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Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:01 pm

Day 24- July 26- Lake 11,676 (Below Scimitar Pass) to Elinore Lake
Fortunately the night was warmer and today we made our way up Scimitar Pass. It was long but not technical & we finally reached the top around lunch time. It was over 13,200 FT which made it the highest cross-country I’d ever done & even Rogue as well! The view was spectacular looking toward the Palisade Crest glacier along with the Norman Clyde glacier. I finally got some service & checked my email only to see annoying news about my job for my boss Ken. Hopefully that gets resolved…since I was able to send a reply. The pass itself is a ridge crossing right below Palisade Crest. Rogue decided not to attempt it & the Class 4 face definitely looked exposed & technical. We started to make our way down the pass amid annoying large loose rocks. Many of which shifted as we walked on them. The glacier was exposing loose, awful rock and was my no means friendly to passing hikers. We finally reached the glacier & tromped on the lower edge. It was a fantastic & epic experience to be on a glacier in the Sierra! The misery of rock soon began again though after we tasted some delicious water flowing directly out of the glacier. The rock was horrible & loose & essentially a minefield. Any step could be your last. And boy could my statement have ever been more true after what we were about to discover. It was getting later & later & we could tell that getting to Finger Lake would be quite a challenge. We saw a group of 2 day hikers climbing up the massive moraine pile. As we made our way down ever so carefully & slowly we spotted a third person below without a pack on. He seemed as though he was looking for something. We come to find out that he suffered a fall several feet above & tumbled down & had quite a few cuts! He didn’t look too injured; clearly, he was very lucky since his pack likely saved him. But he had 2 gashes above his ankle that were bad (deep) & clearly needed stitches. He asked for some first aid items & soon we started chatting. His name was Eric and he’s been climbing in the Sierra for years… (around 22) starting from when he did the JMT in 93, when he turned 21! He’s done quite a few awesome traverses & told of his tales of incredible experiences on peaks running away from storms. One particular story that I remember vividly months afterwards as I write this entry was when he was on Middle Palisade free soloing a route he hadn't planned on. As he crested the ridge-top he noticed something peculiar, weld marks from the rock being struck by lightning only moments beforehand! What an experience to be scurrying off that ridge. As we chatted more we found out he’s lived in Tahoe & Mammoth & has done quite a few cross country winter ski trips. We talked some more & told him of the garbage can at the lake below Norman Clyde & he said he’s seen it as well about 10 years ago! He even contacted the guy & found out he’s alive & well & lives in Oregon. What a crazy story & coincidence to find out the full story of the cache. It is truly remarkable to meet someone who has seen that trashcan considering it may have only been seen by a handful of people in the 31 years that it's been there. And not only to meet someone who's seen it but also to have a more complete story about the whereabouts of the person who left it is just extraordinary. Eric was planning to cross Scimitar Pass en route to go over Black Divide Crossing and into Ionian Basin just as Rogue and I had done about a week or so before! Another remarkable coincidence. We all started to descend toward Elinore Lake where we made camp for the night. While hiking I found out he graduated from Berkeley in 93! Always a trip to meet Berkeley grads that are mountaineers. The reason why that's striking to me is because in the early days of Mountaineering in California many of the most prominent mountaineers had some affiliation to the University. I believe it as not only an honor that I got to go there but also somewhat fated since I hope to be a mountaineer specifically for California peaks for my years to come. He asked me if knew Ben Hatchet & I realized I did since he’s one of the instructors at LTCC, which was the community college I went to South Lake Tahoe. What’s even crazier is while at camp I showed him my film camera & he said that he inherited the 645 from his best friend who unfortunately just committed suicide. This friend was very into photography & set up his own darkroom & was very into the weather! What crazy parallels between myself since I have also set up my own darkroom and just received my degree in Atmospheric Science. Eric told us many stories amid a very late dinner & we all were very grateful for getting off the pass in 1 piece. It was a nasty pass that was excruciatingly long, tedious, quite dangerous. One that Rogue & I know we’ll never be crossing again. Elinore Lake was pretty & finally we had trees which was a sight to see after all the desolate camping we had on the entirety of the section prior. Unfortunately the water was bad (filled with copopods and water fleas) so I busted out the filter for the first time. After chatting some more we all went to sleep amid very strong winds which continued through the night.

