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Oct 18 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Park McFadden Trail Loop, AZ 
Park McFadden Trail Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 18 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking4.33 Miles 717 AEG
Hiking4.33 Miles   3 Hrs   46 Mns   1.44 mph
717 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was my last hike during our week long stay at our camp near Park Tank. GH stayed in camp starting to pack up for an early departure the next day. I started off from camp through the forest of mostly smaller junipers mixed with a few pines towards the 4WD road FR2752, that would be our exit route the next day. I followed that road for about a mile to see if the road had dried out after the heavy rain 3 nights before. Then the plan was to take an old road shown on some maps to head east up the side of McFadden Peak to connect with the Park McFadden Trail #55. I found no sign of that old road so just followed animal trails going that direction. The forest in this area is a scenic mix of pine, oak and junipers with very little brush under the trees to block a hiker's progress. A large black bear ambling along the hillside about 20 yards away made enough noise to catch my attention. When I turned to see what or who was making that noise, I found the bear staring at me. When I raised my camera to get a photo he continued ambling but at a slightly faster pace and so did I in the opposite direction frequently checking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me.

Upon reaching Trail #55, I followed it down the side of the peak to loop back to Park Tank and from there to our camp. This section of Trail #55 is on an old road which makes for easy hiking. It passes the Park McFadden Tank which, unlike Park Tank, was empty. When Trail #55 gets within 0.3 miles of Park Tank it turns southeast bypassing the tank. At that point I headed off trail in a straight line towards the tank. The forest here is fairly thick but following the trusty cow trails to link small clearings soon delivered me to my destination, the gate at Park Tank. Then it was back up FR2752 to where I had crossed through the forest from camp. GH was still in camp busy packing up for departure the next morning.

The forest in the area around our camp, which I call the Park Tank pasture, is littered with juniper trees that have been sawn down sometime in the past and left laying on the ground. Most of the remaining trees were small enough to have grown in around those dead soldiers over the years. I had seen this area on Google Earth several years ago and assumed it was the site of an old prescribed burn or wildfire. But that was not the case. All the trees laying on the ground had been sawn down and showed no sign of being burned. Investigating the timing of the tree cutting on Google Earth images over the years, it was revealed that the trees had been cut down sometime between June 2007 and June 2010. But this investigation also revealed that his area before the cutting had been covered with smaller trees of a more uniform size compared to the surrounding forest. I suspect that the old original trees in the Park Tank pasture had been cut down at least once before, perhaps mid-1900s, probably by Tonto National Forest, to increase open cattle grazing area. But the juniper trees had started to take over by 2007 and the trees were once again cut down. The last 3 photos in this trip's photoset show historical Google Earth images which confirm the timing of this last cutting.
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Park McFadden Tank
_____________________
Oct 17 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Salome Cny Overlook Peak 5612, AZ 
Salome Cny Overlook Peak 5612, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 17 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking4.83 Miles 682 AEG
Hiking4.83 Miles   5 Hrs   51 Mns   1.12 mph
682 ft AEG   1 Hour   32 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Grasshopper
This hike started out from our camp near Park Tank and took us to a point overlooking Salome Canyon and then to the top of nearby Peak 5612. The first 1.3 miles of the hike were an easy stroll along the old road FR2747 to its intersection with a track leading to Thoroughbred Pasture Tank. At this intersection we found two fairly new road markers labeling the road from camp as FR2747 and the track to the tank as FR2750. Up until that time we actually hadn't known the up-to-date forest road numbers for these tracks as they are not shown on either the topo maps on HAZ or our Garmin hiking GPS's. I suspect that Tonto National Forest has been placing these new road markers in preparation for issuing a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

At this intersection we then followed the track to the tank for 0.2 miles as it traversed more-or-less west along the hillside. We then started off-trail to to the Salome Canyon Rim at the point where the track to the tank turned south down hill towards the tank. We had to thrash through thick brush as we hiked up to the canyon rim to find open rock ledges with views to the north and west. Arriving at the first rim viewpoint, GH once again discovered he had lost an important possession while scrambling through brush. This time it was one of his trekking poles. He back tracked to find the missing pole while I enjoyed the views and finally returned about 40 minutes later muttering something about not believing how far he had to go to find it.

There were were some good views of distant places we had explored on several previous trips to Redmond Mesa but were disappointed that we couldn't see all the way down into the canyon. I had also hoped to get a good view of the JR Ranch but it was hidden behind a hill covered with trees. We then scrambled down hill to cross a saddle between the viewpoint and Peak 5612. The saddle was covered with oak trees and was open under the cover of the trees. This appeared to be a favorite destination for the range cattle, perhaps to rest in the shade of the oak trees on hot days. The climb to the top of the peak was short and we were able to avoid most of the thickets of brush. The top of the peak was fairly flat and open.

