Granite Dome and its lakes

Aptly named Granite Dome is an immense granite massif with numerous basins occupied by stunning alpine lakes. All of the lakes are located on the northern side of the massive ridge that culminates in the summit while the south side features much less rock and more meadows. The region is accessed via Kennedy Meadows and features a moderately steep trail to reach Relief Reservoir and beyond, and then off-trail travel along granite slabs to reach a series of lakes including Lewis Lakes (lower, middle, upper), Sardella Lake, Ridge Lake and Iceland Lake. In my opinion Ridge Lake is the centerpiece nestled beneath the towering cliffs of the Granite dome summit. Many photos can be found here.

The cross-country travel to reach the lakes from Summit Creek was straightforward and I soon found myself at Sardella Lake with an awesome backdrop of Granite Dome. I continued up to Upper Lewis Lake which was still 80% frozen. I made a slight diversion to see Middle and Lower Lewis Lakes from above. Middle Lewis Lake is spectacular with towering granite cliffs and I definitely want to visit it at shore level in the future. Continuing up the slopes above Upper Lewis Lake, I encountered consistent snow and put on my Khatoola microspikes. These proved to be essential as the slope steepened and the snow became harder, if not icy in spots, on the north facing aspect below the ridgeline.  Once atop the ridge, the slope eased and I was soon traversing the broad summit ridge to the actual summit. I enjoyed awesome views in all directions, in particular a pillar protruding from the main granite wall of the Dome afforded a great aspect of the Granite Dome and lakes below.

On the way down, I veered toward Ridge Lake where I also encountered sections of firm snow to carefully navigate. Finally at Ridge Lake, I spent time enjoying this paradise characterized by deep blue waters, clumps of vegetation, and polished granite. I explored the area and climbed some slabs for a great view of Iceland Lake and then descended to Iceland Lake, another gorgeous alpine lake. Instead of returning to the trail the same way I had come, I decided to make a loop and follow the canyon draining Ridge Lake. None of the travel was technical, although it was definitely more time consuming than the way I had come. Once at the bottom of the canyon, I crossed a swampy Relief Meadows to join the Relief Meadows trail and ultimately made my way back to the main trail followed by a quick run downhill to Kennedy Meadows.  

More photos here.