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What a majestic view of the un named glacier below Palisade Crest and Norman Clyde Glacier along with Norman Clyde Peak.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Walking on this dirty and rock filled glacier was definitely an experience to remember. It was a nice break from all the rock before and all the horrible rock to come.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Pretty Elinore Lake along with Mt. Alice and Temple Crag in the background. Still a lot of rock to go..
@ Rogue Photonic


Day 25- July 27- Elinore Lake to 2nd Big Pine Lake
The wind was extremely annoying and I didn’t get a good sleep. That day coming to Elinore I finally got enough service to get a weather report. The outlook looked okay and then turned unfortunately bleak. Within about 4 days thunderstorms would most likely be making a comeback. More rain is on the way! Up to that day we had several days of crystal clear skies with not a cloud in the sky. This morning we faced the unfortunate truth. We weren’t going to climb Middle Palisade. We decided to head straight for Contact Pass & out to the 2nd Big Pine Lake. Eric was suffering from minor pulmonary edema which he says has happened many times before. His wound was no longer bleeding but his back was aching him. He said he should be just fine making it out to his truck at the TH. We told him who to look for on HST & since he lives in SF I’m hoping to get in contact with him after the summer. And so we said our goodbyes & made our way up to Contact Pass, which was a nasty slog toward the top with plenty of sand. Rogue had the brilliant idea to climb Temple Crag the next day since we had an extra day to spare. As looked up Temple Crag we certainly could not see any obvious route up but figured when we tried we would find it. So we descended another nasty & horrible pass… Contact Pass. The top had a nice use trail through the steepest section. Then a massive horrible moraine field we faced. This went on and on until we were almost off of it when one of the many loose & nasty boulders started sliding while I was on it. I couldn’t control the slide so I started diving head first! My hands stopped me from face planting. I fortunately suffered no injury but breaking my scab on my knee from my fall 3 weeks ago. It bleed for a while & fortunately stopped quick enough. To think… we needed to make our way back up this damn pass again! Eventually we got to right above the 2nd Lake and had to face an extremely annoying shoreline. We were quite tired because of the annoying terrain. Dinner was extra satisfying. Our camp overlooked the lake on a knoll which had a superb view of Temple Crag.

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Early morning view from Elinore Lake to Norman Clyde Peak and Palisade Crest.
@ Rogue Photonic

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The annoying slog up Contact Pass in the hot midday sun of a July day.
@ Rogue Photonic

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The lovely North side of Contact Pass... Just look at all that loose fun rock just waiting to let you have a nice tumble.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Now this was truly was a magnificent lake... North Palisade is barely visible to the right of Temple Crag with the glacier clinging to its' slope.
@ Rogue Photonic


Day 26- July 28- Touring Big Pine Lakes
We had a good sleep with constant moonlight. We explored all the lakes in the basin today. It was a very easy leisurely stroll around the basin. We had lunch at the 7th lake and enjoyed the fine views from each lake that were very varied. Soon we were back at camp not looking forward to our unfortunate predicament of having to climb Contact Pass... again.

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The awesome view from Fifth Lake. 2 Eagle Peak is front and center.
@ Rogue Photonic

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The most exceptional view for the Palisades from Summit Lake... Stretching from Temple Crag to Thunderbolt. Palisade Glacier is not fully visible but clearly it's a formidable piece of snow/ice to traverse through.
@ Rogue Photonic
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/



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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:39 pm

Day 27- July 29- Climb Temple Crag
We climbed back up Temple Crag… er Contact Pass & then Temple Crag. We were very confused about the route up the chute since we couldn’t find any. Eventually we cut into an obvious chute & made our way up to the top. None of the climbing was difficult. Most of it was fairly tame Class 3. The top offered some fine knife edge Class 3 climbing that was quite exposed but none the less straightforward. Lots of parties came up the peak via long and classic climbing routes such as Venusian Blind Arete and Sun Ribbon Arete. We made it back down & once again over nasty Contact Pass. It was a good long climb. Lots of clouds started to build that evening so weather was most definitely coming. Only 4 more days and we'd be back at Parcher's or so we thought...

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The majestic view from Temple rag featuring Norman Clyde Peak, glaciers and the Palisade Crest along with Scimitar Pass which is right up there on the crest itself.
@ Rogue Photonic


Day 28- July 30- 2nd Big Pine Lake to Baker Creek
Today we made an unexpected detour to Glacier Lodge. The thought of good food was just too much to pass up especially given all of the hard terrain and the steep hillside ahead of us. There we feasted on burgers & nacho chili cheese chips w/ more chips. After enjoying good Wi-Fi there for quite a while we started back up quite late as it was after 2. That is when the weather turned. A little rain fell at first but it soon turned into blown thunderstorm. Lightning was flashing directly overhead as the heavens let loose their mighty rain & hail. One lightning/thunder strike was so loud that Rogue jumped in front of me from the insane shock wave. The full power of the storm was directly above us. Instantly we were in a deluge where our trail was now a complete creek. Our shoes were instantly soaked & since we had no shell on we were soaked. This was one of the most intense and ferocious thunderstorms I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing outside and being in it! It lasted for no more than 7-10 minutes but afterwards continued a usual light rain for hours. We trudged further & further uphill realizing that we wouldn’t make it to Thunder & Lightning Lake that day. The hillside before Logging Flat was steep but offered pleasant views of the Palisades. Eventually we reached the top & were in Coyote Flat. We trudged some more amid light rain until we found our trail that went up the drainage. Here we entered a strange & eerie place with cow **** everywhere. We both seemed to hear sounds and saw bones in lots of places. We both knew the place was giving us the creeps but we had no choice but to finally make camp. It was without a doubt one of the weirdest and oddest places Rogue and I had ever been in in the entire Sierra. Most definitely a spot neither of us wished to ever come back to. We couldn’t make Baker Lake so we set up in a grove of trees & wanted to build a fire to at least dry out our boots but sure as hell & high water it started raining hard again as soon as we were setting up our tents. I didn’t bother to cook dinner & ate Doritos Tapatio chips along with more snacks.

