Watermelon on Mt. Baldwin via Laurel Lakes

June 27, 2022
Photo by Ethan Fichtner

Ahhhhh permitting in the Eastern Sierra. When I moved to Mammoth Lakes, I was stoked for walk up permits because I could finally get them easily from the Mammoth Welcome Center the day before. However, after COVID, ‘walk up’ turned into two weeks before the entry date and all online. Great for non-residents like I used to be, but a bummer as a resident because it meant using an online system that can be hyper competitive. Thus we got a permit for Laurel Lakes just out of Mammoth Lakes and then went over the Laurel Col. to the Convict Lake Basin to climb Mt. Baldwin.

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Mount Huntington and the Hopkins Pass Surprise

The 3rd Class blocky section traversing to Huntington

I had this grand idea of doing a traverse of the Pioneer Basin peaks, 8mi and 4k elevation gain of ridgeline. Followed by going over Hopkins Pass, making our way out to Duck Lake in Mammoth Lakes with peak bagging along the way. Then the plan hit reality and things were more difficult than I had hoped… (the proposed route)

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The Long Road to Iva Bell

May 16, 2022

Iva Bell Hot Springs are a backcountry hotspot for warm pools of water. The journey would bring us through thorny bushes, over many large logs, across bridged rivers and finally battling algae in these backcountry host springs. In all the trip would take us 35 miles, 6,800 ft over two long days.

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Five Days on Foot in the Grand Canyon

February 26, 2022
View of Colorado River from the Beamer Trail

Over “ski week” I drove off to the Grand Canyon for a multi-day backpacking trip on unmaintained backcountry trails. I am kinda a snob about the difficulty of backcountry travel outside the steep and stark Eastern Sierra, expecting the backpacking to be easy, on a beach and along a river after the way down. What I got was rugged trails, 3rd class, exposure and a tourist destination all to ourselves.

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Hike up to Hopkins Lake

September 27, 2021
View of Big McGee Lake from Hopkins Pass

Getting in a couple more backpacking trips before it gets too cold. This weekend Sadie, Piton and I went up McGee Creek just a couple canyons down from Mammoth Lakes. It took us seven hours to hike to 11,100 ft camp along an eight mile, 3500 ft gain trail and three and a half hours back. [Map]

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Backpacking to Thousand Islands

August 3, 2021
Minaret Lake from Peak 3113

In late July 2021 I went on a moderate backpacking trip out of Agnew Meadows (near Devils Post Pile) hitting Thousand Island, Ediza and Minaret Lakes. I went with a group of six of which I knew only one person, my good friend Brian who I’ve done a lot with (Shasta, Williamson, Lassen, Convict Lake and Mt. Morrison). Overall we spent four easy days going 31 miles and nearly 6,000 ft, including some day hikes that Brian and I did. (map)

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Alone at Desolation Lake

June 13, 2021
Looking down from Piute Pass towards Piute and Loch Leven Lakes

Getting ready for the summer backpacking season I was excited to reach higher than 11,000 ft on this trip up Piute Pass near Bishop. The plan was to pack a heavy bag to get the feel of a multi-day trip on this 16.5 mile, 3000 ft gain out-and-back trip.

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Unexpected Snowstorm at Robinson Lake

May 24, 2021
View from Barney Lake, early in the trip.

Another early season backpacking trip was met with unexpected snow conditions out of Twin Lakes near Bridgeport, CA. Our trip was planed to go 20 miles, 3600 ft round trip, ending at Snow Lake in the Hoover Wilderness however, early season backpacking never goes as expected.

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Early season backpacking to Baker Lake

May 3, 2021
Baker Lake all to ourselves

The upside of a low winter is that the backcountry is accessible in early May 2021. Looking at the snow in Mammoth Lakes, I decided to give a backpacking trip up to 10,700 ft a try and hope for limited snow on our 13.7 mi, 3,800 ft adventure. At 8:30am, Sadie, pup and I all started up the little traveled Logging Flat Trail outside of Big Pine.

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The Beveridge Lesson in Humility

April 4, 2021
The cabin we were hoping to reach at Beverage Mine [Source]

An old stone cabin, collapsed tramways and mining artifacts. These are things that get my partner Sadie and myself to say yes to a 9,000 ft and 20 mile long backpacking trip to the Beveridge Ghost Town. On a weekend with complex options of High Sierra snow (early April 2021) and Death Valley heat (90+ degrees), we thought we found our oasis in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness.

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