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Most Memorable Moments while Backpacking
hike home pg Wind River I Taboose-Whitney Pine Creek Defeat Pine Creek Revenge Mono Pass loop Wind River II x-c extravaganza Piute-Lamarck PNW hikes e-mail Jim

This is my best attempt to put these in order of merit. It doesn't say much for my memory that the top items on the list are among my most recent; on the other hand, with experience comes the ability to visit more remote and truly wild areas. The '99 trip was the best example so far of such a hike. Cross-country travel is rewarding for its solitude, its pristine scenery, and the thrill of accomplishment just to be there; on the other hand, the terrain requires more risk and you might be hard to find if trouble comes. I'm sure glad I got away with the three-day x-c hike in '99!


1999: Dumbbell Lakes
This was an incredible spot for several reasons. At the top of the list was its access: none of the three routes into this basin are easy. We entered from the south and were near exhaustion when we found a campsite, and our exit the next day over Cataract Pass was equally difficult. As a result of this, our camp was truly pristine - no clue could be found to show that anyone had visited here. In fact, no life other than a few birds were seen in the entire time we were here. The weather was threatening but never bothered us beyond a chill breeze from down the valley. It was the true essence of wilderness.

1997: Hopkins Pass
This route had everything - cross-country travel, complete isolation (alone from Big McGee Lake to the Pioneer Basin jct - over a dozen plus dogs hung out in that valley), major-league talus, a few narrow crevasses, and a 50-degree-plus ice/snow slope with a cornice on top. We turned back after a bit of reconnaisance, then found a better route with about a sixty-foot snowpack to cross before traversing under the cornice up to the pass. I would not have made that second attempt without my brother's enthusiasm and optimism, and I'm proud that we made it.

1998: Grave Lake
You read about a place, you see a photo or two, and you think you're prepared for it. It simply isn't possible to anticipate the view of Mt. Hooker towering over Grave Lake. Remember the apes and the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey? I'm slightly ahead of them (I think), but this monolith is several thousand feet taller...

1989: Forester Pass
That first view south was staggering - a vertical drop to tundra, with the Kaweahs and the Great Western Divide framing the scene. Traveling south to north would not have the same dramatic effect.

1979/98: Cirque of the Towers
I had seen the pictures, but the spectacle of being there was indescribable [but I'm trying anyway]. I shot an entire roll of 36 exposures in about fifty feet of trail. The 24mm lens was a great improvement on the 1998 trip!

1989: first view west from Taboose Pass
The deep trench of the South Fork Kings, the fringe of trees around Bench Lake, and Arrow Peak behind the lake.. what a beautiful intro to the High Sierra!

1979: Lizard Head Trail
Pictures didn't do this region justice. It's a hike on top of the world [around 11500'], looking down on beautiful glacial valleys of lakes and trees, with tall peaks reaching just barely above the trail's elevation. Amazing.

1997: Little Lakes Valley
This hike shows so much beauty only two miles from the trailhead, it's hard to keep moving up the Mono Pass trail. This image is an 11x14 on the wall and wallpaper on my computer screen.

1996: Selden Pass / Marie Lake
The view north, east and south from Marie Lake is over 180° of sheer wonder, from the peaks of Silver Pass through the high peaks of Gabb/Mills/Abbot to Seven Gables and Senger Peak. The hailstorm at sunset provided amazing color!

1997: McGee Pass east
A beautiful climb, with views back to Mt. Isaak Walton and the Silver Divide and the upper meadows of Fish Creek. The few wildflowers added a nice splash of color to the rust-colored slate of Red Slate Mt.

1996: upper French Canyon
A beautiful walk from our camp near the base of 500' Royce Creek Falls to the top of Pine Creek Pass: sound, scenery, and a last-quarter moon over the high peaks. A true parkland.

1989: Rae Lakes
It's understandable that this is a popular destination! Beautiful lakes, multicolored peaks, and just enough trees for character!

1993: Pine Creek
It's a mean hike, but the Pine Creek trail relaxes after 3½ miles and provides two pretty lakes to relax by. The waterfalls along the way almost make you forget the tungsten mine.