Walking the JMT across Bighorn Plateau

Walking the JMT across Bighorn Plateau

Monday morning marked our departure from the John Muir Trail. After a short walk along the well-worn path where it circles south of Tawny Point, we said goodbye to the trail on Bighorn Plateau (home of many frolicking marmots).

We cut northeast and stayed above the lower Wright Creek drainage so we could get a better view of the lakes beyond. Pretty much immediately we found ourselves in a talus field, but it didn’t last long. The cross-country travel was easy and straightfoward, and once we emerged from the trees it was even better.

Talus field on the way to Wright Lakes Basin

Talus field on the way to Wright Lakes Basin

I wasn’t sure exactly where we wanted to look for a campsite, so we just walked towards the middle tier of lakes and found a nice spot among the boulders. There is little protection from the sun and wind up here so we made due with what we found. As Pavla and I explored for the ideal spot, David tried fishing in the lake nearest to our intended spot. He struck out there, but the next lake over was great.

View from Camp in Wright Lakes

View from Camp in Wright Lakes

After setting up and lazing around camp for a while, we suited up with our daypacks and went for a loop walk around the basin. Very easy cross-country travel made this a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. We did a clockwise loop from our lake around the basin, spending the majority of the time fishing and soaking in the scenery of the uppermost lake. It was stunning, one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve been to in the Sierra.

Upper Wright Lake

Upper Wright Lake

The basin has the added bonus of the backdrop of the Tyndall to Barnard ridge. Several peaks line the sharp ridge, and I took a lot of time to study it and pick out various routes I had been reading about in the months leading up to this trip. I had originally considered climbing Mt Tyndall from this side, but the talus slog didn’t appeal to me and I really wanted to climb the classic North Rib instead. We’ll visit with Tyndall again later this trip…

Mmmm, ridge-y.

Mmmm, ridge-y.

The unappealing southwest slope of Tyndall. Sloggy.

The unappealing southwest slope of Tyndall. Sloggy.

We continued through the rest of the loop and scouted future campsites and fishing. It’s a beautiful place, but it still takes second place to Bear Lakes Basin.

Nature or weird art installation?

Nature or weird art installation?

Wright Lakes Basin, Mt Barnard backdrop

Wright Lakes Basin, Mt Barnard backdrop

This was our ‘easy’ day, so we did some laundry and lounged around camp while waiting for sunset. Tomorrow’s plan: Mt Barnard, the highest non-14er in the Sierra!

Categories: Trip Reports

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +

4 Comments

Karl D · September 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Very nice! Pictures of the fishies would be a bonus.

    calipidder · September 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

    David ate them too fast. No pics!

Wesley Phillips · September 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Thanks for the trip report, very encouraging. My wife and i just completed 7 days in SEKI and we followed your recommendation about the Big Agnes tent and the HooRag, both made the trip more enjoyable, keep up the great reporting and recommendations.

    calipidder · September 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks! Glad you enjoy it.

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