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The majestic view up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek with Norman Clyde Peak and Middle Palisade looming in the background from the hillside below Logging Flat. Storms a brewing!
@ Rogue Photonic

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What an awesome view of Mother Nature letting down her full fury upon the land. Here you get a full view of the Palisades from The Thumb all the way to Mt. Agassiz. And it just kept on raining..
@ Rogue Photonic


So ends Week 4... What a section it was with so many changes to our planned itinerary. And to end it in the eeriest of places that was most unwelcoming. But alas brighter days were ahead but not without troubles of their own.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:40 pm

Yeah that was quite the experience in Baker Creek. Soaked sloshing boots. Still raining as we set up and woke up in the morning. No good camp sites to be found anywhere and strange sounds coming from the forest that I have never heard before. At least I had a family size bag of ruffles to keep me company with dinner. :D
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:29 pm

Without further ado.. Week 5. Only 2 more weeks to go after this one! Where we left off in Baker Creek...

Day 29- July 31- Baker Creek to Parchers Resort
It rained constantly throughout the night especially at 4 A.M. & around 7 A.M. And of course it was raining as we were packing up our gear in the morning. We agreed we’re bailing off to Parchers a day early since we couldn’t climb peaks (Cloudripper) in this weather or the condition of our wet boots. And so, we trudged up the final pass of the section & had lunch amid clearing skies. Rogue named it Bland Pass for it truly was very bland. It was a large plateau which had decent views to the North but overall not dramatic. We descended to Green & Brown Lakes & started to see day hikers. Finally we would be done with this hard ass **** section that just wouldn’t let up. We made it to Parchers sometime in the early afternoon & it didn’t take long until it started to rain hard... again. We concocted the plan of staying in the hiker cabin for a night to let everything dry out but alas they were all full! Oh… how I dreaded wet boots again but fortunately some sun came out later that day & dried out our tents. Never hurts when mother nature can at least provide some silver lining. At Parchers we met a guy trying to speed hike the JMT, but he was getting lung problems from all the dust on the trail so he had to quit. He was literally pulling 65-70 Miles/Day. I'm still trying to fathom that kind of speed to this day. We had dinner back at our Parchers camp.

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Bland Pass
@ Rogue Photonic

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Green Lake from above. I'm sure not many people come to look at it from this perspective since this trail is pretty remote.
@ Rogue Photonic


Day 30- August 1- Layover
August 1st.. which means 1 month in the Sierra complete! We took care of showering & what not & had a small breakfast before we feasted at Bishop Creek Lodge for lunch. We walked the entire way there and made it after lunch. We had a glorious and stuffed lunch complete wtih 2 Pizzas & chili-cheese fires & we made our ridiculous concoction of chili-cheese fries on top of the Pizza. I had a few drinks as well. Then we relaxed on the porch for quite a while until we hit up the Bar again. There got to chat with one of the bartenders. I taught her how to make some drinks and even got a free drink. Finally, dinner time rolled around & the Parchers crew started to roll in. Later in the afternoon the storms started complete with Thunder & Lightning & lots of rain. I called my parents and told them I'd call again before leaving. We ate our leftovers for dinner & then Jared was able to take us back to Parchers. There it rained at night while we were falling asleep.

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When you eat real good food once every couple weeks... You make it into something quite ridiculous.


Day 31- August 2- Layover
Since we had an extra day we had another layover day which is basically an excuse to eat more good food... and that's exactly what we did. We ate a small breakfast and even got some leftovers from Parchers like French Toast & Cinnamon Rolls. We proceed to sort through all of our food. My salami had gone bad as I suspected & so did my tortillas which was very surprising. Thus, I replaced the salami w/turkey pepperoni & some of Rogue’s greasy pepperoni (the greasy pepperoni would not be lasting for long for obvious reasons). I was able to buy tortillas at Parchers. My cheese was still okay though, which was impressive considered it hadn't been refrigerated. Wrapping it in vinegar soaked cheese cloth does the trick no doubt. We were able to hitch most of the way back to Bishop Creek Lodge. There we had chicken sandwiches with waffle fries. I felt very stuffed even though I didn’t even finish it. We sat on the porch again until we hit up the bar. The other bartender was there & we chatted with her for the night. I had a few drinks & then the Parchers crew came around again & we had our dinner. I finished my lunch, had a salad & had a few slices of Pizza that Rogue ordered. The bartender made me a drink of her choosing & she made me a peach & cranberry tropical vodka drink for free! It sure was nice enjoying a few refreshing drinks before the toils soon began the following day. I know I’ll be coming back here for sure. One of the people from Parchers gave us a ride back as we had to say goodbye to delicious South Lake Pizza, Waffle Fries & bartenders.

