Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 20, 2014 - 01:05pm PT
I am hiking up to Lake Catherine via Thousand Island Lake area in August.
Are there any decent flat sites up by the lake or close by to camp the night. There will be three of us w 2 tents. We want to climb Mt Davis and possibly Banner but did not know if it was worth base camping up at Catherine or going back down to Thousand Island Lake. I read somewhere that there is a few flat sites west of lake near small pond.
So the answer is no comfortable camping at Lake Catherine. Although there is a bench of sorts at the East end, it's not my idea of a comfortable spot. Easiest good camping is likely at the West end of Thousand Island Lake. It's a popular area though, so an exact spot is hard to pin down. But there are loads of decent campsites to choose from.
edit: to be clear, as you head west more spots open up and a small meadow with a creek rushing through it is very nice for camping. But this adds needless miles to my eye. YMMV
It looks like you were standing about where I was thinking there might be a flat spot in the first picture. The Ritter Lakes look pretty crumbly and steep on topo. We might base camp out of the far western part of Thousand Island. I have seen the spots there and at Garnet's west end. Also looked like a flat spot due south of lake before the drop to Ritter. Topo always just part of the story however as always…
I would recommend staying at Thousand Island Lake rather than Lake Catherine. In 1968 (another very dry year), we climbed Mr. Davis via an interesting snow couloir and some 4th class near "Annie's Spire," and it was a straightforward day, although it was a bit of grind over talus from the top of the couloir to the summit of Davis. Great views, though.
This is one of my favorite places in that part of the Sierra.
Just on the other side of Catherine over that little pass toward Thousand Island are some great areas but water might be an issue.
I wouldn't say there is "no" comfortable camping around the lake but it is very tight. A few of years ago I spent several hours erasing a site cleared by someone that was about 5 feet from the lake. You'd think people would know better. At the west end of the lake there are some small benches that are good enough for 2-3 people and about 75-100 ft from the lake and a good 20+ feet higher. Still a bit close but workable if you do your business away from the site. It's a bit to the left (northish) of where skcreidc's first photo was taken but close to the west end of the lake. I don't recall seeing a pond anywhere there, but no doubt that comes and goes.
John, this is not 1968. Thousand Island Lake these days is a zoo full of fish torcherers and rednecks and extremely unpleasant.
We camped 1000 Island several years ago,close to the water near one of those weird island hummocks -- but I forget at which end. It was in the latter part of September and when the sun went down it got surprisingly chilly real fast. I somehow forgot my thermal pad and it was like sleeping on an ice cube.
Eventually we hiked out at Tuolumne a few days later via Lyell Canyon.
Sorry to hear the deterioration of Thousand Island camping. I was last there in 2002, having come over Donahue and Island passes, but we kept going to Garnet Lake. Since I'm always approaching from the west (in 1968 we came in over Parker and Koip Peak Passes), I forget how easy it is to get there from the east. Still, our climb up the coiloir and on to Davis was great fun. . .