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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Sierra Backpacking 2010 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Sierra Backpacking 2010

In September 2010 my friend Brad and I decided to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. We really didn't have much of a plan for this trip, we just wanted to stay off trail and above treeline as much as possible. I had heard of the North Lake to South Lake Loop, so I called the ranger to get a permit. No dice, every thing was sold out being Labor Day. I called the station back and they told me I could start backpacking from a place called Pine Creek, whatever. Well, turns out they put Brad and I in an absolutely beautiful part of the wilderness. The hike from Pine Creek was a definite grunt, but we soon veered off trail for 8 glorious days in the high Sierra. I don't think we could have lucked into a more perfect backcountry permit.

Our route over the 8 days took us from the Pine Creek trailhead to Royce Lakes, the summits of Merriam and Royce Peaks, Puppet Lake and Pass, Desolation Lake, Alpine Col, Darwin Canyon, Evolution Basin, Leconte Canyon, Dusy Basin, Thunderbolt Peak, and out via South Lake. If you are familiar with this area you know that is one heck of a trip; long, arduous, off trail, above treeline, with some exciting scrambles mixed in. Our weather ranged from too hot to too cold and we had on night of snow. Nighttime temperatures dropped to the low teens on our coldest night. We saw the Milky Way every night except one and we only pitched the tent once, opting to sleep under the stars 7 nights.

This was definitely a trip for the ages. The scenery was outstanding and Thunderbolt Peak was enough to scare the crap out of me. The route was a good physical challenge, with every day seeming to increase in difficulty. We got a good flavor for traveling off trail in the High Sierra and Alpine Col kicked our butts with 50 pound packs. I can't wait to go back! Maybe next year!
Pine Lake - 9,942'
Pine Lake - 9,942'
Upper Pine Lake
Upper Pine Lake
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 2 - 11,725'
Royce Lake No. 3 - Feather Peak
Royce Lake No. 3 - Feather Peak
Traversing Around Royce Lake No. 3
Traversing Around Royce Lake No. 3
Merriam Peak Ascent
Merriam Peak Ascent
Merriam Peak Ascent
Merriam Peak Ascent
Merriam Peak Summit - 13,103'
Merriam Peak Summit - 13,103'
Steve on the Summit of Merriam Peak
Steve on the Summit of Merriam Peak
Merriam Peak Summit - 13,103'
Merriam Peak Summit - 13,103'
Unnamed Lake - 11,800' - East of Royce Merriam Saddle
Unnamed Lake - 11,800' - East of Royce Merriam Saddle
Steve on Royce Peak
Steve on Royce Peak
Royce Peak - 13,253'
Royce Peak - 13,253'
Royce Peak - 13,253'
Royce Peak - 13,253'
Merriam Peak from Royce Lake No. 3
Merriam Peak from Royce Lake No. 3
Rest Break at Royce Lake
Rest Break at Royce Lake
Royce Peak from Royce Lake No. 4
Royce Peak from Royce Lake No. 4
Merriam Peak from Royce Lake No. 4
Merriam Peak from Royce Lake No. 4
On the Move - Royce Lake No. 4
On the Move - Royce Lake No. 4
Royce Lake No. 4
Royce Lake No. 4
Descending to Royce Lake No. 5
Descending to Royce Lake No. 5
French Canyon
French Canyon
French Canyon - Crossing the Trail
French Canyon - Crossing the Trail
Steve at Puppet Lake
Steve at Puppet Lake
Ascending Puppet Pass
Ascending Puppet Pass
Puppet Pass - Puppet Lake
Puppet Pass - Puppet Lake
Brad Ascending Puppet Pass
Brad Ascending Puppet Pass
Approaching Desolation Lake
Approaching Desolation Lake
Desolation Lake - 11,375' & Mt. Humphreys
Desolation Lake - 11,375' & Mt. Humphreys
Desolation Lake - 11,375' & Mt. Humphreys
Desolation Lake - 11,375' & Mt. Humphreys
Bivy Site at Desolation Lake
Bivy Site at Desolation Lake
Sunset - Desolation Lake
Sunset - Desolation Lake
Sunset - Desolation Lake
Sunset - Desolation Lake
Sunrise on Glacier Divide
Sunrise on Glacier Divide
Descending from Desolation Lake
Descending from Desolation Lake
Brad & Glacier Divide
Brad & Glacier Divide
Piute Trail
Piute Trail
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531' & Goethe Cirque
Goethe Lake - 11,531'
Goethe Lake - 11,531'
Mount Humphreys from Goethe Lake
Mount Humphreys from Goethe Lake
Ascending to Alpine Col
Ascending to Alpine Col
Alpine Col - 12,320' - Looking North
Alpine Col - 12,320' - Looking North
Alpine Col - 12,320' - Looking South
Alpine Col - 12,320' - Looking South
Alpine Col - 12,320'
Alpine Col - 12,320'
Lake 11,910' - Looking South
Lake 11,910' - Looking South
Lake 11,546'
Lake 11,546'
Lake 11,540'
Lake 11,540'
Lake 11,540 - Mt. Mendel
Lake 11,540 - Mt. Mendel
Darwin Bench - Our Campsite
Darwin Bench - Our Campsite
Flowers in Darwin Canyon
Flowers in Darwin Canyon
Darwin Canyon
Darwin Canyon
Ascending to Darwin Glacier
Ascending to Darwin Glacier
Ascending to Darwin Glacier
Ascending to Darwin Glacier
Mount Darwin - 13,831'
Mount Darwin - 13,831'
Back Down Darwin Canyon
Back Down Darwin Canyon
Lake 11,623' - Darwin Canyon
Lake 11,623' - Darwin Canyon
Darwin Bench
Darwin Bench
Darwin Bench
Darwin Bench
Evolution Valley from Darwin Bench
Evolution Valley from Darwin Bench
Evolution Lake - 10,852'
Evolution Lake - 10,852'
Evolution Lake - 10,852
Evolution Lake - 10,852
Evolution Lake - 10,852 - Western View
Evolution Lake - 10,852 - Western View
Evolution Valley
Evolution Valley
Mount Huxley - Evolution Valley
Mount Huxley - Evolution Valley
Sapphire Lake - 10,966'
Sapphire Lake - 10,966'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake - 11,426'
Wanda Lake Campsite
Wanda Lake Campsite
Muir Pass - 11,955' - Evolution Basin
Muir Pass - 11,955' - Evolution Basin
Helen Lake - 11,617'
Helen Lake - 11,617'
LeConte Canyon
LeConte Canyon
Litte Pete Meadow - 8,750'
Litte Pete Meadow - 8,750'
Ascending to Dusy Basin
Ascending to Dusy Basin
Steve Nearing Dusy Basin
Steve Nearing Dusy Basin
Dusy Basin
Dusy Basin
Dusy Basin Mountains
Dusy Basin Mountains
Our Campsite - Unnamed Lake
Our Campsite - Unnamed Lake
Our Campsite in Dusy Basin
Our Campsite in Dusy Basin
Dusy Basin at Sunset
Dusy Basin at Sunset
Climbing Thunderbolt Peak
Climbing Thunderbolt Peak
High Saddle Under Thunderbolt Peak
High Saddle Under Thunderbolt Peak
Views from the Top - Thunderbolt Peak 14,003'
Views from the Top - Thunderbolt Peak 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Thunderbolt Peak - 14,003'
Rappeling the Summit of Thunderbolt
Rappeling the Summit of Thunderbolt
Choss
Choss
Descending from Thunderbolt Peak
Descending from Thunderbolt Peak