Peak 5612 was ringed with a rock ledge near its top for approximately half of its circumference. We found a couple of initials spelled out in small rocks on the ledge so we weren't the first ones to be there. The ledge provided some great views and ended up providing an easy route back to where we could descend down to the saddle. With all the evidence that the saddle was a favorite range cattle hangout, we looked for a cow trail leading back to Thoroughbred Pasture which would avoid all the brush encountered on our way to the canyon viewpoint. The cows once again came through with an easy-to-follow trail on a gentle grade leading back to the track to the tank. From there it was an easy hike back to camp early enough for GH to cook his delicious linguini with tomato based meat sauce. [ [ photo ] ]
 Meteorology
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Sunset
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Oct 16 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Hike FR2752 Past Park Tank, AZ 
Hike FR2752 Past Park Tank, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 16 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking5.61 Miles 433 AEG
Hiking5.61 Miles   4 Hrs   33 Mns   1.50 mph
433 ft AEG      48 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Grasshopper
This hike follows an old unmaintained road bed that extends southeast past Park Tank from the present day end of FR2752 at Park Tank. Part of this road is shown on old maps but not on newer topo maps. I was curious about what, if anything, was at the end of this road. We found that there was a fork in the road about 0.3 miles past the gate at park tank. One fork continues straight southeast about 0.6 miles further to where it ends at Trail 55 coming from its Circle Ranch trailhead. The other fork of the road turns to the southwest to cross upper Park Creek, then northwest and then south more-or-less going up a drainage ending after 1.3 miles in a forest with nothing much of interest to anyone except maybe hunters and the usual range cattle. So no exciting finds or views, just dense forest. However the connection with Trail 55 could be of interest but it could confuse anyone trying to follow that trail without a gps track because there are no signs, just GH's beloved cairns to mark where the trail enters and leaves the road.
 Culture
 Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Cairn
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Park Tank
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Oct 15 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
South Side Park Canyon - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
South Side Park Canyon - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking3.38 Miles 359 AEG
Hiking3.38 Miles   4 Hrs   55 Mns   0.92 mph
359 ft AEG   1 Hour   15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Grasshopper
The primary objective of this hike was to explore along the south rim of Park Creek Canyon where we would have views of the south facing cliffs on the northside to check for possible cliff dwellings. It ended up being a short hike out of our camp a half mile northwest of Park Tank due to getting a late start and wanting to get back to camp before the forecasted afternoon rains started. This off-trail hike involved some bushwhacking between exposed viewpoints along the rim. But we had learned our lesson on the previous day's hike - follow the cow trails. As on all our off-trail hikes during our week long stay, we encountered cow trails with fresh evidence that the local herd had recently been there in their search for that perfect patch of grass. Despite the fresh evidence we never saw cows on any of our hikes and only caught brief glimpses of these wily range cattle on three days when they passed camp late in the afternoon.

There were some great views on this hike but we saw no evidence of cliff dwellings. We got back to camp just as sprinkles from the predicted rains started. GH whipped up a hearty delicious concoction of vegetables and beef sausage in a tomato based broth just as the rain really started to pour down and brought it over to the protection of the tarp covered kitchen at my camp to share.

Our frequent late afternoon camp visitors, the range cows, didn't make an appearance. However a bull passed by out of sight in the rain making these angry sounding growling-like roars. I was happy he chose not to come through our camp. Several years ago I witnessed a large bull making these same sounds as it marched the length of a meadow in the South Kaibab forest near Williams. A large solitary pine tree with a branch hanging down to the ground was in his path and he butted the branch out of the way in what seemed like an angry rage rather than just walking around it.
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1 archive
Oct 14 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
SalomeWildCyn-ViewPt KNOB 5344ft, AZ 
SalomeWildCyn-ViewPt KNOB 5344ft, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 14 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking6.27 Miles 1,215 AEG
Hiking6.27 Miles   8 Hrs   15 Mns   0.90 mph
1,215 ft AEG   1 Hour   19 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Grasshopper
Grasshopper has been pestering me for about 3 years to go on this hike. He seems to have an obsession with hiking to remote viewpoints of Salome Canyon in the Salome Wilderness. This is one of the few areas of the Sierra Ancha we have not explored so I was all in favor of this endeavor. We finally had an opportunity when someone, or a flash flood, removed some boulders blocking the 4WD track, FR2752, into Park Tank allowing us to set up our car camp close enough to his desired destination for a day's hike that would be within our limitations.

I had plotted a planning gps track on Google Earth attempting to avoid brush thickets and cliffs as much as possible. Unfortunately, the views on GE of much of the route up to the top of the ridge we would follow were obscured by trees and brush. The morning of the hike I decided to abandon part of the planning track for a route straight up to the top of the ridge from our campsite. This route had the advantage of using a gate in the barbed wire fence-from-H*** near camp. It also would give some views into Park Canyon. We soon discovered the error in this plan after dodging rock outcroppings and thrashing through thick brush to reach the ridgetop. We had hoped to find clearings along the top of the ridge but they were few and far between until we reached the point a mile later where the planning track arrived at the ridgetop. Our route along the ridge as it neared our destination did provide come good views into the confluence of Workman Creek with Salome Creek and passed through a number of small meadows covered with yellow flowers. After descending about 500 ft along the ridge we reached the top of a steep slope looking down on our final destination and discovered that we would have to climb back up an additional 500 ft on the return hike plus thrash through a lot more brush to get there and back. Deciding we didn't have the time or energy to do this, we made this "alternate" viewpoint our turn around point.

On the return hike back up to the top of the ridge we decided to abandon trying to backtrack on our incoming gps track and just follow the cow trails. We soon discovered the cows were expert at avoiding the brush and finding grass covered clearings hidden in the trees. The only negative about the cow trails were the low hanging branches they passed under at about head height for us humans. We, mainly GH, kept bonking our heads on these obstructions. The cows' path finding skills ended up leading us away from our in-coming track to a well worn cow trail descending at a gentle grade directly back to the fence gate near camp. The beginning of that trail was even marked with a ribbon tied around a tree, probably by the cattle rancher with the grazing lease for this area. This reduced our return time by about an hour getting us back to camp before GH turned into a pumpkin. Unfortunately we had to give up searching for GH's cell phone on the rough section of our incoming track where he had lost it that morning. However at this point neither of us were feeling lucky. And, GH had put a higher priority on getting back in time for his afternoon bath in camp and fixing a big supper while I was thinking about that cold beer waiting for me. Later, looking at my GPS topo I discovered that by pure coincidence my original planning track had followed that cow path, which wasn't visible on GE, up the hillside. ](*,)
 Meteorology
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Sunset
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1 archive
Oct 13 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Park Creek Falls Explore - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Park Creek Falls Explore - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 13 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking3.29 Miles 294 AEG
Hiking3.29 Miles   4 Hrs   44 Mns   0.82 mph
294 ft AEG      43 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Grasshopper
This was our first hike after arriving in the Park Tank area the day before. The plan was to follow an old unmaintained road, FR2747, west from camp for about 0.8 miles to a viewpoint above Park Creek Falls. GH couldn't decide whether to stay in camp to rest after an exhausting day setting up his huge campsite with complete kitchen the day before, or to go on this hike. So I started without him, first exploring the area across the road from camp . I found a fairly new barbed wire fence between the road and upper Park Creek that would be a real pain in the rear to climb over. Fortunately following the fence a short distance revealed a gate. :y: It came in handy for our hike the next day. All our hikes over 7 days were out of our campsite - never moved our vehicles. We also never saw another person or heard any other vehicles the entire 8 days we were there.

