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Kearsarge Lakes Trail to Charlotte Lake
6 Photosets

2017-08-08  
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24 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Kearsarge Lakes Trail to Charlotte LakeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Oct 08 2014
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.70 Miles 2,700 AEG
Hiking8.70 Miles   8 Hrs   47 Mns   0.99 mph
2,700 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
This was a day hike to Kearsarge Pass and back from the Onion Valley Campground. The afternoon before my planned hike I drove up to the trail head in Onion Valley to check it out. Information from the Nat. Forest Visitor Center at Mono Lake said the camp ground was already closed for the season and I planned on camping at one of the Grays Meadows CGs at a much lower elevation. The drive up a seemingly endless string of switch backs to get to Onion Valley was an adventure in it self. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Onion Valley CG was still open with few campers. I picked a spot with nice views and got into a conversation with my neighbor. He was another one of these guys about my age who had been camping/hiking/skiing in the eastern Sierras for many years and was still coming back every year.

The next morning I started the trek up to the pass. I took my time on the first set of switch backs - I had eaten a big breakfast and all my blood was going to my stomach instead of my legs where it was needed. Oh well, I had all day and there were plenty of pictures to be taken. A lady and her dog passed me on this stretch walking at a brisk pace. She would later pass me on her way back down from the pass when I was only about half way there - made me feel like a real slug. I later found out from the camp host who knew her that her trail name is Strider. She can do the 4+ mile, 2700 ft elev gain hike to Kearsarge Pass in 90 minutes and does it regularly for exercise. She runs a motel in Independence.

The views across Owen Valley are incredible as you hike up the grade. There are some beautiful large trees along the trail as you reach Gilbert Lake. Red bark, short needles, tiny cones - I'm guessing they are some kind of Sequoia. A few more lakes and a long traverse across a steep hillside on a well built trail and I was at the pass. The view to the west was amazing. The Kearsarge Pinnacles form a high and very jagged barrier along the south west side of the Kearsarge Lakes basin. The lakes below invite you to explore their beaches. There was a small thunderstorm building up over the pinnacles which added to the drama of the scene. After a quick lunch and some photos I reluctantly headed back for the trail head.
Flora
Flora
Foxtail Pine
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