Four days in the High Sierra

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Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
7
Trip Reports
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75
Thread starter #1
Originally I had permits for a route in The Minarets area but the Lions fire kicked back up in activity and left me scrambling to find a new plan a week out. Conditions looked clear in SEKI and I remembered of a spot a friend had mentioned to me as one of the most spectacular spots in the range. I informed my hiking parters A and J of the change in plans and Sky Blue Lake became our new destination. This lake sits up in the Miter Basin and can be accessed a few different ways, though none of them are by trail. We started our hike at Cottonwood lakes trail head around 11am after snagging permits and breakfast in Lone Pine. It was easy walking through Fox Tail Pines to start.

https://flic.kr/p/Nqbbeo
https://flic.kr/p/2axwiY4
After some easy hiking and a bit of gradual gain we finally made our way into Cottonwood Lakes basin, dominated by Mt Langley.

https://flic.kr/p/29axrPX
We found a nice spot to pitch tents at Long Lake and went to go enjoy the sights and scope out the route for the next day, up Old Army Pass.

https://flic.kr/p/2axwvzv
https://flic.kr/p/29axp4X
Old Army pass at the center top in the photo below. The trail for this pass hasn't been maintained for 20 years, but there was no snow and looked easily doable.

https://flic.kr/p/27MMind
We headed back to camp to watch the light change, eat dinner, and tell bad jokes. Spirits were high and we were excited for the off trail adventure ahead.

https://flic.kr/p/29axm9P
https://flic.kr/p/LMGWk8
That morning my friend, J, broke camp an hour before us to head up the pass and try and summit Mt Langley. We were to rendezvous where he dropped his pack then all head off trail together down to Upper Soldier Lake. A and I broke camp about an hour after J left and made quick work of the pass and got our first views of the Sequoia backcountry.

https://flic.kr/p/29sdMqq
https://flic.kr/p/LMGUuz
https://flic.kr/p/2athKbS
We took a snack break where J had dropped his pack and within 20 min he was back from a successful summit of Langley. Turns out though, he had lost the trail going up Old Army Pass and ended up scrambling almost all the way up with his pack on! As he said, "one of the sketchiest things I've ever done." After a few laughs we headed off trail from the Langley summit route down to Upper Soldier Lake.

https://flic.kr/p/27MLQUo
https://flic.kr/p/29sdEyQ
https://flic.kr/p/NsfnKQ
We filled up water at Upper Soldier and checked our map to plan our route into the Miter Basin. We decided to hug as close as we could to the Major General to keep our elevation so we could drop down into the Miter Basin Meadows. This was a pivotal time in the trip as the scenery began to go off the charts.

Some of the cross country terrain to get over into Miter Basin
https://flic.kr/p/27MLN3b
Keeping close to the Major General to keep elevation. A great view down to Lower Soldier Lake and our first view of the spectacular Miter Basin out of frame to the right.
https://flic.kr/p/29ax1EZ
First view of the basin and, wow!
https://flic.kr/p/LMGET6
Beautiful tarn with the Miter Basin backdrop.
https://flic.kr/p/29awWFB
Looking back on the tarn.
https://flic.kr/p/29awTRZ
This was a balst, slowly but surely, slab to slab, with an incredible view.
https://flic.kr/p/NqaPeC
Once to the meadows a use trail goes in and out and we go oohh and ahh
https://flic.kr/p/LMGvUe
https://flic.kr/p/NqaMAs
We get to the home stretch, the Sky Blue Lake outlet and only a few 100 more feet of gain to our ultimate goal.
https://flic.kr/p/27MLCkf
https://flic.kr/p/29awHP4
Then, our first view of Sky Blue
https://flic.kr/p/29sdiHG
This spot was incredible. The lake itself was huge and surrounded on all sides by granite peaks. Truly one of the most stunning spots I've ever been to. We set up camp, cracked some beers, and I went on a photography bananza for the next 12 hours, capturing the range of light doing what it does best.

