July 2004: Wandering the Sierra backcountry

We returned to the Dardanelles for a mid-summer visit. By July, the high Sierras are much warmer and dryer. The snow is mostly gone, as are nearly all of the smaller streams.


Evening light on the Dardanelles Cone, elevation 9,527 feet.

Based in the heart of the Sierras, the Dardanelles are in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Area, about half way between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park.

Another short walk with full packs to our favorite base camp. Taking a bit of downtime, waiting for the rest of our party to arrive. The camp has a boulder the size of a bus, one side of which appears to hang in space.

Rambling around the local peaks; the north ridge, headwaters of McCormick Creek.

Where there's still water, tiny blooms make a splash of yellow.

Though it's well into summer, small seeps of water appear among the granite ground.

The view of Dardanelles Cone from the west.

Hike to the top of the Dardanelle Cone

The view of the east side of the Dardanelle Cone— the start of the way up from base camp.

The middle part of the hike is a zig-zag track through brush.

We working up slope to a rocky slot on the east side of the Cone.

Approaching the slot requires pushing up though the stiff and dense buck brush on small deer tracks.

Past the buck brush, the slot starts with a pile of loose rock. Careful footing is critical.

Bouldering up the slot, you have to watch of falling rocks loosed by your fellow climbers.

Unlike most peaks, top of the Cone is surprisingly large and flat.

Taking our lunch break in the Cone's Pigmy forest.

Carefully working our way back down the wall.

A summer riot of wildflowers

July 2004 was a fabulous month and year for wildflowers in the high Sierras. It's a miracle that such beauty survives in the hard, rocky, and dry ground.

Wooly Sunflowers

Cushion Buckwheat

Mariposa Lilies

Balloonpod Milkvetch

Mules Ears

Mystery flowers on the Dardanelles Cone

Tiny blooms

Flowers hanging under rock outcroppings

Life conquering stone

Pocket meadows

Brush skeletons

Mountain Pride - Penstemon

Penstemon blooms

Blue-Pod Lupine

Pretty Face Lily

Pussy Paws

Tiger Lily

Waxy Sidalcea

Perfect blooms

A fabulous three-day weekend

Our wanderings around the Dardanelle Cone, recorded on a Garmin handheld GPS.

On the drive back down from the trailhead, we shop for a quick look at one of the falls on McCormick Creek.