Matterhorn Peak ~ Sierra Nevada (July 1983)

On our recent mule packing trip in the northern regions of Yosemite National Park, we crossed Burro Pass. This pass sits on the ridge between Fingers Peak to the west and Matterhorn Peak (12,279 feet / 3,743 m) to the east. Heavy smoke denied us a view of Matterhorn but being near it brought back memories of when Tom Pass, Sam Pierce, and I climbed it via its East Couloir route in the summer of 1983. The three of us had met in the mountaineering program run by the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter. Looking back, we were young and strong and fearless (but not stupidly so) and anxious to climb some of the storied peaks in California’s High Sierra.

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Mules & Smoke: First Day (High Sierra) 06-Sep-2020

The day had finally arrived to start the one “big” trip that we’d managed to salvage from the (seemingly on-going) wreckage of 2020. Having been on several rafting trips, we wanted to try something new to us: hiking supported by pack stock. A friend of ours had alerted us to the Rock Creek Pack Station which runs a variety of mule-supported hiking trips along the Eastern Sierra. After some back and forth, we settled on a six-day introductory trip from Virginia Lake to Twin Lakes through the Hoover Wilderness, the northern part of Yosemite National Park, and the Yosemite Wilderness. For a variety of reasons, this trip would bring out the best and the worst of what it means to go deep into a wilderness area. It would not be, by any means, a simple walk in the park.

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Green Lake (Hoover Wilderness) 05-Sep-2020

Despite the ravages of the Big V, we managed to save one trip from cancellation – a six day mule packing trip (you hike; mules carry your stuff) on the northern edge of Yosemite National Park and in the Hoover Wilderness. This trip started from near Bridgeport, California, so we went down there a day early to do an acclimatization hike. The obvious choice for that was Green Lake – short, not too steep, close to Bridgeport, and with a colorful lake at the end. The old (2008) guidebook I had indicated that the trail might be hard to find in spots but it wasn’t. Not at all. It was more like an obvious freeway straight to Green Lake, as it has now become part of a popular hike/backpack between Green and Virginia Lakes.

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Leavitt Meadow (Hoover Wilderness) 30-Sep-2018

Leavitt Meadow West Walker River Hoover Wilderness California

After a night in Bridgeport, California, we continued north in search of more Fall color.  The guidebook suggested Leavitt Meadow, just north of Bridgeport, as a likely color spot, so we went there. This is another popular hiking and fishing location, so there were several vehicles already in the lot when we pulled-in. After a little orienteering, we found the West Walker Trail Trailhead at the north end of the now closed-for-the-season Leavitt Meadows Campground, along with a spiffy new bridge over the West Walker River. Judging from the dents in its superstructure and the scour around its abutments, the old bridge (decommissioned but still standing) had been set just a little too close to the river’s surface. 

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