https://flic.kr/p/2athkWW
https://flic.kr/p/29awG88
Alpenglow at sunset
https://flic.kr/p/LMHGzR
An incredible sunrise in an incredible place.
https://flic.kr/p/29axJuF
https://flic.kr/p/2axwTuc
https://flic.kr/p/LMHDWe
Even a 180 pano had a hard time capturing this place.
https://flic.kr/p/2axwS6F
We hung around that morning till about 11, enjoying the scenery, and I took even more shots.

https://flic.kr/p/27MMDQN
https://flic.kr/p/29awDE2
https://flic.kr/p/LMGgzH
https://flic.kr/p/29sdb55
https://flic.kr/p/LMGdEK
https://flic.kr/p/29sd9dj
https://flic.kr/p/29sd8BQ
Then after packing camp headed back down the Sky Blue drainage into the meadows for some very enjoyable hiking, stoping to oohh and ahh, and of course snap some photos.

https://flic.kr/p/2axvEEr
https://flic.kr/p/29sd5DL
https://flic.kr/p/2athaey
https://flic.kr/p/2axvz3V
https://flic.kr/p/29sepe9
We followed the Rock Creek drainage out of Miter basin and opted for making our way over to the PCT for our hike out. After rock creek I didn't get many shots as it was just straight forward forest hiking.

https://flic.kr/p/27MLhaq
https://flic.kr/p/29scZcy
https://flic.kr/p/29awiEn
Camp night 3 at Chicken Spring Lake and a shot down to Horshoe Meadow where we end the trip.

https://flic.kr/p/29scVGs
https://flic.kr/p/27MLbGS
A fantastic trip with some relatively easy cross country travel and navigation. Would 100% do again.
 

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Joined
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#6
I loved photo #6204. The shrubs, the rocks, the trees with character!!!! I'll even give the moon its place to shine.
 

Vegan.Hiker

I'd hike that
.
Joined
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#8
Great report. Thanks so much for sharing. Your pictures are beautiful!
 

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Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
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#11
Originally I had permits for a route in The Minarets area but the Lions fire kicked back up in activity and left me scrambling to find a new plan a week out. Conditions looked clear in SEKI and I remembered of a spot a friend had mentioned to me as one of the most spectacular spots in the range. I informed my hiking parters A and J of the change in plans and Sky Blue Lake became our new destination. This lake sits up in the Miter Basin and can be accessed a few different ways, though none of them are by trail. We started our hike at Cottonwood lakes trail head around 11am after snagging permits and breakfast in Lone Pine. It was easy walking through Fox Tail Pines to start.

https://flic.kr/p/Nqbbeo
https://flic.kr/p/2axwiY4
After some easy hiking and a bit of gradual gain we finally made our way into Cottonwood Lakes basin, dominated by Mt Langley.

https://flic.kr/p/29axrPX
We found a nice spot to pitch tents at Long Lake and went to go enjoy the sights and scope out the route for the next day, up Old Army Pass.

https://flic.kr/p/2axwvzv
https://flic.kr/p/29axp4X
Old Army pass at the center top in the photo below. The trail for this pass hasn't been maintained for 20 years, but there was no snow and looked easily doable.

https://flic.kr/p/27MMind
We headed back to camp to watch the light change, eat dinner, and tell bad jokes. Spirits were high and we were excited for the off trail adventure ahead.

https://flic.kr/p/29axm9P
https://flic.kr/p/LMGWk8
That morning my friend, J, broke camp an hour before us to head up the pass and try and summit Mt Langley. We were to rendezvous where he dropped his pack then all head off trail together down to Upper Soldier Lake. A and I broke camp about an hour after J left and made quick work of the pass and got our first views of the Sequoia backcountry.