I then went through the gate and crossed the wide, dry, creek bottom to check out what looked like ruin walls from a distance among a forest of tall pines. The "ruins" were just a product of my over-active imagination so back to the road. There wasn't much to see along the road except trees for the next 0.3 miles. But then the road started to traverse the hillside above the creek as the creek gradually descended into the canyon. At the location marked on the map for the falls the creek drops off the edge of a cliff into a deep, cliff-sided portion of the canyon as it makes a sharp turn to the south. Views of that area were obscured by trees and brush so it took some bushwhacking to finally find a good viewpoint of the falls from the edge of the cliff. Unfortunately the falls only had a few drops of water dribbling over the edge. It would have been quite spectacular with a good flow of water going over it. I sat down on the cliff edge, took some photos, and was about to have a snack when I heard GH calling my name. I finally spotted him about 140 yds away standing on top of a cliff. He had followed what looked like a use trail from the road that led to what he said was another falls - I never saw it and am waiting to see his photos.

GH and I met up back on the road and decided to explore along the canyon rim on its west side. There were some great views from the open areas along the top of the cliffs. After following the rim for about a half mile we looped back to the road and headed back to camp. It was a short hike but we saw views of Park Canyon that were entirely new to us and were able to scout out from a distance areas we planned to hike in the following days.

Back at camp in the late afternoon we again had visitors from the day before. The first evidence of their presence was the sound of mooing from close by in several directions. I don't recall seeing them the afternoon before, just hearing them, but now they poked their heads around nearby trees to have a look at us. It appeared to be a group of cows passing by on their way to Park Tank a half mile away. They would make a similar appearance another day. We never saw them on our hikes during the day but there was plenty of fresh sign almost everywhere we went. Their cow trails came in quite handy for finding a way over and around difficult terrain and vegetation.
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2 archives
Oct 12 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Camp Grasshopper - Salome Wild Boundary AreaGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Car Camping avatar Oct 12 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Car Camping4.90 Miles 875 AEG
Car Camping4.90 Miles   1 Hour   30 Mns   3.27 mph
875 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Grasshopper
Grasshopper and I have been wanting to explore the area around Park Tank in the Sierra Ancha Mountains and on into the northeast side of the Salome Wilderness for about 3 years. The only thing preventing us was the drive into Part Tank on the 4WD road, FR2752, which would get us close enough to that area to do day hikes out of camp. Checking out FR2752 in March, 2021, I found it blocked with boulders where the road follows the bottom of upper Turkey Creek. GH discovered this summer that those boulders had mysteriously disappeared and so we put together a plan to establish a Camp Grasshopper near Park Tank and spend 6 days doing day hikes to explore that area.

The drive on FR2752 was high clearance 4WD requiring a lot of careful maneuvering through the creek bed rocks driving in 1st gear low range to avoid damage to the undercarriage or puncturing the tires, even with 10-ply rated all-terrain tires. The maneuvering around large rocks gets some interference from the road side trees and bushes. My FJ had a fresh set of AZ pinstripes at the end of this drive. The road goes in and out of the creek bed several times over the first mile and then has a 1.5 mile climb up out of the canyon with some rough patches along the way.

After an hour of searching we found a campsite meeting the demands of our two car camps. It turned out to be a good location on the old unmaintained FR2747 a half mile northwest of Park Tank near the starting points for several of our planned hikes We would find a nearby gate in a sturdy barbed wire fence that made for easy access to the west side of Park Creek and a well worn cow trail that led to the top of the ridge to the southwest. It is an isolated spot - we didn't see anyone else including any vehicles the 8 days we were there. We did however have visitors to our camp. This is an active cattle ranching area and cows passed by late in the afternoon on three days presumably on their way to Park Tank. They were elusive and stayed mostly hidden in the forest surrounding camp as they passed by complaining of our presence with loud mooing.
 Culture
 Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Campsite
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Park Tank
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1 archive
Sep 28 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Falls Canyon TrailReno, NV
Reno, NV
Hiking avatar Sep 28 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking1.06 Miles 231 AEG
Hiking1.06 Miles   10 Hrs      0.11 mph
231 ft AEG      7 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Driving back to Phoenix from eastern Oregon, I needed a place to stay for the night after a long day of driving. Falls Canyon in the Santa Rosa Mountains about 3 miles east of HW95 and 35 miles south of the OR-NV border looked like a good place to camp for the night. HAZ_Hikebot had even posted a Guide for a hike up the Falls Canyon Trail. I had planned ahead and had plotted a driving route of about 4 miles across BLM land on a dusty rutted track from the highway to the mouth of the canyon.