Day 32- August 3- Parchers to Lower Dusy Branch
Today we started what would be my final big section. We had our last good meal… Breakfast and then got a ride to the TH. There we trudged & trudged up Bishop Pass passing plenty of people. The pack was ungodly heavy & I was hurting and finally vowed no more film camera gear on long hikes. It's not worth it or practical to carry an extra 7 pounds of gear for 70 days to take 50 photos. We made it over the pass in decent time & made camp at the horse camp on the Dusy Branch. We had a grand fire there, which was our first in practically a month, since the last was at Hutchinson Meadow.

Day 33- August 4- Lower Dusy Branch to Lake 10,565
Today, we made the trudge down to Le Conte Canyon. I've been on that stretch of trail maybe 7 times now and Rogue I think has been on it like 12. Needless to say the beauty is always there but the pounding on the feet never seems to get easier. We stopped at the Ranger station only to find Dina gone. We left her a note saying we missed her and told her about the trash can that we found at Norman Clyde Lake. On we trudged through Le Conte to Grouse Meadow for lunch. But the sky had turned bleak with smoke inundating the canyon & everything around. Little did we know that this would be the start of the worst fire in the central sierra in recorded history... The Rough Fire. We had a hell of a time up Adventurer Pass & didn’t even make it to Lake 10,565 until after 6:30. Fortunately the smoke cleared out mostly & we had a very nice evening albeit dinner was late. Yep… going up that pass was one of the hardest days backpacking I’ve ever had. 13 days of food & 10 pounds of camera gear. Unfortunately the lighting was good for some B/W but I was too tired to start anything. That night we played with some night shots of the Milky Way.

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Milky Way... Ahhhh
@ Rogue Photonic
Last edited by alpinemike on Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:05 pm

Day 34- August 5- Climb Peak 11,290
The first day at 10,565 we went to climb the peak above Adventurer Pass. Naturally we found ourselves climbing unnecessary technical Class 5 terrain for quite a ways. Once we obtained the ridge though it got a bit easier. Soon we reached the summit & to our dismay the Smatko register & paper was gone. His film canister remained but the first ascent paper was gone & all that remained was an ascent made in August 2012 by Chris Libby of Mammoth Lakes. Clearly something was up & I would be talking to Libby about these matters. We got back to camp disappointed & early. We enjoyed swimming in the lake amid wonderful temperate water. Unfortunately the weather got hazy & smoky but cleared out for an amazing red/orange sunset.

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A fine peak.. The summit is actually in the middle.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Oh just you know... Your average Class 5 we do because we're too lazy to go around haha.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Magnificent view of the Palisades from the summit.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Looking towards the Black Divide.. the area we had traveled last year.
@ Rogue Photonic

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Beard was getting long...

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Witness... Fire in the sky!


Day 35- August 6- Climb Peak 11,738
Today we climbed the peak above 10,565 on the North side. Naturally, we of course took the worst ascent & descent routes on it. The East ridge was a mess of Class 4/5 that we traversed up. Unfortunately we did no other peak because the terrain was not allowing it. Another year and another failure for me to summit Shakespeare . We eventually made the summit around lunch. The final push was only Class 3. The original Smatko register was there unfortunately it was barely legible & badly water damaged. We put our register up & concluded that we were fairly certain to be 2nd Ascent. We descended the West ridge for a ways until we entered a chute. The views on top were quite nice down the Middle Fork & into Le Conte. The clouds were building though in a hazy layer & did not look to be thunderheads. Strange weather indeed. In the chute we descended to a chockstone that we couldn’t cross & thus the climbing began. We continued to edge along the face of cliffs performing numerous Class 5 moves. I descended a challenging Class 5 crack while Rogue continued up to a point of no return where he said it was the most nervous he’s been in several years. He yelled at me later saying that he didn't think he was going to make it. Eventually we came to the crux where we descended down a final outcrop of rock that had our nerves stand on end. I honestly don't really remember how we did that part.. After much toil, lots and lots of cursing & heart pounding we made it down to easy terrain to camp. We both joked & said we should take the next day off. Smoke & more clouds greeted us this evening. Right before bed though, we saw flashes of lightning to the west and toward the Black Divide.

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The nasty Class 4/5 East ridge.

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There it is... The Rouge Fire about to wreck havoc on 150+ thousand acres.

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A very different and likely only twice scene view of Lake 10,565.


Week 6 coming up.. Where we continue to explore remote areas and climb unnamed peaks.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:18 pm

Well.. Time for Week 6. My last full week with Rogue. From 10,565 we made it to Horseshoe Lakes. I now have all my photos for this week. Let's begin...

Day 36- August 7- Layover at Lake 10,565
This morning we awoke to semi cloudy skies & decided to be lazy all day & thus climbed nothing. Thunderheads built strong in the morning amid a strong West wind. It is not clear to me whether more weather is moving in or not. Very odd indeed. At least the smoke today has been kept at bay. From what we can see there is a fire somewhere Northwest of the Middle Fork up by Tehipite. Tomorrow we venture back to Island bird Lake exactly 1 year ago on the same day as last year. What an interesting unplanned coincidence.

