As I headed further there were some interting rock formations along edge of some of the cliffs. The clouds had started to come out. I think the next picture is one of my most powerful of the day.
At this point of the hike I was walking along a sandy scree area. It was actually pretty easy to traverse. A lot of people say this seems like a desert peak hike, but I did not feel that way about it. In any case, my usual strategy is to always pick trails that go higher rather than pick something that I gain nothing on or lose elevation. I saw some people hanging out near a rock in the distance to stay out of the cold wind. They waved at me. I assume they came up much later or were on a totally different hike altogether. I started to ascend more and looked back at the Cottonwood Lakes area to the south:It was just a matter of time now to get to the summit. About 20 minutes or so from this point.
This is to the west:
This is another one a little higher looking to the western side:
I was making really good time, but I started to get a little nervous since I was not sure which area to climb up. It would be a sad day to get to this point and have to turn around. All I could see was a bunch of boulders to cross. That was something I wanted to avoid if I could. It turns out my hiking intution was working well today. Here is what I finally found at N36 31.126 W118 14.569:
I do not know of any easier way to do this since I did not look more on the southern side, but this was the perfect climbing area. I just started climbing the rocks which seem like a natural stairway to me and about 50 feet higher here I was:
That was the only real climbing on this trip where I had to use my two hands a bit. So, this whole hike was basically a class 1 walk up with this section being a few minutes of class 2. With that said, it still was a lot of work on the legs since 500 feet still needed to be ascended. The trail was obvious with a few dux (small rock piles) along the way. I finally looked back to see where I had been two hours earlier. Cottonwood Lakes #1-3 are pretty obvious and a few others to the upper right of the picture:
To be continued...