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TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

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TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

Postby rams » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:38 am

Last summer, while hiking Mt. Langley for the first (and only) time, I crested Old Army Pass and very shortly thereafter was impressed with what seemed to be the largest meadow I'd ever laid eyes on. The scale of it somehow impressed me more than Mt. Langley itself. It also seemed to mark the boundary where 2 zones of the Sierra met (Southern Sierra and High Sierra), with rolling hills and granite cliffs visible all at once. I had no idea what it was called and did some web searching when I got back home.

Fast forward a little less than a year to last weekend, a time by which I had long learned that this gigantic space was called Siberian Outpost and needed to get my fix of hiking after dealing with work and conferences. With only one free day, I decided on the Outpost given its southern location compared to the other destinations on my ever-growing hit list. I was too tired to drive all the way up to Horseshoe Meadow on Friday night yet somehow had the energy to stay up and stargaze from the Alabama Hills before retiring to the back of my car. The next morning, I managed to start from Horseshoe Meadow just before the sun started hitting its grass. By the time the sun was high enough, I had made it just below the climb to Cottonwood Pass.
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After a leisurely climb up to the pass and the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, I was treated to views of the relatively gentle topography of the Southern Sierra (at least compared to the High Sierra), with Kern Peak overlooking Big Whitney Meadow. I actually enjoyed these open views more than I thought I would, despite the fact that these areas don't have the same presence as their counterparts just to the north. While not necessarily majestic, it's certainly beautiful in my eyes.
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After a couple of hours on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was above my destination and abandoned the trail to check out the stark landscape. The scale of this place certainly lived up to what I imagined last summer. The desolation, limited life, and stillness over such a large area was borderline eerie.
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Despite the stark landscape, life has managed to have a small grasp in this expanse, as wildflowers managed to grow even after a dry winter (or better yet, 4 winters).
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Still, other parts of this place looked like someone cut-and-pasted a chunk of Death Valley into the Sierra to contrast with the trees in the background.
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I headed to the edge of the Outpost to catch a view where I could see the transition from one environment to another, with relatively gentle, relatively green hills to the south and open, majestic mountainscapes to the north. I sat at this viewpoint for a while and never saw or heard another person. I'm not sure I even heard birds.
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At this point I had a decision to make. Do I call it a day? Do I head back to the trail to see if I can make it to Soldier Lakes and do a loop hike over one of the Army passes? Do I explore the other half of Siberian Outpost? Since I was already here, I just went for the other half of Siberian Outpost and aimed to reach the ridgeline to see what was on the other side. So in total solitude, I headed to the west end and scrambled up to the ridgeline. The views overlooking Siberian Outpost did not disappoint. As an added bonus, there were views to the west of what I'm assuming is the Great Western Divide and one of the Rocky Basin Lakes.
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On the return trip, I stopped by the middle of the Outpost to check out the dry streams as a reminder of the last 4 winters. While it somehow added to the beauty, I don't think I'd mind another 2011, 2005, 1998, 1995, etc (the skier in me talking right now).
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After taking it in one last time, I marched on through the endless openness to reunite with the trail and head to the car. I took a quick stop at Chicken Springs Lake with its receding shoreline before hiking on autopilot to the trailhead to begin the drive back to the L.A. area. I had no trouble sleeping that night.
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Last edited by rams on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:37 am

Thanks for the great report, love the starkness of the area, and it's really cool that you found those wildflowers, cool pictures.

I don't think I'd mind another 2011, 2005, 1998, 1995, etc (the skier in me talking right now).

Hopefully next year!
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

Postby MountainMinstrel » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:19 am

Awesome report and pictures...darn it! Now I have another place to put on the list :unibrow: .
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Re: TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

Postby Mradford » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:30 am

Awesome report. Love that you did a dayhike to this remote area. I have also seen it from above a few times and wondered what it must be like down there. You definitely captured the feel of it. Love that shot you took "looking towards Joe Devile Peak.." towards Miter Basin. Thanks for posting!
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Re: TR: Siberian Outpost 6/20/15

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:52 am

December 30, 1928. From Gene Rose's book High Odyssey.


Looks like Orland Bartholomew was standing about where you were in pics #3/4.
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