I turned off HW95 on to the BLM road at about 4 pm and saw a cloud of dust headed my way behind a big white pickup so I decided to wait at the gate. The road passes through a section of private land on the way to Falls Canyon and I was concerned it might be posted "No Trespassing". The truck belonged to the BLM. The lady driving it had a not so friendly, "I'm tired and my workday is over." look on her face. She passed by without even slowing down. So I started the drive and in about a mile there was another cloud of dust coming my way behind another large white pickup. This one stopped and pulled off the road waiting for me. It was on the section of private land so I was expecting a hassle. But no, it was two smiling young women who worked for the BLM also on their way home from work. They were in a much friendlier mood than the previous BLM employee who I assume was their boss. I questioned them about the road conditions and camping at the trailhead. They gave me their official OK. :)

The road to the falls has some deep ruts and can be driven with a moderate clearance vehicle but could be a muddy slippery mess if wet. And you would not want to hike or camp in that canyon if heavy rains or snow runoff were expected up in the mountains. The huge piles of driftwood in the canyon indicated it gets some nasty flash floods.

The hike to the falls was short but required some bushwhacking to get to a good location for a photo. The trail goes considerably further up the canyon but I was more interested in getting back to camp, cooking dinner, and making an early night of it. The campsite isn't what I would call the most picturesque but the surrounding brush made a good windbreak from the cold wind coming off the mountains. An OK place to camp overnight while passing through.
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Sep 26 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Lake Loop, OR 
Big Lake Loop, OR
 
Hiking avatar Sep 26 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking5.77 Miles 312 AEG
Hiking5.77 Miles   3 Hrs   50 Mns   1.77 mph
312 ft AEG      34 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I traveled to Big Lake in the Oregon Cascade Mountains after having spent a week hiking in the Eastern Sierras. This is an annual late September trip I've made several times over the years since 2018 for a reunion of a group of Oregon friends who went on a Owyhee River trip together in 2017. This year there would be 10 of us. I arrived at my campsite in the Big Lake campground the day before the others were due to show up in adjoining campsites. The next morning I went for a hike around the circumference of Big Lake planning to return to camp around 1:30pm when they were supposed to start arriving.

Caution: The last time I hiked in this area passing through the Mt Washington Wilderness I was accosted by a Forest Ranger, a very serious young woman who was packing heat and had a BIG dog. She insisted on seeing my Mt W. Wilderness Permit. She claimed I could get fined for not having it even though I was just on a day hike. Fortunately I had a permit which were free in the permit box at the Patjens Lake Trailhead by the parking lot near the Big Lake West Campground entrance (the location is a waypoint on the gps track for this hike). I forgot to get a permit on this hike and only saw a couple of hunters during the entire hike.

This hike starts and ends at my campsite going around the lake in a counterclockwise direction. My photoset includes a couple photos taken near camp in the late afternoon the day before. The hike follows the paved road through the main campground and south on the paved road to the Big Lake West campsites along the west side of the lake. At the end of that road the hike follows a use trail going SSE along the shore to connect with the Patjens Lakes Loop trail. Where the Patjens Lakes trail starts to curve to the south I bushwhacked more-or-less east to connect with the trail leading from the Pacific Crest Trail to the Big Lake Youth Camp. That camp provides stop-over facilities for PCTers to pick up "hiker boxes" for resupply as well as a place to camp and may have meals available at their lodge. This bushwhack followed the remains of a use trail that was used as a shortcut to the PCT from the Big Lake Campground. The Forest Service has decided to hide that use trail to discontinue its use.

I have never been to the Youth Camp before and was surprised at it's large size with many buildings, it's like a small village. There is a sign welcoming PCT hikers where the trail from the PCT enters the camp. A small map shows in green the area that the hikers are allowed - mostly everywhere except the boys and girls villages. I didn't investigate the accommodations, there didn't seem to be anyone there. I followed the road out of the camp going north to connect with the PCT and a Forest road which goes to the west allowing me to complete my hike around the lake.

Returning to camp I found most of my friends had shown up and setup camp with snacks and drinks on a couple of tables and a campfire going with a huge pile of wood to last us for two days. A great way to end a hike.
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Sep 22 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Robinson Lake from Onion Valley, CA 
Robinson Lake from Onion Valley, CA
 
Hiking avatar Sep 22 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking3.00 Miles 1,400 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles
1,400 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This is a short but strenuous hike to the scenic Robinson Lake out of the Onion Valley Campground. The trailhead is located on the campground loop between campsites #7 and #8. There is no trailhead parking in the campground so you must use the parking lot for the Kearsarge Pass/Onion Valley Trailhead. The trail is in good shape except for a few spots where it can be difficult to follow as it climbs through a boulder field up to the lake. I accidentally erased my Garmin gps track but was able to assign coordinates to the photos. The distance and AEG is an estimate.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and I took my time taking photos and stopping to catch my breath on the steep sections. I only encountered one other person on the way to the lake, a young woman who passed me going up the steep boulder field. I explored around the complete circumference of the lake stopping to relax (nap) in the meadow at the south end before heading back.
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Sep 21 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Matlock Lake from Onion Valley, CA 
Matlock Lake from Onion Valley, CA
 
Hiking avatar Sep 21 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking6.20 Miles 1,630 AEG
Hiking6.20 Miles   7 Hrs   53 Mns   0.79 mph
1,630 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The day before this hike I was driving north on HW395 with a planned destination of Twin Lakes near Bridgeport for two days of hiking before continuing on to Oregon. However the forecast for that area was for cold temps, rain and possible snow at high elevations so I changed my plan and headed south about 125 miles to Onion Valley where the forecast was for sunny skies. The small campground at Onion Valley has always been one of my favorites for this time of year but since my last visit it has become reservation only except for the walk-in sites and I knew it was fully booked. So I setup camp at a first-come, first-serve, site in the Lower Grays Meadow CG. I would drive 7.7 miles each day to Onion Valley where I had 2 planned day hikes. The paved road makes for an easy drive despite all the switch backs and has great views I never got tired of. A real bonus was the comfortable warmer temps at that CG which is 3500 ft lower in elevation. It was dropping down to freezing temps with a cold wind every night in Onion Valley. I stayed there in early Oct 2019 when it got so cold at night, the 6 inches of water in my 6 gallon water jug froze solid overnight.

