The Harvard and Columbia Traverse

September 24, 2023


We trundled up the bumpy dirt road to the North Cottonwood Creek trailhead. We arrived just before 5 am, and it was still pitch black. It would remain dark for over an hour still. The days were growing shorter, and chillier. But we needed every hour of sunlight we had for today’s adventure, and I always prefer starting in the dark to finishing in the dark.

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Square Top Mountain: the road less traveled

August 12, 2023


I pulled into the mostly empty trailhead lot for Square Top Mountain around 5 am. The forecast called for rain and clouds that day but I wanted a hike to a relatively high altitude. Square Top fit the bill. Despite the iffy weather, I saw dozens of cars piling into the parking lot for Square Top’s far more glamorous neighbor: Bierstadt. But more on that later.

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Mount Watkins—stunning views above Yosemite Valley

August 5, 2023

East Yosemite

I drove up from Mammoth Lakes. I passed the massive Mono Lake in total darkness, turning off the main road and climbing towards Tioga Pass. Around 5 am I entered the park, passing through Tuolumne Meadows and towards the upper rim of Yosemite Valley. Finally, I arrived at a small dirt parking area, where my hike began.

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