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Golden Trout Lake Trail, CA
mini location map2018-06-25
23 by photographer avatarazbackpackr
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Golden Trout Lake Trail, CA 
Golden Trout Lake Trail, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jun 25 2018
azbackpackr
Backpack3.73 Miles 2,073 AEG
Backpack3.73 Miles1 Day      59 Mns   
2,073 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was a quick trip to the Sierra Nevada, because I was determined to not let another summer go by without going hiking somewhere in those great mountains. (I hadn't been there since 2006.) In the long run, it ended up kind of bittersweet. It was gorgeous, but beauty doesn't always solve one's problems.

A couple weeks before the trip I looked online, and there were permits available for this place, Golden Trout Lakes, which I had never heard of. I had been to the Sierras only about 5 times since 1975, and I wanted to go somewhere I hadn't seen. I got a permit for two nights, and also reserved car camping at Onion Valley Campground, for the night before the hike. It's a little more than 500 miles from Flagstaff to Independence, which is where you turn off to go up the steep winding road to Onion Valley. From Onion Valley most backpackers will be hiking up over Kearsarge Pass to the interior of the Sierra. But my hike was kind of off to the side, not over the pass. And the information pages warned that the trail is not maintained, has a lot of scree, and is very steep. They didn't lie! (However, I think the GPS thing is way off. I think it was further, and I am sure I didn't hike almost 4 miles an hour. Something goofy with my GPS.)

I stopped in Lone Pine to pick up my permit. When I got to the town of Independence I got to be a "trail angel" by picking up a couple of Israelis who were thru-hiking the PCT. I took them up Onion Valley Road with me. They had been into town to resupply. I met and talked to several more PCT thru-hikers at the campground and trailhead in Onion Valley. I found my reserved campsite and spent the afternoon hiking around the general area of the car campground.

The next morning I put my ice cooler in the required bear box in the parking lot by my car. The parking lot has over a dozen of these large lockers. They operate on the honor system. Your cooler will either be there when you get back or it won't, I guess. Mine was still there after my hike. Each campsite also has large bear lockers. Big enough to lock a bear inside... And of course, I carried a Bear Vault canister on the backpacking trip. I shouldered my pack and started up the trail to Kearsarge Pass. Very soon, in less than a mile I arrived at a sign for Golden Trout Lake Trail, and I turned off and started up that way.

On the Golden Trout Lake Trail, there is a creek to follow, and a big waterfall along the way. Further on there are a few patches of snow, amazing peaks, and long views to the east toward the Owens Valley, which was full of smoke from a fire near Mammoth. I saw a marmot, who watched me from some distance away, and then decided I wasn't good for much, and left. There were lots of wildflowers. The ones I knew were shooting stars, ceanothus and Indian paintbrush. Lots of birds, but I didn't ID any of them. I saw only two other people while I was up there: a couple of day hikers.

I did okay getting up into the area, despite all the route-finding, scree-slipping, creek-crossing and boulder-clambering I had to go through. The trail appears and disappears quite regularly. Just about the time you get comfortable hiking on it, it disappears, and all you have to follow are cairns. The cairns were very helpful, most of the time... Eventually I reached a nice campsite by the creek with a great view of the Dragon mountain. I was pretty much done in. This was at about 10,900 feet. Probably the altitude caused me some fatigue. I set up my camp and rested a while, and then decided to go to find Golden Trout Lake, taking my day pack, map, and GPS, which had low batteries, I discovered later. The fresh ones were back at camp. As you can see from my GPS route, I didn't quite make it to the correct lake. But I did find a really nice little lake with no name. I am not sure I could have made it to the correct lake on my own, had I known I wasn't even there, because I really was very tired and not thinking straight. I had felt strong hiking up as far as my camp, but after that the exhaustion hit me.

Plus, all this beauty didn't fix the fact that I was there by myself. I decided to cut the trip short and stayed only one night, although my permit was for two. I'm finding I really don't like solo backpacking very much, at least, not in the evenings. I do enjoy the hiking. In the late afternoon and evening there is nothing to do but eat and read a book. I'm usually too tired to do much else, and I end up going to bed way too early, so that the nights end up being very long, and I end up feeling lonely, and wishing I was at home or that I had a companion. I don't suffer from a lot of fears, I just get bored and lonely. I've never been much of a night person, but if campfires are allowed I sometimes build one just to pass the time. In this case campfires were allowed only below 10,000 feet.

So, despite all the books I have read in which the authors rave about solitude and solo travel, I find I don't like it very much. Of course, if you know me, you'd know I also sometimes complain about groups I've gone with. So, I'm looking for one very copacetic hiking partner. Just in case one is out there, somewhere.
Named place
Named place
Kearsarge Pinnacles
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Indian Paintbrush, Shooting Stars, Ceanothus
_____________________
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
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