A Yosemite National Park Hidden Gem
July 2020 – John Muir once discussed his distain for hikers that hiked through an area with out truly enjoying what the forest and mountains contained for them. “Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them” – John Muir
I wondered as I sat at the crystal clear shores of Parker Pass Lake how many had passed this location with out ever setting their eyes on such a hidden gem in the world. A mere 400 years from Parker Pass and a trail that thousands cross annually from Yosemite to Ansel Adams wilderness, Parker Pass Lake can not be scene from the trail although there is not a tree in sight and no mountains to block its view. As hikers approach Parker Pass is it simply highlighted as a small knoll and a backdrop of a mountain that looks little out of place with a black and brown contrast that does not screen Yosemite.
As I approached Parker Pass for the afternoon, after visiting Ansel Adam wilderness in the morning via the Mono pas route, four individuals could be seen returning from their day hike up to Parker Pass. Two were entertained by a snow field that rested 100 feet off the trail in early July and the other two headed straight towards me. As we approached with each other with proper social distancing of the times, I asked if they had stopped by the lake on their visit. They both said no with a question mark type response, and discussed how they were just on a day hike and had stayed at Sardine lake in Adam Ansel Wilderness the night before. I told them about the lake just over the knoll and they just didn’t seem interested as they passed by.
As I pealed of trail after touching the Parker Pass elevation sign I really didn’t know what to expect, but I do love going off trail a bit and seeing places that are on the map that don’t have direct access mapped out. Peeking over the crest of the little knoll I instantly felt sorrow for those four individuals which missed out on the view. One of my favorite things about the waters in the sierra are how they capture the sky color and reflect magnificent blues in the sierra afternoons.
Parker Pass Lake was the prettiest blue today, contrasting against a black rock backdrop covers in snow fields that ran to the waters edge on the west side. I stood 400 feet above a small glacial water lake that simply made me say “Wow” out loud!
The trek down to the lake was a bit technical as the east side of the lake is a composite of rock that seemed to be left overs of the glacial push thousands of years earlier. Loose rock, sharp edges and steep slope made getting to the water from up top a worthy task on a hot clear afternoon. In hindsight it might have been safer to walk North 1/4 mile and descend on a much more gradual tree lined slope.
Sitting at the edge of this lake was mesmerizing as the water went from clear to aqua blue to sky blue colors as it danced across to the other side and into a snow back melting away into the water from the hot summer sun. I slipped off my shoes and tested the shore edge deciding that a polar plunge was not going to happen today and rather quickly exited the water to chill for a bit on the share line.
I wish I was more a geologist at time while I hike as places like this intrigue me. What makes rock change from the granite walls of the Kuna Crest to the West into this Brown/Black sediment type rock that outlined this lake? As I packed up an hour later and headed North to follow the flow of the water leaving the lake, I looked back several time admiring the rock formation and the contract it gave to the crystal clear blue waters of Parker Pass Lake. I cant wait to return and poach a hammock for the day in the future. Maybe next time Ill leave the trail a bit earlier and enter from the North side of the lake. either way if anyone ever asks about Parker Pass I will be sure to tell them to Peek over the knoll.