Lake Edison to Second Recess Trailhead

Beginning of our five-day backpack up Mono Creek to Pioneer Basin. We're headed towards Mono Pass.

After a short hike up the JMT (John Muir Trail) we turn southeast onto the much less traveled Mono Creek trail.

We're soon enjoying views of the Mono Divide.

Hike up to Pioneer Basin

After a night at Fish Camp, a comfortable spot by the Second Recess trailhead, we pass through a grove of Aspens on the way up Mono Creek.

Several verdant meadows add to the views of the Mono Recesses.

Shortcut to Pioneer Basin, just past the "No Fires/10,000 feet" sign (which is actually below 10,000 feet).

Passing by Mud Lake, at 10,400 feet not far below Pioneer Basin. This would make a better base camp during bad weather.

Final stretch up the steep and sometimes rugged Pioneer Basin trail.

Mike and Steve enjoying the view of the southernmost lake in Pioneer Basin (elevation 10,800 feet).

Fantastic view across the southernmost lake towards the Fourth and Third Recesses.

At our campsite at Lake 10862.

After a cold plunge into the lake, we catch some sun before it dips behind the ridge to our west.

Early evening looking north.

Looking south from our campsite as dusk engulfs the mountains.

Dayhike to Stanford Col

Great views the following morning after a chilly night.

Warming up in the morning sun.

Our day hiking goal is Stanford Col, just west of 12,838-foot Mt. Stanford.

These friendly hikers were among the few we saw during our stay in Pioneer Basin.

Working our way up towards the ridge.

Enjoying the views on the way up.

Lake at 11,200 feet. The route to Crocker Col is in the distance.

Stanford Col, elevation 11,600 feet, with Steelhead Lake and Grass Lake in the distance. The north side of Stanford Col (aka Steelhead Pass) is a steep, nasty Class 2 descent across loose talus.

Beginning our descent back into Pioneer Basin. In the distance, from left to right, are Mono Pass (just below the highest peak, Mt. Starr), Fourth Recess and Third Recess.

One of the grassy slopes we cross during our wandering hike back to our campsite. Pioneer Basin offers the classic expansive views we look for during our annual backpacking trip to the High Sierra.

Hiking down from the basin offers more great views of the Mono Divide.

One last scenic stop before heading back down Mono Creek.