Sierra High

Banner Morning- Mt. Banner reflected in Thousand Island Lake

Every year my intrepid hiking crew and I find a place to wander around for 5 or 6 days, usually in the Eastern Sierra. This year we chose our spot based on the frustrated past plans of one of our hikers, who had targeted this area to hike with his sons last year. These plans fell through so we gave him another chance. I also had hiked solo in this area in 2008 when none of my usual partners in crime could get away and I have longed since then to return.

Our route this year took us to the Ansel Adams Wilderness, retracing some of Adam's steps by Thousand Island Lake, Mt. Banner and Mt. Ritter. After the initial stretch 'on trail' to Thousand Island Lake we were off trail, more or less following the 'Sierra High Route' using old fashioned map and compass. We wound our way up and over trail-less passes (Garnet, Whitebark, Ediza and almost Nancy), walked above and below the treeline, slept by lakes and streams (Thousand Island, Ediza, Minaret, Minaret Creek), saw old and new friends on the trail, dodged wildfire smoke and storms, got completely worn out, and had a terrific time. 

I never feel more free or more at home than when I am in the Sierras. Some places resonate with the souls of some people; the Sierras set off some sort of harmonic vibration with my spirit that I cannot explain except to say that it has to be divine. I feel much closer to God than the 10,000 foot elevation brings me....

The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” - all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life - the things going on - within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.
— Ansel Adams (

Iceberg Lake, 'pass' to Cecile Lake

Banner Sky Show

Storm Clouds, Minarets

Ediza Moonset

Minarets Warning

Mountain Trails
by: Marjorie Allen Seiffert (1885-1970)

Night stands in the valley
Her head
Is bound with stars,
While Dawn, a grey-eyed nun
Steals through the silent trees.
Behind the mountains
Morning shouts and sings
And dances upward.
The peaks even today show finger prints
Where God last touched the earth
Before he set it joyously in space
Finding it good.
You, slender shining—
You, downward leaping—
Born from silent snow
To drown at last in the blue silent
Mountain lake—
You are not snow or water,
You are only a silver spirit
Sharp crags of granite,
Pointing, threatening,
Thrust fiercely up at me;
And near the edge, their menace
Would whirl me down.
Climbing desperately toward the heights
I glance in terror behind me
To be deafened—to be shattered—
By a thunderbolt of beauty.
The mountains hold communion;
They are priests, silent and austere,
They have come together
In a secret place
With unbowed heads.
This hidden lake
Is a sapphire cup—
An offering clearer than wine,
Colder than tears.
The mountains hold it toward the sky
In silence.

North Glacier- Banner-Ritter Col above Catherine Lake

Star Banner