We arrived at the trailhead early in the afternoon, which for us seemed like a very late start, but the parking area was practically deserted so I was hopeful. We pull in among some Aspen and hopped out of the truck. I think we were all feeling a little antsy after our five hour drive. After a quick check to make sure we had everything and a changing of shoes to boots we were off. Well, off for about half a mile until the girls decided to make the most out of a lovely beaver dammed pond.
Abby has come an incredibly long way since one of our early hikes at Michigan Bluff, shortly after I had adopted her, in which she fell into the river and scared herself half to death. Now, after three years she has fully embraced her water dog side. If only she would retrieve. Maybe she’ll learn that trick sometime in the next three years.
The trail starts at 7,800 feet but the peaks surrounding you all reach over 12,000 feet and once you clear the Aspen at the trailhead the entire canyon opens up around you. In the late spring, the Aspen and Cottonwoods were bright green in comparison to the pines and cedars around them. The lakes, creeks, and waterfalls were crystal clear and ice cold. Burrrrr!!! Something tells me that it might have something to do with the snow on the peaks. 😉
Even though there were beaver dams, there were no beavers that we could see. Trust me if they were there Lexi would have found them. Instead, she found the green fluffy slime (below). Don’t ask me how it’s possible, but she always manages to find something disturbing. She usually then runs around with it on her face until she finds something to replace it with. I think she should have been named Pigpen or something.
We continued hiking and passed a dilapidated trappers cabin and wandered through more Aspen. I kept thinking how incredibly spectacular it would be in the Autumn. Looks like I know what I’ll be doing in the future.
Eventually, as in after 300 photos were taken, we made our way to Lower and Upper Lundy Falls, which lead to taking another 300 photos and a snack break. As we sat on a fallen tree to eat our snacks and take in the scenery I noticed that the trail was pretty much non-existent after this point. That wasn’t going to denture us though. I was totally motivated to clear the surrounding peaks and enter into 20 Lakes Basin before night fall.
So, with a final look back down the canyon from where we started, we took off, about as quickly as one can with a fully loaded pack on after they had already hiked five miles on a recovering sprained ankle. Which is to say, slow and steady…
And then we came upon this:
It was at this point that my motivation and determination gave up. The “snow” was more like a sheet of ice and I’m sorry to say I had no interest in finding out what it’s like sliding down the mountainside on my ass. I felt ill-prepared for such an endeavor. Plus, there was a five mile hike back to the truck and I doubted I could pull it off with a broken butt and a cracked skull. So, instead I opted for a much less thrilling option. Hike back down.
We finally made it back down the canyon and found a level place near a lake to set up camp. It wasn’t 20 Lakes but it was still gorgeous. While I pitched the tent, the girls took another quick dip in the lake. I made up some dinner and sat back to watch the sky light up with the sunset. Once it was over we packed ourselves into the tent to start reading Black Elk Speaks by Neidhardt.*
I can’t wait to go back again! I would love to spend more time wandering the Eastern Sierras and exploring the trails, towns, and ranches. It’s like stepping back in time and there’s an untamed feeling to the area. I feel there’s a lot to learn from there are and there are a lot of stories to be told. Until then…
*I had hoped that I would have finished Black Elk Speaks over the summer, but it’s now almost Thanksgiving and I’m no where near finishing it. I’m thinking I’m going to have to make a more concerted effort next year when the backpacking and camping season is back in full swing.