above timberline, adventure, backcountry, backpacking, bear country, Canon, camping, full moon, Guitar Lake, High Sierra, High Sierra Trail, HST, JMT, John Muir Trail, lake, landscape, landscape photography, mountain range, mountains, #moon, Mt. Hale, Mt. Young, nature, night, night photography, no clouds, North Star, outdoors, Polaris, rocks, Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada, sky, star trails, stars, Whitney Zone, wilderness


Night arrived at Guitar Lake early. That was not necessarily interesting. But what was interesting was that it was just one night shy of a full moon night. Once the illuminating moon in a Waxing Gibbous rose, the area was lit in almost broad daylight. Especially when there was no other source of light, it mattered. From where we were, we had a great view of Mt. Young. However, Mt. Hale, although taller than the first, was not visible because it was sitting far behind the hump that rose right before us. Nonetheless, the North Star ascended right above where Mt. Hale was. As far as the Milky Way went, I had no luck since the moon was extremely bright. But I didn’t mind that. Because it also meant that we would be hiking Mt. Whitney in the full moon light next night. Many JMT’ers and PCT’ers hike Mt. Whitney in the dark to catch the sunrise at the peak. Only a handful of them gets to say that the full moon guided their way to the top.

Sequoia National Park, CA

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
  • 14mm / 60 sec at ƒ/10 / ISO 500
  • Taken 8/17/2016

© 2017 H Peter Ji


    • Hi Theresa. Thanks for stopping by! Guitar Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the Sierra Nevada. Because it is right next to the John Muir Trail (JMT) and the second last lake before ascending Mt. Whitney (if you’re doing the JMT southbound, that is, which most do), so most thru-hikers spend the night here. The last lake(s) are Hitchcock Lakes, which I also got to explore a bit and spent a night at. It isn’t as popular for camping among the thru-hikers because it is 0.5 miles off the trail AND a bit of climbing (200 feet) to do when you return back to the trail once you spend a night there, which makes it obviously unpopular but also less visited – a lot of solitude, which I love. Anyway, both Guitar Lake and Hitchcock Lakes are seen clearly from Trail Crest (a crest that connects the west and the east slopes of the mountain) all the way to the Mt. Whitney summit. You can google them, but also I have a few more photos coming up (nearing the end of this straight 9 days/8 nights, 73-mile excursion through the heart of the Sequoia National Park) and you will be able to see what these lakes look like from the top. On a quick note, Guitar Lake is named after its shape resembling a guitar, which is obvious when you look at it from the top. The sunset photo, posted on the previous day, was taken at the neck (of the Guitar Lake), gazing at Mt. Whitney glowing in orange, highest summit in the contiguous United States. That was where we were to end our excursion. That’s where the JMT also ends (once again if you go southbound. If you do northbound, that’s where you start). And this photo of the star trails was taken near our campsite, around the half way between the trail and the neck at Guitar Lake. As described, it was a day before the full moon night, it was bright at night, so I took photos of the star trailing than the Milky Way, which I couldn’t see once the moon rose. 🙂 Once again thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy other photos as well. 🙂

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