Big Pine Canyon Camping and
Backpacking Trip

July 18-22, 2008
Twas a great trip!!  Todd, his brother-in-law Rod, and I spent two nights car camping at
Big Pine Creek Campground in the Inyo National Forest in the wonderful Eastern
Sierra.  On Saturday we dayhiked up the South Fork Canyon, and then Rod and I took
off on a 2 night backpacking trip up the North Fork Canyon starting Sunday.  This was
my first backpack trip this year and the first time hiking with Rod.  He's married to
Todd's sister Tina and has been hiking in the Eastern Sierra for pretty much his
entire life having grown up in nearby California City.  He's been up to Big Pine Lakes
before, on two occasions, but his goal before was always to go up to Palisade Glacier.  
Palisade is the largest glacier in the Sierra (and the southernmost in the US) and it's
located in an incredibly rugged part of the mountains called the Inconsolable Range.  
This time we didn't go up to the glacier but found I think the best view of it from the
area around Summit Lake.  We camped one night at Third Lake and one night at
Summit and saw the other 7 lakes plus numerous unnamed lakelets, streams, meadows,
waterfalls, rock gardens, and incredible mountain vistas.  I can't believe the amazing
turquoise color of the lakes that are fed directly by the glacier - so pretty!  Overall
we did probably 18+ miles on trail, a mile or two off trail, and climbed from 7,750' at
the trailhead to a high point of 11,250' above Sixth Lake.  The weather was great, it
wasn't that cold at night and was pleasant during the day.  Huge clouds moved through
and provided us some great shade on our first hard day's climb and some interesting
clouds to highlight our photographs.  We heard thunder once but never got more than a
couple of drops of rain.  The mosquitos were very thin, surprisingly for July.  No more
smoke in the area, either.  Of course the wildflowers were great!!
Our tent had a cozy nook in the trees at campsite
#12 Big Pine Creek Campground
Yum, talk about a tasty after hike dinner!  Rod made us filet mignons,
cheese and garlic mashed potatoes, and Texas toast!

Click here to see photos from Day 1 of the backpacking part of the trip

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The Glacier Lodge Store next to the campground is tiny but has almost
everything you could ever want.  It used to be in a larger building but it
burned down about 10 years ago.  The owners do have plans to rebuild
but in the meantime I guess this works.  We noticed on Saturday that
they sold Root Beer Floats so we vowed to get one after our backpack
trip and we did, it was yummy!  $3.00 for 32 oz of frothy cold sweet
The view from the lodge - Middle Palisade 14,072', Norman Clyde Peak
13,855', and Palisade Crest 13,553' are in the distance.  Next to the
lodge there are cabins you can rent, a fishing pond, and a pack station.
Views of the Sierra Crest at sunset from Lone Pine
Mt. Whitney
Inyo or White Mountains by the last light of day
The rushing water from the North Fork meets the
South Fork just below this bridge
We hiked up the South Fork Trail on Saturday
The flowers were beautiful!
Indian Paintbrush and Sulfur Buckwheat - two colors
that only go together in nature!
The water was roaring down these falls
The trail gets really steep after the John Muir
Wilderness Boundary, The Thumb 13,356' is the
mountain behind
The view down canyon...  we hiked up about 2 miles or so
and then rain was threatening so we headed back
Cool rock!
Beautiful old trees!
The trail is pointing towards Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak