TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

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TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby maiathebee » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:51 pm

Since I got such great advice from all of you about planning my trip, it's only fair that I report back! We had a wonderful time in spite of the thunderstorms and smoke from the Aspen Fire.

Day 1:
Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake via the High Trail (PCT)
About 8.5 miles, 1700 ft gain

The smoke from the Aspen Fire filled the valley below the High Trail and obscured our views of lakes and mountains across. We can only imagine how amazing this view would have been on a clear day! We didn't find the trail too hot nor too dry even though we didn't get on the trail until 10:30am due to picking up permits and taking the shuttle from the Mammoth Adventure Center.

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Shadow Lake from the HIgh Trail / PCT by snackronym, on Flickr

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Lunch with Banner & Ritter by snackronym, on Flickr

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Granite valley east of Thousand Island Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

We took our time and took two 45 minute breaks to soak in the (hazy) views, but still we crossed the outlet stream of Thousand Island Lake around 3:30pm.

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Crossing Thousand Island Lake's outlet stream on the JMT by snackronym, on Flickr

Storm clouds on the north side of Thousand Island made for some dramatic lighting and inspired us to move quickly off-trail on the south side to find a place to set up camp.

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Dramatic lighting from a storm by snackronym, on Flickr

We found a cozy spot and set up camp just as a storm rolled in.

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Camp 1 - Thousand Island Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

After the rain stopped and the clouds cleared around 5pm, we had a chance to poke around near camp.

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Camp 1 and Banner by snackronym, on Flickr

And have dinner on the rocks above our camp with a view of Banner. (This is me, by the way.)

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Look, we can see Banner! by snackronym, on Flickr

We went to bed early so I could be up before dawn to snap some photos from near camp.

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Dawn on Day 2 by snackronym, on Flickr

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Sunrise glow on Banner and Thousand Island Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

Day 2:
Thousand Island Lake to Nydiver Lakes via Whitebark Pass
About 6 miles off trail, 1400 feet elevation gain

We broke camp around 7:30am without eating breakfast and made our way along the south shore of Thousand Island towards the low saddle between Thousand Island and Garnet at the base of Banner.

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Banner and Thousand Island Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

We were fairly high up the hill, so we decided to head up to the ridge for a view of Garnet for breakfast at around 8:45am.

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Breakfast view of Garnet Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

We found our own way down higher than the true saddle / pass between Thousand Island and Garnet.

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On our way down to the wash above Garnet Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

And we were greeted with the most amazing valley drainage below Ritter and Banner and above the small ponds above Garnet Lake. The whole area was red with Indian Paintbrush.

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Gorgeous meadow of Indian Paintbush below Banner & Ritter, above Garnet Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

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Glacial valley above Garnet Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

We were headed for Whitebark Pass. Secor describes the route across and up loose talus and scree to the notch just to the left of the low point in this photo. We found the talus to be very loose and unstable and we were quite happy to finally reach the notch at the top. Climbing that part was the easiest bit of the entire ascent.

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Whitebark Pass. by snackronym, on Flickr

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Garnet Lake from mid-way up to Whitebark Pass by snackronym, on Flickr

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Happy to be finally at the base of the notch. by snackronym, on Flickr

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The notch at Whitebark Pass. by snackronym, on Flickr

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Ascending Whitebark Pass with Garnet in the background by snackronym, on Flickr

Awesome views of Nydiver, Minarets, and Iceberg Lake from the pass, which we achieved around noon. But whoops, a storm is brewing over Ritter and Banner! We basically ran down the south side of the pass to upper Nydiver and hastily threw up the tent as it started to hail.

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Upper Nydiver Lake and MInarets. by snackronym, on Flickr

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A break in the hail allows us to get water by snackronym, on Flickr

The storm lasted about three hours, sadly. But afterwards we were able to do some exploring.

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Ritter & Banner from Nydiver Lakes by snackronym, on Flickr

Day 3:
Nydiver Lakes to Cecile Lake via Nydiver outlet stream, Shadow Creek, Ediza, and Iceberg.


We rose before dawn again to catch some of the beautiful Eastern Sierra sunrise.

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Sunrise over middle Nydiver Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

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Ritter & Banner glow in the sunrise above upper Nydiver Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

Then we headed down to Lower Nydiver so we could follow the use trail from its outlet down to Shadow Creek. The smoke from the Aspen Fire was especially heavy in the valley below. We took a quick morning dip in Lower Nydiver, swimming to its cute little island.

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Surveying the smoke situation in the valley below Nydiver Lakes by snackronym, on Flickr

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So much smoke! by snackronym, on Flickr

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Hazy view of the Minarets and Volcanic Ridge from the trail down Nydiver's outlet stream by snackronym, on Flickr

Once at Shadow Creek we turned towards Ediza and Iceberg. We were happy to see a trail again! Less happy to see lots of people---we hadn't seen a soul since we crossed the outlet stream for Thousand Island on our first day (about 40 hours prior). It was about 9:30am and three groups were headed down from having camped at Ediza the night before.

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Lake Ediza. Imagine it'd be beautiful without the smoke! by snackronym, on Flickr

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Minarets seen from the valley just below Iceberg Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

We crossed the snow-free talus slope of Iceberg and climbed up to Cecile. My hiking partner is less than enthused about talus and we don't yet know that there is about a mile of it to cross to get around Cecile.

