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August 1st, 2010
05:09 pm
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Sierra Buttes trip pics
Deer Lake and Sierra Buttes

As I've already mentioned here, in less than a week I'm going to be taking off for Washington to hike the Wonderland Trail (and visit friends). Two weeks ago, our Wonderland crew did a shake-out run here in the Sierra Nevada. It also doubled as a birthday trip (keeping up my fine and noble tradition of hurtling myself up mountains to celebrate growing older).

Lessons learned on the trip:
  • My old PCT habit of very aggressively applying sunscreen to joints: Good. My new twist of "forgetting to apply it to the rest of my arms": Bad.
  • GODDAMNED F***ING MOSQUITOES.
  • With appropriate stretching (and turtling of downhills), my knees and shins can survive a day of aggressive climbing and descent and be ready to go for the next one. This is (hopefully) a good sign, because it was patellar tendonitis that stopped my last distance hike. However, I'll have to be more careful about my lower back.
  • The maps lie like sodium hydroxide.
  • The people who put mileage on trail signs lie like politicians. That brisk two-hour hike on a gentle downhill slope was NOT "1½ miles". Even the map had it less wrong.
  • If you're going to take photos of your trip, you really ought to share them.

Anyway - about 48 hours until we start driving north! Time to share some beautiful wilderness and get back to my trip prep.

Lower Tamarack Lake
Lower Tamarack Lake
A nice place to take a break during our ~3,500 feet of ascent.
 
Rob at Upper Tamarack Lake
Rob at Upper Tamarack Lake
Surveying the hiking ahead of us.
 
Upper Tamarack Lake from above
Upper Tamarack Lake from above
Little did I know the even more awesome vistas that lay in store. (Dramatic music!)
 
Facebranch
Facebranch
Rob and I discover one of the joys of being tall. Leslie, up ahead, simply walked underneath the tree.
 
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
I wasn't expecting the slopes to still be so vibrant in late July.
 
Lakes from above
Lakes from above
From bottom: Young American, Upper Sardine, Lower Sardine. Rob has always wanted to climb up to YA lake from the Sardines, but the approach from below is utterly merciless.
 
First view of the top
First view of the top
If you squint, you can see a building (the fire lookout tower at the top of Sierra Buttes) poking out from the rocks at the center.
 
Bax's view from the tower
Bax's view from the tower
On days without haze, the view to the west goes all the way to California's Central Valley. (The Pacific Ocean is beyond the horizon, even at our ~9,000-foot elevation.)
 
Rob at the peak ...
Rob at the peak ...
Zoomed in!
 
... and the peak in context
... and the peak in context
Zoomed out! (My digital camera has 12x optical zoom. <3)
 
Bax at the Buttes
Bax at the Buttes
View to the south. Directly above my head is Jackson Meadows Reservoir; to its right is English Mountain, one of my favorite peak ascents. A little to the left and way in the background are Mount Lola and Castle Peak. Lake Tahoe is not quite visible at the very back left.
 
Sardines from the top
Sardines from the top
Looking east from the Buttes. Upper and Lower Sardine Lake at left; the road line along the center of the pic is the main access road for Lakes Basin, and at right is State Highway 49. In the background you can see a much more deserty valley - that's the Sierraville region. We're atop the crest of the Sierra Nevada - and only one or two more ridges to the east, you're in the rain shadow that ultimately becomes the Nevada desert.
 
Marmot!
Marmot!
A lot more timid than the fearless thief I met near Mount Whitney. This one had his own marmot things to marmot do.
 
The Sierra Buttes
The Sierra Buttes
View of the region's highest peak from the Pacific Crest Trail about 5 miles north.
 
Ah, nostalgia
Ah, nostalgia
My first sighting of a Pacific Crest Trail marker on the trip. We ended up hiking about 6 miles of PCT, all told. More to add to my ever-growing tally!
 
The Buttes at sunset
The Buttes at sunset
A zoomed shot through the trees as the fading light gave the mountains a red cast.
 
Sunset silhouettes
Sunset silhouettes
 
 
Leslie on the trail
Leslie on the trail
Rob mostly hid from the camera.
 
Ridge near Deer Lake
Ridge near Deer Lake
The Pacific Crest Trail, along the ridge, was great hiking. The trail down from the ridge was okay hiking. The cross-countrying we did, traversing the slope after the trail ran out - not so much.
 
View of Deer Lake
View of Deer Lake
Even from the ridge top it looked pretty impressive. Most of the other lakes in Lakes Basin are packed with boaters and swimmers - but this one is hike-in only.
 
More flowers
More flowers
We had a late, wet spring. So, wildflowers in July. I'm not complaining.
 
Deer Lake and Sierra Buttes
Deer Lake and Sierra Buttes
Our two destinations for the trip, in one convenient reference photo.
 
Panoramic View: Deer Lake
Panoramic View: Deer Lake
Taken in three separate pictures from the west. Find the stitch lines!
Seriously, this one is worth viewing at larger size.
 
The waters of Deer Lake
The waters of Deer Lake
Damn, looked tempting. But we were on a schedule :( And already sunburned T__T
 
Raft!
Raft!
Link is apparently in the area investigating the Level 4 dungeon.
 
