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Deer Lakes Loop
2 Photosets

2016-07-20  
2015-10-09  
mini location map2015-10-09
22 by photographer avatarslegal
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Deer Lakes LoopSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Oct 09 2015
slegal
Hiking13.40 Miles 3,211 AEG
Hiking13.40 Miles   7 Hrs   3 Mns   2.18 mph
3,211 ft AEG      54 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This has been on my radar for years. I’ve read about the hike and viewed the likely route from a distance, but didn’t actually do the hike until today.

There was a heat wave covering much of California today and it was noticeable even at 11,000 feet. I don’t think I’ve ever been as warm at that elevation as I was today. There was also no wind all day, which is very rare.

While hiking up the Crystal Lake trail I stopped to take photos of the glassy Lake George below. A couple hikers coming up behind me stopped to chat. They told me that they had done the same hike yesterday that I was doing. Today they were just heading up to the crest to do some rock climbing. They continued on ahead of me while I shot photos. Shortly after passing the red cinder cone section I passed them and that was the last I saw of them.

During my ascent up the Mammoth Crest it was quite warm. I sweat way more than I wanted to. Even as I approach the first 11,200 foot high spot I was thinking, is the heat going to turn me around today?

As I headed down the steep descent to Deer Lakes, My mind was made up, I would rather go to Duck Lake than head back up this nasty section. I stopped at a campsite that I had been to before. There is lots of shade here and several logs to sit on. I ate lunch and rested before the next big climb.

The trek between the campsite and the climb over the pass is not a forest service maintained trail and at times, the trail disappeared altogether. Route finding wasn’t too difficult though. The trail finally reached the top of a small ridge and I was right next to the highest of the Deer Lakes.

I looked for the best route up the steep rocky slope and chose wrong. As I scrambled up the rocks I could see what looked like a trail about 20 yards to my right. I scrambled my way to that section and there it was, a steep well defined trail up. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

After cresting the pass I saw a basin ahead of me and a trail on the far side. I headed that way and after descending a while, lost the trail. Route finding wasn’t too difficult. Eventually I reached another use trail and soon I had a spectacular view of Duck Lake and Pika Lake. After shooting some photos I reached the Duck Pass Trail.

Once over Duck Pass, I made good time. It was mostly downhill from here. After passing Barney Lake I reached a spot on the trail where a couple months ago I saw a peculiar animal that I had never seen before. I didn’t get a photo of it, but after doing an internet search, I identified it as a brown tailed weasel. I looked for it again at this spot today but no luck. After 30+ years of hiking and only seeing one of these weasel, I figured that I would never see one again. About a half mile down the trail, I saw another weasel. Again, no photo. It just darted across the trail in front of me.

I continued a fairly good pace all the way to Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake didn’t look too good. It’s rare for high sierra lakes to have algae in them, but there was a lot of it in Emerald Lake.

The hike to Barrett Lake was the most boring part of the whole trek. Barrett Lake was not that pretty and was a good 20 feet low on water. Fortunately, Lake George is very close and I was energized when I got my first view of Lake George. Once at lake level, I was on the most crowded section of trail of the entire hike with lots of fishermen coming and going. Oh well. I’m just about done.

When I reached my 4Runner, I looked at my GPS and the trip log said that I had hike 13.81 miles. That’s a bit more than my estimate. One hiking book that I have says that the hike is 15 miles. The quirky thing about my GPS is that when I download the track log to my computer, the track log says that mileage is usually less than the trip log says. In this case, the track log said that I only hiked 13.4 miles. Whatever the distance, it was a spectacular hike.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
Fall is very lake here in the Mammoth Lakes area. There were some aspens and willows by Lake George that had turned, but I didn't take a trail that I expected to see much fall foliage.
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90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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