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Backpacking to Miter Basin -- Sept. 09, 2013
Sierra Nevada

Cottonwood Lakes Basin

Day 4. September 09. South Fork Rock Creek to Cottonwood Lakes Basin.

Starting early on a cold but sunny morning, we headed east and climbed over Old Army Pass (12,000 ft). As a ploy to catch my breath in the thin alpine air, I frequently stopped to photograph fall-blooming plant species along the trail. Old Army is a decommissioned trail, and traversing the high and exposed cliffs made for a thrilling descent into Cottonwood Lakes Basin (11,200 ft). After John and I posed for photos, Gray-crowned Rosy Finches joined us for the same.

We rested at the upper-most lake (Cottonwood #4) and saw more Alpine Chipmunks, then continued our descent past several other lakes until finding a site with the grandest of views for our last night on the trail (Cottonwood Lake #2, 11,000 ft). Despite heavy clouds building in the evening, we had a dry and breezy night.

rock creek camp
Before sunrise at campsite along Army Creek (view N)
rock creek camp
Before sunrise at campsite along Army Creek (view S)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view E)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view E)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view NE)
new army pass trail
Wild Buckwheat with flowers
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view NE)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Last of the trees at timberline (view N)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view NW)
new army pass trail
Wild Buckwheat with flowers
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view NW)
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Gooseberry shrub along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
new army pass trail
Hiker at main switchback on Army Pass Trail (view S)
new army pass trail
At main switchback, use-trail leads to running water (view N)
new army pass trail
Gooseberry shrub with fruits along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Flowers along Army Pass Trail
new army pass trail
Hiker on Army Pass Trail (view N)
new army pass trail
Old Army Pass - New Army Pass trail junction (view E)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass Trail (view W towards Great Western Divide)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass Trail (view E)
old army pass trail
Hiker atop Old Army Pass (view E)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass - Mt Langley trail junction (view W)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass Trail at Sequoia National Park boundary (view W)
old army pass trail
Sequoia National Park boundary sign (view W)
old army pass trail
Hiker atop Old Army Pass (view E)
american pipit
American Pipit atop Old Army Pass (view E)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass (view E into Cottonwood Lakes Basin)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass Trail (view E)
old army pass trail
Below Old Army Pass (view NW)
old army pass trail
Granite cliffs (view NE from below Old Army Pass)
old army pass trail
Two Red-tailed Hawks driving off one of two Golden Eagles
old army pass trail
Trail below Old Army Pass (view NW)
old army pass trail
Descending Old Army Pass (view SE)
old army pass trail
Narrow trail and exposure on Old Army Pass (view E)
old army pass trail
Narrow trail and exposure on Old Army Pass (view E)
old army pass trail
Hiker descending rocky Old Army Pass (view NW)
old army pass trail
Hiker descending rocky Old Army Pass (view NW)
old army pass trail
Hiker descending narrow Old Army Pass (view NW)
new army pass trail
Hiker descending rocky Old Army Pass (view NW)
new army pass trail
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
old army pass trail
Narrow trail and exposure on Old Army Pass (view NW)
old army pass trail
Cottonwood Lake #4 (close) and #5 (far; view E)
old army pass trail
Hiker descending narrow trail with scree (view NW)
old army pass trail
Flowers along Old Army Pass Trail
old army pass trail
Hiker descending narrow trail with scree (view NW)
old army pass trail
Flowers along Old Army Pass Trail
old army pass trail
Hiker descending more gentle scree trail (view NW)
old army pass trail
Hiker on trail disappears into the hillside (view S)
old army pass trail
Hiker descending more gentle scree trail (view W)
old army pass trail
Trail descends gently to Cottonwood Lake #4 (view E)
alpine chipmunk
Alpine Chipmunk (not looking, but listening carefully)
old army pass trail
Cottonwood Lakes #4 (right) and #5 (left; view E)
old army pass trail
Hiker along Cottonwood Lake #4 (view W)
old army pass trail
Old Army Pass; parts are quite dangerous when icy (view W)
old army pass trail
Three hikers descending from high on Army Pass Trail (view SW)
old army pass trail
Three hikers descending from high on Army Pass Trail (view SW)
old army pass trailCottonwood Lakes #4 (right) and #5 (left; view E) old army pass trail
Cottonwood Lakes #4 (view N)
golden-mantle ground squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel barking
yellow-bellied marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot (note lack of white spot on nose)
cottonwood lake #4
Campsite on N side of Cottonwood Lake #4
cottonwood lake #4
View from campsite on N side of Cottonwood Lake #4
cottonwood lake #4
Hiker in Cottonwood Lake #4
cottonwood lake #4
Cottonwood Lake #4 and reflection of Old Army Pass (view W)
cottonwood lake #4+5
Crossing willow thickets at Cottonwood Lake #4 outflow (view SE)
cottonwood lake #4+5
Flowers along Cottonwood Lakes Trail
cottonwood lake #4+5
Flowers along Cottonwood Lakes Trail
cottonwood lake #4+5
Descending meadows towards Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lake #4+5
Looking back towards Cottonwood Lakes #4 and #5 (view N)
cottonwood lake #3
Hiker descending towards Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lake #3
Hiker descending towards Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lakes
Climbing low ridge past Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lakes
Looking back towards Cottonwood Lake #4 (view NW)
cottonwood lakes
Looking back towards Cottonwood Lake #4 (view NW)
cottonwood lakes
Hiker along unnamed lake east of Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lakes
Unnamed lake east of Cottonwood Lake #3 (view SE)
cottonwood lakes
Unnamed lake east of Cottonwood Lake #3 (view N)
cottonwood lakes cabin
Cottonwood Lakes cabin (vew S)
cottonwood lakes
Meadow and unnamed lake (view N)
cottonwood lakes
Descending towards Cottonwood Lake #1 (view SE)
cottonwood lake #1
Trail junction in meadow (view SE; main trail goes left)
cottonwood lake #1
Trail towards Cottonwood Lakes #1 and #2 (view S)
cottonwood lake #1
Trail junction below Cottonwood Lake #1 (view NW)
cottonwood lake #1
Trail sign (view N)
cottonwood lake #1
Cottonwood Lake #1 (view NW)
cottonwood lake #1
Lightly used trail between Cottonwood Lakes #1 and #2 (view NW)
cottonwood lake #2
Cottonwood Lake #2 (view NW from campsite)
cottonwood lake #2
Cottonwood Lake #2 beyond campsite (view NW)
cottonwood lake #2
Campsite (view S)
cottonwood lake #2
Cottonwood Lake #2 (view NW from campsite)
cottonwood lake #2
Campsite in trees (view SE from Cottonwood Lake #2)
cottonwood lake #2
Cottonwood Lake #2 (view N)
cottonwood lake #2
Cottonwood Lake #1 (view NE from campsite)
cottonwood lake #2
Stately Lodgepole Pine (view E from campsite)
cottonwood lake #2
Campsite (view SE)
cottonwood lake #2
Sunset (view W from campsite)
cottonwood lake #2
LNT campsite (view NE)
cottonwood lake #2
LNT campsite (view W)
cottonwood lake #2
Silverfish species that mimics granite gravel
cottonwood lake #2
Silverfish species that mimics granite gravel

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130914

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