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Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier

Temple Crag, Second Lake, and Kurt

Temple Crag, Second Lake, and Kurt

Wow! Really that is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this trip. It was truly amazing. My first ever summertime backpacking trip really rocked my world. We went to an area called Big Pine Lakes to camp. This is a wonderful set of lakes some of which are fed by glacial waters from higher up. The glacial sediments suspended in the water make the water an incredible shade of blue. It’s just amazing to see.

Not a bad place to camp!

Not a bad place to camp!

Along the banks of the North Fork of Big Pine Creek

Along the banks of the North Fork of Big Pine Creek

From the trailhead, we hiked 6 miles or so to our camp at Third Lake. From here, at around 10,000 feet, we would camp and set out for the Palisades Glacier the next day.

Sunrise over Third Lake

Sunrise over Third Lake

Sam Mack Meadow

Sam Mack Meadow

Sam Mack Meadow is a beautiful stopover on the way up to the glacier. We stopped here to take a few moments to refill our water supplies before heading on up. Elevation here is about 11,000 feet.

Sam Mack Meadow from above

Sam Mack Meadow from above

First, Second and Third Lakes from above

First, Second and Third Lakes from above

As we climbed, we got a good view of First, Second and Third lakes (top to bottom in the above pic).

Snow at the base of Temple Crag's face

Snow at the base of Temple Crag's face

The Palisades Glacier

The Palisades Glacier

Finally, we got the view we were working towards. The Palisades Glacier. This glacier is the largest in the Sierras, and they are amongst the southernmost in North America. This was a truly breathtaking sight. Our view was from a ridge above the terminal lake at about 12,300 feet. We were essentially standing on the terminal moraine of the glacier when it extended much further.

Palisades Glacier Panorama

Click on the above panorama for a larger version on flickr.

Above the Glacier are several 14,000 foot peaks (and some a little bit less), including North Palisade, Starlight Peak, Thunderbolt Peak, Mount Sill and Polemonium Peak. It’s a magnificent area.

North Palisade (left) and Starlight Peak

North Palisade (left) and Starlight Peak

Sunrise reflections in Third Lake

Sunrise reflections in Third Lake

I was really captivated by Temple Crag, which loomed above our campsite. I could probably spend a week photographing this single mountain.

Clouds casting shadows directly onto nearby Temple Crag

Clouds casting shadows directly onto nearby Temple Crag

Temple Crag reflected in Third Lake

Temple Crag reflected in Third Lake

Finally, the Perseid Meteor Shower was happening at the time we were there, and I tried to capture a few of them while looking at the amazing Temple Crag.

Perseid Meteor over Temple Crag

Perseid Meteor over Temple Crag

Tent Trails

Tent Trails

It was an amazing trip. I hope to go back and explore the glacier up close, something our group voted not to do. It really was some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen with my own eyes.

November 15, 2011 - 4:37 pm

Fabian - hi kurt, its fabian, we did this trip together and hiked mt baldy together! man these pictures are great but i remember it being more beautiful! i want to plan a trip to the area next year and make it to the glacier for sure! i think you, big mike and myself were the only ones wanting to make it to the glacier despite being probably the most out of shape!!!! haha! arnold sent me the link just now of the lighted switch back up whitney, how you came up with the idea of the picture is pretty amazing. well did arnold tell you about our trip on the high sierra trail in sequoia? man, i think it beats palisades! i got to photograph precipice lake, one of ansel’s most famous pictures. anyways, glad your still hiking, keep up the good work!!!

fabian

November 17, 2011 - 8:31 am

Kurt - Hey Fabian. It’s always more beautiful in person. I want to go back there. I also really want to go to Precipice Lake there on the High Sierra Trail like you and Arnold went to. Perhaps next year.

May 30, 2012 - 10:35 pm

fabian - Hey Kurt! My friend and myself will be doing Palisades Glacier this weekend, we will leave Friday at 7 PM and hike Saturday and Sunday, we just came up with the idea to do it yesterday. Lmk if you’re interested!

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