This hike starts up the Kearsarge Pass Trail for 2.4 miles, then takes a left at the sign for Matlock Lake between Gilbert and Flower Lakes. It's only 0.6 miles further on a maintained trail to Matlock Lake. The trail is in good shape but can get confused with all the use trails between Gilbert and Flower Lakes. Just head for the log bridge across Rock Creek, then take a short side trip to see the views of Flower Lake before returning to the Matlock Lk Trail.

Onion Valley is a major refueling side trip for backpackers on the PCT and JMT. I always enjoy talking to these adventurers and encountered several on this hike. The bear boxes lining the parking lot are for these backpackers to leave their resupply stashes. Evidently many leave notes with "you can have it if not claimed by dates" which one PCTer I met on that early Oct 2019 trip was taking advantage of - you'd think he had struck gold when he found his favorite candy bars.

All three lakes on this hike are scenic beauties and the views of Onion Valley and surrounding mountains from the switchbacks climbing up the Kearsarge Pass Trail from the trailhead are a treat. You won't find much better in the Eastern Sierras for a short day hike.
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Sep 19 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Eastern Brook Lakes from Mosquito Flats TH, CA 
Eastern Brook Lakes from Mosquito Flats TH, CA
 
Hiking avatar Sep 19 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking2.22 Miles 321 AEG
Hiking2.22 Miles   2 Hrs   35 Mns   0.93 mph
321 ft AEG      12 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Got a late start on this day due to cooking a big breakfast and yakking with my neighbors over coffee at their campsite. So I decided to take it easy and just explore these two lakes near the Mosquito Flats/Little Lakes Valley Trailhead. Even with extending the hike in a loop around another lake I was able to far exceed my goal "to take it easy". Only 2.2 miles with almost no elevation gain. I didn't see another person on this weekday hike although the well worn trail and its closeness to the trailhead indicates it gets lots of use on weekends and holidays.

If you're looking for an easy 2 mile hike for toddlers (or worn-out oldsters) to see a couple of scenic mountain lakes, this is your ticket. Just don't take them past the two Eastern Brook Lakes to Serene Lake. The small amount of off-trail thrashing isn't worth the effort for that not-so-scenic lake.
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Sep 18 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Rock Creek to Ruby LakeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Sep 18 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking4.50 Miles 1,069 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   5 Hrs   44 Mns   0.78 mph
1,069 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This short hike provides great views of the Little Lakes Valley as it climbs up switchbacks on the Mono Pass Trail to reach the turnoff to Ruby Lake. Ruby Lake is indeed a gem. The hike may be short but starting the hike at 10240 ft elevation at the Mosquito Flat trailhead and climbing to 11150 ft to reach the lake can be exhausting.

I started the hike on a Sunday morning and as I approached the lake several backpackers passed me on their way down after spending the weekend at the lake. Shortly after arriving the last of the lake's visitors left and I had the lake to myself. After exploring a little around the northeast end of the lake, eating a snack, and enjoying the solitude by taking a short nap, I started the trek back to the trailhead just as a couple of latecomers showed up. A cold wind was blowing and they soon passed me on their way back to the trailhead.
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Sep 17 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Hilton Creek Lakes, CA 
Hilton Creek Lakes, CA
 
Hiking avatar Sep 17 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,839 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   9 Hrs   12 Mns   0.87 mph
1,839 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
This hike to one of the Hilton Creek Lakes (also called Hilton Lakes) starts at an unofficial unmarked trailhead on the paved Rock Creek Road across from the entrance to the Lower Pine Grove Campground. There is a well worn trail which switchbacks up the steep hillside to connect with the official trail and is shown on the HAZ Topo map. The official signed trailhead is about 1.4 miles further up Rock Creek road. Although this short cut reduces the hiking distance by about 0.6 miles, it adds 475 ft of elevation gain up the steep hillside. The redeeming features of this shortcut are the up-close views of large majestic trees of at least 3 different species. These old gnarled trees are wonders to behold.

After the climb up to the main trail there is a long section of trail passing through forest eventually reaching its maximum elevation of 10380 ft before dropping down to a fork in the trail. The sign at this fork shows Davis Lake and the "2nd Lake" to the north and the "3rd Lake" to the south. I took the south fork to the nearest lake. This numbering of the Hilton Creek Lakes is confusing. Where is the 1st Lake? I have not found a map which names the individual lakes other than Davis Lake. There are several lakes along the Hilton Creek drainage south of this trail sign but only two to the north, one of which is Davis Lake.

The short hike up to what I assume is the 3rd Lake provided a good view of Davis Lake to the north but only small glimpses of the 2nd Lake. There were beautiful views of the 3rd Lake from the north shore and I chose this location for my turn around point. Locals I encountered on the trail told me this is the most beautiful of these lakes. I was looking for a nice sunny spot to take a short nap when the hordes started showing up. One young man told me he believes Sasquatch inhabits the Eastern Sierras based on hearing weird eerie noises while backpacking up the North Fork Big Pine Creek. The noises he described sounded to me like the thumping noises male grouse make during their mating season. I told him perhaps he had heard the ghost of Lon Chaney who's cabin built in 1929-30 is preserved on the bank of that creek. His puzzled look revealed that he didn't know who Lon Chaney was. I decided at that point to forget the nap and start hiking back to the trailhead.

