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Lookout Peak (11,902′), July 20th, 2013

I wasn’t originally planning on writing up a blog post on this particular trip, but since this will probably be my last Sierra trip of the season, it’s looking like my last chance to write up any others.

The original plan was to hike/climb up Little Lakes Peak and Mount Morgan with Charles and Jay.  However, my ankle was starting to get irritated once again as the summer wore on.  Although, I suppose it has done better than prior years, since I was going every weekend this summer, with no rest up until this trip.  We all met up there the night before and I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  The originally planned hike/climb sounded exciting and was something I have been wanting to do for a bit.  In addition, it had been a while since I hiked with either of those guys.  In the end, I decided to play it safe and just do a small jaunt to Ruby Lake, which is only about 4.5 miles round trip.

I started up the trail with Charles and Jay, until the junction with Ruby Lake.  I wished them good luck on their climb and started up the lovely Ruby Lake trail in the morning light.  The air was crisp and cool and the early morning sunshine seemed so clear and bright to be almost ethereal.  I enjoyed the views down to Little Lakes Valley, while listening to the birds chirp their morning tunes.  When I arrived at Ruby Lake, the views were as gorgeous there as usual.

I started checking out Lookout Peak – a small peak in the area I had already climbed over 10+ years prior.  As usual, I couldn’t help myself and just relax at the lake.  I almost immediately started scheming about a new potential route up Lookout Peak I could take.  So, I contoured up grassy benches around the North side of the peak and there looked to be various ways up to the lower northern summit on this side, ranging in difficulty from 3rd class to 5th class.  I eventually went up a nice solid rib that could either be called the NE ridge or NE face.  It had some stiff class 3 moves down low, but it wasn’t exposed.  The rest of the climbing was easy Class 3 to pleasant Class 2 boulder hopping near the top of the lower northern summit.  I then traversed over to the higher southern summit enjoying views of Ruby Lake down below.  After enjoying the views on the summit and having a snack I descended down the SW ridge of the peak, leaving me at the little meadow above Ruby Lake and below Mills Lake.

Higher Southern Summit of Lookout Peak Ahead

Ruby Lake From Lookout Peak

Descending the SW Ridge of Lookout Peak

After lookout peak, I rambled around the little basin just below Mills Lake scouting for any wildflowers, or other photographic opportunities.  The flowers were pretty lean and most were on their way out for the  season, but I found a few nice patches of Columbine.  I also had fun playing with color accent feature on the Canon G15 again.  You can see the before and after on one particular type of (but not exact same) flower below. 

Normal Photo
With Color Accent on Pistal

After aimlessly wandering around for quite some time up there, I figured I had better head down to meet Charles and Jay.  I tried to time it so that if they moved at a decent pace, we would probably arrive back at the same time, or at least with me slightly before them.  When I got back to the car, it was just me, but that wasn’t too surprising.  Mountain climbs can often take longer than expected.  So, I cracked open a Mammoth Brewery 395 Pale Ale and relaxed by the nearby stream.  More time went on and my beer bottle eventually ended up empty.  Why not have another to pass the time, I figured.  This process repeated itself until I finished all four Pale Ales I brought along and also started to get concerned because of the time.  When the clock hit 6PM, I started to think that even at the slowest pace they should be back by 7PM.  I decided that if they weren’t back by 9PM something bad must have happened for sure and I would head down to call for help.  Much to my relief Charles came off the trail around 6:45, with Jay about 10 minutes behind.  Phew!  They were fine and had a good day – the climb just turned out to be a bit more involved than anticipated.

We all headed down and had a delicious burger and fries at Jack’s Restauarant.  Sometimes the best part of a day in the Sierra is the delicious dinner afterwards, while toasting off a great day with a couple beers!  Jay and I headed back to Ridgecrest and Charles headed up North for one more climb the next day.  It was a nice day for all of us.

Mount Starr