Yosemite this ain't. Here in the northern Sierra, you leave the ubiquitous granite behind for a surreal landscape of volcanic plugs, lava flows, and colorful pinnacles. The geologic peculiarities begin in Raymond Meadows, which is a few miles north of Ebbetts Pass, the starting point of this south-north traverse. You'll walk past innumerable bizarre formations scattered between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, across country intermittently vegetated with sagebrush or pine and hemlock. The often-faint trail enhances your sense of remoteness. The most soul-stirring scene: From 8,650 feet on the ridge northeast of Reynolds Peak, you'll gaze north at a massive, perfectly symmetrical rock dome across the Eagle Creek Valley, and beyond it, cathedral-like Peak 9700. Camp at Raymond Lake, reached by a .7-mile spur midway through this hike, for a stunning show of dawn light.