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Cottonwood Lakes Trail
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mini location map2017-08-02
11 by photographer avataramy1300
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Cottonwood Lakes TrailSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Aug 02 2017
Hiking12.00 Miles 1,250 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles
1,250 ft AEG18 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Days 1&2 of a 5-day base camp and day-hiking trip in the Sierra Nevada, with 5 members of the LA Chapter of the Sierra Club's Mule Pack Section. We camped the night of August 1 at Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Campground and presented ourselves, with duffles, at the Pack Station at 7:00 on August 2. The pack station has plenty of parking and you can leave your car there, when they are assisting your trip. We hiked about 7 miles with 1050' Elevation gain this first day. It was nice to be able to get several miles into the high country, and away from roads, carrying only a day pack and letting the mules do the hard work. Our original plan had been to camp near one of the South Fork Lakes, but our trip leader had pre-hiked that route over July 4th and found it too swampy, due to the heavy snowpack the Sierra had this past winter. So we headed up the main/north fork trail, which the pack station manager had told us was drier. The maps show a trail that heads NNW between Cottonwood Lakes 1&2, but we found that there is no trail on the ground there this season, and the ground got real swampy there. So we backtracked and followed a trail that goes north, just east of Lake 1 (which was marked with a sign that said simply "trail"). Then we made a left turn, hiked less than a quarter mile, and selected a campsite near a lake that has no name on the map. We dubbed it "Home Lake" for the duration of our stay. Had a great view of Mt. Langley to our right, and Cirque Peak to our left, from the kitchen area of our camp. It also provided us with a couple big trees to shade our food storage area, and easy access to an outlet stream for water. I had a bit of trouble finding a level spot for my tent, and ended up a ways up a short but steep hill east of the kitchen site. I didn't make many trips per day up & down that hill, but it turned out to be an excellent tent site. :y: All the streams up there are high this year.

On day 2 of the trip, we did a fairly leisurely hike to explore around Cottonwood Lakes 3, 4 and 5, continuing along the same trail we had camped near. Then from Lake 5 we went cross-country to Muir Lake, for some map & compass and route-finding practice. (That was August 3, and about 5 miles.)
"Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy . . ." -- John Denver :D
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