camp to read, talk or meditate, and some terrific shared meals were all on the itinerary.

I made ten new friends on my first mule pack - this was Kathy's sixth - and I want to do it again next year, especially if there will be ice cream.
McGee Creek Lodge, where Kathy and I stayed the night before the trip.
McGee Creek Lodge, where Kathy and I stayed the night before the trip.
Morning light over the canyon we would ascend, with the pack station in the shade..
Morning light over the canyon we would ascend, with the pack station in the shade..
Wranger at McGee Creek Lodge.
Wranger at McGee Creek Lodge.
Our mules wait for our gear.
Our mules wait for our gear.
The pack station dog, part Great Pyrenees, was quite friendly.
The pack station dog, part Great Pyrenees, was quite friendly.
We begin our trek.
We begin our trek.
Kathy deals with some water flowing over the trail.
Kathy deals with some water flowing over the trail.
We enter a forest, taking us out of the dry terrain at the bottom of the canyon.
We enter a forest, taking us out of the dry terrain at the bottom of the canyon.
Aspen leaves.
Aspen leaves.
There was an early autumn show of color.
There was an early autumn show of color.
We made our first stream crossing.
We made our first stream crossing.
Beaver lodge.
Beaver lodge.
Aspen trunk chewed by a beaver.
Aspen trunk chewed by a beaver.
Second stream crossing.
Second stream crossing.
Narrow bridge.
Narrow bridge.
The view from our lunch stop.
The view from our lunch stop.
Checking the map at lunch.
Checking the map at lunch.
Packers pass by us as we have lunch.
Packers pass by us as we have lunch.
There goes the ice cream.
There goes the ice cream.
The lead packer.
The lead packer.
Mules on the dusty trail.
Mules on the dusty trail.
Flowers along McGee Creek.
Flowers along McGee Creek.
Mountain Asters along the trail.
Mountain Asters along the trail.
Flowers along the creek.
Flowers along the creek.
A Columbine and an aphid.
A Columbine and an aphid.
A Yosemite Tree Toad isn't happy with my camera's lens.
A Yosemite Tree Toad isn't happy with my camera's lens.
We are close to our camp.
We are close to our camp.
Our gear was unloaded before we arrived.
Our gear was unloaded before we arrived.
Kathy relaxes before we set up our tent.
Kathy relaxes before we set up our tent.
Kathy
Kathy
Ranger Mike Rodman paid us a visit.
Ranger Mike Rodman paid us a visit.
Ron looks for a good campsite.
Ron looks for a good campsite.
The mules packed in ice cream on dry ice.
The mules packed in ice cream on dry ice.
Ice cream with toppings were a fitting reward for our long hike.
Ice cream with toppings were a fitting reward for our long hike.
A close look at Mountain Gentian.
A close look at Mountain Gentian.
Obsidian flake left by Native Americans a long time ago.
Obsidian flake left by Native Americans a long time ago.
Sunlight shines through black glass  obsidian.
Sunlight shines through black glass obsidian.
Afternoon light from our tent.
Afternoon light from our tent.
Kathy, our kitchen and tent, which we set up on a rock pedestal, the next morning.
Kathy, our kitchen and tent, which we set up on a rock pedestal, the next morning.
My breakfast: a pork chop with dried cranberries and raisins.
My breakfast: a pork chop with dried cranberries and raisins.
The next day, some of us hike for a view above the lake.
The next day, some of us hike for a view above the lake.
Big McGee Lake.
Big McGee Lake.
Kathy at the lake, a giant rock fall beyond.
Kathy at the lake, a giant rock fall beyond.
Grasshopper in camo mode.
Grasshopper in camo mode.
Karen with a Kindle.
Karen with a Kindle.
A chipmunk surveys its kingdom.
A chipmunk surveys its kingdom.
Flowers near camp.
Flowers near camp.
Tarn near camp.
Tarn near camp.
The lake early in the morning.
