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
A nice place to take a break during our ~3,500 feet of ascent.
|Rob at Upper Tamarack Lake
Surveying the hiking ahead of us.
|Upper Tamarack Lake from above
Little did I know the even more awesome vistas that lay in store. (Dramatic music!)
Rob and I discover one of the joys of being tall. Leslie, up ahead, simply walked underneath the tree.
I wasn't expecting the slopes to still be so vibrant in late July.
|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
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
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 ...
|... and the peak in context
Zoomed out! (My digital camera has 12x optical zoom. <3)
|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
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.
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
View of the region's highest peak from the Pacific Crest Trail about 5 miles north.
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
A zoomed shot through the trees as the fading light gave the mountains a red cast.
|Leslie on the trail
Rob mostly hid from the camera.
|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
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.
We had a late, wet spring. So, wildflowers in July. I'm not complaining.
|Deer Lake and Sierra Buttes
Our two destinations for the trip, in one convenient reference photo.
|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
Damn, looked tempting. But we were on a schedule :( And already sunburned T__T
Link is apparently in the area investigating the Level 4 dungeon.
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
As we descended into the valley where the car was parked, we were rewarded with some final, lovely views.