"TOP TENS!!" Personal Page by mtncorg
People here on VT seem to like to do 'Top Ten' lists - top ten museums, places visited, songs, movies, etc. - even though in most cases they give little explanation of why something is 'Top Ten'. I thought - since it is raining outside - that I would give the 'Top Ten' phenomenom a shot, as well. My 'Top Ten's are not written in stone though. They are subject to change as a result of further reflection or experience. My lists will be, as many of my pages are, of an outdoor nature - campsites, trails hiked, mountains climbed. Note that I have personally experienced each of these choices. I am sure that many others exist that may barge onto these lists and knock other options off. They are just waiting for me to come upon them. Until then ........
1 NAUTILOID CANYON - This is a fantastic campsite deep within the Marble Canyon section of the Grand Canyon that is reachable only by boat/raft/kayak from the Colorado River. Silence reigns. Just beyond the campsites are several meter-long fossilized nautiloids in the canyon rocks, hence the name of the camp.
2 1000 ISLAND LAKE - Mid-September in the High Sierra of California, just outside the southeastern corner of Yosemite National Park is one of the prettiest alpine lakes you will ever find. The August crowds have gone home, but the sun still shines brightly. The lake is a good 8-9 miles from the nearest road. Mt Ritter and Banner rise from the lake's southwestern edge. You are at timberline here with sparkling waters and nothing to do but count the islands from the shore.
3 GOAT LAKE - There is a campsite perched right on the abyss of a perfectly U-shaped glacial valley that radiates out from the western flank of Old Snowy Mountain in the Goat Rocks of the Central Washington Cascades. The valley points directly toward Mt Adams - the next ice-clad volcanic giant to the south. The lake is surrounded by other peaks here at timberline. Meadows filled with alpine flowers abound.
4 REID GLACIER - You will find a sea kayak very useful in reaching this campsite at the foot of the sea terminus of tthe Reid Glacier, one of many tidewater glaciers lying within the west arm of Glacier Bay in southeastern Alaska. The nearest road is over 60 miles away. The Glacier Bay tour boat will drop you and your kayak off a couple miles to the west at Ptarmigan Creek - as long as the grizzly bears are not too active. It is a primeval scene of rock, ice and sea.
5 SAN BERNARDINO PEAK - LA smog is due to the 15+ million people and neighboring mountain ranges that in rising to over 10000 feet, act to keep the wind from scouring the fumes away. But it is not always smoggy. Pick a clear day, maybe in late October after the Santa Ana winds have ebbed, and before the snows arrive. There is a dry campsite - meaning you have to carry enough water in to make it through the night and the next morning - just west of San Bernardino Peak the western outlier of the range coming east from San Gregornio Peak (see girladventure's tips for more on these mountains). From the campsite, the LA megalopolis is laid out below you. The night scene can be seen better from only an airplane.
6 JEFFERSON PARK - Probably the most magnificent single setting to visit in Oregon. You have to be able to hike at least five miles to get in here from the nearest roads. Weekends and most of August, you will have plenty of company up here, but midweek in September it quiets down. The park is a fantastic grouping of lakes, meadows and woods lying at the base of Oregon's second higest peak, Mt Jefferson.
7 SAHALE ARM - The North Cascades of Washington State boast some of the most spectacular alpine terrain in the United States. Sahale Arm is reached on foot from the roadhead at Cascade Pass and lies within the North Cascades National Park. The Arm is a high meadowed bench coming off the south side of Sahale Peak. You are surrounded by alpine magnificence. Peaks beckon you on.
8 FLAPJACK LAKES - Come here in late June before the latter crowds of August. Located just within the Olympic National Park in its far southeastern corner, these little lakes are reached by a long and none-to-exciting trail out from the Staircase entry to the Park. Mt Lincoln and the Sawtooth Range loom above the eastern shores. We were woken each morning by mountain goats scampering around our camp. Better than bears.
