This was taken late in the afternoon after crossing Donahue Pass southbound into the Ansel Adams Wilderness on the John Muir Trail. This 5 mile stretch is the only section of the Muir Trail east of the Sierra Crest - everything here drains into Mono Lake.
A German couple hiking the trail were writing an article on the JMT for a German magazine. We kept passing each other as we stopped to take in the scenery and take pictures. His English wasn't very good, but his comment to me near this spot: "It's like a fairyland".
Weird addendum: I and some other hikers, the German included, camped a couple miles down the trail at Rush Creek Forks. 3:30 AM I'm woken by a helicopter hovering *directly* over the tent with it's floodlight on me. Must have had thermal imaging, and could see me in my sleeping bag - the tent was well hidden in the trees. I was waiting for a tomahawk missile or something.
Same thing happened to other hikers camped at Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes. People were talking about it at Red's Meadow Cafe that night; it wasn't an isolated incident. Consensus was it wasn't a rescue - more likely a ginned up military flyboy playing with some new infrared toys...
More at: stevedunleavy.smugmug.com/