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Day hikes out of 1,000 Island?

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Re: Day hikes out of 1,000 Island?

Postby kpeter » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:17 am

murraymcleod wrote:If you're going up to N. Glacier pass and Lake Catherine, keep your eyes open for the grave of Conrad and Anna Rettenbacher who died while climbing Banner Peak back in the 30's. They are buried in a pretty little meadow, next to a spring, where a rock wall comes down from Mt. Davis and blocks the route at about 10,400' (right bank of the creek). A plaque place by a German Hiking society in SF marks the spot...

I became fascinated by this story and found a wonderful link of a fellow who has spent several years sleuthing out the whole story of the Rettenbachers and Norman Clyde's search for them.
He also gives links to other similar stories with unhappy endings. Reading about the deaths of the 4 Sierra Club climbers on Banner on Memorial Day 1971 helps to further remind us of the power of nature. ... r1971.html

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Re: Day hikes out of 1,000 Island?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:24 am

When I saw the title of this thread, I could guess that most responses were going to be to day hike to areas outside the immediate Thousand Island Lake basin and that is of course the case. Why bother to visit a lake with World Class views that is arguably one of the most spectacular and beautiful in the West, plan for a layover day there, and then during the layover day spend all the time elsewhere?

The first thing to understand is that the views across the lake towards Banner and Ritter are going to be much more aesthetic during morning hours versus the afternoon when those big peaks are relatively boringly backlit. The earlier in the morning to start a hike, the BETTER. The second thing is most visitors to the lake camp above the northeast end of the lake because the JMT/PCT passes by there, views are fine, and there is a quarter mile no camping zone around the outlet. The third thing is the lake is large and the obvious of simply hiking around it is the best idea.

A hike around the lake will take several hours so is not trivial. There is a use trail, and there is much to see especially at the west end of the lake where there are other small no name lakes and ponds that by mid to late July are often carpeted in flowers because that end of the lake gets the most lingering snow melt coming off from Banner. Now the gentle turfy north side of the lake is generally more aesthetic than the south side so one ought circle the lake counterclockwise. If one is up for a bit more effort and can handle easy glaciated landscape crosscountry, at the southwest end of the lake, climb to the well used pass south and instead of dropping down into the Garnet Lake basin, follow east along the top of the gentle ridge separating the two basins where one will also have fine views of both Garnet Lake and Thousand Island. One thing of note is the geology in the basin is interesting colorful metamorphics that changes as one moves to different areas. About two-thirds of the way along angle back down towards the Thousand Island Lake outlet.

So what is worthwhile scenically in the afternoon? Views eastward will have the better light. An easier shorter hiking idea here is to take the JMT south and visit two little jewels, Emerald Lake and Ruby Lake. Little Emerald amid a greenish geology is a complex shaped lake with a number of bays and also often has good rainbow trout fishing. Ruby Lake with its rusty reddish geology backdrop amid big red firs is simply wonderfully cosy and another world versus the open feel just north. Great place to escape to on a breezy afternoon. If one is comfortable instead of taking the trail back, at the Ruby outlet climb up and along the minor dome rimming the brink of the San Joaquin River canyon and follow that north around Emerald. Fine views down into, across the canyon towards Two Teats, Mammoth Mountain etc.
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Re: Day hikes out of 1,000 Island?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:22 am

Thanks for the information on the grave. I ran across that years ago and wondered about it.

If you are experienced only on trails, I would not recommend North Glacier Pass. There are just too many other nice areas to see where you can stay on the trails. If you want to do a bit of off trail travel, go over the little pass to the west end of Garnet Lake. But honestly, the better view of the mountains is from the trail on the west side where you can get photos of mountians AND the lake. I think Iceberg Lake is a "must see". I think a longer all-day loop hike with Iceberg Lake the destination is a good choice.
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Re: Day hikes out of 1,000 Island?

Postby Pietro257 » Fri May 04, 2012 1:13 pm

I don't think the hike to North Glacier Pass is that bad, especially if you're not carrying a full pack. There is a use trail most of the way up. If you lose the trail, just follow the creek. Anyhow, you can't lose your way because you're so high above the timberline, you can see Thousand Island Lake. You can see where you're going and where you came from without a topo map.

There is some talus-hopping near the top of the pass, and you'll have to walk across a glacier part of the way, but that will just make the view from the top that much more special. Lake Catherine, on the other side of the pass, is stunning -- a pristine alpine lake.

If you don't make it all the way to the top of the pass, you can always turn back, and you'll have a fine adventure no matter what happens.I would try for North Glacier Pass, but no matter what you do, you can't go wrong in that part of the world. It's beautiful everywhere you look.

You can see the top of the pass in the third photo below. The first photo shows the view of Thousand Island Lake from near the top of the pass. The second photo shows Lake Catherine from the top of the pass. This photo was taken on July 28, 2005. At that late date, the lake was three-fourths covered in ice (it was a wet year in California).
View of Thousand Island Lake from ascent to North Glacier Pass
Thousand_Island_Lake_from_route_to_North_Glacier_Pass.jpg (32.99 KiB) Viewed 114 times
View of Lake Catherine from North Glacier Pass
Catherine_Panorama06.JPG (39.83 KiB) Viewed 114 times
Ascending North Glacier Pass
Ascending_North_Glacier_Pass01.JPG (34.28 KiB) Viewed 114 times
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