9 UPPER LAKE, EAST FORK OF THE LOSTINE RIVER - This little lake lies at the upper end of a magnificent U-shaped glacial valley through which the East Fork of the Lostine River runs. Located in the heart of the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon, the lake is usually bypassed in favor of the valley floor below or Mirror Lake, a few hundred yards to the east, where you have a superb view of Eagle Cap rising high above the southern edge of the lake. Mountains, alpine lakes, twisted timberline trees, alpine meadows, star-filled heavens, deer and elk at your tent door .... these are just some of the glories that await you up here in a mountain range that has more in common with the Rocky Mountains than the Cascades of western Oregon. One could extrapolate and say the Titcomb Basin or Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range of Wyoming; Floe Lake, Mt Assiniboine, the Rockwall and Tonquin Valley in Alberta; Redfish Lake in Idaho and the Beartooth Plateau of Montana would be just as spectacular or more so. But hypothesis is not experience. I leave those areas for you to discover.
10 EAST RIM OF SOUTH WARNER MOUNTAINS - The Warner Mountains of extreme northeastern California are a great example of a Great Basin Range - not unlike what you would find in the Steens Mountains of Oregon or the Ruby or Snake Ranges in Nevada. Or the Drakensberg of South Africa, for that matter. The mountains rise gradually on the western side, plunging abruptly in a dramatic escarpment on the east. Here on the edge of California, one finds solitude that is not always so easy to find in the Golden State. We camped on the crest just south of Patterson Lake in the only place that we could get out of the wind - a snow bench created by snows that had been swirled into place by past winter storms. A few weeks latter and there would have been only air. The view from the campsite extended for miles into lonely northwestern Nevada across the Surprise Lakes some thousands of feet below us.
1 BATAGONICA-KRN SLOVENIAN JULIAN ALPS - The Julian Alps of Slovenia attract a lot of attention, but here the numbers seem less than the stop and go traffic that can occur on Triglav. Trails go over and through gorgeous limestone alps with magnificent views over much of Slovenia, northeastern Italy and the upper Adriatic. To top off the magnificent alpine hiking, one has a history lesson as you wander among the trenchlines built into limestone walls of WWI.
2 JENNER-BERCHTESGADENER ALPS - Thousands enjoy the bauty of the Berchtesgadener Alps in the far southeastern corner of Germany from the many boats that cruise the waters of the Konigsee. Ease your entry into the high country by taking the lift up the Jenner and head south into a high alpine wonderland known by its most accurate name - the Steinernes Meer = the Rocky Sea.
3 THUNDERBOLT-KNAPSACK PASS - Open cross-country hiking above 11000 feet in the shadow of the magnificent Palisades of California's Sierra Nevada. This gem of a trek gives you a grand taste of the wild High Country. Seas of peaks extend in all directions. A superlative option amongst one of the grandest ranges in the World.
4 CASCADE PASS-SAHALE ARM - The North Cascades of Washington State offer some of the best alpine scenery that can be found in the United States. This trail is an example of a trail that just gets bettter with each step. Watch the glaciers glisten, the avalanches rumble, the marmots gambol.
5 TABLE MOUNTAIN - WYOMING - You reach this trail from the small Idaho border town of Driggs. The trail rises up through flower-filled meadows to end up atop an unbelievabley magnificent viewpoint on Table Mountain. The entire Teton Range is laid out right before as you are face to face with the Grand Teton itself, just across Cascade Canyon. There is no finer viewpoint in the Grand Teton Park ... unless you include the view from atop the Grand itself, but then that would not be a hike ;-\
6 THUNDER RIVER - DEER CREEK FALLS - Most people who do this hike, do so from their watercraft on the Colorado River, though you can also hike down off the North Rim, as well - remember, you hike down and you gotta hike back up again ;-] This is a secret World hidden away amongst the depths of the Grand Canyon only a short distance as the bird flies from the hordes along the South Rim. They have no idea!
7 BESSEGEN - High in the Home of the Giants = Jotunheimen, this track is a Norwegian classic. This is probably on the top of most Norwegians list of hikes to do, it is a highpoint to any hiker's visit to the Jotunheimen National Park. You will be looking around for a reindeer to see if you can replicate Peer Gynt's ride over this ridge - all to the tunes of Greig on your mp3 player.