The lake early in the morning.
Heading up to McGee Pass & Red Slate Mountain.
Heading up to McGee Pass & Red Slate Mountain.
Little McGee Lake.
Little McGee Lake.
Stan above Little McGee Lake.
Stan above Little McGee Lake.
Red Slate Mountain comes into view.
Red Slate Mountain comes into view.
The trail over red slate rock, with John somewhere next to Waldo - uh, where IS Waldo?
The trail over red slate rock, with John somewhere next to Waldo - uh, where IS Waldo?
One of several switchbacks as we head toward the pass.
One of several switchbacks as we head toward the pass.
The view down the canyon.
The view down the canyon.
Jim.
Jim.
Stan.
Stan.
Dave.
Dave.
Stella and the group.
Stella and the group.
Iceberg in a high lake.
Iceberg in a high lake.
Karen relaxes on the trail.
Karen relaxes on the trail.
Closing in on the pass and the mountain.
Closing in on the pass and the mountain.
Looking down from the pass.
Looking down from the pass.
Red Slate Mountain - so close, so far.
Red Slate Mountain - so close, so far.
Shootout between Ron and John.
Shootout between Ron and John.
Looking west off the pass (with two hikers far below).
Looking west off the pass (with two hikers far below).
Ron begins the ascent of Red Slate Mountain.
Ron begins the ascent of Red Slate Mountain.
Bob and the rest of the group.
Bob and the rest of the group.
Sky Pilot
Sky Pilot
Making good time.
Making good time.
Bob looking at Mt. Baldwin.
Bob looking at Mt. Baldwin.
Bob and a twisted geography.
Bob and a twisted geography.
John with Red and White Mountain in the distance
John with Red and White Mountain in the distance
Bob and Ron below the steeper section of the climb.
Bob and Ron below the steeper section of the climb.
Looking from the steep ridge to the north east.
Looking from the steep ridge to the north east.
Pointing out landmarks.
Pointing out landmarks.
Pushing through the steep terrain.
Pushing through the steep terrain.
Looking down on a glacial cirque.
Looking down on a glacial cirque.
Ron finds the climb leveling out.
Ron finds the climb leveling out.
Approaching the summit.
Approaching the summit.
A pano looking southeast, our group in the center.
A pano looking southeast, our group in the center.
Sandy and Peter enjoy their summit photo.
Sandy and Peter enjoy their summit photo.
Jim on top of Red Slate Mountain.
Jim on top of Red Slate Mountain.
John signs the summit register.
John signs the summit register.
Yours truly. What a great climb.
Yours truly. What a great climb.
Informal summit photograph.
Informal summit photograph.
Official summit group portrait.
Official summit group portrait.
Beginning the descent, with Red and White Mountain in the background.
Beginning the descent, with Red and White Mountain in the background.
Stella, with Debbie photographing the great chasm.
Stella, with Debbie photographing the great chasm.
A snow bank holds on until the return of winter.
A snow bank holds on until the return of winter.
Another view down.
Another view down.
Strangely thin rock was clustered on the ridge.
Strangely thin rock was clustered on the ridge.
The colors of the mountain.
The colors of the mountain.
Ron looks out over the tortured landscape.
Ron looks out over the tortured landscape.
Jim is the last person on McGee Pass.
Jim is the last person on McGee Pass.
Looking back the at the mountain we'd ascended.
Looking back the at the mountain we'd ascended.
Wynette drops down the trail.
Wynette drops down the trail.
Jim and Debbie approach Little McGee Lake.
Jim and Debbie approach Little McGee Lake.
Debbie and Stella at Little McGee Lake.
Debbie and Stella at Little McGee Lake.
Debbie photographs alpine columbine.
Debbie photographs alpine columbine.
Larkspur caught our attention.
Larkspur caught our attention.
Skeletal remains.
Skeletal remains.
An old tree.
An old tree.
Indian Paintbrush.
Indian Paintbrush.
