This counterclockwise loop around Mt. Lyell (and several other peaks in this part of the Cathedral range) took my wife and me through country weâ€™d never visited before, but it also got us back to Blue Lake, an area that weâ€™d been dazzled by about 10 years ago, and had been keen to see again ever since. As Quentinâ€™s recent thread pointed out, there is an amazing contrast between the coloration and topography of the Ritter range and the granite buttresses of the Cathedral range that makes this area particularly attractive. Thus, if youâ€™re looking for amazing scenery and isolation, this is a fabulous area. Plus, we began in late June on the High trail out of Agnew meadow, and as the starting point for a 10 night trip, itâ€™s hard to find a route thatâ€™s prettier and easier (especially, with fully loaded packs). After a first night at Marie Lake, we stopped early the next day, because the meadow on the ridge above Rush Creek (which drains the meadow below Marie) was so delightful, we just had to soak it up. A couple views are:
Looking back at Ritter & Banner from above Rush Creek:
Moonrise from above Rush Creek:
We then took the JMT to the north side of Donahue Pass and left the trail aiming to stay at MacLure Lake. However, even in this low-snow year, tons of snow loomed around the lake (see below) and anything exposed was wet.
Plan B was the small lake (11,275) a little northeast of Simmons peak, which was visible from MacLure Lake. It turned out to have a great little spot for a tent, and some artistic soul left one of the better stone/wood â€œsculpturesâ€
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