8 TIMBERLINE TRAIL AND WONDERLAND TRAIL - OK, so I have given you a two for one (twofer) here, but these trails will take you around a couple of magnificent glacially-bedecked volcanoes - Mt Hood in Oregon and Mt Rainier in Washington State. These trails are adventures unto themselves taking you from one magical place to another. To do the whole trails you need to think in terms of days since the Timberline is over 40 miles and the Wonderland is almost a hundred miles around.
9 MOUNT WASHINGTON AND THE GREAT GULF - This is some of the highest terrain in the eastern United States, an area that attracts a lot fo attention. The mountain range here is appropriately known as the Presidential Range with just about every little knob being named for some one who lived at the White House at some point in time. The hiking gave me of the left side of the United States, an interesting perspective of mountains and alpinism from a right-sided perspective.
10 LAKES OF MIDDLE FORK OF BISHOP CREEK - There are two roadheads at the ends of roads coming up into the eastern fringes of the Sierra Nevada out of Bishop, California. You have several fantastic opportunities taking off from these roadends, but one underlooked is that trail that doesn't go over the Sierran crest. What you get is an incredible succession of alpine lakes set beneath towering peaks, this is another one of those trails that just gets more spectacular with each step you take.
1 MT ST HELENS - This is not a very hard climb. The most difficult part is to get a permit allowing you the chance to climb. The view from atop the exploded crater is simply incredible. You take your last few steps up through loose sand - or soft snow, depending upon the season - and suddenly the view opens up ... along with your mouth.
2 MT ANDERSON EAST PEAK - The grand view out over the magnificent Olympic wilderness is the plum in the pudding for an awesome alpine trek that includes a long hike through primeval forests followed by some grand mixed climbing over glaciers, snow bridges - hopefully ;-] - and a little easy rock.
3 SAHALE PEAK - Hiking to the top of the Sahale Arm from Cascade Pass is gorgeous enough. It is hard to imagine that it could better, but the views do just that as you head up the Sahale Glacier and on to the rock summit. The view from the top is incredible. You will need a large scale road map to pick out all the myriad of points you can see from up here. It is said that you can see over a thousand different peaks from the summit.
4 SNOWKING - Just a few miles away to the southwest of Sahale you find the Snowking. Half of the fun in climbing the Snowking is in the rugged off-trail approach, typical for North Cascade climbs. This is one of the many peaks in which you can discover the glories of the North Cascades. Take a good look at my VT member picture - it is taken from the top of the King.
5 MT WHITNEY - Highest peak in the United State outside of Alaska, Mt Whitney is not unlike Mt St Helens in that part of the difficulty lies wihtin getting the proper permits to allow you to climb. There are many different routes to the top with some being fairly technical. Most will opt for the Mt Whitney trail which is still 11 miles long one-way and gains over 6000 vertical feet. The views from the top are worth the efforts expended.
6 GRINTOVEC - Not as famous as its neighbors to the west in the Julian Alps (read Triglav), you will still be far from alone as you make your way up Grintovec. More special for me on this climb was to meet up with Slovene VTer Zo72 for a great outing. Way to go Zoran!
7 MT RAINIER, MT ADAMS, MT HOOD AND MT SHASTA -These four are all fairly similar - large ice volcanoes with long snow routes that are not too terribly technical (though each has its share of very technical routes, as well). They are all long slogs in which the summit views are not always as fantastic as those you have on smaller mountains.
8 MT WASHINGTON - OLYMPICS - In contrast to the Cascade volcanic behemoths, this is more of an alpine classic. Instead of having an airplane view over miles of inferior peaks, here you among brothers. The wilderness that is the Olympic Peninsula surrounds you. And to the east in the distance? Is that ... Seattle? ;-]
9 MT LANGLEY -Many more people flock to Langley's northern neighbor, Mt Whitney. It is 452 feet higher, afterall. The solitude makes the summit views that much grander. The is no trail up here like on Whitney either, though the climb is over relatively easy ground.
10 GALDHOPIGGEN -Norway's highest peak, complete with a restaurant on top. Just as well for me when I climbed the peak as it was completely socked in by clouds and rain/snow. The views looked spectacular ... on the post cards ;-]
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