Adventures – tallest mountain in california


I headed south on Route 395 for my next adventure after waiting out a thunderstorm at the hot springs in the Long Valley Caldera. I exited the 395 near Big Pine and headed up Glacier Lodge Rd. to one of my favorite spots in the Sierra Nevada’s eastern reaches. The basin of the Big Pine Lakes!! I started up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek from Glacier Lodge’s trailhead. I hiked up past the Lon Chaney cabin, First Falls, and Second Falls. Through Cienega Mirth’s bright aspens to the Black Lake trail’s confluence. I hiked up the trail to Black Lake and had a break there to try my hand at trout fishing in the lake.

Just before turning up into the North fork, looking up the South fork.

Hiking amid Cienega Mirth’s Golden Aspens

From the Black Lake route, there are some great views.

The water is black.
From the Black Lake area I went up the trail to Fourth Lake, where I attempted a few more casts. Finally I went around the north side of Fourth Lake to the Summit Lake Trail’s junction, and then up to Summit Lake. At Summit Lake, I found a beautiful site to pitch up camp and then spent the rest of the afternoon fishing.

Lake number four

Lake number four

Lake at the summit

Summit Lake, where I set up camp

My goal for the next day was to reach the summit of Sky Haven (12,840′)! I started up one of the many chutes on the south slope of Summit Lake. It was steep, slick, and sandy, making for some enjoyable “two steps up, one step back” climbing. But the more breathtaking sights as I neared the summit made it all worthwhile. The views over the Big Pine Lakes basin and the entire Palisade range from the peak were breathtaking!! I had the Palisades sprawled out in front of me from Split Mountain on the south end to Mt. Agassiz on the north end.

Summit Lake’s morning glow

Climbing one of the chutes on Sky Haven’s south face

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