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Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake

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Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 20, 2012 04:16PM
The reason you haven't heard from us for a few days is that we were doing what we love--backpacking in the Sierra. This time it was around Emigrant Wilderness, to a series of lakes for which there is no trail, only sloping slabs of granite and a topo map to guide us.

We started at Kennedy Meadows and followed the horses and manure for five miles up to the junction with the trail to Lower Relief Valley. It had rained torrents the night before (we met one group who weathered five hours of thunder, lightning, and pouring rain near Emigrant Lake) and so our normally dry Sierra felt like a sauna. Steam was rising off the rocks, and we were sweating like...well, we were sweating.

That's the gorge below...and you can see the steam rising.

But once we got above Relief Reservoir, things got a lot better. The trail goes through a very steep climb here, and after lunch we stopped at Summit Creek to enjoy the water, the view...and what the heck, let's camp here. That afternoon P took a recon hike up the granite just to make sure this route was possible...and came back down full of confidence.

That's the view from near our campsite, below.

The next morning we were up early and hiking straight up the smooth granite. What a wonderful way to explore the Sierra! The views opened up, and there were so many fabulous trees struggling in the granite that we kept stopping to take photos of them.

You can see all of our photos on our Picasa page for the trip:


In about an hour we were up at the top of the pass, and then pulled out our map and compass to make sure we were headed in the right direction. We contoured around the granite bowl, and ended up right where we wanted to be, at the northern corner of Ridge Lake. From there we hiked around to explore the three other lakes, fish a bit, and spend the day far from the madding crowds below. Wonderful. The sky was full of fluffy clouds, and we just wandered from one great spot to the next.

Iceland Lake is below:

The last day was Friday, and we started early to beat the heat. Most of the hike back down to Kennedy Meadows was in shadow...but we also ran into seven (yep, seven!) groups of horses, from three to fourteen people in each. Add in a few groups of hikers, and it sure felt different from Iceland Lake.

This is not a trip for those who want a nice hike along a well-marked trail. In fact, the lakes in question are well off the trail, and take quite a bit of navigation. But they are lovely lakes, and we promise you that you won't see many people up in this area. And the scenery and fishing is pretty darn amazing.

(Note--we did not see a single fish at Iceland lake--only pollywogs. But Ridge Lake and its companion were full of fish, as was Summit Creek.)


follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 21, 2012 07:47AM

The typical route to Iceland is Lower Relief Valley area and then due North to the lake.
Iceland is quite popular. Surprised if you didn't see anyone else there.
School is back in session.. and you went Wed-Fri... so that plays into it.
Pretty much in July and Aug. I brace myself to see people anywhere.
Was just in Emigrant visiting 12 different lakes... and there were people at
most of them.... so I just say hi and be one my way. (ok, I just avoid them entirely)
(skipped the beach at Hyatt due to that... )

When I was at Iceland years ago there were two groups ... one with a woof woof...
and on the way out another group was heading in.
Been meaning to go back into that area... but the trama of hiking thru KM has kept
me away.
Granite Dome is a neat feature. (btw.. it's not photo #87 and #96... it's #88)

Have fun

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 23, 2012 07:11AM
For those driving over Sonora Pass. You can see this area from the road.
At the first turnout on the up going east... You'll see this:

The red arrow is Granite Dome
Meadow below is Kennedy

Further east there is a larger area to get more views. Check it out next time you in the area.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 25, 2012 06:39AM
Are there two Kennedy Meadows in the Sierra? It seems to me I always see a sign much further south for Kennedy Meadows.
avatar Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 25, 2012 11:12AM
Are there two Kennedy Meadows in the Sierra? It seems to me I always see a sign much further south for Kennedy Meadows.

Yes, there are two.
avatar Re: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland Lake
August 25, 2012 01:16PM
Officially, there's only one recognized as Kennedy Meadows.

Officially, there's two other places recognized as Kennedy Meadow.

The confusion is that the Kennedy Meadows Resort in the Stanislaus National Forest is located in Kennedy Meadow (not Kennedy Meadows).

Here are the official the GPS coordinates of the various locations:

Kennedy Meadows (Tulare County): 36.0093891, -118.1286911

Kennedy Meadow (Tuolumne County): 38.3035235, -119.741009

Kennedy Meadow (Fresno County): 36.7702224, -118.8326038

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2012 01:31PM by plawrence.
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