California Mountain Adventures - Cardinal & Split

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Welcome to this edition of

California Mountain Adventures!!

In this adventure @doverland and I continued our adventures in the Eastern Sierra Nevada by heading out on another 5 day trek where we were able to summit both Cardinal mountain and Split mountain!!

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After our trip to Mt. Langley we got a permit to hike the Taboose pass trail. Then we dropped one truck off at the Red Lake trailhead where we would be hiking out. Then we headed into town and got a room for the night in Big Pine. The next morning we drove the other truck out to the Taboose pass trailhead and started the big climb up from the desert floor. The hike up was hot and steep, but the views just kept getting better and better. We stopped about a mile below the pass and found a really nice spot by Taboose creek to setup camp.

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Starting at the Taboose pass trailhead

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Ripe Rose Hips along the trail

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Views from the trail

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Crossing Taboose creek

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Climbing up the trail

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Setting up camp along Taboose creek

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Evening views from camp

The next morning we packed up camp and made our way to the top of the pass. We dropped our packs at one of the small lakes there, filled some water from the lake, and started the climb up to Cardinal mountain(13,397'). The climb was steep and the scree and talus was really loose making it fairly tiring. But it was class 2 all the way to the top and we got up to the summit without any problem. The views from the top were incredible! Especially looking north to Split mountain which we planned to be on top of in two days! After getting a bunch of pictures we had some lunch and then started our descent. The loose scree is much more tolerable going downhill. You just gotta be good at rock skiing! Once back down at the lake we picked up our gear, crossed the pass, and then headed over to the Striped mountain lakes. We found a nice spot to setup camp at the lowest of the lakes and then just relaxed the rest of the day. I even enjoyed a quick swim in the lake and some trout fishing before making dinner and heading to bed.

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The lake at the base of Cardinal mountain

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Looking north to Split mountain from the summit of Cardinal mountain

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Views southeast from the summit

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Me on the summit

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Descending back into Taboose pass

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Looking west from Taboose pass

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Striped mountain lakes

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Striped mountain lakes

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Arriving at the lowest of the Striped mountain lakes

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Walking the shores of Striped mountain lakes

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@doverland filtering water from the lake

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Trout fishing

On day 3 we left the Striped mountain lakes and then jumped on the JMT(John Muir trail) near the Bench lake ranger station and took it down into the South fork Kings river. We crossed the river with no problem and then started our long gradual climb up into Upper Basin. As we climbed up through the forest we saw lots of deer, but as we got above the trees and into the upper reaches of the basin it changed to seeing lots of marmots instead. Just before the JMT began the final climb up to Mather pass we left the trail and headed cross country. Heading east across the basin to the huge lake at the base of Mt. Prater. We had to hike halfway around the lake, but eventually we found a really nice spot to setup our camp. After camp was all setup I decided to try some fishing and... this lake was LOADED with nice sized trout! Almost every cast was a winner. So I had lots of fun catching fish after fish after fish!

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Looking back at Taboose pass from just below Striped mountain lakes

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Crossing the South fork of the Kings river

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Climbing up into Upper Basin

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Crossing Upper basin

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Hiking around the big lake looking for a good spot to camp

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Trout fishing

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Dusk in Upper basin

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The last bit of sunlight glowing on Split mountain

Day 4 was our big day where we planned to climb Split mountain (aka South Palisade) and cross Red Lake pass. We packed up our camp in Upper basin and ascended the west side of Red lake pass and onto the North slope of Split. We dropped our packs there and then made the final climb up to the 14,058' summit! Above 14k for our second time in less than a week!! And of course the views were massive in every direction! After taking lots of pictures, having some lunch, and soaking in all the views, we descended back down to the pass. We picked up our packs, crossed over the pass, and descended the steep and loose chute on the eastern side. Once down the steepest section we got onto the small glacier and cruised down the snow for a bit. Then it was back onto the talus. Lots and lots of talus. We hopped along from rock to rock and just as I finished up the last bit of talus... I hear a yell... @doverland had stepped on a "mover"(an unstable rock that moves from under your foot when you step on it) and had taken a hard fall in the talus. She whacked her head pretty good and had a nice bloody wound to show for it. Luckily she was conscious and fully functioning and besides the bloody wound she seemed to be just fine. We got the bleeding to stop and then headed down the last bit of the hill down to Red lake where we setup our final camp and then got her wound all properly treated. After that was dealt with, we made some dinner and enjoyed our final night of this trip together.

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Overlooking the big lake in Upper basin from the west side of Red Lake pass

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@doverland climbing the north slope of Split mountain with Mt. Prater standing tall behind her

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Views looking west from Split mountain

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Views looking south from Split mountain

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Looking down off the east face of Split mountain

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@doverland on the summit of Split mountain

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Descending the east side of Red Lake pass

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Working down the tail of the glacier

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Looking across the seemingly endless talus down to Red lake

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Getting down to Red lake

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On the shores of Red lake

The next morning we got up early to get to see the epic sunrise on the east face of Split. Then we had breakfast and packed up camp and headed down the Red lake trail. We went down, down, and down some more. Descending steeply all the way back to the trailhead down on the desert floor!

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The east face of Split mountain glowing in the sunrise

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Split mountain from Lower Red lake

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Descending the Red lake trail

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Descending the Red lake trail

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Descending the Red lake trail

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Working our way back down to the desert floor

And that's going to be it for this


California Mountain Adventure!

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*all photos by @derekrichardson


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