Twenty Lakes Basin

A second day in Tuolumne and the weather proved to be just as fair as yesterday. Fall also brings the comforting hues of yellow and browns. The aspens had just begun to don their yellow fall cloaks and I predict next weekend will be peak season. I wanted to climb North Peak today, but since I’d been feeling under the weather, I decided to take a less strenuous hike. Instead, I wandered around Twenty Lakes Basin and visited just about every lake I could find on my topographical map. I only encountered one other hiker the entire day—the benefits of late season treks!

Although I’ve hiked in Twenty Lakes Basin numerous times, I had yet to research the origins of the diverse names given to the lakes. Here’s some of what I found in Pete Browning’s very useful book, Yosemite Place Names.:

Saddlebag Lake: “undoubtedly named for its shape—two partly rounded ends with a narrowing middle.”

Wasco Lake: “Named by Al Gardisky in 1932 after the town in which a close friend of his lived.”
Z%20Lake.jpg Z Lake: “Named in 1932 by Al Gardisky for its shape.”

Cascade Lake: “Named by Everett Spuller in 1932 ‘because of the cascade coming down from the glacierette from North Peak.’”

Steelhead Lake: Named by Al Gardisky in 1932 and refers to the steelhead trout he planted in the lake.

Shamrock Lake: Probably given its name by the USGS during its 1905-1909 survey; possesses three lobes like a shamrock.

Helen Lake: Named in 1932 by Al Gardisky for a ‘lady friend.’”

Twin Lakes: Once again named by Al.

Odell Lake: A friend of Al’s.

Hummingbird Lake: “Named in 1932 by Al Gardisky because at one time he saw many hummingbirds there.”

Obviously in 1932 it paid to be a friend of Al.

My favorite lake? Twin Lakes. Climbing over rough metamorphic rock, you suddenly descend into this private alcove of sunlit water surrounded by white bark pine trees.