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I love this area... And I really like sun flare.

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Evening light on one of my favorite lakes.. period.


Day 37- August 8- Lake 10,565 to Island Bird Lake
Today we trekked to Island Bird lake. My second time and Rogue's 3rd. We took a different chute up to the lake that was actually a better route. We enjoyed lunch in the valley at the bottom as we did last year. Unfortunately the smoke came in & ruined the view completely. Thus, I started referring to Island Bird as ‘just another **** hole’. Obviously this was a joke but when smoke rolled in it was no better than anywhere else with a ton of smoke. We took a lovely swim in the lake & I ventured onto the island. The water was fantastic & the experience marvelous. We were able to use our old campsite. Lots of clouds build & indicated thunderstorms but nothing came of it.

Day 38- August 9- Climb Peak 11,988
Today unlike last year we achieved success on the peak. We followed the ridge to what was the lower false summit. It was knife edge & consistently Class 3-4. We got to the summit amid decent conditions of smoke free skies and discovered a large cairn & found to our great dismay a smashed metal film can. Once again no old register! We found another film can and none other than Chris Libby from 10 years was there. He mentioned the Smatko register as being destroyed but our suspicion was great. We watched a massive smoke plume rise 10’s of thousands of feet into the air. It was an incredibly impressive sight. We left the false summit amid worsening smoke conditions. The final ridge climb was a compete knife-edge with multiple Class 4 moves. We reached the summit to find another Chris Libby register. We descended a nasty and loose chute soon thereafter. The smoke came in very hard and fast & truly made the entire way back disgusting. We enjoyed another swim when we got back. The smoke was strong, thick, made everything orange and I really don't like the color orange. I was pissed as not only was the smoke destroying the beautiful view but we also failed to see a good register.

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The epic plume from the Rough Fire.

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One of my favorite photos that Rogue has taken of me.. Shows the type of climb this peak entailed.
@ Rogue Photonic


Day 39- August 10- Island Bird Lake to Lake 10,565
Today we decided to head back to 10,565 since we already did a layover day. The day was uneventful. It was a hot & awful smoke infested climb back up here. The smoke didn’t really clear until almost 9 PM.

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How could this view ever get old.


Day 40- August 11- Climb Peak 12,185
Alas today we managed to climb the lower of the 2 highest peaks above the lake. The climb was technically easy except for 1 Class 5 face above a lake we did… which wasn’t too bad. And of course what should we find on the summit but another Chris Libby register & no Smatko. So disappointing and extremely mysterious. We looked across to the more technical & impressive peak & saw an extremely difficult ridge that looked either impossible or Class 5. So, we abandoned climbing it and thus returned to camp amid more smoke which now has inundated the area again. Fortunately not as bad as yesterday. And so ends our unnamed peak bagging for this section. Not a single good register! Such nonsense. Looks as though the weather is to remain clear for quite a while as clouds barely have built. Tonight marks the final night at 10,565 of the trip. We spent 6 night here.. More than anywhere else I’ve ever stayed.

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As Rogue says.. We just can't be bother to go around Class 5.
@ Rogue Photonic

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The awesome view into the Dumbbell Lakes basin from the top of Peak 12,185.

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Why are we on Mars...
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:27 pm

Ah yes Peak 11,738. He tells me "you should come down this way" where I remark the time for that has already come and past. I was hanging on finger tip sized holds with my feet in air trying to pull myself up. There was no going back! When I looked at the climbing I still had ahead of me and the only options that's when I made the comment I don't know if I'm going to make it.

It was certainly hit and miss there for awhile but once again we are here to tell the tale. And better yet without scars.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:31 pm

Day 41- August 12- Lake 10,565 to Marion Lake
We made it up to Observation Peak Pass by 11:15 or so & I decided to climb the peak which I did in 18 min… Not bad at all. Actually quite fast since it’s all uphill. The view was clear and smoke free and I quickly dropped down the peak & pass and had lunch where Rogue was waiting. We then made our way across the Dumbbell Lakes which was quite pretty with very easy terrain. Unfortunately though smoke was moving in and making views quite shitty and orange...again. We made it up the final slope of talus up Dumbbell Lakes Pass and I finally saw Marion Lake but it was too late, since the smoke had rolled in quite bad. By the time we got to Marion Lake it was even worse. Rogue slept out that night while the heaviest smoke we’ve had rolled in.

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The epic view of the entirety of the Palisades from the top of Observation Peak. This year.. North Pal round 2!

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Looking back at Observation Peak and Pass along with Dumbbell Lakes Basin. Such a scenic area.. but smoke infested.

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This lake really does have a striking peak above it and just such an incredible feel to it.

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Haven't had any good photos of rock in a while...

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Yep.. Lake Basin. A lovely place but I got this view of it. Ugh..


