August 9, 2014
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Day 6 – Emerald Lake (9,900ft) to Trinity Lakes (8,990ft),
Camped on one of the knobs near Trinity Lakes.
Woke to another clear, cold, still morning.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the charming Shadow Lake we stop for lunch and take advantage of a sunny boulder to dry out the tent and down comforter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sundowners and dinner next to the fire, the moon reflecting in the lake’s still waters, we’re loving the Sierras tonight.