Big Pine Creek Trail was a very rewarding overnight backpacking and snowshoeing trip in the Palisades Range of the High Eastern Sierra Nevada. I had always heard about "Temple Crag" (12,982 ft), a giant granite cathedral shaped mountain in the High Sierra Nevada that towers above the lakes that form Big Pine Creek. Temple Crag is home to one of the longest rock climbing routes in the Sierra Nevada, "Sun Ribbon Arete" 5.9, 21 pitches, and I have plans on ascending this classic line in the future. Even though I wasn't climbing it now, I wanted to see this beast for myself.
My buddy Chris, and his Chesapeake Bay retriever "Chief" were ready to get up and get out. We only had 2-days/1-night to make our hike up and back Big Pine Creek Trail to "First Lake" and back, so we hit the trail running. We knew there was still deep snow on the ground at higher elevations and there was snow in the forecast for that night, so we brought plenty of warm gear, snowshoes, ice axes, and crampons.
We started late, but made it up the 5 plus mile ascent to First Lake in time for a spectacular sunset behind the Palisade Glacier, Mt. Sill (14,154 ft), and Thunderbolt Peak (14,009 ft) that make up the Great Western Divide. We made camp over looking First Lake and Temple Crag towering above the valley. There it was, 20 plus pitches of pristine Sierra granite staring down on us from the Temple Crag. Tired from the day, we made food and hit the sack. The next morning I awoke with the first rays of light from the eastern sunrise just about to hit Palisades. I had finally laid eyes on this epic mountain, and spent my morning daydreaming about my return to summit, Temple Crag.