Wild onion and Painbrush.
Wild onion and Painbrush.
A patch of Monkey Flowers.
A patch of Monkey Flowers.
Pano of Big McGee Lake.
Pano of Big McGee Lake.
My tent.
My tent.
Our tent.
Our tent.
Wine with dinner.
Wine with dinner.
Quesadilla Night!
"Quesadilla Night!"
Making a quesadilla.
Making a quesadilla.
An alpine tarn near camp.
An alpine tarn near camp.
Reflection of Mt Crocker.
Reflection of Mt Crocker.
Janet's campsite.
Janet's campsite.
Alpinglow over the mountains to the east.
Alpinglow over the mountains to the east.
Sunlight washes over our tent in the morning.
Sunlight washes over our tent in the morning.
Breakfast.
Breakfast.
Deciding the day's route.
Deciding the day's route.
Kathy, Janet and I hiked up above the lake.
Kathy, Janet and I hiked up above the lake.
Pano view of Big McGee Lake.
Pano view of Big McGee Lake.
Cascades above Kathy and Janet.
Cascades above Kathy and Janet.
An unnamed peak above Big McGee Lake.
An unnamed peak above Big McGee Lake.
Shadow of Ranger Buttons on granite.
Shadow of Ranger Buttons on granite.
Plants and a tarn above Big McGee Lake.
Plants and a tarn above Big McGee Lake.
Mountain Asters near camp.
Mountain Asters near camp.
Looking back up the trail.
Looking back up the trail.
An ant joins our picnic above the lake.
An ant joins our picnic above the lake.
In late afternoon I went for a walk.
In late afternoon I went for a walk.
Ascending the rock fall south of camp, I enjoyed a great view north (pano shot).
Ascending the rock fall south of camp, I enjoyed a great view north (pano shot).
Closer view of Red Slate Mountain.
Closer view of Red Slate Mountain.
I reached Crocker Lake.
I reached Crocker Lake.
Algae in the stream near our campsite.
Algae in the stream near our campsite.
Our tent clings limpet-like to its rock platform.
Our tent clings limpet-like to its rock platform.
Preparing dinner: Indian cuisine from Trader Joe's.
Preparing dinner: Indian cuisine from Trader Joe's.
We enjoyed wonderful pot-luck dinners.
We enjoyed wonderful pot-luck dinners.
Bob enjoyed a quesadilla the night after Quesadilla Night (there was a lot of food).
Bob enjoyed a quesadilla the night after Quesadilla Night (there was a lot of food).
Stan flips his own quesadilla, with Stella and Bob beyond him.
Stan flips his own quesadilla, with Stella and Bob beyond him.
The pot luck dinner table.
The "pot luck" dinner table.
Janet
Janet
Stan
Stan
Ron
Ron
Jim
Jim
John
John
My Sierra Club Mule Pack patch.
My Sierra Club Mule Pack patch.
Early morning light over an alpine tarn.
Early morning light over an alpine tarn.
Jim and Wynette
Jim and Wynette
Wynette, Jim and John, our leaders.
Wynette, Jim and John, our leaders.
Stella makes a photograph looking back toward our campsite.
Stella makes a photograph looking back toward our campsite.
Surveying the way back.
Surveying the way back.
The mules pass us going toward our camp to pick up our gear.
The mules pass us going toward our camp to pick up our gear.
Wynette, Karen and the pack train.
Wynette, Karen and the pack train.
The receding mule pack.
The receding mule pack.
Another columbine.
Another columbine.
A tired dog.
A tired dog.
Cascade
Cascade
Janet in a grove of aspens that changed color in our absence.
Janet in a grove of aspens that changed color in our absence.
John and the mountains.
John and the mountains.
John heads down the trail.
John heads down the trail.
Descending through desert-like terrain.
Descending through desert-like terrain.
End of the trail.
End of the trail.
We say goodbye to the packers.
We say goodbye to the packers.