Some friends and I returned from a short trip into the Tuolumne backcountry of Yosemite NP. We hiked in via 20 Lakes Basin on November the 2nd, and hiked out late on the 5th. This hike took us from the dog-friendly Inyo N.F., into the dog-restricted Yosemite N.P., so Bearzy had to disappear after making the climb up to the N.P. Boundary at Sky Pilot Col. With this trip, and the crossing of Sky Pilot Col, I have completed the SHR in pieces from Mather Pass north The stony character of crossings like S.P.Col and Snow Tongue Pass make me wonder at the idea of racing along the whole thing with one pack at Paul- aka commonloon's pace- The whole thing in 4 or 5 days?!! Incredible.
Here's that S.P. Col from the south, with Shepherd's Crest on the left, and one of the Cascade Lakes in the foreground. The col is in the upper left, just right of the shadow on the skyline.
This is a view of the final indignity at the top of the col.
The description from the book:
Roper.Sky Pilot Col, at 11,650'... a stretch of ever-steepening talus leads up... to the final indignity, a short but steep scree slope that most hikers will find offensive.
It was a slog, but worth it at the top for the wonderful view off to the north, framed by rock and ice.
Here's that fine view. I think that's Matterhorn right next to sharp, reddish Virginia Peak, and Whorl Mt. is the other big granite peak in the distance, left of Matterhorn. The dark mass of high ridge and peaks to the right of V Pk. holds the "Twin Peaks" that hang over Horse Cr. Canyon. I wonder how that would go as a ridge route- first up V Pk., and then east to Twin? Gazelle?
Here is a close up of that ridge and Twin Peaks from down on the valley floor. Where are the summits exactly?
The northern decent from SP Col was far harder going than up the south side. We had to carefully pick our way through loose talus of all sizes for half a mile or more. Is it a breeze in early summer- glissading down nice snow? The snow now is rock hard, and impossible w/o crampons. Before I move on, here are some views from our first day in 20 Lakes Basin, and the morning after.
Views east from our camp above Steelhead Lake.
Bearzy's new winter coat, with North Peak in the background.
Morning view of North Pk. with its 3 icy couloirs.
Okay, back to the SHR trail north toward our goal of climbing Virginia Peak. Our real goal was just to get in to the lovely upper basin of Virginia Canyon. I think it is a really dramatic and wild area, and I've been lucky enough to see a lot of wildlife there including bear.
1 crow's mile down from the Col is Shepherd Lake. It had a thin skin of ice over the whole surface, but nothing that WD couldn't break through to perform her swimming, and clothes washing feats.
The more thickly frozen lake margins with crazy patterns.