Backpacking Iceberg Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness

Trail Overview

Trail: Shadow Creek to Iceberg Lake

Distance: 19 miles round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1,885 ft.

Location: Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

Permits: Overnight wilderness permits are required. Permits can be reserved here.

The Story

You know all of those places you have saved on your maps? Maybe you too have a list titled, “BRB”? How about the social media followers that you interact with daily, that you’ve never met? I’m sure we all have those things. I’m sure we all contemplate how it would be if we just reached out to that one person with an invite. Well, I’ve contemplated for entirely way too long, and as my BRB list continues to grow, I’m finding myself reaching out to more people with weekend invites now more than ever. Not only am I checking off bucket list destinations, but I’m building real friendships along the way.

I had been following Taya (@misswanderingsoul) for 6 years before we finally set foot on trail together. Her enthusiasm to hike the Pacific Crest Trail that year really inspired me, and I followed her journey as she backpacked 400+ miles on the PCT. After hiking the Trans-Catalina Trail with Mermaid, and having the best time on the island, I was more inclined to reach out to other social media friends with invites to join me on weekend backpacking trips, especially when they are just as excited for new adventures as I am.

It was Friday evening when I met Taya in Ridgecrest. We had planned to meet up halfway, ditch my car, and head to Mammoth before getting on the trail the following morning. Arriving in Lone Pine on a Friday night had me craving tacos from Castros Taco Truck, and luckily they were still open. We camped near Mammoth Lakes that night on BLM land as I introduced my favorite camping area to Taya. She not only owns my dream vehicle, but it’s pretty badass, and I was excited to ride along. Short night for an early morning start, when we arrived at the parking lot around 7:30 AM.

Being too early in the season, the Red’s Meadow shuttle was not in service- which meant having to hike in an extra 2.5 miles to the Agnew Meadows trailhead. We thought we would be able to hitch a ride down, but there wasn’t much traffic heading in that morning. I had been down this road once before, a few years ago, and it’s always a strange feeling returning to a place that you’ve been, but the views we had walking down the road was totally worth it. By 9:15 AM we were officially on Shadow Lake trail headed to Iceberg Lake.

The hike to Iceberg Lake from Agnew Meadows is a little under 8.5 miles passing popular alpine lakes such as: Shadow and Ediza Lakes. The trail connects with the JMT/PCT near Shadow Creek trail and continues up to Iceberg Lake. When I hiked this trail a few years ago, I didn’t make it to Iceberg Lake since we had been doing the Thousand Island Lake/Ediza Lake loop, so this trip had been a long time coming.

We started the morning with perfect weather, and I don’t remember having too many issues with mosquitos. The best thing was we didn’t have to carry much water! We stopped at Olaine Lake to catch our breath after climbing natures staircase and that’s where I decided to fall right into the lake attempting to take a photo as I crossed the log. Luckily, this was already after our snacks, and right before getting back on the you can imagine how quickly I dried off. While it was not officially summer yet, everything seemed to be in full bloom and rushing! Creeks were high, flowers were blooming. ๐ŸŒธ

After hiking for 10 miles we finally had Ediza Lake within our view. Ediza Lake is a popular lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness and is surrounded by only some of the best peaks in the Eastern Sierra! We had 1 mile before reaching our destination, and after a little remark about calling it a day and staying at Ediza Lake instead, I knew we would regret that decision- so we filtered some water for our last climb up to Iceberg Lake. It was the second weekend in June and we found some lingering snow patches in the shade as we hiked on, being very careful not to slip. The snow patches we came across got me excited for icebergs at Iceberg Lake! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a little after 4 PM when we reached Iceberg Lake, and to be quite honest- we were both tired as heck. As soon as we found a camp spot, we set up camp and….we napped. LOL. ๐Ÿ˜œ

I don’t do this often, as I’m usually always running around, chasing the sun, attempting to get into the lake; but for whatever reason this was different. We both just needed to CHILL. We did hang out for a bit before the sun started to set, running around snapping photos. The icebergs in the lake had been floating around to different sides of the lake, making different perspectives of the icebergs. There weren’t many clouds in the sky that afternoon, so the sunset wasn’t anything epic, but these views just spoke for themselves.

We got an early start the next morning, 7:15 AM, and already on the trail. The sun hadn’t even come up over the mountain yet before hiking back down to Ediza Lake. A bit cold, and a little bummed that we didn’t get into the water, we decided that if the sun came out by the time we made our way down, we would go for a swim in Ediza Lake, and that’s exactly what we did.

After 30 mins and nearly getting eaten alive by mosquitos, our photoshoot..I mean “swim” at Ediza Lake was done. Feeling refreshed with a cold body shock I’m learning is not a bad way to start the day hiking. We would hike out the same direction as we hiked in, knowing that we would be passing a few more lakes along the way. Only one big creek that we had to cross taking off our shoes as we waddled across the creek to the other side.

We didn’t really run into many other hikers on the trail, and almost forgot the extra 2.5-mile road walk back to the car before running into a guy at the trailhead who was hiking out of Reds Meadow already trying to get back to his car. Long story short, my friend Taya got a hitch up the road and was able to retrieve her car, picking us up and saving us the extra miles! ๐ŸŽ‰


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Vanessa is an outdoors enthusiast, hiker at heart, and the storyteller behind Forever She Wanders; a women's lifestyle + travel blog inspiring all to get outdoors, seek adventure and live an active lifestyle. As an outdoors enthusiast, Vanessa has found passion in being outdoors while backpacking, camping, hiking and creating memories of a lifetime.

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