There are many spectacularly beautiful alpine lakes in the Eastern Sierras. I've hiked to many that can be reached on relatively short day hikes since my first venture into the eastern side of these mountains in 2014. This hike, although not the most spectacular of those I've been on, was certainly worthwhile for the amazing trees along the trail at the beginning of the hike and the lake view at my turn around point. For those who are fit enough to cover longer distances at high elevations, exploring the other lakes in the Hilton Creek drainage would be a bonus.
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Jul 04 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Green Lake from South Lake Trailhead, CA 
Green Lake from South Lake Trailhead, CA
 
Hiking avatar Jul 04 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking6.49 Miles 1,730 AEG
Hiking6.49 Miles   8 Hrs   26 Mns   0.99 mph
1,730 ft AEG   1 Hour   52 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I've had this hike on my to-do list for several years and it finally made it to the top of the list. I've always been a little confused about where to start the hike as there are several variations none of which are marked with a sign. The starting point I chose was at the top end of the long-term parking area at South Lake past a locked green vehicle gate. There is also an alternate starting point off at the start of the Bishop Pass Trail on an un-signed but well worn side track that forks off to the left about 150 ft down the trail from the edge of the parking lot pavement. It intersects the route from the top of the parking lot at about 340 ft from the green gate.

The Green Lake Trail can also be accessed from the Parchers Resort on South Lake Rd near the Pack Station located there. The trail is well worn by horseback riders led out of the pack station on rides up and back to South Lake. Another option is to park at La Hupp pullout on the west side of South Lake Road about a quarter mile past the entrance to Parchers on the way to South Lake. Cross the road and take a use trail turning right at its intersection with the trail from Parchers. The Green Lake Trail intersection with the horse trail is about 0.6 miles from Parchers and is actually marked with a "Green Lake Trail" sign. [ photo ]

Now that you're completely confused we can start the trail from my chosen starting point at the green gate. This route leads you past a water flow measurement weir in a small stream fed by the Green Creek Diversion pipeline. A small outhouse sized locked building next to the weir probably contains equipment for measuring the flow. Some research indicates this pipeline was installed by either Southern California Edison or its predecessor Southern Sierra Power Co. It's purpose is to add water diverted from the creek flowing out of the Green Lake basin to South Lake to be later released for driving a hydroelectric plant downstream on Bishop Creek. I could not find a date for construction of the pipeline but the South Lake Dam was built in 1910 for the hydroelectric project.

The pipeline is important to this narrative because it provides a shortcut cutting out about 0.5 miles and 250ft AEG (one way) for anyone who doesn't mind walking almost a mile on a 16 inch diameter steel pipe. :scared: I decided to try it out but skipped the first 0.2 miles of the pipeline crossing over to it later from the main trail to avoid a steep section of the pipe. I would find that if you have a good sense of balance, shoes with a good grip on the pipe surface, and the pipe outer surface is not wet you could make good time hiking up the gentle grade of this pipe to connect with the trail. Rubber tipped trekking poles might also help. But I don't have a good sense of balance and I was more than a little nervous for most of this section of the hike. I chose to take the trail route on my return.

There were nice views across the canyon from the pipeline as it traversed the canyon side and I was intrigued by the purpose of the pipeline and the effort it must have taken to build it. I didn't confirm its purpose until doing some research when I got home. After reaching the main trail there is a climb up several switchbacks to reach the Green Lake Basin. I would discover after the hike that the trail goes within a short distance (150ft) of the small Bluff Lake which somehow factors into this water diversion scheme for the pipeline. I regret not taking a look at that lake which was hidden from view by a low hill and trees. The trail soon reaches the unimpressive small Brown Lake where it turns east to climb up to a small basin containing Green Lake. The trail is a little difficult to follow as it crosses a swampy flower covered meadow before starting that final climb. Nearing the lake the trail passes through a large boulder field which covers the stream flowing out of the lake. The stream can be heard beneath the boulders but not seen.

The lake is a real beauty with the most amazing shade of blue on this day under the clear blue sky above. I followed the trail around the south end of the lake where it passes a small meadow with yellow flowers. The trail then can be seen climbing out of the basin on the east side of the lake. A local couple enjoying a noon time snack in the shade of some trees near the south shore recommended that I climb up that trail a short distance to get a great view of the lake which would reveal a small island at its north end. It was good advice. This was not a busy place on this 4th of July. Several people past me on their way out including one family from Bishop who had hiked up to the lake early that morning to fish. They were the only ones of several fishermen I encountered who had any luck but they said they knew the lake well, where to fish and what to use. By 1pm everyone had left and I had the lake to myself.
 Flora
 Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Sierra Columbine
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Jul 03 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Tyee Lakes from South Lake Rd, CA 
Tyee Lakes from South Lake Rd, CA
 
Hiking avatar Jul 03 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking4.50 Miles 1,313 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   6 Hrs      1.01 mph
1,313 ft AEG   1 Hour   33 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The trailhead for the Tyee lakes is located in a parking lot on the west side of the road near the entrance to Willow Campground on the other side of the road. It was only 0.3 miles from my campsite in Willow CG So I walked there from camp adding 0.6 miles roundtrip to my hiking distance. There are a string of 5 lakes give-or-take a couple of frog ponds that make up the Treasure Lakes strung out along the trail. I chose to only hike to the first one making this a short hike but with some good exercise due to the 1313ft AEG. This trail after leaving Tyee Lake #4 climbs up another 560 ft to cross Table Mountain and then descends into George Lake basin and continues on to connect with the Sabrina Lake Trail.