Day 42- August 13- Marion Lake to Highest Horseshoe Lake
The morning dawned clear & beautiful and I enjoyed the views from Red Pass & Red Point. Both were climbed before lunch. The fire was raging on hard & by the time we crossed White Pass the smoke was moving into drainage. We finally saw people that day around White Pass breaking our streak of 9 days of not seeing another person. 9 days... not half bad. Red Point had a beautiful view into Lake Basin & the Black Divide. After having lunch we saw 2 more people. They were doing the High Route N-S for something like the 15 time or so. Both were Cal Forestry Grads & the husband used to drag his large format up here which was pretty cool, since I do that myself on shorter trips. We made our way up Gray Pass amid even worse smoke to the point where there were no views at all. I was definitely very pissed since it was my first time through & the most scenic parts had nothing to offer me. After a couple route-finding errors we made our way to the highest Horseshoe Lake where be both slept out that night. The smoke was bad when we got there but fortunately cleared out by night. We enjoyed lots of awesome meteors/shooting stars & saw flashes of lighting coming from the Arrow Peak area. We hoped the rain would not come in the night but figured something might happen weather wise the next few days.

Marion Lake Pano.jpg
Now that's a beautiful lake.. Marion Lake fortunately without the smoke.

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The view back to Marion Lake approaching the first pass of the day.. Red Pass.

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Red Peak definitely has one of the most commanding views. All across Lake Basin to the Palisades and Arrow Peak area to the South.

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Grey Pass across the South Fork Cartridge Creek drainage between White and Grey Passes. Just lovely isn't it... With all that smoke.

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Mhmm... Gray Pass. Just had to take this one to really show how much fun this smoke was.


Alright.. One more week left where our plans definitely changed quite dramatically due to the FIRE!
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed May 25, 2016 3:39 pm

I know I'm a bit late in finishing this TR but... better late than never! Finally.. It's complete. And to think this year's should be almost 30 days longer! Anyways.. Let's finish this adventure!

Day 43- August 14- Horseshoe Lake to Kid Lakes
This morning we were woken up by the couple from the previous day as they went past our camp around 7:30 or so. We left camp by 8:40 or so & caught up to them after a while. The trail to the State Lakes was easy and the area forested but nothing too special. Fortunately the smoke never made it into Glacier Valley as we ascended. The views from the first Glacier Lake were smoked over in the distance. The first Glacier Lake we lunched at with the couple. It was a beautiful area & I highly enjoyed the Glacier Valley. There we said our goodbyes & before long we were atop Kid Pass descending into the drainage. The view from the pass to the North was unfortunately too smoked out but to the South it was fantastic albeit a little hazy. All that land I had never seen so clearly & majestically. The South Fork of the Kings, the Murro Blanco, Woods Creek, Gardner Basin, Mts. Clarence King, Cotter, & Gardner among more, stood out gorgeously. We descended to the first Kid Lake & before long were enjoying a swim in the lake. The water was heavenly & refreshing & definitely one of the best experiences of the trip. And finally fortunately for us due to the strange winds the area was mostly clear of smoke finally! Oh, how wonderful it was to go to sleep w/out smoke.

State Lakes Pano.jpg
State Lakes were definitely a nice treat along a fairly mundane stretch of trail.

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Glacier Valley was an awesome area. Wouldn't mind coming back..

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This sandy beach along Glacier Lake was pretty spectacular.. One of the best no doubt.

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A fine Sierra setting for Glacier Lake.

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The view to the South and East from atop Kid Pass. Marvelous area.


Day 44- August 15- Lower Kid Lake to Upper Kid Lake
We got up quite early & were out of camp by 8:10. The views at the lake were gorgeous & definitely what I was hoping for at the Kid Lakes. My campsite there was extremely un-level & tilted to one side so it was very annoying all night. I was certainly ready to get going. Fortunately we had very little ground to cover & within 30 minutes we arrived here at the highest Kid Lake. Oh, how glorious & gorgeous it is. With views all the way down into the Murro Blanco and to Split Mtn., along with the massive granite walls to the West with Goat & Munger & our final cross-country pass (Mungoat). Certainly the Kid Lakes were living up to their exceptional grandeur & beauty. After setting up camp I began to climb up Kid Peak excited as ever. The climbing was mostly Class 3 but toward the top I did more intense Class 4/5 than necessary because I wanted to climb and knew this would be my last time on this trip & the whole summer. I made the summer in about 50 min. The view of course was stupendous. From the Kaweah’s to Charybdis the range was mostly clear!! It was amazing to stand atop Kid Peak and see Charybdis & know that I stood atop it many weeks ago on this same trip. I soon made my way back to camp with no major hiccups & arrived by 11:30am. The smoke was staying at bay & it was hot all day. We…well Rogue took a dip in the lake and I soaked my feet. We were lazy all day reading & listening to music. Unfortunately as I write now the smoke has moved into the South Fork & shrouded the Murro Blanco. For the most part it is staying to the East but slowly some is creeping up to us. Hopefully it dissipates sooner than later. As today is the last night out here that means tomorrow we make it down to Roads End & Cedar Grove & more importantly to food!! Oh… how I can’t wait to get real food. Unfortunately looks like whatever interesting weather was around isn’t anymore as the clouds hardly built today.

