inyo national forest

Hungry Packer Lake Overnight

Picture Peak

A storm looms over Picture Peak in the High Sierras…


Stressed and restless, I needed a night in the mountains. The usual overnight to the San Gabriels north of LA wouldn’t do. I needed some time in the Eastern Sierras, even just a night or two. I had seen some trip reports from Hungry Packer Lake up near Bishop and I began planning. What drew me to the place were photographs of a mountain nicknamed ‘Picture Peak’ – a commanding 13,000 ft mountain peak with a perfect shape dominating the vista from the lake shore. That was where I wanted to spend the weekend. I packed quickly and was on the road the following morning.

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Big Pine Lakes

First Lake, Temple Craig, big pine lakes, ca

The moon rises above Temple Craig and Mount Alice near camp…


If Disney made a “SierraLand” it might look a lot like the Big Pine Lakes Basin, which lies tucked away in the John Muir Wilderness. The Big Pine Lakes present the very best of classic high-sierra scenery: photogenic mountain peaks, mineral-tinged emerald lakes, sweeping pine-studded vistas, glacial access, and alpine meadows – all compressed into a manageable area with straightforward access that can be toured in a lollipop loop. It is perfect for a first-time backpacking trip, or a one-hundredth, and indeed it was one of my first in the high sierra. The opportunities for photography are among the best around and after reaching the first Lake, almost every turn of the trail offers a stunning vista…

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