Sierra Nevada mountain range in California is one of beautiful ranges in the country. It is home for lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lakes in North America and Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in contiguous United States. Three national parks Yosemite, kings canyon and Sequoia created in this region. There are about 20 designated wilderness areas in Sierras. Ansel Adams wilderness is one of them.
Last weekend, me and friend Saket Jain decided to experience the Sierras in Ansel Adams wilderness. We did backpacking trip to Banner peak and Thousand island lake. We hiked 18 miles( 29 KM) in two days covering Thousand island lake, Emerald lake, Ruby lake and Garnet lakes.
Here is our trail map.
We started from Agnew meadows trail head and took river trail that runs next to San Joaquin river. One the way up, we were surprised with unprecedented thunderstorm, rain and hails. I was excited. People who know me long enough know how much I love rain. I was also excited since clearing thunderstorms leave a great clouds behind. When we reached to thousand island lake, prospects for great sunset was evident.
It’s back country, so no developed camp ground. Just find a flat surface and call it your place. However wilderness camping rules prohibits camping up to 50 ft near to lake shores. We scouted around and careful chosen our spot based on proximity to the area we possible shoot our sunrise. Alpine lakes are pristine beauties. Clean and calm. Quietness at high altitude ( thousand island lake is at 9850ft ) eliminates distractions and brings peace. Here are some images just an hour before sunset.
As sun dropped down to horizon, clouds moved away from Banner peak. We had to abandon our plan to shoot Banner peak and turned around towards east where sky is more interesting.
Thanks to our good planning, night was comfortable. High elevation brings cold nights. I was prepared with right stuff for the weather. Typical light weight overnight backpacker carries about 30 lbs (14 kgs) of stuff. After all efforts I could not reduce my pack less than 40lbs (18 kgs). 10lbs accounted for my camera gear itself. I bought ultra light tripod and took only 17-40mm and 24-105m lenses.
Sunrise was good. No clouds around Banner peak though. It wasn’t as cold as I was expecting. Around sunrise time, smoke from Fresno wildfire (70 miles south-west) blew right around Banner effecting contrast and color. Here are some sunrise pictures.
John Muir trail that starts from Yosemite passes through the thousand island lake. 211 miles of John Muir trails passes on many alpine lakes and Sierra peaks. On our return, we took John Muir trail. Our initial plan was to go down till Shadow lake on John Muir trails and connect back to River trail. As we hiked up to Garnet lake, we were able to smell the faint smoke in the air and fog-ish conditions were blocking farthest views. So we decided to go back to River trail from Garnet itself.
Here are few pictures on trail. Over all, it was great trip and splendid experience. Saket and myself looking forward for our next trip in this summer in Sierras.
Yellow Bellied Marmot
Our camp site