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TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

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TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby Bluewater » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:23 pm

I have been wanting to get an up-close and personal look at the Minarets ever since I rushed by them (much too quickly) while thru-hiking the John Muir Trail a few years ago. Their dark volcanic spires are beautiful and striking against the collection of small alpine lakes at the base of the range.

After spending much of the winter diligently studying Steve Ropers cross country route that traverses the area I was ready to hit the trail. . . or off-trail as much of the route required.

Fortunately a three day window of time opened up on the way back from another trip in the northern Sierra this summer. . . So with permit in hand I was ready to leave from the Devils Postpile trailhead near Mammoth Lakes.

The first river crossing near Devils Postpile National Monument:

1.JPG


After climbing the 2,000 feet of switchbacks out of the valley I came across a huge stand of wilderflowers. Although it was a low snow year the creeks were still flowing which kept things colorful:

2.JPG


Soon I was leaving the trail at Superior Lake and heading up toward the first cross country pass. This is the view back on the climb up to Nancy Pass:

3.JPG


Unlike most of the backcountry there were no ducks on the route up to Nancy Pass. I was a little concerned that maybe I was going the wrong way, but finally I found some use trails at the top. This is the view of Nancy Pass on the climb up from Superior Lake:

4.JPG


The first close up view of Minarets (to the north) from the top of Nancy Pass:

5.JPG


The meadows, creeks, waterfalls and wildflowers made for a nice stroll below Deadhorse Lake on the way to Minaret Lake. . . and I ran into this deer on the shore of Minaret Lake:

9.JPG


Looking back at Minaret Lake on the way up to Cecile Lake:

10.JPG


The Minarets and a unique perspective of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak from camp on Cecile Lake:

39.JPG


Sunrise on the Minarets:

15.JPG


Cecile Lake and the Minarets:

16.JPG


The next day I headed over the easy boulders along the east and finally north shore of Cecile Lake and toward the outlet creek and waterfall. More in the next 'installment'.

If you're interested in more detailed photos, maps and a few alternate routes along the way I did a trip report here:

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Re: TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:37 pm

Thank you Bluewater for the great TR and the link which included all
the great pictures. This really shows off why the Minarets are one of the
best places in the sierra, scenery wise, and one of most accessible places
too.
Check your PM.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Postby sheperd80 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:41 pm

Beautiful pics! Maybe next year ill be ready for a hike like that

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Re: TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby maiathebee » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:06 pm

Thanks for this! The detailed TR in the link is super awesome and very informative. I'm really happy to see the snowfield cleared from Iceberg as I'm headed up there on Friday. Any comments on the bugs?
oh hey! you're reading my signature.
that's nice. want to check out my blog?
here it is: plutoniclove.com
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Re: TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:42 am

Hi Maiathebee,

Bluewater wrote up a mosquito update for that area here: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=9131&start=60#p72589
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:10 am

Thanks Maverick, sheperd80 & maiathebee. The bugs have really decreased. The inlet stream and meadow around Superior Lake and the boulders around Lake Catherine were the two places with a lot of mosquitos, otherwise it was fine. With some DEET I was ok in shorts and t-shirt.
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Re: TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby scrinch » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:46 am

Thanks for the memories. Nancy Pass was named for my cousin whom I used to backpack with a lot as a kid. Her dad, my uncle, led US on the trip to place the plaque back in the late 60's. He just passed away in April. So seeing your photos brings back fond but bittersweet memories. Thanks, they're beautiful!

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Re: TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby maiathebee » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:17 am

Oh thanks maverick! I'm still new around here and I forgot about that running post :thumbsup:
oh hey! you're reading my signature.
that's nice. want to check out my blog?
here it is: plutoniclove.com
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TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby Bluewater » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:04 pm

After arriving at the outlet of Cecile Lake I followed a steep use trail down the talus toward Iceberg Lake. The use trail follows along the east side of the waterfall leading between the two lakes:

17.JPG


The Minarets from Iceberg Lake:

19.JPG


The outlet of Iceberg Lake was amazing!

18.JPG


After following the outlet stream from Iceberg Lake for about 125 yards I crossed and followed the obvious use trail on the west side. This leads to the meadows above Ediza Lake:

20.JPG


From these meadows I followed the creek up toward the base of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. This area was classic summer Sierra with crystal clear waterfalls, puffy green grass, wildflowers and granite.

21.JPG


22.JPG


Next I contoured above Nydiver Lakes toward Whitebark Pass. The first view of Whitebark Pass (the south side is easy):

25.JPG


Meadows above Garnet Lake:

29.JPG


After crossing the easy rise between Garnet and 1,000 Island I headed up to North Glacier Pass. The route up to North Glacier Pass was idyllic Sierra with spring time wildflowers blooming, crystal clear waterfalls draining directly from the snowfields above and great views of Banner Peak:

31.JPG


By later afternoon I made it through the lengthy boulder fields and over the pass with plenty of time to find a flat camp on the shore of Lake Catherine. There are three of four flat spots just large enough for a small tent or bivy on the northeast shore of Lake Catherine. I didn't have time to explore the rest of the lake. In the background is the back side of Mt. Ritter and the snowfield that leads to the saddle between Ritter and Banner:

33.JPG


There are some alternate routes over some of this section of the High Route. If you're interested here's a link to some details:



The next day I backtracked over North Glacier Pass. . . (to be continued)
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TR: Minaret Loop 07/15 - 07/17

Postby Bluewater » Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:19 pm

The last day I backtracked over North Glacier Pass and headed to 1,000 Island Lake. I was really settling into the feeling of just wandering the High Sierra. Although I had a general idea of where I was headed it wasn't important to find the fastest route, just the most enjoyable. I'm not sure if a walking meditation could be done in a more beautiful environment:

30.JPG


There were a few fishermen on the lake, but it was still calm with some good morning relfections:

35.JPG


A familiar sight. I camped nearby here when thru-hiking the JMT a few years ago:

34.JPG


One of my favorite sandy Sierra beaches:

36.JPG


By the time I reached the junction with the JMT I started to see several groups of hikers and a few north bound PCT hikers. At a water stop I noticed a family that was hiking the JMT together (with all brand new gear). One of the daughters was reading out loud from the JMT guidebook while the parents were attending to chores. It was actually a very wholesome scene. I can't imagine a better place to chill out for some quality time.

I had read about the good views across the valley from the PCT and the high route didn't disappoint. By 1:30 I was waiting for the shuttle at Agnew Meadows.

37.JPG


I plan on returning to this route and finishing this section of the SHR later this summer with a few buddies. It was fun to scout out the terrain and enjoy a few days of semi-solitude. Thanks for reading.

BTW: I did a quick post with more details regarding the alternate route down the north side of Whitebark Pass. Here is the link:

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