Fairly easygoing Bishop-area Sierra peaks with extremely sick fall colours (~early October) at the start. 20 minutes of walking on a big old pipe–what more could you ask for?

  • Trailhead: South Lake
  • Route: Green Lake to Vagabond, then up the north slope of Cloudripper (class 2). Some exposed summit moves (class 3). 12.5mi, 4500ft vert (2500ft of which is easy cross-country, bits of scrambling)
  • (4hr 10m to summit) + (4hr 30m down) = 8hr 40m total. (We booked it on the way up, and were knee-limited on the way down)
  • PIPE HIKE
  • Vagabond: aim for the notch (look behind you and identify the notch for the way back, it’s less obvious from the other side)
  • Cloudripper: stay on the right side of slope

Vagabond via Green Lake, then over to Cloudripper. gpx.

My first hike with Nicole! Excited to be a part of her knee surgery recovery journey.

Right off the bat there’s a huge show of fall colours painting the aspens. Staying on the pipe is a fun challenge, although as a dog it’s quite easy for me.

20 minutes of PIPE HIKE
20 minutes of PIPE HIKE

After the pipe, there’s switchbacks to an open meadow!

Juicy mud to wet the toe beans
Juicy mud to wet the toe beans

Soon we arrive at Green Lake, contour around the lake a bit, then climb up the scooped valley slope on nice trail to an open table.

Coming up from Green Lake (as seen from later in the hike)
Coming up from Green Lake (as seen from later in the hike)

After walking across the relatively flat table, it’s time to leave the comforts of the trail and go south cross-country. We contoured the left side of the bowl (in which a huge juicy rabbit was sighted diving into the talus). Upon gaining the lip of the bowl, a peak comes into view. That’s not Cloudripper, it’s Vagabond Peak.

Looking towards Vagabond. Aim for the notch!
Looking towards Vagabond. Aim for the notch!

Routefinding in this terrain was surprisingly pleasant! Basically you can see where you want to go, and when you get there, it’s easy-going. It’s mostly sand with easy talus. If you’re a clever human you can avoid 4-points-on scrambling for the most part (I always walk with all 4 legs though, because I’m a dog).

Scrambling talus
Scrambling talus
Big steps
Big steps

We’re super lucky that it’s unseasonably cold today with chilly wind blasts, because otherwise this landscape is extremely exposed with little water, and I imagine you’d get hot pretty quickly. Nicole experiments with monching salt tablets and feels great. Intriguing!

After passing through the notch, Cloudripper comes into view!

View of Cloudripper, from Vagabond. It's not the most striking peak, it's a pile of sand and talus. Summit is on the right.
View of Cloudripper, from Vagabond. It's not the most striking peak, it's a pile of sand and talus. Summit is on the right.

It’s wise to turn around and look back as you’re crossing the notch, because it doesn’t look as distinct from the other side. Going down Vagabond and then up the slopes of Cloudripper is easy for dogs! Humans may have to butt-scootch on occasion. Try staying on the right side of the slope, the talus gets big on the left.

Views of the Palisades as I gain the summit ridge
Views of the Palisades as I gain the summit ridge
The summit is within sight!
The summit is within sight!

A couple of exposed moves (I got my dog butt pushed; power spot) to the summit and we did it!

Checking out the Palisades from the summit!
Checking out the Palisades from the summit!
Views to the west towards the Bishop area peaks. Mt Goode is striking.
Views to the west towards the Bishop area peaks. Mt Goode is striking.

After a rest and some snacks, it’s time to head down. We gotta go back up Vagabond:

Vagabond, the other side. What a blob. Note the notch.
Vagabond, the other side. What a blob. Note the notch.

We’re feeling great at the Vagabond notch, so we take a couple minutes to tag the summit.

The Vagabond register is hidden in a hueco!
The Vagabond register is hidden in a hueco!

Heading down from Vagabond, the knees are starting to rattle. It’s a relief to be back on trail.

Descending back to Green Lake. Shiny!
Descending back to Green Lake. Shiny!

The aspens on the final stretch of pipe hike are glowing!