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Sierra 2002 part II: Relax & Enjoy

One of my regrets after the July hike was my lack of spare time in California. Many relatives lie further south of our hiking destination, and a few aunts and uncles were not in the best of health. It pained me to head north again, but I had a spare week of vacation in my hip pocket, so I pencilled in the week of Columbus Day for a return south. I also had some hopes of visiting the Sierra in the autumn, taking in a short hike among the brilliant aspen! With that in mind I began mentally visiting east-side trailheads, trying to conjure up a 3-day trip that would be comfortable yet show me new sights. Here's the story as of now (mid-August):

Several trailheads do not work simply because three days is insufficient to reach the 'good stuff', and a few others could be done but lack the appeal of those below. As I see it now, here are the main contenders from north to south:
Mammoth Crest From the Mammoth Lakes a straightforward loop could reach Duck Pass, then follow the crest north to Mammoth Pass and out. Just a bit of x-c travel, but always views east of civilization. Interesting, but less so than..
Convict Lake A short trip, this would be on trail until Lake Constance. A day-trip could climb veaks, visit Corridor Pass or visit plenty of fine lakes. The colorful terrain here would be fun, and by not crossing any passes it makes escape easy in case of a surprise storm.
McGee Creek Another fairly short trip, this could visit Corridor Pass from the other side! It also requires no pass crossing, and has many day-hike destinations (maybe even Pioneer Basin?).
Sabrina Basin An all-trail tour of upper Bishop Creek, with plenty of pretty lakes and nice scenery. Trails split in several places here, allowing for the possibility of a loop or two.
Bishop Pass A special place that's too crowded in the summer, October might just be the right time. The 12k-foot pass blocks easy egress, but it might be worth a tiny risk if the forecast sounds right.
Big Pine Creek This area sounds quite impressive and worth a visit. One could conceivably cross Contact Pass and connect the two forks! It's been on my list for some time now.
Kearsarge Pass Certainly a straightforward entry into great country. Trouble is, a pass blocks the exit and no nearby destination exists - unless I cross another pass to Rae Lakes, of course!
Cottonwiood/New Army Certainly no place I've been before, it would allow a possible Langley climb, and quick views of Miter Basin and other new vistas. A bit longer than the others though.

At this time, the top four are Convict Lake, Bishop Pass, Big Pine and Sabrina. As with so many previous plans, this could change quickly and frequently, so watch this space! I have one nibble from a Portland hiker, as well as a SoCal regular, so perhaps this will not be a solo event.

But wait - there's more!!
Why not make plans for 2003 even though I'm still limping? With a brother moving to Dillon MT in the near future, something tells me another Wind River trip is in the works! A tour of Dillon, a pleasant drive through Yellowstone, and it's Hello Pinedale again. The next trip will hit the northern end of the Range, playing a card I've held up my sleeve for many years. More will inevitably follow.. but first, October in the Sierra!

Check this space to read about the July trip!