Our hike to Big Pine Lakes in the Eastern Sierra was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. There are seven lakes total and on this day, we hiked to the first three via the North Fork Trail. Since we weren’t backpacking, I had much less weight to carry then when we were in the Eastern Sierra last month backpacking the Mt. Whitney Trail. Most of the Big Pine Lakes hike follows along Big Pine Creek. We were next to the beautiful rushing waters most of the day. Early in the morning when we first got on the trail, we saw two doe and a fawn crossing the creek. There were plenty of wildflowers and butterflies to enjoy throughout the day as well. I took my time on this hike and spent a lot of time taking photos of it all. When we reached lake one we saw Temple Crag (popular with alpine rock climbers) towering over the incredible turquoise waters. The turquoise color comes from the glacial powder of Palisade Glacier. I also saw some trout swimming in the lake. This was a wonderful hike. We had to do some work climbing up in elevation to get to the lakes, but it was well worth the effort because the scenery was spectacular.Read More
Mt. Whitney Zone
We only had two short days to spend in the Eastern Sierra, so on the second day after having hiked to Kearsarge Pass the day before, we decided upon something shorter since we’d be heading back to Los Angeles on this day. I knew the hike to Lone Pine Lake on the Mount Whitney Trail was only about 5.8 miles round trip, and although I am not always keen on hiking busy trails (this one probably being the most popular trail in all of California) I decided to suck it up and give it a go.
On Saturday the day we arrived, we actually drove up to the Whitney Portal just to check it out. I have to admit I was pretty starstruck knowing that every year about 30,000 people try for the summit of the tallest peak in the lower 48. Just for fun, we weighed our backpacks at the weigh station, and my day pack weighed in at 15 pounds.
On this Monday morning as we began the hike to Lone Pine Lake, the first section of the Mount Whitney Trail reminded me very much of a typical Southern California hiking trail. The grade was steady and not too strenuous as we ascended through pine trees, passed by wildflowers, a grazing doe and crossed over a few streams. We were surrounded by the towering walls of majestic granite cliffs that opened up to views down into the Owens Valley, Alabama Hills and White Mountains off in the distance. At about 2.8 miles we reached the junction for Lone Pine Lake and followed the trail to the shores of the lake’s stunningly beautiful cobalt blue waters. After spending some time exploring the lake, we hiked a little further on the Mount Whitney Trail to the posted sign for the permit only Mount Whitney Zone even though we knew we would not be going any further today. As we looked longingly up trail towards Outpost Camp, several groups of hikers passed us crossing over into the zone with their permits hanging from their backpacks like little battle flags. I could not help feeling a bit jealous wishing I were one of them, but also knowing I would not want to attempt hiking Mount Whitney in just one day. On this trail, my husband and I made a pact that we would start collecting the gear and learning how to backpack. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while now, but seeing this mountain in person for the first time seemed to inspire us to get the ball rolling. Perhaps someday we too would be one of the many hikers who journey to the top of this peak, but for today we would just take it all in before it was time to head back home leaving the Sierra until next time.Read More