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Banner Peak (2009)
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Darwin Canyon (2006)
Upper Twin Lake (2006)
Redwood Canyon/Big Springs (2006)
Upper Twin Lake (2005)
Mt Whitney (2005)
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness (2005)
Cliff Lake/Dinkey Wilderness (2005)
Kaiser Wilderness (2004)
Blaney Meadows (2004)
High Sierra Trail (Mt. Whitney) (2003)
Mt Whitney Day Hike (2002)
Hell for Sure Pass(2000)
Marie Lake/Selden Pass (1999)
Sandbeach Lake (1994)
Big Spring (1994)
Graveyard Lakes
Hidden Lake and Kaiser Peak
Darwin Canyon via Lamarck Col
Redwood Canyon/Big Spring
Twin Lakes
Dinkey Lakes
Cliff Lake
Kaiser Peak
Blaney Meadows
High Sierra Trail
Mt Whitney Trail
Hell for Sure Pass
Sandbeach Lake
Selden Pass

Cliff Lake/Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Backpack Trip

Trail Description

Trip Pictures

Trip Summary (6/28/2005-7/2/2005): This trip started off pretty rough, but I think turned out pretty good. We chose to hike out of Courtright Reservoir instead of what is probably the main trailhead for a couple reasons. The main reason was because when we were up there a few days earlier, we were stopped along the road by a fallen tree about 2 miles from the trailhead. The other reason was we found out it would actually be shorter to hike from Courtright to Cliff Lake instead of the "main" trailhead. So we went up to Courtright on Tuesday morning and got started hiking at a reasonable time. From looking at the maps, it was supposed to be a fairly straight shot from the trailhead to the lake and not be too steep. So if we lost the trail, we figured we could head straight there, man were we wrong. Almost immediately we lost the trail so we just headed in the direction toward Cliff Lake. We probably were goingNelson Lake the right direction most of the time, but we were also trying to follow the contours so we wouldn't lose too much elevation. Along the way we were looking for the trail. We found some trails, but we knew they weren't the right one. We continued going over ridge after ridge for several hours and then came to a big creek. There was supposed to be a fairly big creek coming out of Cliff Lake, so we decided to follow it upstream, even though it seemed to be coming from too far south. We finally came to a lake and were so excited to get to it. Right away I had doubts about it being Cliff Lake. It did basically have a cliff by it, but it just didn't look quite like the pictures I had seen. We were supposed to meet Richie's friend, Conor, up at Cliff Lake and we were being optimistic and started looking for him. We soon added everything up and realized this wasn't Cliff Lake and were very disappointed. We were too tired to continue, so we stopped and set up camp for the night. We figured out it was probably one of the Nelson Lakes and even though it was a really nice lake, we were too disappointed to enjoy it. I was somewhat surprised to still see snow on the lake. The next morning we packed up and headed out around 10:30. We figured we Afternoon sun on Cliff Lakeshould just go straight north towards Dogtooth Peak. It wasn't very easy because there was still a lot of snow in some spots and it was pretty steep. But we managed to go north. We eventually got above the trees and could see some views of Courtright Reservoir, LeConte Divide, and several other things in the area. Eventually we managed to get to another big creek and we knew that this one must come out of Cliff Lake. We stayed up high and didn't cross it yet and finally saw Cliff Lake (it still had some snow on it too). This time we knew that was it. We crossed the stream and headed around the lake looking for Conor. We found him without any problem and began looking for a campsite. We found one and set up camp and just stayed at the lake for the rest of the day. I took a nap and took a few pictures of the afternoon sun on the lake. Richie was crazy and went in the water that must have been slightly above freezing. The next morning we ate breakfast and headed up to the ridge toward the Three Sisters.Richie and I on top of the Three Sisters We took a little break at a nice little pond at the base of the highest peak and then headed up the steep slope. We made our way up by climbing up some rocks and crossing snow packs. Conor brought his dog, Nick, and they had to turn back because Nick was getting too tired. I was getting pretty exhausted as well. We eventually got to the top and had a great view all around us. We could see a lot of things in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness such as Black Peak, Rock Meadow, Red Mountain, and several of the lakes. We also saw Kaiser Ridge and Mt Ritter and Banner Peak as well as Courtright and the LeConte Divide and so many other things. We stayed at the top for awhile admiring the view, taking pictures and resting and then headed down. We decided not to go to the other two peaks. We met back up with Conor at the pond at the base of the peak and decided to Island Lake still mostly covered with snowcheck out Island Lake. So we headed that direction, falling through the snow along the way. We came to the snow-covered Island Lake, stopped briefly and then continued on back to camp. We slowly made our way and came to Rock Lake and saw that we had to go around the long way to get past it. We hiked around it and came to the trail in a few places but lost it again. On our way around we heard a thundering noise (we heard it several times and were curious as to what it was) and then I looked over and saw an avalanche across the lake. We were on the other side of the lake so it was no danger to us. We headed on over the ridge and finally got to camp. I was pretty tired after that hike. So we stayed at Cliff Lake for the rest of the day again, doing basically what we did the day before. We had a nice campfire, a good dinner,Dogtooth Peak and went to bed. The next day we headed toward Dogtooth Peak. The hike was pretty easy and didn't take too long. When we got there, we tried climbing the peak to the south, but we couldn't find a good way up. So then we went around the peak to the north and found a fairly easy way up. We found an interesting little flat area up there with a few "spires" sticking up around it. There was also quite a bit of quartz in that location. We tried climbing up the tallest spire, but we just could not safely make it to the top. So we took some pictures from where we got to and then headed back down. We made it back to camp pretty fast again and enjoyed the rest of the day back there. I wanted to jump in the lake at least once while we were there. So we all jumped in and very quickly got it. That water had to be the coldest water I had ever swam in! After that it was just a typical day at camp. Dinner for me was BBQ beef with mashed potatoes. It sounded good and smelled good, but now I wish I didn't get. The potatoes were too plain and the BBQ beef (if there was any beef) Nick, Conor, Richie, and me leaving Cliff Lakewas too strong and not the best flavor. We had another nice fire and then went to bed. The next morning we got up and started packing our things and then left camp. When we stopped to take a picture, we saw another tent there. This was the first sign of people we had seen. We saw almost no other footprints and no other camps. This time we found the trail and easily followed it all the way down. We pasted quite a few hikers who were going up. Close to the parking lot we stopped to talk with a ranger who was doing some clean up work along the trail. She said that after they were done there, they'd head to the other trailhead and do some work there. So hopefully they removed that log then. When we came to the parking lot, I was surprised by how many cars were there. When we started off, it was just our two cars. Now there were about 20 or 30 cars there. However it was Fourth of July weekend and driving out we saw the campgrounds along the lake were packed. We drove down and had a good lunch at Shaver Pizza and then headed on home.

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