Kid Lake Pano.jpg
That was definitely the kind of setting I envisioned when Rogue told me about the Kid Lakes. I mean.. could you ask for more?

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Looking back at the lower Kid Lake with Kid Pass in the background.. A pristine area.

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This camp spot was probably my favorite of the entire trip. The views down the Murro Blanco are spectacular and to think we'll be going through it just a couple months!

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Playing around with some night-shots. I'll probably practice a bit more this year.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed May 25, 2016 3:58 pm

Day 45- August 16- Upper Kid Lake to Cedar Grove to Grant Grove
Today which was the 16th of August started out as normal as any. We woke up fairly early since we had no dinner for that night and it was a long, long, long ass ways down to Roads End with almost 7,000 Feet of descent. Descending 7,000 FT in one day certainly was trying on the knees. We made our way up the easy Mungoat Pass and enjoyed the last grand view we would have of this pristine area. We met a fellow backpacker there trying to get into Palisade Basin via the SHR but apparently he was quite uncomfortable with Class 3 travel. Both Rogue and I thought that pretty odd considering the SHR has plenty of areas of very mild Class 3. Oh well.. I’m sure he made it out okay. So we descended down to Grouse Lake which was quite pretty and had a little snack there. The day was getting fairly hot and being down in Cedar Grove would be the hottest and lowest we’ve been to since the start of the trip with the exception of our drive down to Bishop one day. Anyways we made it back to the trail in no time and I was for the first time on the Copper Creek trail which was very well graded, as everyone says. We enjoyed several short breaks in the shade and then made our way toward Upper and Lower Tent Meadow which were well.. Nothing spectacular but there was water along the trail. The smoke though, inundated the valley floor like crazy and we knew it would be quite miserable down at the bottom. We made excellent time down the trail as the temperatures started to rise and the smoke continuously got worse. There were no good views across the canyon.. alas something we had grown accustomed to. We reached the bottom by around 3 or so. And that is when everything became very clear. Rogue and I joked about getting down there and everything being evacuated because we knew the fire was not far down the canyon. And sure enough that is exactly what was going on. The entire parking lot was a ghost town with barely any cars and zero people whatsoever. When we got to the Ranger Station there was a guy that was coming up in his car right at that moment and he informed us that they had just closed 180 going into the canyon! He said that the entire canyon was being evacuated including Cedar Grove and that everyone must leave. Of course.. The most immediate thing that came to mind was we had no food or car to get out of there so if we were being evacuated someone had to get us out of there. I couldn’t help but laugh with Rogue at how ridiculous the situation had become. Soon, a law enforcement ranger came by and we got a ride from him to the Cedar Grove Lodge. We found out that everything was already evacuated and the lodge was literally minutes away from being not only shut down but completely closed up. Unfreaking believable.. haha. We went inside to find out what sort of food we could get but the cash registers had already been closed up! Fortunately for us, the manager there was extremely nice and gave us some cold pulled pork with potatoes. How wonderful it was to eat some real food! But alas we were still out of luck of how to get out of there. Soon enough the manager told us he could give us a ride out to Grant Grove because that’s where he was headed. So around 4:15 or so Rogue and I piled ourselves and all of our gear into the back seat of his tiny Volvo and made our way to Grant Grove. The smoke was absolutely horrendous as we neared the fire. We soon came directly upon it on the other side of the river! The flames were roaring up the hillsides and it wouldn’t be long before it would likely jump the river and cross over onto the road. We had learned that the fire had grown monstrous in size over the past couple days swelling into the 20,000 acre range. We made our way out of the canyon, towards Grant Grove and we got there in decent time. What a time it had been so far! Our fears had been realized in that the fire evacuated us out of the National Park! And now we had no good way to get to Lodgepole since that was the next part of Rogue’s itinerary and where Mr. Watt would pick me up 3 days from then. So at Grant Grove a familiar objective laid before me. Hitchhiking from there to at least Lodgepole…something that I had done a little over a year ago. We first got some drinks and relaxed. We then started our attempt at hitchhiking, to of course no avail. As I had known from last year it would be extraordinarily difficult. We were definitely annoyed and soon enough we were approached by a very intriguing situation.

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Really beautiful morning light on what turned out to be the last night in the back-country for me.

Kid Lake Pano4.jpg
Upper Kid Lakes might have been ever more beautiful than the lower one. I'll let you decide...

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Mungoat Pass had a fine view.. even though the smoke was in full force.

Grouse Lake Pano.jpg
Grouse Lake had a very nice charm to it. A little more and we'd be grinding down a trail.

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Pretty horrendous view of Kings Canyon engulfed in smoke.