Alpine Meadow
Alpine Meadow
There were some flowers in this area that, according to Rob, "smelled like a bear's ass." He kept looking around nervously to see if we were going to get attacked.
 
Vista with Sierra Buttes
Vista with Sierra Buttes
As we descended into the valley where the car was parked, we were rewarded with some final, lovely views.
 

Current Location: ~/Brainstorm
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: KMFDM, "Beast"
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[User Picture]
From:dragonzuela
Date:August 2nd, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
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Looks like a great time! I love the water sparklies in the panoramic picture.

Sodium hydroxide... About a year and a half ago I was a TA for a lab class in which a sodium hydroxide solution was being used. When there were spills on the bench the students would just leave it there at the end of class and there would be dried sodium hydroxide crystals all over. I had to tell them that this was BAD because we shared the lab space with a botany class that did not require gloves like our class did.
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From:baxil
Date:August 3rd, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
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This anecdote is just begging for some truly awful pun ending with a "YEEEAAAAAAAHHH," but I can't come up with anything lame enough. :(

Edited at 2010-08-03 12:38 am (UTC)
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From:amthrax
Date:August 2nd, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
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Thank you for finally identifying the critter that I ran into while hiking to Surprise Lake in the Grand Tetons a month ago. I'd searched for reference images of every small, furry creature I could think of, but the marmot had slipped my mind. Though, it looks like you had better luck (or perhaps better planning) than my wife and I did. Despite the 75 degree weather at 6,000 feet, we had to turn back at 9,000 feet and 5 miles in because we lost the trail under five feet of snow pack. We later found out Surprise Lake was frozen over. Surprise!

Looks like a fantastic view from up there! (Found the stitch lines. Excellent job for a manual stitch, but have you considered using enblend?)
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
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I've been fortunate enough to do most of my snow hiking on larger trails like the PCT, and/or in the pure backcountry; trying to follow little-used trails without fantastic reference maps is nigh-on impossible, but if you either A) have lots of tracks to follow, B) are following geographical features (like "the trail goes down this valley"), or C) don't care about your destination, snow isn't as much of an obstacle.

Thanks for the tip re enblend - I'll have to experiment when I get back from Washington.
[User Picture]
From:gchpaco
Date:August 2nd, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
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I have had a longstanding and vocal belief that anything that eats mosquitoes is my friend; so no killing spiders, no annoying bats, certain sorts of fish, etc. I would kill every mosquito in the world if I could figure out a way to avoid losing everything that eats them.
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
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Amen.
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
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Most of the scholarly stuff I've read has concluded that mosquitoes could be extinctified without having a serious negative impact on ecological systems. For example, http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html
[User Picture]
From:necama
Date:August 2nd, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
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So....

When did Rob decide to go chrome-dome?
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
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Fairly recently; I'll let him provide the specifics. :)
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
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It's more aerodynamic. Now I can go faster.

Also, more sunlight on the top for extra brain power.
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From:quen_elf
Date:August 2nd, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Too pretty. Surely can't be real. :)
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:13 am (UTC)
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I know! The pictures are my way of reminding myself that it's really out there.
[User Picture]
From:natetg
Date:August 3rd, 2010 11:32 am (UTC)

Bad Sunscreen = More Mosquitoes

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Mosquitoes don't like sunlight. Lack of sunscreen makes you stand in the shade...
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Bad Sunscreen = More Mosquitoes

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I don't think you're familiar with these particular punk-ass mosquitoes. Let me try to paint a picture:

In the evening, we started a small campfire because it was chilly, and there was a fire pit. Most importantly, we had each lost blood to swarms of mosquitoes already, and we hoped that the fire might keep them away for a bit.

It did not.

The first sign of trouble was the faint cackling laughter we heard. There'd be the "bZZzzzz" as they buzzed our ear, and then, "aaahahahahaha!"

We huddled closer to the fire, disturbed. We hunkered down over our aching legs. We let the smoke irritate our eyes.

Still, the mosquitoes came. One of them landed on my neck and sneered to me, "All your blood is belong to us. You have no chance. Make your time."

I made a game of catching the mosquitoes in mid-air and throwing them into the fire, hoping that the scent of cooking mosquito might serve as a warning to the other mosquitoes: stay away, these hikers are serious. But, no. Our deet armor failed us; the fire failed us; all was naught before the onslaught of the dread blood-sucking army.

(Seriously though, they were hella thick: in the sunshine, in the shade, lower elevations, higher elevation, near water, near nothing, even active in the middle of the night when it should have been too chilly.)
[User Picture]
From:comingin2day
Date:August 14th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)

Re: Bad Sunscreen = More Mosquitoes

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did you try burning pine needles? that is a shame..that they were not deterred.. my son says the same..nothing really works..mosquitos..laugh, 'Deet..hmm steak sauce.'
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:August 3rd, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Awesome pictures, Bax.

Also: Leslie confirmed that the flowers smelled like ass. I cashed in a redneck-courtesy-sniff. Unfortunately, she cashed one in on me in retribution the following day when she opened up some of the campware and discovered that I'd forgotten to clean out the rice-and-veggie concoction. :-(
[User Picture]
From:krinndnz
Date:August 6th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)
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Looks like an awesome trip. Hooray for you!
[User Picture]
From:comingin2day
Date:August 14th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
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beautiful trip, love the sights and views, thank you for sharing.
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