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Ansel Adams Wilderness Day 3: Thousand Island Lake to Silver Lake


Morning at Thousand Island Lake

The sky was clear in the morning and everything was calm and still. I cherished the moment. I was there, among the peaks again.

Franta slept outside. We did not snore that bad the first night. It was mostly an act of bravado, or he hoped to act as a live bait to attract a bear. It was a warm night, at least for the altitude, and the temperature dropped to just around freezing. Franta came closer to being a bait than we had realized. On the way out a couple of hours later, we met backpackers who had seen a mountain lion right along the trail close to our camp. We took in the sunrise and watched the light change on the mountains behind the lake.

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Tent Sleeping under the peaks Good morning:-) I am not cold Dawn reflections Sunrise on Banner Peak
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Banner Peak Boulder framed
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Photographer Photographer Shoreline Boulder dash
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Trail Boulder fascination Life


Morning at Thousand Island Lake

It was hard to part with the view of Thousand Island Lake and Banner Peak behind it. Walking east along the northern shore of the lake, it was impossible not to keep turning around.

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Banner Peak reflection Hitting the trail Nose Grass patterns
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Shoreline Beach! More of the same! Lake curves
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Lakeside trail Wildflowers and Rodger Peak Franta


Clark Lakes

After crossing the John Muir Trail at the east end of Thousand Island Lake, we continued toward a cluster of lakes, some named Clark Lakes, and another aptly named Summit Lake. The trail went down first only to climb back up over a small pass. We took a break at the biggest of the Clark Lakes and then continued past several others to the highest point of the day, a little over 10 thousand feet.

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Intersection Tree framed Franta Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter One of Clark Lakes Clark Lake and Banner Peak
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Roman Last of Clark Lakes


Descent to Silver Lake

From the highest point, it was just a 1600 vertical feet of steep descent to Agnew Lake. The views of the lake and the valley below were made more dramatic by dark clouds that were piling up in the west as if a thunderstorm was approaching. Out toward east, one could see all the way to Mono Lake some 20 miles away. The contrast was startling between the wilderness we had just left and the civilization that was greeting us with the sight of people boating on Silver Lake. As much as it was hard to leave the mountains behind, I was looking forward to a good meal.

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Spooky meadow Looking east Trail lined by willows In the Spooky Meadow First glimpse of Agnew Lake Survivors
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Trail Agnew Lake and Gem Lake Valley Descent Traversing down Loner
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Agnew Lake and Gem Lake Dam Excavator rest Roman Silver Lake Fall color above Silver Lake


Road to and around Yosemite

After leaving Silver and June Lakes behind, we entered Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass. The clouds that we saw on our descent came together to produce a thunderstorm accompanied by heavy rain that hit as soon as we reached Toulumne Meadows. The sunset at Olmsted Point was a total washout, but it was impressive to see water rushing down the rock faces and onto the road near Tenaya Lake.

After a dinner in Lee Vining, we headed in the dark over Sonora Pass back to the western side of Sierra. What was our surprise when I walked up to the reception of a Best Western in Sonora, and was told they had no rooms available. The entire town was booked by firefighters. The reception staff worked hard to find us one of the last remaining rooms in a colorful, if dated, bed and breakfast establishment near downtown. The shower felt so good...

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Photographing and driving Rainy Olmsted Point


Last updated: February 23, 2013
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