We knew we were in for a lot of snow when we saw this beautiful view on the drive to our trailhead.
We spent our first night at Peeler Lake, 9,488 feet
Temperatures fell below freezing at night, creating these beautiful sheets of thin ice on the meadow streams.
Sorry, I couldn't resist including a sunset shot. Benson Lake is one of my favorite lakes in the Sierra because it has a huge sand beach. It's often referred to as the Benson Riviera and this was a perfect Riviera style sunset
We encountered our first substantial snow on the trail to Rodgers Lake (about 10,000').
I had heard that Matterhorn Canyon was really beautiful and it was the inspiration for this loop trip. But our experience in the canyon was unpleasant: we had a hard time finding a decent campsite and we encountered strange debris (upper left), animal skeletons (upper right), a large rather fresh mountain lion track (lower left) and it was cold enough overnight to leave frost on my backpack (lower right).
After spending an uncomfortable night in Matterhorn Canyon, we climbed to the top in the morning and that's when it became really beautiful - too bad we weren't able to go further the day before.
We crossed two snow covered passes on our trip, first Burro Pass (10,700') and then Mule Pass (10,500'). Burro Pass was a gentle climb up and down and we hiked across 1/4 mile of snow. Mule Pass was another story and I recall the first line of our Haiku about the pass: "Mule Pass kicked our ass." The view from the top was pretty sweet.
Mule Pass turned out to be a steep snow climb up followed by a rather fun boot-ski down a 1/2 mile of steep snowfields with snowmelt creeks running underneath. We were happy to reach the bottom without any serious slips or falls through snowbridges into the hidden creeks.
We were also treated to a riot of colorful wildflowers at the base of Mule Pass - one of the real treats of a heavy snow year.
When I photograph a portrait of our insect repellent, you know that the mosquitos had to be bad, really bad. This, along with our mosquito headnets and permethrin treated clothing helped keep us sane.