https://flic.kr/p/29sdMqq
https://flic.kr/p/LMGUuz
https://flic.kr/p/2athKbS
We took a snack break where J had dropped his pack and within 20 min he was back from a successful summit of Langley. Turns out though, he had lost the trail going up Old Army Pass and ended up scrambling almost all the way up with his pack on! As he said, "one of the sketchiest things I've ever done." After a few laughs we headed off trail from the Langley summit route down to Upper Soldier Lake.

https://flic.kr/p/27MLQUo
https://flic.kr/p/29sdEyQ
https://flic.kr/p/NsfnKQ
We filled up water at Upper Soldier and checked our map to plan our route into the Miter Basin. We decided to hug as close as we could to the Major General to keep our elevation so we could drop down into the Miter Basin Meadows. This was a pivotal time in the trip as the scenery began to go off the charts.

Some of the cross country terrain to get over into Miter Basin
https://flic.kr/p/27MLN3b
Keeping close to the Major General to keep elevation. A great view down to Lower Soldier Lake and our first view of the spectacular Miter Basin out of frame to the right.
https://flic.kr/p/29ax1EZ
First view of the basin and, wow!
https://flic.kr/p/LMGET6
Beautiful tarn with the Miter Basin backdrop.
https://flic.kr/p/29awWFB
Looking back on the tarn.
https://flic.kr/p/29awTRZ
This was a balst, slowly but surely, slab to slab, with an incredible view.
https://flic.kr/p/NqaPeC
Once to the meadows a use trail goes in and out and we go oohh and ahh
https://flic.kr/p/LMGvUe
https://flic.kr/p/NqaMAs
We get to the home stretch, the Sky Blue Lake outlet and only a few 100 more feet of gain to our ultimate goal.
https://flic.kr/p/27MLCkf
https://flic.kr/p/29awHP4
Then, our first view of Sky Blue
https://flic.kr/p/29sdiHG
This spot was incredible. The lake itself was huge and surrounded on all sides by granite peaks. Truly one of the most stunning spots I've ever been to. We set up camp, cracked some beers, and I went on a photography bananza for the next 12 hours, capturing the range of light doing what it does best.

https://flic.kr/p/2athkWW
https://flic.kr/p/29awG88
Alpenglow at sunset
https://flic.kr/p/LMHGzR
An incredible sunrise in an incredible place.
https://flic.kr/p/29axJuF
https://flic.kr/p/2axwTuc
https://flic.kr/p/LMHDWe
Even a 180 pano had a hard time capturing this place.
https://flic.kr/p/2axwS6F
We hung around that morning till about 11, enjoying the scenery, and I took even more shots.

https://flic.kr/p/27MMDQN
https://flic.kr/p/29awDE2
https://flic.kr/p/LMGgzH
https://flic.kr/p/29sdb55
https://flic.kr/p/LMGdEK
https://flic.kr/p/29sd9dj
https://flic.kr/p/29sd8BQ
Then after packing camp headed back down the Sky Blue drainage into the meadows for some very enjoyable hiking, stoping to oohh and ahh, and of course snap some photos.

https://flic.kr/p/2axvEEr
https://flic.kr/p/29sd5DL
https://flic.kr/p/2athaey
https://flic.kr/p/2axvz3V
https://flic.kr/p/29sepe9
We followed the Rock Creek drainage out of Miter basin and opted for making our way over to the PCT for our hike out. After rock creek I didn't get many shots as it was just straight forward forest hiking.

https://flic.kr/p/27MLhaq
https://flic.kr/p/29scZcy
https://flic.kr/p/29awiEn
Camp night 3 at Chicken Spring Lake and a shot down to Horshoe Meadow where we end the trip.

https://flic.kr/p/29scVGs
https://flic.kr/p/27MLbGS
A fantastic trip with some relatively easy cross country travel and navigation. Would 100% do again.

Wow! For stinking pretty. The amount of granitic rock is so stark and dramatic. Throws me back to my days exploring granite mountains. Thanks for sharing.
 

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