Backpacking North Fork Big Pine Creek/ Big Pine Lakes 4/30-5/1

Posted by Adventure 16 | 05.07.2018
by Michael O'Dell
Assistant Manager, A16 West Los Angeles
Temple Crag
Temple Crag


On the morning of April 30th we hiked out of the Big Pine Creek North Fork trail head into the John Muir Wilderness. After About four miles of hiking we got to snow and the first of the glacial lakes. The lakes we're partially frozen over, Temple Crag and The Palisade Glacier sat in the distance.

frozen lake
Second lake, frozen over

During the day the temperatures stayed pretty steady around 30 degrees, though that night camping by Third Lake at 10,249 feet, it dipped down to around 18 degrees and snowed three inches on us.

tent in the snow
Our tent after the snow

The early season is a great time to get out here, the trail is relatively empty and easy to follow even with a few inches of snow. Despite carrying snow shoes (available for rental) all the way in, we didn't get the chance to use them.

On the way out
On the way out


We turned around the next morning and left the remainder of the loop for another time, it seemed wise to avoid going higher up and further in as the snow continued the dump on us.


My favorite pieces of gear on this snow adventure were my Therm-a-rest Z-lite, which makes an excellent sit pad to keep warm and pairs great with an inflatable sleep pad in the colder months, also my homemade pot cozy--great for keeping food hot as it re-hydrates.