We came up with this trip based on several things: photos of the Deer Lake Basin on the Sierra High Route that were posted at the local climbing gym (Berkeley Iron Works) showing the open, essentially treeless country between Mammoth Lakes and Deer Lake, as well as the desire to do a section of the Sierra High Route we hadn’t already done and a section of the John Muir Trail that my wife hadn’t done.
We started at Lake George in Mammoth, climbed up to the SHR and went south to Deer Lakes. From there we continued on the SHR which coincides with the JMT for a while then just beyond Tully Hole, climbs out of Horse Heaven to Izaak Walton Lake and then drops back down past Laurel Lake to the Mono Creek Trail. We then went down the Mono Creek Trail to pick up the JMT just East of Lake Thomas A Edison and then went north on the JMT over Silver Pass. We turned east at Tully Hole and exited the Sierras via McGee Pass. This is a very spectacular area. Unfortunately the smoke from a forest fire to the south resulted in hazy afternoons the first few days obscuring the views, especially later in the afternoon.
Lake Mary and Lake George in Mammoth Lakes
Crystal Lake and the Mammoth Crest
Looking South on the Mammoth Crest
Deer Lakes basin
Alpen Glow at Deer Lakes. Roper's “conspicuous gap” in the ridge between Deer Lake and Duck Lake is at the left.
Looking back to Deer Lake Basin and a hazy view of the Minarets and Mts Ritter and Banner
Fireweed along the trail
Camp above Virginia Lake
Switchbacks down into Tully Hole. Note the haze from the forest fire.
View to McGee Pass from benches enroute Izaak Walton Lake
Izaak Walton Lake
Notch to Rosy Finch Lake from a tarn near Cotton Lake
Red Slate Mountain
What’s for dinner?
View back from the Pass. Mts Ritter and Banner in the haze on the horizon
View South to Rosy Finch Lake and Bighorn Lake, Notch to Laurel Lake
Laurel Lake far below
Laurel Lake basin
View back up the canyon containing Laurel Lake
View south into Mono Creek Canyon and beyond into the Second Recess
View to First Recess
View up canyon towards Mott Lake and Rosy Finch Lake
Trail to Silver Pass
View from camp below Silver Pass South to Granite Ridge and Selden Pass far to the South
View North from Silver Pass
On the McGee Pass Trail
Sunset at Tully Lake
Trail to McGee Pass
Looking back from the approach to McGee Pass
Descending McGee Pass
Big McGee Lake
McGee Canyon has to be one of the more spectacular East Side Exits from the High Sierra