JMT – Emerald Lake to Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

August 9, 2014
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 6 – Emerald Lake (9,900ft) to Trinity Lakes (8,990ft),
10 miles.
Camped on one of the knobs near Trinity Lakes.

Emerald Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Woke to another clear, cold, still morning.

1000 Island Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Just after breakfast I take my camera and walk back over to 1000 Island Lake. Stunning in the morning light with the glass-like waters reflecting rugged Banner Peak.

The hike towards Red’s Meadow, which we are planning to reach tomorrow, climbs up and down past a series of lakes starting with small Ruby Lake followed by

Garnet Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Garnet Lake which resembles 1000 Island Lake both in the small islands that grace its waters and the imposing Banner Peak above it. The lake has a reputation for being windy but was calm as we reach its shore just after 9AM.

Garnet Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness Garnet Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

The trail follows a long way around the lake with fabulous views at your back and a variety of wild flowers blooming along the banks.

Wrong Way!

Wrong Way!

Be careful after crossing the bridge at the outlet of Garnet Lake and don’t follow the Boy Scouts over the rocks and down the gully, you’ll just have to climb back up again. Instead, past the bridge the JMT trail continues around the lake and up over a ridge, the first real climb of the day.

Ansel Adams Wilderness to Shadow Lake

Ansel Adams Wilderness to Shadow Lake

On the other side of the ridge a 1,000 plus foot descent begins down a valley that’s rather dull despite the occasional peak views through the trees.

Ansel Adams Wilderness to Shadow Lake Ansel Adams Wilderness to Shadow Lake

The scenery picks up again when the trail hits a stream tumbling down granite slabs through open forest to Shadow Lake.  Lured by the sound of pounding water we make several short detours to marvel at the cascades.

Shadow Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

At the charming Shadow Lake we stop for lunch and take advantage of a sunny boulder to dry out the tent and down comforter.

Rosalie Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness Ansel Adams Wilderness, Shadow Lake to Trinity Lakes

Past Shadow Lake is a long, 650ft hike up gentle switchbacks to Rosalie Lake followed by another short up and down before the start of the 7 mile downhill towards Red’s Meadow. Today, however, we are only going as far as Trinity Lakes, less than two miles past the high point above Rosalie Lake.

Ansel Adams Wilderness, Shadow Lake to Trinity Lakes

What starts as a pretty forest walk turns eerie just above Trinity Lakes as we enter the area devastated by the 2011 wind storm that uprooted tens of thousands of trees from Yosemite to Devils Postpile National Monument.  The freakish storm came up from the north rather than customary west with sustained 125-150mph winds.

Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness

The campsites at lower Trinity Lakes are set on knobs above a pretty meadow lake with an abundance of wild flowers along the grassy shore. There are only a few other campers on this Saturday evening. We share our campfire with a young woman who is hiking alone. She explains that she prefers to camp near other hikers.

Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness

The thunderheads that were threatening earlier in the afternoon have vanished leaving the small lake as glass-like as 1000 Island Lake was this morning.

Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Sundowners and dinner next to the fire, the moon reflecting in the lake’s still waters, we’re loving the Sierras tonight.

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2 Responses to JMT – Emerald Lake to Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

  1. Hey, Don and Debbie! This is Trish, Alex, and Sage, the mom and two girl hikers you met on the trail. I just saw your recent post — funny, I just posted our hiking day…in my journal, we’re almost at Reds. It is so good to find you online! We loved meeting you and sharing trail time. Can’t wait to read the rest of your blog. Your photographs look wonderful! If you’re interested, I’ve included a link to our own JMT blog. Hope to see you two in person again at some point in the future!

    • baidanbi says:

      Hi Trish, It was great meeting you all on the trail. I didn’t realize that we climbed Donohue Pass on the same day. What a stunning sky it was!
      We ran into Bobby and Melissa at the top of Mt Whitney. We looked for your names in the register to find out when you summited but didn’t see them.
      Is the cover photo from Pinchot Pass? Funny I was just editing pics from that day. Another pass that we both climb on the same day that was also coincidentally another fabulous photo day.
      I’m very much enjoying your story and pics and look forward to future installments.

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