Backpacking Minaret Lake | In the Shadows of the Minarets

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I have been envisioning the Minarets for years now. I remember the first time I discovered them via Google Maps, I knew I had to go. The question was when? Finally the time for the trip came. I reserved the wilderness permits months prior to the October trip date. Usually later in the year, the Sierras can get wild and weather patterns change in the matter of minutes. I knew it was going to be chilly but I could not pass up this opportunity.

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The night before we started the hike we picked up our permit at the Mammoth Lakes welcome center in their convienent after hours box. If you want to start your hike early the next day, give the ranger station a call and ask them if they have a drop-box so you are able to pick up the night before or early morning. I will be utilizing this method everytime because I love to start early.

I reached out to my Instagram to see if anyone wanted to join Kelle and I on this backpacking trip. Billy Dekom responded and I took a gander at his profile and noticed he was just like myself, passionate for the outdoors and adventure. He met up with us at 8 am at the overnight parking lot and then we took our time to get to the trail head. We started our hike at 8:45 am, not as early as I usually like to hit the trail, but we were in no rush.

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The Minaret Lake trailhead starts out at about 7500 ft and ends around 9800 ft elevation with a total of 2300 feet of elevation change. I recorded to gps tracks on Gaia GPS and both were different so these numbers are not 100% accurate but close. Click on the hyperlinks to see both tracks. The trail is 7 miles and takes about 4-6 hours to the lake and on the way back down it took us just shy of 3 hours. The trail is well shaded throughout the trail. I would say 50% shaded and runs along the creek so if you run out of water you can stop and fill up. Do not forget to purify that water!

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I would rate this trail as moderate. Its a steady gradual incline to the trail that is well marked. You will come across multiple forks in the trail with signs. If you are using a gps tracker or a map then you will not have any issue finding your route. You will notice on some of the signs it may not say “Minaret Lake”. It may say something else. Just a heads up.

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Throughout the trail there is tons to see and you will want to stop and gander at the beauty along the way. We witnessed plenty of color from some of the brush and trees along the way. The picture above is this beautiful grove of Redwoods we scoped out while taking a break. There is room to camp as well.

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Every time I got a glimpse of the Minarets I was in awe! I stopped to capture the scene. I mean, look at that gnarly jagged ridge line!

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When we got up to the lake. Kelle wasn’t feeling too good (altitude sickness) so she decided to relax after we set up our campsite. Billy and I decided to circumnavigate the entire lake. Above is Volcanic Ridge west that looked amazing.

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It was extremely windy the whole time we were up there but we didnt let that stop us enjoying our time and views up there.

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Billy’s coat pops in this image while wandering around as I thought this was a pretty cool composition. Go check out his website BillyDekom.com

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About 3/4 around the lake we were at this high point that overlooked the lake. Pictured above was where there was an inlet that connected the lake with Riegelhuth Minaret dominating the background.

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Lenticular clouds filled the skies throughout the evening. This is where we set-up camp. This particular location had 5 smooth flat spots for a tent. You will not have a problem finding a suitable campsite here. There was about 20 sites all around the lake. I recommend scoping them out before picking one.

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As the night winded down, we ate our packaged meal and enjoy golden hour and blue hour. Here is a blue hour image.

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Blue hour faded into night time and the stars were dominating the sky. I noticed the milky way with the naked eye so we decided to shoot some astro-photography before we called it a night.

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We woke up with little sleep due to the high winds whipping our tent around but watching the sunrise made it all well worth the sleepless night. Pictured above is Kelle in her natural state, (trying to stay warm while enjoying the views). When the sun graced the peaks with its delicious golden color, it was a breathtaking few moments that I will never forget.

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There are 17 unofficial names of the Minarets which were named after Norman Clyde. They are part of the Ritter Range. Clyde Minaret is the tallest peak at 12281 ft/3743 meters.

GETTING THERE:

From US395, take SR203 into Mammoth Lakes and then continue towards Devils Postpile. Park at the overnight parking lot if you are staying overnight. $10 fee for everyone that enters the area unless you have a NPS pass.

TRAIL INFORMATION:

7 miles

4-6 Hrs up/ 3 Hrs down

Difficulty- Moderate

2300 ft elevation gain. (7500 to 9800 feet)

Multiple campsites

Plenty of water near trail

50% Shaded give or take

Fun Fact.

Did you know that the Minarets were part of Yosemite National Park until 1905 when congress redrew the park’s borders which eliminated large areas on the western and eastern sides of the park.

CAMERA INFORMATION

Sony a7riii

Zeiss 16-35mm lens

Sony 70-200mm f4 lens

Mefoto Roadtrip Air Tripod