Inyo National ForestLocate the trailhead.
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The downright pleasant night at Thunder and Lightning Lake turns into an even more pleasant morning as the sun crests over, from our perspective, low hills. We are slow to get up because while we have decided how we will go after the mountain again, we have not decided if. We got close to it and saw it and saw views like what it should have, maybe there is something else interesting around. But really, what else are we going to do? It is just too nice a day not to and we are so close. Once settled, it is not long before we are packed up and starting up the inlet area of the lake to reach the flat above. It looks like there are a couple tough spots, but we do not find them as we climb.
|Bernard, Linda, Menzo, and Bhagwan climbing up and out of Thunder and Lightning Lake near the inlet.|
|Bhagwan still leads us heading up to the flat above the lake.|
The climb was a lot easier than expected. The night above 11,000 feet probably helped as did the good sleep. I feel silly for thinking we might be better off making our way along the flat area around the lake (that is not a trail by any means) and using the better established trail over there to drop down and then climb back up. It would have been a very long detour. We drop the overnight items and start up Vagabond directly. There is a lot of smaller, easy to climb stuff and it is almost entirely and easy, if steep, walk up. We eventually aim at a little chute that comes off the peak and top out just 30 feet from the register we signed yesterday. It is definitely a better route up Vagabond.
|Bhagwan has dropped back a bit and now Menzo, who is supposed to be our leader, is leading. There is big stuff on the left and little stuff on the right. Bernard is getting ahead of the leader because he is keeping more to the easier right.|
|There it is again, Cloudripper.|
I can see four people at the top of Cloudripper from the top of Vagabond. We discuss where we want to climb the slope ahead, but it really does not matter much. We end up just aiming at hitting the top near the pointed rocks that make up the summit. Going down the south side of Vagabond is a bit more difficult. We start off on some very big rocks, but there always seems to be a way to a lower spot and they drop in size as we drop elevation. People usually top out where we did yesterday and it looks like easier travel from there on this side. We meet a group coming down the peak, then the people we had seen on the peak just after them. They have come up from Seven Lakes and do not have to go over Vagabond. It is another climb with solid footing as we head up Cloudripper, not at all like Tom was.
|A small cluster of people on the top of Cloudripper.|
|Coming down Vagabond and looking out to the west where more peaks make a stand.|
|Each of the Seven Lakes (and some others) seems to be a different color. The Palisades rise up on the right.|
We top out just 200 feet from the peak, but it looks like a tough 200 feet. We stash the poles and get to scrambling. There are scary spots and the very green sides of a few rocks turn out to be very slick, but we are again shown to be expecting it to be worse than it is. In quick order, we are sitting at the top of the mountain. Time to eat my ice cream sandwich.
|Linda checks out the Chocolate while waiting for Bernard to get his scramble on.|
|The shape of Chocolate Mountain far below surrounded by lakes.|
The views at the top are not like from Vagabond just half a mile away. Cloudripper is situated in a much better position to look out over the landscape. It also feels a little more exposed at the top, although generally not bad at all.
|Looking north to the tooth of the nearly 14000 foot Mt. Humphreys, the apparent highest point visible. Mt. Emerson is in front of it and Basin Mtn., Mt. Tom, and Round Valley Peak are behind.|
|The Palisades to the south. There is a 14er or two over there.|
|The Seven Lakes again. The color difference in each is still stunning.|
|Chocolate Mtn. again with its ring of lakes.|
After trying to take it all in, we head down again, retracing our route back to our stashed overnight stuff. Another group is coming up as we come down and they came over Vagabond where we hit it the day before. We do not try that easier looking (on this side) route. After gathering up our items, we retrace the path we took yesterday back to Green Lake for the night.
|The little purple flowers are blooming away.|
|Bernard, Bhagwan, Linda, and Menzo sorting out a route through the rocky flat back to Green Lake. Mts. Emerson and Humphreys watching over from afar.|
|Back to the flat that surrounds The Hunchback. We notice the evidence of someone driving up here in some places.|
We pass by The Hunchback again without climbing it. I am a little sad not to go ahead and do it, but also a bit more tired than I feel I should be after our little hike. Really, little peaks need to be done first so that you can feel good at the top. When done just after looking down on them, they just do not have the same excitement.
|The trail down to Green Lake seems a little steeper as we make our way down it.|
|A couple others are already at the lake, but not many. One is fishing as we climb down.|
|These are mostly closed and make me think of little lanterns.|
We pick a site and settle in. The mosquitoes we did not notice on the way in turn out to just need a few minutes to find us. As sunset approaches, the wind kicks up and as the sun drops, the gathering clouds finally start with a sparse rain of thick drops although above us is clear. The rain is coming from Vagabond although the wind is coming from the other direction. Perhaps it heard us teasing about climbing the same mountain three times in two day, but we were teasing ourselves and not it. The rain stops again as it gets properly dark and the wind drops not long after.
|My view for dinner as the sun starts to drop with the peaks of Mts. Emerson and Humphreys.|
|The last of the light plays across the high peaks after sunset.|
Continue reading: day 3
©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 8 July 2014