Day 1: Minaret Lake

Late this morning, my son Chase, my friend Daniel, and I left Devil’s Postpile packed with 10 days of provisions and started making our way towards the Sierra Crest.

The temperatures were hot, winds were unrelentingly absent, the trail was dry and dusty. That is to say that the summer Sierra forest, replete with towering ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, was in fine August form.

Eventually the big trees gave way to granite slabs and thousand year old whitebark pines with stories to tell, and we found ourselves 2,500 feet above the tourist and thru-hiker village of Red’s Meadow and on the quiet and remote northwest shore of Minaret Lake, where we are now camped.

The Minarets rise above us more than two thousand feet, with the dagger-like Clyde Minaret dominating our view. I cannot resist the urge to look up at it, often, and wonder if mountains had souls, would this one be a friend or foe? Its beauty and symmetry are striking, but its serrated ridgeline and imposing silhouette are haunting, too. I can’t get the famous words of 1920s-era climber Charles Michael out of my head: “There is no friendliness about the Minarets…they wear a black and sinister look.”

Tonight we are deeply exhausted, as we begin the process of decompressing from a week of little sleep, long work schedules, and the fatigue of walking from well below the timberline to within rock throwing distance of the mighty alpine of the High Sierra’s jagged crest.

Tomorrow we’ll make our way north along Roper’s version of the Sierra High Route, through the cliff band leading to Cecile Lake and Iceberg Lake, below the imposing shadows of the northern Minarets.

Godspeed,
RJ

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