We started the day near Tioga Pass at the Saddlebag Lake trailhead. After breakfast at Nicely's in Lee Vining, and a stop for gas and water in Big Pine, we headed up into the White Mountains to claim a camp at Grandview. Happily, there were only a couple of people in the campground when we arrived, so we got to pick a good site.

GRANDVIEW MINE After we set up our camp, we took a short ride to visit an abandoned mine just west of camp. The countryside was classic Great Basin pinyon/juniper woodland. The air was fragrant with pine pitch and sage. Our elevation was 8500', perfect for this time of year (Aug. 7).

SINGLETRACK! Soon, we returned to camp for lunch. Afterwards, we headed north up the paved road, looking for some trails we saw in the Forest map. We got lucky and found an old trail that we followed for a little over a two miles out and back featuring a challenging traverse of slabby, splintered slate.

SIERRA VIEW We continued up the paved road to a hill that was just off the road featuring a nice view of the Sierra Nevada.

Dolomite Barrens The plan for day 2 was to further acclimate for the ride up White Mtn Peak on Day 3 or 4. We would do some strenuous riding and see how high up we could get before we started feeling the altitude.
We got frustrated looking for trails, but after driving the road a few miles, we figured it would be a helluva lot more fun to ride it, so we ditched the truck, got on our bikes and really enjoyed this unique and awesome landscape.

Silver Canyon SILVER CANYON First, we wanted to ride the Schulman Grove and see if we could find a trail we saw the day before that came down the high hill just to the south of the Grove. "NO Bikes!"
OK, then we climbed to 10000' to ride a trail that was just north of Silver Canyon on the forest map (also off limits), so we bagged that and rode our bikes down the Silver Canyon Road to find the spot where the trail intersects with the road (we couldn't find it).
It didn't take long for us to go a long way down. It seemed like coulda been in Bishop (6000' vertical) after one hour's brutal descent. The trip back would've been pretty rough, especially without water. We bailed.

Our first view of WMP. HIGH ALTITUDE RIDE Then, we drove to the Dolomite Barrens at 11000', left the truck and rode our bikes a mile or two to the locked gate, up past the Barcroft Research Facility and finally to the shoulder of Barcroft Peak at over 12000.' There, we found an observatory and a clear view of the trail to the summit of White Mtn Peak. It was too cold and windy to continue with our light gear, so we stopped there.
Several hikers were heading down and after talking to them about the route, we determined to summit the next day.

Bristlecone Pine PATRIARCH GROVE On the way back to camp, we stopped at the Patriarch Grove to get a close look at the bristlecones. The trees are amazing, some over 4000 years old! The dead snags are actually a sign that the tree is dying, a process that can take hundreds of years. Dead snags can last for thousands of years because of the abscence of mold and other things that break down trees. The only thing that breaks these trees down is wind-driven snow. The deadwood is too hard to chip off with your fingernail. Yet, the forest is still alive, there are baby bristlecones here and there.

White Mountain Peak, 14242' Today was the day to summit White Mountain Peak.

Climb from the crest plateau

SUMMIT RIDE We were up and getting ready under the stars. We left camp just before 6:30 and were at the locked gate less than an hour later. There was already quite a crowd there, many had spent the night there, some still hadn't started. The weather was terrific, not the cold wind we were experiencing the day before on Barcroft.

Moments later, we were heading up. The day was clear except for some high clouds to the east. The ride was pretty easy up to the UC's Barcroft Research Facility. Just past that, the trail steepens and switches a few times to get up an over the shoulder of Mt Barcroft, our high point the previous day.

After that, there is a descent into a big, alpine basin at over 3500m. It must be incredible here in the winter! We saw several chubby marmots enjoying the rare warm weather. After that, we climbed onto an almost perfectly flat 5+acre section right on the crest of the range at 4000m.

Cliffs dropped off to the east, and to the west, White Mountain Peak soared, a beautiful multi-colored pyramid set against the blue sky. We could see every inch of the trail and it didn't look that steep.

Before we could climb, we had to descend about 100m to the saddle between the flat mesa and the mountain. After that point, we were officially on the hill. There are about a dozen switchbacks on the east side before a long traverse across the NE face to the summit ridge. After that, a coupla more switches and the summit. And lunch.

We were giddy with the altitude, and the 360-degree view was outta sight.

The descent was rocky with some big talus on the top. Big talus is kinda shaky on a bike. I had to push to climb from the saddle to the plateau. Other than that, I was on my bike the whole way back to the car.

Approaching the summit


Keogh Hot Springs Day 4 was planned as a layover day to relax, shower, soak, loaf.

Sunrise at Grandview MORNING HIKE I'm a morning person. OK?

Indian petroglyphs

OWENS VALLEY DAY TRIP We had to go down to Big Pine for some more water (no water at Grandview), and while we were there, we'd get a soak at Keogh Hot Springs, do a little scouting for a future ride, and check out some Indian petroglyphs.

Sunset at Grandview

EVENING HIKE It was great to get back up to 8500' after enduring desert heat in the valley 4500' below.

WHITE MOUNTAIN SPIN We hated driving the road and decided to drive to just past Schulman Grove and the end of pavement at 10000' and ride to the dolomite barrens at 12000' where we had parked on Day 2 for the ride to the shoulder of Mt. Barcroft. Now, we can claim to have ridden the entire unpaved road, including the summit of White Mtn. Peak.

PATRIARCH GROVE, AGAIN On the way back, we paid another visit to the ancient ones. And the saplings, too.

LAST VIEWS One more hillclimb, one more spactacular view of the range. Way to end a nice summer vacation!