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Basin and Saddleback, September 2007

view from the top panorama

After being so close to Saddleback in May, I vowed to myself to get these two peaks before the end of the year. This hike was planned and rescheduled a few times since late August and was supposed to be an overnight but it didn't work out that way. I also ended up going solo due to scheduling conflicts with a few of my hiking partners.
My hiking partner  My hiking partner for the day
My day started driving in the dark (as usual) so that I could get to the trailhead early. The weather report  promised a near perfect day and when I hit the trail at about 7am, it was cool and clear. My planned route was from The Garden, taking the Southside Trail along John's Brook and then picking up The Range Trail and following the Orebed Brook up to the junction of Gothics and Saddleback. The hike along John's Brook was very nice, the trail was wide and flat and the scenery was beautiful.
Deep Pool A few of the many deep pools along the way in John's Brook Another
I could have spent all day along the brook, there's something about the sounds and sight of running water that has always drawn me. I knew I had a long day ahead of me though so I didn't spend too much time frolicking along the rocks, flumes and pools. 
John's Brook More cool shots of John's Brook  Water Slide
I made good time along the flat portion of the trail and the weather was perfect. Some of the trees were already starting to show off their fall colors and the sunlight filtering through the trees made for a real nice environment. You do have to keep your eyes on the trail though and watch where you step.
Poo  It looks like Yogi has been eating well and getting his fiber :) 
After checking the freshness of the bear sign (you really don't want to know), and making sure he wasn't still close by stalking me, I stashed my Beef Jerky and proceeded on to the five trail junction and started the journey up the Orebed Brook. Now the real hiking would begin. I was also hoping to get some views soon as I had been under the forest canopy all morning.
Ahh, the sun  My first glimpse of the surrounding mountains
The climbing started in earnest as I headed toward the Gothics-Saddleback col. The trail was eroded pretty badly in spots and the wet rock made for some tricky navigating. It wasn't too long before I had reached 4000' and could begin to see the rugged Gothics looming overhead.
Careful  Special Place  Gothics
I took a short break at the junction to enjoy the sun, have some water and adjust my boots. There is a nice clearing there for just such an occasion. The mighty Gothics is ever present high above and makes for an enjoyable view and a nice reminder of things to come. I couldn't believe just how clear and deep blue the sky was today.
Gothics  From the ascent up Saddleback, Gothics looks almost close enough to touch
I reached the first bump of the "saddle" and found a rock outcropping and my first glimpse of the awesome views I would be experiencing before too long. Soon after, I was on the summit of Saddleback and another peak closer to the 46. The views of Basin and beyond from there are incredible.
Basin from Saddleback  From the first bump in the "saddle"          Basin  From the summit of Saddleback
I enjoyed the views for a short while as I contemplated the adventure still before me. If you've never been, the descent off of Saddleback into the col is hairy to say the least. I am glad that it faces southwest because at least it was dry for the most part. I had to do a double take when I followed the yellow paint that marked the trail to the edge and then it pointed down! We'll revisit the rock wall on the journey back.
What trail?  As you can see, the trail goes right to the edge and then disappears
The climb down the rock face was interesting, I could've used someone beside my shadow a few times for moral support and maybe a shoulder to stand on, but I fared OK and before long was on my way over to Basin. The "hump" between the two peaks was not the most encouraging part of the trip. There's nothing like the feeling that you are about to summit when you realize you only climbed a bump and the summit still loomed high above you. As I started the final ascent for real, the views behind and all around me were breathtaking. You really feel like your on the edge of the world up there. 
Watch your step  This section of trail on Basin was actually a little icy, notice the drop off!
Haystack, Skylight, Marcy  McIntyre Range  
Made It!
As you can see, the summit of Basin did not disappoint and was worth the long hike to get there. I really would have liked to stay up there all afternoon. The breeze was light, the sun was warm and the sky was cloudless and clear. The views are spectacular and might have surpassed Pyramid Peak as number 1 in my book so far. Well, eventually I had to get going back, knowing I still had the col and the rock face of Saddleback to conquer as well as the long hike back to The Garden. 
Saddleback's rock face  The rock face that I had to traverse in both directions
Upon reaching the base of Saddleback, I caught up with a couple of ladies that were about to add number 45 to their list. I went ahead and scaled the peak and then waited for them at the top to make sure that everyone made it OK.  We had the opportunity to chat for a moment on the peak and I learned that all they needed to complete the 46 now was Sawteeth, so I gave them a brief trip report from my adventure there in May.
Scaling A good view of just how steep that rock face is  Climbing
After only a short visit, I started the long journey toward my car. I made good time, especially once I got on the level path along John's Brook again.
Still with me  My hiking partner was still with me in the end.

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