First Solo Ultralight Hike ~ Dinkey Lakes Wilderness ~ August 2010

For my first solo ultralight hike I went back to my usual favorite area in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. This area features a popular loop hike of the Dinkey Lakes but I have always been into backpacking in the areas that are off the trails. Since the mid 1990's a group of close friends and I have gathered in a few 'secret' spots in the area. During these trips we have taken a few hikes into the wilderness and thanks in part to Google Earth it became easier to scout new spots. One of these trips was to Virginia Lake where there are good views looking up the vast granite valleys into the high country. I always wondered what was up there. . .

This time I would park at the end of one of the dirt OHV roads and bushwack down into the granite canyon and up the south fork of Dinkey Creek up into the high country. This trip was completely off-trail and I just used a map and compass to navigate.

This is the view from where I started climbing into the canyon: From here I climbed down into the canyon and the intersection of the north and south forks of Dinkey Creek, then followed the granite canyon up toward the high country in the background. The mountains at the top of the canyon in the distance are over 9,000 feet. My goal is to get to a lake in the next valley and up to Sportsman Lake at 9,250 feet before nightfall.

This is the view from the bottom of the canyon at about 7,500 feet looking back at the top of the mountain where I started.

                          The view looking up the granite canyon on the way up toward Virginia Lake.

Virginia Lake at 8,500 feet.

Betty Lake at 8,700 feet.

The climb up the talus out of the valley to 9,000 feet.

Sportsman Lake (9,250 feet) at the base of Mt. Nelson.

Waterfront UL campsite along Sportsman Lake at the base of Mt. Nelson. The SMD Gatewood Cape shed the little bit of rain that night and the Serenity Net Tent kept the bugs away. The mosquitos were voracious this time of year. I wasn't aware back then that I was supposed to camp at least 100 feet away from the lake. . .

The next morning I climbed Mt. Nelson (10,025 feet). This is a view of the talus slope along the east side of Mt. Nelson from a few miles away.

The talus slope on the way up to the top of Mt. Nelson was nearly vertical in some places. An afternoon summer storm was brewing as I neared the top.

            And finally, some views from the top. . .

Camping later that night along the South Fork of Dinkey Creek.

Waterfall along lower Dinkey Creek on the hike out.

The view of Dinkey Dome on the climb out.

The last view of Dinkey Dome on the climb home.

That was my first attempt at solo ultralight backpacking. The three day/two night trip was a lot of fun, and I finally walked through my fear of bears at night in the wilderness alone. The solitude was peaceful and it was a wonderful break from busy city life. I learned that I was still bringing way too much stuff that I thought was 'necessary'. By lowering my pack weight to about 15 pounds on day one I was able to climb anywhere and just camp wherever I ended up at the end of the day. The journey continues.

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