Hiking to Lake of the Lone Indian in the Ansel Adams Wilderness

Looking down at Peter Pande Lake in the center with Ann Lake above and Olive Lake to its left. Photo taken from the 10,600-foot ridge between Devils Bathtub and the lakes shown last August.
Looking down at Peter Pande Lake in the center with Ann Lake above and Olive Lake to its left. Photo taken from the 10,600-foot ridge between Devils Bathtub and the lakes shown last August. Special to Sierra Star

I’ve written before about the lakes to be found in the Ansel Adams Wilderness - the trailhead being about a three-hour drive from Oakhurst to Edison Lake in Fresno County.

On a trip late last summer, I was awakened from a low flying aircraft which was stocking the lake with small trout. I decided to look for firewood to start morning breakfast, and while searching for wood, my hiking partner decided to explore the stream above the fall. She returned about 30 minutes later and surprised me carrying a 14-inch trout which she caught by hand.

Now I asked myself - why did I carry all this fishing gear when my partner solved the fishing problem? She cornered the fish in one of the pools above the fall and reached down with her hands and snagged the trophy trout. My fishing gear never left my pack for the remainder of the day.

Later that morning, we followed the same stream to Ann Lake. This is a smaller lake with rock formations and trees lining its banks. I decided not to take my fishing gear, but replaced it with my camera and lenses. I’ll let the professional do the fishing.

Later that afternoon, Olive Lake was our next destination. We hiked to the end of Peter Pande Lake and trekked north, climbed through a lightly snow-filled slot and then followed across a flat stone surface which led to this small lake. This is another mountain lake with very few trees along its shoreline, and is ideal for photography.

The following morning we departed for our next destination - Grassy Lake. I was told that there was a shortcut to our destination by departing from the trail and climbing to the next ridge. Once on the top, follow it east to find the easiest route to descend into the next canyon. There we found a game trail which will lead us back to the trail and Grassy Lake.

Once we arrived at the ridge top, the ridge forced us to boulder hop until locating a safe route down into the canyon. The game trail boosted a variety of game tracks including bear, coyote and deer, and the trail led us directly to our original trail and Grassy Lake.

Grassy Lake was surrounded on three sides with long green grass and bordered on the north side by trees. But looks can be deceiving, the tall grass made ideal cover for swarms of those pesty insects called mosquitoes. We decided to continue around the lake and follow the trail to higher ground. Since the next water source was Wilber May Lake, I figured that if we kept our same pace we should arrive before dark to set up our next campsite.

We arrived before dark and set up at a clearing next to the lake. After having my ego crushed by my partner catching a 14-inch trout by hand, this evening I’ll use my fishing gear and attempt to catch a fish with my spinning rod. I was successful and we once again had trout for dinner.

The following morning we hiked over another 10,500 foot pass to the Lake of the Lone Indian. Descending to this wilderness lake along this remote trail reaffirms my memories that this is one of the most beautiful lakes in our mountains.

Gazing down at this picturesque lake are trees surrounding three sides with natural caves on the southern wall. At the north end is its run-off cascading down to the valley below. We set up our camp next to a huge 30-foot boulder which served as a wind break from the wind gusting over Silver Pass along the John Muir Trail. After setting up camp, we visited Papoose, Chief, Warrior and Squaw lakes.

Tomorrow morning will be our final day and we’ll follow the John Muir Trail to Edison Lake and visit the last mountain lake on this adventure, called Silver Pass Lake located west of the John Muir Trail.

I’m looking forward to riding across the four-mile lake to the Edison Lake Vermilion. Next I’ll hitch a ride to the trailhead and pick up my vehicle to start our drive back to civilization.