A reporter for the local Fresno ABC news station approached us and asked if she could interview Rogue and me. We both said sure, sounds like fun! And so we both got interviewed by her and actually later that day made the local Fresno News! What a comedic and absolutely unexpected ending to my summer hike in the Sierra. Just as we finished with our interview a ranger approached us and let us know we were too close to the road to hitch hike safely. So, we had to relocate to a different spot. Soon it became very clear that we would not be able to get a ride to Lodgepole that day since it was getting quite late and we had very few people even stop for us. Just as we had given up hope that day we bumped into a couple. They asked Rogue if he was Rogue Photonic from HST and of course he was and I pipped in that was Alpinemike. We came to find out that he was robow8 from our forum! He and his wife were supposed to do Rae Lakes but because of the fire they decided on something out of Lodgepole. He offered to give us a ride the following morning at 5am! Now, admittedly we were used to waking up early but not that early considering we would have to be up by around 4 or so. We decided it would have to do and we agreed we would meet them right there in front of the lodge. Rogue and I were pretty happy at this point considering we secured a ride and were one step closer to getting to Lodgepole. The funniest part was the way we got our ride was in the exact same manner as I had the previous year. Just as I was giving up a couple approached me and offered me a ride the following morning. We got some snacks to eat at the small store there and decided we weren’t paying for a campsite so we found a secluded spot in a grove of trees that we made do with.

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Fire on the mountain! Right across the highway.

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The plumes of smoke were intense.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed May 25, 2016 4:19 pm

Day 46- August 17- Grant Grove to Lodgepole
The following morning we woke up around 4 or so and got our ride to the Wusachi Lodge. We enjoyed breakfast there and started to get a little caught up with the outside world since the lodge had free Wi-Fi there. We saw that we made it to the Fresno news as the reporters interview made it onto the news! It was the first time we had any real contact with what was going on since when I got some weather coverage almost 3 weeks ago coming off of Scimitar Pass! It was hard to believe that it had been that long. That day I gave my mom a call and let her know the slight change of plans. I had difficulty getting ahold of Mr. Watt since he didn’t know who was calling at first since I had to use the lodge’s phone. Eventually though I got through to him via email and I was set getting picked up on the 19th of August which still was a few days away. Rogue and I eventually took the shuttle-bus to Lodgepole where we secured our campsite and tended to various chores such as laundry and a good shower. It was hard to believe but the trip for me was soon coming to a close. That day we feasted on various foods for dinner and enjoyed a well-deserved sleep on nice flat ground at the campground.

Here is the link for the News report. http://abc30.com/news/fire-prompts-evac ... st/940140/

Day 47- August 18- Layover
The following day we were back at the Wusachi Lodge for some more Wi-Fi. If I remember correctly Chris, Rogue’s friend came up that day and we had lunch at the Lodge. After that we had a ride in his open 4 door Jeep. We decided to check out Crystal Cave that afternoon. The cave was fascinating with many formations including both stalactites and stalagmites along with other intricate features. I especially enjoyed the fact that it was nice and cool inside there. We made our way back to the campground for dinner. Rogue prepared for the next section of his trip by unpacking and prepping all of his food and supplies which is always an important and painstaking task to make things fit. The smoke had subsided a bit that day and we all enjoyed the last night there.

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Crystal Cave Interior

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Awesome formations inside the cave.

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Just amazing..


Days 48-49- Lodgepole to Tahoe
That morning we had breakfast and I bad Rogue goodbye just as I had last year except this time we weren’t at Island Bird Lake! Then I sat and waited for my ride for a while enjoying the shade of some umbrellas by the General Store at Lodgepole. As I sat there I reminisced about the first time I had been to Lodgpole over a whole decade ago in 2003. Little did I know back then that I would be roaming the mountains as much as I do today but I certainly already felt a tug back then to call the Sierra my home. What’s even harder to believe was that my 4th grade teacher the previous school year would be the very person that would be picking me up on this day. By noon he was there with his wife ready to take me back to civilization and Tahoe. My summer trip with Rogue was over.. 48 days from the start on July 3rd. A trip of epic proportions as usual. That day I took a walk through the Grove of Giants and starred at the General Sherman Tree for the first time since that 2003 summer trip when I was just a little kid. It was still just as big.. Even though I grew a few feet. From there we went through Yosemite and I even got to check out Glacier Point for the first time. Unfortunately, the Rough Fire was ruining most of the views but with what view I could see it was very impressive. From there we ended up at Groveland for the night. The following day I was back home in South Lake Tahoe exactly 51 days from when I had left. In just a matter of days I would be back in Berkeley finishing my Atmospheric Science degree that semester. Now as I write this I can thankfully say I’m all finished with that and back in Tahoe waiting for another truly epic summer with Rogue!

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General Sherman Tree.. Magnificence.

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Glacier Point. I can only imagine how amazing the view is under a clear sky.

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This view never fails to impress.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby dougieb » Wed May 25, 2016 10:20 pm

What an incredible trip. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it up and share your photographs as well! I am even more excited to get into the mountains this year- I think my heart-rate went up while reading this. :-)
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