Best of 2012 California hikes

("Somewhere" is not a place)
All hikes of 2012 | Hiking in California | Best of previous years
...with a few exceptions, these hikes were not on a trail...
(listed in chronological order, which roughly means from the easiest to the toughest)

Big Sur

State Beach:

Garrapata Park:

Garrapata Park:

Double Cone, Ventana Wilderness

This was one long day hike from Los Padres Dam just after a night of snow (late spring)

Yosemite Valley

Hard to have good pictures of Yosemite this year because it was so dry already in the spring. This is from the top of the Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Valley

This rock formation is on the "trail" between the Upper Falls and North Dome

Mt Dana, Yosemite High Country

A lake at the bottom of Mt Dana, second highest mountain in Yosemite

Mt Warren, East of Yosemite

Mono Lake from the top of Mt Warren

Mt Tom, Eastern Sierra

Owens Valley from Mt Tom (one of the few 4000-meter mountains that you can hike in early summer)

Tuttle Creek basin, Eastern Sierra

The Black Falls, rarely seen, between Mt Leconte and Mt Langley

Mt Kaweah, Eastern Sierra

Famously distant from any trailhead, it took us forever (12 hours) to get to the top that you see far away from this lake (halfway into the hike)

Mt Barnard, Eastern Sierra

Mt Barnard is difficult to reach because there is no trail (you just follow the George Creek up to its birthplace) and the area has been closed for several decades in the summer (bighorn migration) so there aren't even "use-trails". Because of its location, it has some of the grandest views of the High Sierra.

Mt Whitney and Mt Russell:

Mt Tyndall, Keith, Trojan and Williamson:

The Great Western Divide in the distance:

Descending Mt Barnard's west side, i got lost a little bit and stumbled into a plateau surrounded by what look like human-made walls with a trail running along them (prehistorical ruins or geological illusion?):

Junction Peak, Eastern Sierra

Another mountain that is far from every trailhead and requires a long approach but strategically located for grand views. At least this one is near a very popular and well-maintained trail (the John Muir Trail).

View southwest:

North (Center Basin):

South (Williamson to the left and Tyndall to the right):

Mt Leconte, Eastern Sierra

The trailhead is just before the overcrowded Mt Whitney trailhead.

Lone Pine Peak reflected in a lake:

The waterfall you have to climb to get to the base of the LeConte plateau:

Lonely boulder above the waterfall:

Mt Whitney is so close:

Mt Darwin, Evolution Region

A round-trip hike to Mt Darwin from the lakes above Bishop requires a full day and night (24 hours). The North Lake route enters Darwin Canyon, one of the most spectacular places in California, and then it joins the John Muir Trail at Evolution Lake, another secluded gem.

Mt Winchell, Palisades

The Palisades are perhaps the most difficult range in California, and Winchell is the only one that can safely be climbed from the "seven-lake trail" of the Big Pine Creek (first picture) circling around the Palisades Glacier (second picture).

Gregorys Monument, Kern-Kings Divide

Gregorys Monument is the peak just south of Mt Stanford, just above Harrison Pass. The reason you never heard these names is that this is the border between the Kings River basin and the Kern River basin, as remote as it gets. Another 24-hour tour de force if you want to do it in one day.

East Lake:

Great Western Divide (Milestone Mt in the middle):

Lake South America:

The birthplace of the Kings River:

Glenn Pass, Kings Canyon

Waterfall galore along the trail and then the Rae lakes.

Mt Sill, Palisades

This time i used a combination of the eastern route (from Big Pine Creek's south fork) and the western route (via Glacier Notch and the L-Coloir).

North Palisade and Thunderbolt:

Winchell and Agassiz:

Mt Gayley, Palisades

Possibly the least popular of the Palisades, but another classic view of the Palisades Glacier (Polemonium, North Palisade and Thunderbolt).

North Palisade, Palisades

The fourth highest mountain in California, the North Palisade sits (and towers) right in the middle of the Palisades.

The last part of the climb has dramatic exposure:

Dusy Basin, one of the most famous group of lakes:

The Sierra Nevada:

Best picture of the hikers

This year the title goes to Luca, climbing an impassable wall up Mt Leconte (he had to literally pull me up):

And second best the Lundy Canyon hikers (they know why):

Best picture of wildlife

A confrontational chipmunk in Yosemite

Best picture of vegetation

Wildflowers at 4000 meters

Pictures of these hikes | Description of these hikes | Best of previous years