Palisades Glacier Backpacking Adventure

At the end of August, we challenged ourselves to reach new heights on our rewarding adventure to Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier, the alpine cousin of Havasupai!

Words by Trip Leader Heather Bixby. Photos by Triptographer Clare Healy

A few days before our adventure, we found out that the Sierras would likely be greeting us with a rain shower. Being the Shoestring Warriors that we are, we all decided to embrace the adventure, even though we were pretty much guaranteed to get wet. In the words of Billy Connolly, “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes.” All that to say, we were in high spirits!

On Friday afternoon, our team met up at the Big Pine Creek Campground. We set up camp, and had a delicious spaghetti dinner with garlic bread. Afterwards, Ari, Stacy and I enjoyed our time around the campfire, talking about our most memorable adventures and favorite outdoor gear, while waiting for the rest of the Shoestring Warriors to arrive.

Suddenly, we felt a strong gust of wind and heard a loud crack of thunder. Yep, you guessed it! The thunderstorm confirmed that we were in the Sierras! Thanks to Ari, we quickly set up a pop-up tent and enjoyed the sound of the rain, while watching flashes of lighting from a safe, dry place. The best way! When our fellow Shoestring Warriors arrived, they too received shelter from the rain. We learned it was Ashlae’s birthday and celebrated with some cupcakes from John!

The next morning, we had our coffee, packed our gear, and headed out to the trailhead starting at a 7,750-feet elevation.

We hiked 4.8-miles and climbed 2,230 feet to the 3rd lake. As we climbed, we trekked along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek passing several stunning waterfalls and alpine lakes. We set up camp at the 3rd lake, and relaxed looking out at a gorgeous view of the lake.

The next morning, we lightened our packs to take a more strenuous technical route to Palisade Glacier. To get to an epic view of the lakes, we hiked another 4 miles along a beautiful trail, conquered a river crossing, and climbed up 2,400-feet elevation.

It was a stunning view and definitely worth the climb! Before we descended down and retraced our steps to the campground, we ate lunch and explored a few alpine lakes. We were going to keep exploring, when we felt the strong wind gust again. Yep, the rain was back! We decided to head back down the mountain toward camp.

Right when we got back to camp, it started raining. Perfect timing! We huddled under a tarp we set-up just for this occasion. We sipped coffee and hot cocoa, while enjoying the sound of the rain hitting the tarp. While gazing upon the lake, we reminisced about the day’s adventure and dreamed about our next excursions.

The next morning, we made veggie and cheese omelets for breakfast. They were AMAZING! After packing up camp, we leisurely hiked out.

Ashley, Ari, John, Stacy, Clare, Cyndee, thank you for choosing to join the Shoestring Family for an adventure! It was an absolute blast exploring the Sierras with you! Until next time 🙂



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