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Heart Lake - Inyo NF
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mini location map2016-03-27
12 by photographer avatarslegal
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Heart Lake - Inyo NFSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Snowshoeing avatar Mar 27 2016
Snowshoeing7.60 Miles 1,100 AEG
Snowshoeing7.60 Miles
1,100 ft AEG   5 Hrs   30 Mns Break
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I tried hiking to Heart Lake in December. There was a lot of fresh powder at the time and even though I had snowshoes on, I was doing too much post holing. It wore me out and I turned around short of the goal.

What is a 3 mile or so round trip hike in the summer is nearly 8 miles in the winter. The road to Coldwater Creek Campground, where the Heart Lake Trailhead is, is closed all of the way down to Twin Lakes. That means snowshoeing all of the way from Twin Lakes to the trail head.

From Twin Lakes to Coldwater Creek Campground is not very difficult. The hike is on Lake Mary Road next to a cross country ski run. There is a little bit of off road on the Lake Mary Loop to avoid the ski run on the now narrower road, but it’s mostly flat.

Once at the campground, it’s a little tougher because it’s all uphill and you have to stay off of the campground roads because they are ski runs. By the time I got to the Heart Lake trailhead I had already down 2.6 miles.

Unlike my December attempt, there was a cross country ski run cut into the bridge across Coldwater Creek. No matter. I crossed anyway. The ski run appear to head past the Mammoth Consolidated Mine, which was not the direction I was headed.

It was 50 degrees when I started the hike and the snow was quite slushy. No post holing this time made for a good pace uphill. That is, until the cross slope got steep. Then the cleats on the bottom of my snowshoes would not hold very well and I slipped and slid the rest of the way to Heart Lake. I even fell a couple times.

By the time I made it to Heart Lake it was getting colder and windier. I stopped and ate a sandwich and shot some photos. Then I added a layer for the hike back.

While less strenuous, the return trip down to the trailhead was a little more treacherous. Despite shortening my steps on the steeper downhill sections, I still had serious traction problems and fell a number of times. Fortunately, the snow was soft.

Once back at Coldwater Creek Campground it started to snow. At first, it was nice big flakes and made for a pretty landscape. Then the wind picked up and the snow turned to pelting graupel for the remainder of the hike. The last 2 miles were not fun. As always, I look back at the good parts and the accomplishment, not the bad parts of the hike. So all in all, this was a good hike.
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