Sierra South - SEKI, Rock Creek aka Miter Basin


Mar 10, 2016
Ahhhhhh… That's better. The high Sierra, Colorado Plateau of the mountains. Nothing but rock and water. In comparison to anywhere else I've tromped, overall nothing compares to you, high Sierra. I've been wanting to go up Rock Creek into Miter Basin for a long time, and its time had come. It started dicey, with active burn warnings posted as I got near to Horseshoe Meadow, and then LOTS of Forest Service firefighters and vehicles. Fockin' shite. Seriously ? After consulting one of the fire crew I was assured Horseshoe Meadow was open for business, as of just earlier in the day. Score ! Little Cottonwood Creek had been burning, but was now contained enough to allow access to Cottonwood Lakes and Pass. So I settled in for the evening, excited for the morning to come.

With a reasonable start, 8'ish or so, I headed up the white sand trail towards Cottonwood Pass through typical Foxtail Pine forest. Annnnnd break for ooh's and ahh's. Then on towards Lower Soldier lake, up the notch to the tarn above, and repeat, with oohier ooh's and ahhier ahh's. The views down into Miter Basin were splendid ! I took my time traversing down to the meadows below and wandered my way up to Sky Blue Lake, home for the next 2 nights. I spent the rest of the day just mucking around Sky Blue, watched the sun set, and crawled into the tent. So. I had realized before reaching the trailhead that I had failed, I repeat, FAILED, to pack my sleeping pad. So I was… curious, as to how the night would be on flat, sandy ground. It was not one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.

Come morning, after fitful, tossy-n-turny "sleep", I had no major kinks or cramps or sore spots. Even so, I considered hiking out that day to avoid another even less than normal comfortable night. But then I remembered - I'm a man ! I fart in public. I pick my nose at the dinner table. I slap my waitresses ass and say "keep it firm, babe" as the tip. Yeah. I'm a Man. So I left the tent up, packed for a day hike, and set off to circle the drain. Traversing the lakes under Mount Pickering and Mount Newcomb, up to Crabtree Pass, and finally down to the lake below Arc pass. I love the high Sierra ! Nothing but rock and water. Towering spires of fractured granite, benches and cliffs and ramp and slab everywhere. Pretty cool. Then another crappy nights "sleep" after another nice sunset.

After packing come morning I started my day back to the truck with long shadows, and ended it with even longer shadows, due to side trips and last, longful looks back. I was very food motivated on the way out, wanting to get to Lone Pine before closing times for a well deserved rib eye. I've had much better, but it was worth it. Then off to find a camp, a truck with an awesome memory foam mattress in the bed camp ! for one more night before heading home.

Cottonwood Pass looking west.

Whitney Meadows.

Siberian Plateau.

Lower Soldier Lake.

Tarn at top of notch.

Miter Basin !

Miter Basin !

Sky Blue Lake outlet.

Looking back at Miter meadows.

Sky Blue home.


Upper basin and lakes.





Heading out and looks back.

Sky Blue Lake.

Sky Blue outlet.


Iridescent Lake.

Looking down on Miter meadows from hanging valley below Iridescent Lake.

Looking back from low meadows along Rock Creek.

Mount Langley.

Siberian Plateau.

Whitney Meadows.

Foxtail Pine.


Jul 25, 2013
Not sure how I missed this, killer trip! I'd wanted to go via Soldier Lake at the end of my JMT hike in July but ended up apparently missing the turn off, then getting caught in a hailstorm. So I just hustled on to Chicken Spring Lake & Cottonwood Pass....


Mar 10, 2016
Not sure how I missed this, killer trip! I'd wanted to go via Soldier Lake at the end of my JMT hike in July but ended up apparently missing the turn off, then getting caught in a hailstorm. So I just hustled on to Chicken Spring Lake & Cottonwood Pass....

I wish I'd spent another 2-3 days just wandering the basin and peak bagging. Plenty to keep one busy for 4-5 days of day hikes from a base camp. Ran into 3 parties while there who were all finishing JMT hikes and had come over Crabtree Pass. Seems like Miter Basin is a popular destination, saw people everyday wandering off trail.


Aug 19, 2016
I was there in 92'. I miss camping above timberline In the Sierras because you didn't have to worry about T Storms...very much.


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Very very nice. I have been up in Upper Rock Creek in winter and now I am going to have to visit the Miter. Thanks. What in the heck is the exact source of that last image? Beautiful.


Oct 1, 2012
Awesome trip report, great story telling. :D My husband has told me for years how awesome the Miter Basin is but I could never get over the altitude, so great to see pics.
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