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Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

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Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:33 pm

I spent over 30 days in the Sierra this summer and today was the only one I got rained (actually, hailed) on. I should have been happy to get back to my car, but instead a bittersweet sadness ran through me, because I knew this would be my last day in the Sierra this year.

Here, I've compiled a report from 3 trips I took this month, all out of the Horseshoe Meadows area. The first went over New Army Pass, over what I refer to as "You and Whose Army Pass" (the saddle between Soldier Lake and Miter Basin), through Miter, over Crabtree Pass:

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...and then down to the upper most lake in the Crabtree Basin:

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Here's another view:

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I then dayhiked (or late afternoon-hiked) down to the main Crabtree Lake. The sloping meadows and granite creek run down the canyon were lovely.

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Here's the main Crabtree Lake:

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My second trip was PCT to Rock Creek, back to PCT, over Guyot Pass and up Crabtree Basin from the west. I made it up to the main Crabtree Lake, so sort of completed the loop. This is evidence of the prior week's snowstorm, taken in Lower Crabtree Meadow:

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Here's the Lower Crabtree Lake, basking in a beautiful light:

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The path to the main Crabtree Lake, which was like the path to Valhalla:

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Later in the day, I hiked back up the canyon that I had come down on my previous trip. The light was much better this time. Mt. McAdie at the top:

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McAdie with burnt edges:

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This looked like cake icing to me:

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And a dramatic sky:

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The next morning I climbed Mt. Hitchcock (13,184). This is actually a pass down to Hitchcock Lakes, but even I'm not this crazy:

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From the saddle, Mt. Whitney (left) looked like part of an enormous bundt cake (not that I have cake on the brain or anything):

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And from the top of Hitchcock, two zooms of Mt. Whitney:

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Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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October backpacks, cont'd

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:52 pm

My third trip ended today. Because of DMatt's warnings of unsettled weather, I decided to stay relatively low, so went west and then south of Cottonwood Pass. What was most striking about this trip were the vast meadows to the south, which dwarf Horseshoe Meadow and reminded me of what I imagine plains in Wyoming to look like.

This is Big Whitney Meadow, but it's a shrimp compared to the next two:

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Before visiting those meadows, I toured the volcanic "Malpais" area (French for bad country or, more idiomatically, Badlands):

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It would have been more impressive in sunlight, but Saturday afternoon was mostly cloudy. The sky cleared towards sunset though, and it was quite lovely:

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The next day I went south, and what would probably have been an absolute horror during cattle season turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The sky on Sunday was beyond amazing:

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Ramshaw and Templeton Meadows were vast and vaster. They seemed to combine desert, meadow, forest and rock garden:

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The sky grew increasingly more sublime as hailstorms scattered around me. The weather gods have been on my side all summer, though, so I remained in sunlight almost the whole time:

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Another rock garden:

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My name is Ozymandias...look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair:

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Vincent Van Gogh, look upon my sky and despair:

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I can only imagine what Maverick and our other professionals could have done with these clouds:

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Mulkey Meadow, another behemoth:

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And all good things must come to an end. Here is the view from the parking lot. Summer's kiss is over, and so are my trip reports for the year.

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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby maverick » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:27 pm

Thanks Q for the great wrap up!
I to enjoy the Crabtree Lake area, and especially the Miter Basin area, which you
visited earlier on.
I see you have an affinity for clouds too.
My wife is all ways telling me that I am crazy for the way I marvel at the
colors, formations, and shapes of the clouds when we are driving some where, but
to me the sky is a giant canvas with the clouds, and winds being natures artists.
The intricate swirls, wispy horsetails, menacingly dark thunderheads, and the puffy
cotton balls, all are just amazing to me.
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby balzaccom » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:15 pm

Great post and terrific photos!

Thanks!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby windknot » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:48 pm

Nice shots, thanks so much for the report(s) on some areas I had the fortune to visit this season (Big Whitney, Ramshaw, Mulkey Meadows), and some areas that will remain on my to-do list (everything north and east of New Army Pass) for at least one more season.

Summer's kiss might be over, but I'm still leaning in and savoring that last lingering taste of fall.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby Timberline » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:13 am

Yo, Quentic! Wonderful report and great pix,too! Kern Plateau is one of my favorite Sierra regions, having spent almost a month working there one summer. The contrast of alpine and desert regimes, so close together, is remarkable. With my work partner, we had the cherished experience of living briefly at Tunnel Guard Station and twice flying out of Tunnel Meadow airstrip with Bob White, fabled pilot of the southern Sierra. We once walked, crawled and teetered all the way across Malpais Lava Flow with our full packs back to camp just so we could later say that we did it! Thanks for the memories, amigo :nod:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby quentinc » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:12 pm

Thanks everyone. Timberline, I am impressed you made all the way over the Malpais. I left the trail in order to walk along the perimeter of it, and that was torture enough! The Kern Plateau is one of those areas I've always noticed on the map and never even considered visiting. I'm really glad I did.
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby Herm » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:29 pm

quentinc;
Thanks for sharing your recent experiences. Good for you that you are able to spend such a good deal of time doing what inspires you, in such a magical place as the Sierra. Now the season of planning and anticipation begins.
I too enjoy how clouds create an everchanging scheme of light and texture. If only our cameras could really capture what our eyes see.
Herm
I am not in a hurry, so don't be hasty.
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Re: Summer's Kiss is Over: October backpacks

Postby Cloudy » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:15 pm

Beautiful photos Quentinc! Thanks for sharing. I was unable to hike this season and it's nice to see beautiful terrain kissed by snow. Sometimes I think that nature is at her most beautiful when there is a light dusting of snow on the land. The moving seasons write; and, having writ, move on...
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