The easy to follow trail switch backs up a very steep hillside to reach the first lake. This section has good views of the South Fork Bishop Creek Canyon and the mountains to the east. I would discover that this trail is a favorite of many locals for their morning hike/run as several passed both going up and coming back down obviously contriving to make me feel like a real slug. One runner was carrying a fishing pole and said he always likes to stop at Tyee Lake #4 to make a few casts during his morning exercise run. After taking more than enough photos of the lake I found a boulder at the edge of the lake to have my noon time snack while enjoying views of the lake. There was a patch of grass by the boulder convenient for a post snack nap. I had just dozed off when hikers started passing on the trail about 10 yds away. Why is it that some people seem to find it necessary to keep a constant stream of chit-chat going while they hike? Perhaps the quiet of the forest only broken by the gentle sighing of the trees in the breeze and the occasional song of a bird makes them uneasy after becoming accustom to a constantly noisy urban environment. Despite the noisy hikers I still managed to doze off for about 30 minutes.

I was crossing a stream on my hike back down the trail when two labs, one black and one gold, joyously jumped in the water near my feet seemingly oblivious to my presence as they splashed water on me. Their master, a young women, soon appeared coming up the trail from behind them and joined me in laughing at her dogs' antics, so typical of labs. We ended up having a long conversation about labs and places to hike in the area. She lived in Mammoth and was backpacking up to Lake #4 to meet up with some friends. She had hiked there with them the day before but discovered she had brought the dogs' sleeping blanket and had forgotten her sleeping bag. So she had to return home to get her bag. Seemed strange to me, I know at least one HAZer who would have just crawled under the blanket with his dogs to sleep and been content without his sleeping bag.

When I got back to camp I discovered a bottle holding a bouquet of wild flowers sitting on my table. I had met a nice young couple with their 6 year old daughter camped next to me a couple days ago. We would share our hiking experiences for the day every evening back in camp. They were packing up to go home when I left camp in the morning so I stopped to say goodbye. When I returned that afternoon they were gone but had left the bouquet of wildflowers picked by their daughter. Made me miss my granddaughters who I hadn't seen for 3 weeks while on my camping trip through NV, OR and CA. I had one more day of hiking planned before heading back home.
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Jul 02 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Sabrina Basin Trail to Dingleberry Lake, CA 
Sabrina Basin Trail to Dingleberry Lake, CA
 
Hiking avatar Jul 02 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking8.67 Miles 1,843 AEG
Hiking8.67 Miles   9 Hrs   23 Mns   1.07 mph
1,843 ft AEG   1 Hour   16 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The Sabrina Basin has a lot to offer with trails leading to a number of remote lakes and vistas with remarkable views. The section of the trail that climbs up to Blue Lake has several staircases carved out of the granite hillsides most likely built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s. These staircases are a work of art (in my opinion). This would be my third visit to the upper Sabrina Basin since 2018 and this time the destination was Dingleberry Lake which is close to my day-hike limit for distance and AEG with much of the hike above 10k ft.

I arrived at the trailhead at 7:20 am Saturday morning on the 4th of July Weekend and was surprised to see only a few cars in the day-hiker parking areas within 100 yds of the trailhead. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow to Blue Lake. At Blue Lake the trail crosses bare granite slabs where sometimes the only evidence of a trail are rows of rocks outlining its location. That and use trails that wander off to who knows where can be confusing. I find it useful to have a gps track to follow here to save time. Blue Lake is a popular destination and I passed several backpacker camps, one had 3 tents. On the way back in the afternoon just after passing that camp I encountered a group of young folks who asked me for directions through the maze of trails around the lake. I gave them what I hope was useful information and mentioned in parting that it was happy hour at the camp just around the corner to speed them on their way. I'm not sure my trail humor is appreciated by other hikers. :?

The mosquitoes were becoming real pests on the section of trail between Blue Lake and Dingleberry where it passes numerous small ponds. This lead to a discussion with three seasoned hikers about mosquito repellents with the general agreement that the one I had been using containing Pircaridin would not do the job. The old standby repellant with 98% Deet was the best despite its tendency to dissolve some common plastics and synthetic fibers and cause "substantial but temporary" eye injury if it gets in your eyes. Fortunately I had found a small spray bottle stashed in my day pack that was about 15 years old but still worked quite well. While we were having this discussion a young lady day-hiker passed us in attire that provided substantial exposure to the blood sucking pests. My new hiking buddies and I looked at each other with quizzical expressions until I verbalized the thought we were all having, "We should have asked her what kind of mosquito repellant she was using!" But I suspect the breeze created by her fast pace kept the pests away (both insect and other).

Upon reaching Dingleberry I paused on a granite slab overlooking the lake to enjoy the views and have a lunchtime snack. A backpacker who I had talked to several times on the trail as we kept alternating leads joined me on the slab. He was loaded down with photography gear in addition to provisions for staying out 4 nights. One of his specialties was capturing the night time star displays when out in the wilderness far from light pollution. He showed me a couple examples of his work saved on his smartphone and they were outstanding. After volunteering to take a photo of me at the edge of the lake with my camera, he pulled a drone out of his backpack and proceeded to show me the cool video he could get as it buzzed over the lake. I had to dampen his enthusiasm by warning him that there was a sign at the trailhead stating that using or possessing a drone in the wilderness is against the law. He was a nice guy, just a little clueless fitting one of the definitions of dingleberry. I won't mention one of the other more disgusting definitions.

This hike was definitely a winner with reward vs effort being as good as any of any of the other day-hikes I've taken in the Eastern Sierras. It is a popular area so expect to see many other hikers although most of them don't get started until mid-afternoon.
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Dingleberry Lake
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Jun 30 2022
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 Guides 9
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 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Lower Lamarck Lake from North Lake, CA 
Lower Lamarck Lake from North Lake, CA
 
Hiking avatar Jun 30 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking5.88 Miles 1,462 AEG
Hiking5.88 Miles   7 Hrs      1.11 mph
1,462 ft AEG   1 Hour   41 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was my 5th Eastern Sierras day hike in 7 days and like the other 4, it did not disappoint. The official trailhead for this hike is shared with the Piute Pass TH in the North Lake Campground. However parking in the CG for non-campers is not allowed so parking in the large hikers parking lot at North Lake is required. This adds about an extra 1.2 miles out-and-back to the hike but provides some good views of the surrounding canyon sides. I was surprised to find several of the 8 car campsites were available on this Thursday before the 4th of July weekend. But I was already locked into a 7 night stay over the weekend at the Willows CG on the South Lake Rd.