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Climbing to Cecile Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

It was smokey and a storm threatened, so we set up camp in some trees to the west of Cecile's outlet.

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Camp 3 as a storm threatened… again. by snackronym, on Flickr

We spent some time in the tent listening to thunder and expecting rain that never came. We would have welcomed rain to wash away from the smoke. It was really windy and when we emerged from the tent we were happy to find that the smoke was gone even though it hadn't rained. We did a bit of exploring of Cecile to plan our route out the following morning and ended up circumnavigating the lake.

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Very high winds cleared out the smoke. Yay! by snackronym, on Flickr

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Cecile from the southwest side below the Minarets. by snackronym, on Flickr

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Picking our way along the western slopes of Cecile by snackronym, on Flickr

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We're almost back at Camp 3 in the trees in the middle there. by snackronym, on Flickr

Day 4:
Cecile to Devil's Postpile via Minaret Lake
10 miles, negligable elevation gain.

We "overslept" and only rose at 5:30am. I'd been hoping to get up early enough to be around the eastern talus field of Cecile to photograph the sunrise glow on the Minarets. I had to settle for some quick snaps from camp.

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Sunrise over Cecile Lake by snackronym, on Flickr

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Sunrise glow on the Minarets above Camp 3 by snackronym, on Flickr

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Getting water from the snowmelt stream by Camp 3 by snackronym, on Flickr

We headed around Cecile (again, this time with packs) and then down to Minaret Lake and out. We were at Devil's Postpile waiting for the shuttle by noon.

Image
The use trail around the east side of Cecile. Please talus there's another way! by snackronym, on Flickr

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Minaret Lake from the use trail that connects it to Cecile by snackronym, on Flickr

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Hard to say goodbye to those Minarets. by snackronym, on Flickr
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby maverick » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:09 pm

Beautiful TR, thank you so much for posting it so quickly. Nice to see the flower
are still quite impressive. Wow, that Lake Ediza and Nydiver shots really shows
the thickness of the smoke. :eek:
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:22 pm

Nice photos and report. It looks like those storms and wind would flush out the smoke at times, letting you enjoy the classic Ritter Range views. That is a nice loop trip.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby maiathebee » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:58 pm

Thanks guys! Yeah, the first day I was so bummed about the smoke, but we ended up having some really gorgeous chunks of time, so it all worked out in the end. Giantbrookie is right---morning smoke blown away by late afternoon storms and/or wind.
oh hey! you're reading my signature.
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Postby sheperd80 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:13 am

Thanks for the beautiful TR. Its too bad the smoke obscured so much of the view but it does add an ethereal quality to some of your photos. Thanks to these TRs, this area is definitely on my radar for next year!

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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby Shawn » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:19 am

Wow, so many nice photos and informative TR. Thanks for posting. :)
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby gochicagobears! » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:35 am

Great TR and accompanying photos! I love the starkness of the eastern sierras!
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:33 pm

There are 40 castilleja species listed on calflora.org most of which if red, people simply refer to as "Indian paintbrush". On descending into the Garnet Lake basin, you marvelled at the wonderful turfy meadows of paintbrush. The correct species name is Peirson's paintbrush, castilleja peirsonii which I have used as a foreground many times in my own work, ie:

http://www.davidsenesac.com/images/print_04-q3-2.html

The below botanist's page has a considerable collection of these species:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mark_egger ... 709816218/

For we non-bontanist folk the easy identification is to note if it is a short height turfy meadow red-hued species about timberline areas. Especially after wet winters, in my experience the best places in the Sierra to see these red lawn gardens is in the turfy meadows on the eastside of the Ritter Range. Especially wonderful are the areas around the noname lake at the top of the Garnet Lake basin, the west end of Thousand Island Lake, and the meadows about lower Davis Lake. But one can find them about many crest timberline meadows in the Sierra Nevada like these I captured last summer on the Silver Divide:

Image

The trick is to time one's visit to the often narrow window when these flowers peak which varies from year to year depending on when winter snows melt out and weather.
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TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby Bluewater » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:25 pm

Great tr and pxts. I did a very similar loop a few weeks prior but in the opposite direction (DP- Cecile - Catherine - Agnew).

That chute on the north side of Whitebark Pass looked a little sketchy, so I crossed over to the benches on the other side of the snowfields and followed the granite stairs down. That chute reminded me of the east side of Frozen Lake Pass or Darwin Col.

And those red flowers in the meadow above Garnet Lake were amazing. Looks like we both got there at the right time this year:)

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1376112092.802428.jpg
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby maiathebee » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:05 am

SSSdave - Thanks for the flower info! One of my goals is actually to learn a bit more about the biology of the Sierras :)

Bluewater - Yeah, I saw your TR, I think! Actually, the chute was much easier than all of the talus below it because there is something stable to hold on to. Just below the chute seemed to be the sketchiest part, since that's where the mountain is steepest and the talus loosest. We were glad we were going up, not down!
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Re: TR: Thousand Island - Nydiver - Cecile Loop 7/26-7/29

Postby kpeter » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:54 am

Some very nice photos of your trip. I especially love the light breaking through the storm. Nice shot! I've also had fun wandering between Thousand Island and Garnet at the west ends. A pretty spot for ambling.
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