Kofa NWR Sunrise

Desert sunrise in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.


Access the various photo galleries from the drop-down menu on this page. Enjoy the pictures, but please note they represent original work and are not for commercial use without permission. Besides, the pictures are all "saved for web" - degraded - anyway.


Route information for a few Sierra backcountry loops is also available here. Route variation descriptions open in a separate page and refer back to the main route map. The route maps provide a general overview. For cross country navigation, detailed maps are very helpful, and are available from a variety of sources; digital map sets offer flexibility in coverage and resolution, and could prove a good investment.

Some common sense thoughts on using the information provided:

  • Route Overview MapThese routes require navigation skills. Descriptions provide GPS data, but GPS is not at all necessary (no one is dropping 1000 lb bombs danger close), and we all got along fine with a map and compass for most of our lives. A key aspect of GPS navigation is knowing when to turn it off and make the right decision. [Note: GPS data may not exactly match map or USGS data.]
  • Mountaineering skills and equipment are very useful, and may be essential on certain terrain, under certain (or all) conditions. When the description says something like "crampons may be helpful," that's sort of a hint.
  • Travel times are approximate and condition dependent. They are probably about right for an experienced backcountry traveler who works out every day, and wants to have some fun along the way.
  • Bivouacking high mitigates potential bear problems, but it's no guarantee.
  • Lightning is seriously dangerous, and also common. If possible, avoid peaks and passes during electrical activity.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Solo travel ups the ante, but does have its rewards. There is something primally satisfying about being alone in the mountains, miles from any road or trail, crossing high country with your dog out front.

Check the forecast, know your abilities, and remember, you are on your own - personal responsibility. No rangers here to protect you from yourself, and you may go days without company, but that's part of the attraction, isn't it?


Outings are shorter cross country loops, also accessible from the drop-down menu on this page.


Some useful references supplement the Route and Outing information provided here:

  • The single most comprehensive general reference to the Sierra high country is probably "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails," R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers, Seattle, ©1992, ISBN 0-89886-313-9.
  • A great all-in-one field guide is the California Academy of Sciences' "The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada," John Muir Laws, Heyday Books, Berkeley, ©2007, ISBN 978-1-59714-052-2. This reference seems more complete than most, though perhaps won't completely satisfy those with very specific interests.
  • Ever wonder why Graveyard Meadow is called Graveyard Meadow? Some of the stories behind the names are quite interesting. Try "Place Names of the Sierra Nevada: From Abbot to Zumwalt," Peter Browning, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, ©1986, ISBN 978-0899970479. Unfortunately this book is no longer in print, but used copies are readily available.

Of course the literature on the Sierra Nevada is extensive and detailed, and these are simply some general personal preferences.


A few useful links for additional information are:

  • For a backcountry seven day forecast from the National Weather Service, visit the the NOAA website and click on your location on the interactive map. http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sto/
  • CalTrans provides information on mountain pass road conditions. Seasonal closures and openings (and reclosures and reopenings) are variable. For SR 120 over Tioga Pass, call Yosemite National Park for recorded conditions at (209) 372-0200. http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi

Mountain weather, even in the relatively mild Sierra, is notoriously changeable, so come equipped, especially early and late season. And of course, winter is winter.

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