From the top of Bodie Mountain we could see all the way back to the ghost town. Mihai and I struggled to identify Sierra peaks through the haze, but some were very familiar including Dunderberg Peak which I’d climbed earlier that week.
Eventually the rock became loose enough that we could plunge step, but this also meant that it was loose enough to pick up momentum. I was fortunate to happen to look back up the slope just as the rock was starting to slide on its own and shouted to Rafee to take cover. We managed to jump to the side as several soccer ball sized rocks came hurtling past.
Along the shore where we stood, the trail happened to be littered with great skipping rocks (a rarity in the Sierra!) and Rafee and I spent a couple minutes lobbing rocks out onto the ice and reveling in the alien sounds produced.
Although I didn’t recognize many peaks in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, I spied The Three Chimneys and Granite Dome in Emigrant Wilderness as well as now familiar Tower Peak, far south in Yosemite. I also spied a distant peak between Sonora and Stanislaus Peaks and was amazed to later identify it as Mt Lyell, 60 miles distant on the far side of Yosemite!
The hike lead us through quite a spectacular variety of terrain, including granite of all shapes, sizes and angles, and meadows, both lush and dry.
We arrived at the crux of the climb where I had read that the standard route ran up the gut of this gully and was called “The Staircase.” I could indeed see the large 3-5 foot ledges and agreed that this was probably the easiest way up, normally. At that moment, however, the steps were buried in 3 to 12 inches of snow.
The top of the peak appeared as if cast from a single piece of granite, with wonderfully bubbly and creative shapes.
The conglomerate was contorted into all sorts of interesting and unusual shapes and it reminded me of Kirkwood. Suddenly I was dreaming of returning back to this area when it would be buried under several feet of snow.
I dropped over the saddle and down large talus and granite slabs, jogging along a babbling mountain stream, brimming with scrub and overripe wildflowers, arriving at the Volcanic Lakes basin. A dozen lakes of various sizes sat in yawning bowls of polished granite, their outlets flowing along the sturdy canyons and dropping off out of site to the Middle Fork Kings.
We chatted a while longer, enjoying the rain and the thunder from the comfort of the porch. By 3:30, the rain started to let up and I decided I should turn around and head home. 26 miles was plenty of hiking for one day.