Seen from the Buttermilks, Basin Mountain (13,181+ ft, center) glows, refusing to be overshadowed by the Peabody Boulders (55ft, right).

Boulderers often gaze upon Basin while pebble wrestling in the lowlands of Buttermilk Country. Finally, we send the big mountain itself, which is easy class 2 sand slopes from the back. Great for dogs!

  • trailhead: Horton Lakes (37.31134, -118.61807), more or less depending on how capable your car is
  • route: West slope, class 2
  • total distance: 14.75 mi
  • elevation gain: 6,112 ft
  • time car-to-car: 10 hours 50 min
  • tough for dogs?: no (if you go up the correct slope)

Leo contemplating Basin

Marco thinking "Saigon is cool, but should I be climbing Basin??"


Beware if you use these tracks: the easier path is the northmost. The path veering more south leads to a false summit involving class 3. gpx.

>Mica’s Trip Report

Cows littering the rough Buttermilks road to the trailhead. You can see Mount Tom too

Hi I’m Mica, I’m a dog. I love to wake up in the morning and jump into Alicia’s adventure Subi! The two of us and daiyi jostle down the rough Buttermilk Road and start hiking late by usual standards, 8:30am, which was a tactical error since the first 4.5 miles to Horton Lake are on an exposed and hot old mining road.

I cool off in Horton Creek, the first of many swims

Daiyi overheated and had to lay down on the trail twice. I’m a dog, all I had to do was jump into water whenever I saw any!

Strange life form seen on the side of the trail.

You see a beautiful meadow, I see a bathroom opportunity

We pass by old mining equipment after 2 hours, arriving at Horton Lake

I go for a dip in Horton Lake! Glorious

At Horton Lake, we contour around the left side and go cross-country up the river basin.

Starting up cross-country.

After a bit of scrambling, we get to the first of two small tarns. It’s a low snow year, but water is still running under the talus! The humans fill up on water and I jump right in. It’s cold and sweet, delicious alpine juice.

Third swim, in a tarn

It’s just a bit further to the second tarn. Here we start turning left, aiming for the west slopes of Basin.

The second tarn. The wind picked up so I actually passed up an opportunity to swim!

Up and up on the steep sand slopes. I stick close to Alicia

The slopes look improbable, but it goes. The humans use their prosthetic paws (hiking poles) to make it up the sandy terrain. There’s a bit of scrambling to the top of the ridge.

False summit?? the actual summit is still ahead.

Nooo! we strayed too far right (south) and ended up taking the wrong slope up to a false summit. Getting down to the saddle had a couple of class 3 moves that were tough for dogs who can’t hold jugs. I was stressed out and had to get a couple lifts.

The consolation of going up a slightly harder way was that the slope was filled with Sky Pilots and Alpine Gold!

Strolling up the final slabs to the summit.

We did it! Looking east towards Bishop

I am skeptical of the summit selfie

Alicia points out notable peaks from the summit. That's Mount Humphreys back and to the left.

You can see the Buttermilks from the top! Pictures don’t do it justice, but you can see the Peabodies with the naked eye. Enhance.

Looking north, Mount Tom looms. I want to climb that one day!

Relaxing on the summit

We lounge for half an hour, naming far-away peaks and eating snack and enjoying the breeze. Soon it’s time to head back down.

Descending the slopes, taking the correct class 2 route on the way down. No sky pilots to be seen here! Enhance.

Descending back to the lower tarn. Without the breeze of the higher altitude, it gets hot again!

Lounging on the beach after a quick swim.

The humans fetch more delicious alpine water for the hot hike down.

A striking tree near Horton Lake

Back at Horton Lake, I jump in for a swim and am surprised when everyone joins me! Finally the humans understand what I’ve been doing all day.

I initiate the swim party

Walking back out through the meadow

Near the trailhead almost at the car, Alicia sees a snake in an aspen! There’s snakes in the Sierra?? Later we find out it’s probably a Great Basin Gopher Snake, which is not poisonous. Whew.

Great Basin Gopher Snake seen curled up in an aspen!

We get back to the car before sunset and head into Bishop for a big dinner! Well, I had some kibble and napped in the trunk while the humans got burgers. What a great day! That was my 11th SPS.