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Oct 12 2013

 Guides 74
 Routes 101
 Photos 2,962
 Triplogs 57

60 male
 Joined Jan 27 2007
 Thousand Oaks, C
Laurel Lakes TrailSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
4x4 Trip avatar Oct 12 2013
slegalTriplogs 57
4x4 Trip10.05 Miles 2,720 AEG
4x4 Trip10.05 Miles
2,720 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
When I was returning to Mammoth Lakes from Convict Lake I saw off to my left from Highway 395, Laurel Creek in a blaze of glory. I was handed my destination for the next day – Laurel Lakes. Point of clarification: The route to Laurel Lakes is a dirt road, not a hiking trail.

At the risk of offending off-road enthusiasts among us in the HAZ community, I hate this road. I’ve driven it twice before, once in an Oldsmobile Bravada and once in my wife’s Jeep Liberty. I bottomed out on each trip and still never made it all of the way to the lakes. In all fairness, when I drove up in the Olds I never intended to go all of the way to the lakes. When I drove up in the Liberty, it was Thanksgiving weekend and a winter storm was approaching and there was lots of snow ahead. So I turned around.

Today I have a Toyota Highlander. If I bottomed out in the Olds and the Jeep, I haven’t got a prayer in the Toyota. I drove about a mile up the road before determining that I could go no further. There was a well-used pull out that I parked at and decided to hike the rest of the way. Unfortunately for me, motorcycles and higher clearance vehicles were able to make it much further than my Toyota could and I got the joy of breathing their dust every time they passed.

Back to the real reason I’m here, the leaves were blazing. The leaves along Laurel Creek topped the leaves at Convict Lake. Interestingly, I was at a higher elevation. There is a lot of wind exposure up in the canyon and I was surprised that the leaves hadn’t already blown off. In fact, the wind was howling at a steady 20 mph and it was rather cold during my hike.

As I approach the 9,000’ elevation, the road started to getting covered in snow. Two switchbacks later the snow started getting deep. There were still tire tracks and I followed them. A Jeep Wrangler passed me along the way. At least there was no dust. Shortly after the Jeep passed, I came upon it parked in the middle of the road. I walked past it and discovered why they stopped there. The snow was now over a foot deep and the trail was just too steep for the Jeep to get any traction.

The only track in the snow now were motorcycle tracks and footprints. I soon caught up to the guys in the Jeep at the end of the tracks. Once again, I’m not going to make it to Laurel Lakes. I’m just a third of a mile away from the upper lake shore and my feet are cold and there are no tracks in the foot + deep snow. Just then I realized that I was directly above Lower Laurel Lake. In a sense I really did make it to Laurel Lakes, just not as far as I had planned.
Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Autumn - Color Foliage

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.


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