The hike started out with a pleasant conversation with a young woman backpacker who was waiting at the trailhead for her friend to return on a shuttle from the South Lake TH. They were planning on a multiday backback ending up at South Lake. The mosquitoes were being real pests and she was well prepared with clothing protecting her from head to toe including a mosquito net on her head and gloves on her hands. The mosquitoes were a problem for most of my 11 days in the Eastern Sierras. I tested a new repellant on the trip and it sort-of worked for about 2 hours between applications. I had a discussion with several seasoned backpackers on a hike later in the trip about repellants and how to avoid the mosquitoes but I'll leave that for my Dingleberry Lake triplog.

The Lamarck Lake trail leaves the Piute Pass Trail about 150 yds from the TH and is marked with a sign. It crosses the North Fork Bishop Creek in dense forest and bushes and then starts the switch back climb up the side of the canyon. This is also a route to Grass Lake and that trail is marked with a sign where it leaves the Lamarck Lakes Trail about a mile from the Piute Trail intersection. There is a slightly more direct route to Grass Lake on a trail that follows Lamarck Creek from the N. Lake Road bridge. After leaving the intersection with the Grass Lake Trail the trail starts a rugged steep switch back climb up a hillside that is more cliff than hillside. This section of the trail provides great views across the Lamarck Creek basin and also a clear view down canyon towards Bishop with spotty cell phone reception. After lengthy delays to touch base with the folks back home and a long conversation with Mike, a local cross country hiker who has a cabin near South Lake, I made it to the lower lake. After enjoying the lake views and a snack while sitting on a huge bolder at the lakes edge I started my return.
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Jun 29 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Treasure LakesSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jun 29 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking6.00 Miles 1,419 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   7 Hrs   45 Mns   0.77 mph
1,419 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The Treasure Lakes hike starts at the South Lake Trailhead in the parking lot for day hikers and overnighters. The nearest town is Bishop on HW395. The first 0.9 miles of the route follows the Bishop Pass Trail along the east side of the lake. The turnoff to Treasure Lakes is marked with a sign. The trail is in good condition to the first and largest of the Treasure Lakes which is as far as I went. The trail continues past the first lake across a makeshift stream crossing on logs haphazardly laid across a perpendicular submerged log. I decided not to risk this crossing but could see a well worn trail on the other side leading to the upper Treasure Lakes and another 500ft elevation gain (another reason I didn't go further).

I started the hike at 7:30am and reached the first lake by 11:20am with many stops to catch my breath, enjoy the amazing views and take photos. The trail packs a lot of beautiful scenery into the short 3 miles to the first lake. I encountered few hikers on the trail in the morning except for a couple local folks getting their morning exercise. They're the folks that pass me on their way up and again on their way down while I'm still struggling up the hills. Always make me feel like a real slug. :( I also caught a glimpse of a solo forest nymph hurrying up the trail far ahead as I neared the lake with no pack or even a water bottle in hand. I encountered her about a half hour later as she joyfully skipped down the trail offering no response other than a smile to my observation that she had perhaps forgotten her pack.

On my return in the afternoon there were numerous people coming up the Bishop Pass Trail along South Lake. One lady backpacker with 2 young children was stopped beside the trail less than a mile from the TH transferring the contents of her 5 year-old daughter's backpack to her pack. Their destination for the first of a planned 4 nights was Chocolate Lakes. When they had arrived at the TH they discovered they had forgotten to bring toothbrushes so her husband had headed back to Bishop to buy replacements while she and the kids started up the trail. When I got to my car I saw a lone backpacker rushing across the parking lot towards the TH - obviously it was toothbrush guy to the rescue. :)
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Jun 27 2022
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 Guides 9
 Routes 430
 Photos 7,666
 Triplogs 570

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Virginia Lakes BasinSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jun 27 2022
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 570
Hiking7.20 Miles 1,493 AEG
Hiking7.20 Miles   7 Hrs   33 Mns   0.95 mph
1,493 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This was a scenic hike with many lake views ranking right up there with most of the Eastern Sierra day hikes I've done over the past 8 years. This one had been near the bottom of my To-Do list because I thought it would be over crowded and getting a campsite might be difficult because of its popularity. However I discovered that there are "first-come first-serve overflow campsites" along FS139 on Virginia Creek that are called Upper and Lower Virginia Creek Primitive Campgrounds, also referred to as overflow campgrounds with both RV and tent campsites. They're a step above dispersed campgrounds with a host at each, well kept outhouses, bear boxes, and metal fire rings but no tables and no drinking water, and they're free. There are separate entrances on FS139 along the Virginia Lakes Road for the two campground because of a long-ago bridge washout on FS139.

I visited the trailhead at the parking lot on Big Valley Lake in the afternoon the day before my hike, Sunday, and found it very busy with families fishing with their kids along the shore and the parking lot nearly full. Arriving the next morning, Monday, for my hike at 8:00am there were no people and the parking lot was about 3/4 empty. The hike started out in near solitude for most of the morning but due to my slowness at high altitude about 8 hikers ended up passing me near noon as I approached 11000ft.

In summary, a beautiful hike peaking out at 11120ft elev but of modest length at about 7 miles to give a good cardio workout. If you want more you could always extend the hike to Summit Lake to add another 1000ft AEG on the way back.
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average hiking speed 1.04 mph
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