SHR 2012 ~ Day 6: Upper Basin to Palisade Basin

Frozen Lake Pass & Vennacher Needle from Upper Basin.
By Day 6 we joined the JMT in Upper Basin and for the first time in four days saw other hikers. 
After several days of navigating through cross country terrain it was easy hiking on the well made switch backs to Mather Pass. The last time I was on this pass was during a JMT thru hike last summer, this time the views were familiar but still stunning.

We came across a varied mix of hikers on the way down from Mather Pass. The strangest was a young couple in their twenties hiking up the north side toward the pass. They looked totally strained and miserable carrying huge packs with way too much gear hanging off every possible strap. Another group of four Europeans asked in broken English for the location of the next water source. It seemed strange as we were just above Palisades Lakes and we were surrounded by creeks and waterfalls feeding into the lakes below.

We also met a seasoned thru hiker wearing minimalist running shoes and a small custom pack (by Chris Zimmer). He was on a 30 mile/day pace and seemed to be totally loving the long days. 

Most of the way down we were trying to get a good view of Cirque Pass, our next High Route goal. 

View of the Palisades from Mather Pass.

Beachfront on Lower Palisade Lake.

After following the JMT for about 5 or 6 miles we set off cross country toward Cirque Pass. 

Leaving the JMT and heading for Cirque Pass.
The first 300 feet up toward Cirque Pass included negotiating some class II and class III granite benches. It was fun trying to find the best way up. 

Looking back at Palisades Lakes on the way up Cirque Pass.

The southwest side of Cirque Pass.

After clearing the first 300 feet the rest of the way to the pass is straight forward. There is a plateau about half way up with a few tarns, then the classic granite slabs to the top. The first view of Palisade Basin and close up views of the Palisades was awesome. The way down to the lake that feeds Glacier Creek was all about finding the right granite sidewalk.

Potluck Pass & the North Palisade from Cirque Pass.
We camped at this sandy beach near the outlet of the larger lake. I hoped a series of small waterfalls leading through the rocks would provide some beautiful photos, but no such luck in the late afternoon light. I could spend days in this granite playground.

Sandy campsite below the Palisade Crest.
This area was amazing. We watched the constantly changing light on the Palisades until sunset. 

North Palisade & Polemonium Peak from camp.

Sunset from Palisade Basin.

Sunset on the Palisades.

SHR - Day 6

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