Pine Creek to Honeymoon Lake – Inyo National Forest

Where: Inyo National Forest
Mileage: 12 miles, option to do Pine Creek & Italy Passes adding 19 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation gain: 3000 ft to Honeymoon Lake
Type: Out-and-back

To get to the trailhead: Coming from Los Angeles from the 14 take 395. Once you pass Bishop northbound, about 12 miles down the road turn left onto Pine Creek Canyon Road (West). Take the road all the way to the end and park in the dirt lot near Pine Creek Pack Station. You will have to walk through the pack station to the base of the hill to find the trailhead.

Description: Our Labor Days are typically spent backpacking due to the extra day we have off from our jobs. Most places like cities, famous national park monuments and beaches get so crowded. Something pleasant: the backcountry does not. We had a couple weeks left till our Mt. Whitney trip and decided to use this trip as a training opportunity. We climbed two passes and even in the meantime managed to relax and enjoy this portion of the Inyo National Forest.

Day 1: Trailhead to Pine Lake (3.6 miles)
We arrived at the trailhead around 6:15pm on Friday night and after some last minute packing and frolicking we headed to Pine Lake for the evening. Pine Creek Canyon sits at 7,400 feet. For the first mile or so there is a jungle-like feeling with Juniper, Jeffrey Pine, Aspen, Birch, Red Fir shading our path following a small creek. The trail then merges with an old mining road and emerges out into a more open area with a view of the mine (Pine Creek Tungsten Mine).

For the next mile, the trail climbs about 1700 feet until a nonfunctional and unused mine (Brownstone Mine), which lies about 2 miles into our trek. We kept at it, so we could try to get to Pine Lake before complete darkness. At about 2.25 miles we passed a sign that showed that we were entering John Muir Wilderness, which we could barely see as darkness turned upon us, but we were only about a half a mile from the Pine Lake.

9:45pm hit when we reached the lake. Took about another mile to finally find a wooded area off the trail a bit. We set up camp, had a warm miso soup before passing out quite fast.

Day 2: Pine Lake to Honeymoon Lake (2 miles)
Ha, woke up only to find ourselves with rather pleasant view of Pine Lake. Good Morning Pine Lake (9,942 feet)! The view of the lake and the valley below was a perfect spot for us to have some coffee and cast out. With no quick luck, we packed up and headed to Honeymoon Lake. 500 feet later there’s a fork in the road that leads up to two passes (Pine Creek and Italy) and a turnoff to the west side of the lake.

Found a spot on the Northwest portion of the lake. Set up camp for the 3 nights we were to spend here. Today was different than most of our trips, because our main objective of the day was to try to catch fish and relax and that is exactly what we did. The ENO rain tarp came in handy as a lean-to for cooking and hanging out in this cold and windy weather.

Day 3: Honeymoon Lake to Pine Creek Pass/French Canyon (8.2 miles)
After an early breakfast we packed up our day packs to head up into French Canyon. We left camp at 8am, giving us perfectly enough time to head up to Pine Creek Pass and check out a waterfall in French Canyon, before meeting up with another person who would join our group. Our goal for today was to get some elevation training in for Whitney.

Pine Creek Pass (11,140 feet) was a gradual 1,000 foot climb over 1.5 miles from Honeymoon Lake. 1,000 feet to get the Pine Creek Pass from Honeymoon Lake. Pine Creek Pass is quite picturesque with the two small lakes at the pass itself. Heading into French Canyon we were offered 360 views of the mountains around us. Perfect spot for a short rest and snack.

The way to the waterfall is on a well maintained trail with little to no elevation gain/loss. The waterfall was a bit off-trail, but we could at least see it from a distance. The water from the falls comes from Royce Lakes another option of an off-trail destination that I’d like to come back to. French Canyon is lucky enough to have many lakes that are accessible off this main trail.
We turned around at the waterfall and I just so happens that when we reached back to the junction for Honeymoon Lake/Italy Pass, we ran into the last of our party to join us. We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the lake, fishing and relaxing. It was another tough cold and windy night.

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Day 4: Honeymoon Lake to Italy Pass (11.6 miles)
We woke up with unfortunately another day of smoke. There were some fires in the area and we actually had to move our hike more North and found this trail. Too bad we had to hike in this smoke as the views were not so clear. We packed up our gear, fishing stuff and some snacks. After reaching the junction, Italy Pass trail climbs just above Honeymoon Lake. The trail offers place to stop by a small waterfall, some off trail surprise ponds some good looking fish swimming in them.

Once we hit above 11,000, we hit the beautiful alpine meadows above tree-line and some stunning lakes where my sister and I left the rest of our party to climb up to Italy Pass for Mt. Whitney training. The trail is definitely harder to follow in Granite Park. The smoke rose from the wind, which created a much clearer afternoon for our climb up to Italy Pass.

From Granite Park to Italy Pass, it took us a lot longer than we thought because of an unmaintained trail. This part of the trail we were hunting for cairns on granite slabs. The view behind us was of two more vast lakes along the trail before hitting the granite rocks.

We were greeted at Italy Pass by another group of hikers that approached from the other side and quite a bit of wind coming from the west. Italy Pass sits at a mere 12,408 feet and this is the first time my sister and I were above 11,000 feet. We took a short break hiding from the wind behind a big rock stuffing some electrolytes into our system for the return back to Granite Park to meet back with others. It took us 1/3 of the time it took from Granite Park to Italy Pass, back down the Granite Park and trotted down just in time before the day got colder/windier.

After returning, we decided to try fishing on the other side of the lake while enjoying the beautiful sunset. Tonight dinner was rather tasty: chili and chips. Even though I managed to drop the chili bowl, we were able to save most of it. The chips, the chips. Let me tell you about the chips. Our friend who came a day later, literally walked the bag of chips in his hand the entire way up from the car to the campsite. Well, let me tell you after being out for a couple days, it was the best tasting food we had.

Day 5: Honeymoon Lake to Trailhead (5.6 miles)
We dressed in layers this morning. The way down took us a little over 2 hours and by the time we reached the cars we were all ready for that burger we salivated to on the entire downhill. It was a lot of downhill a little of 3,000 feet.

Till next time Eastern Sierras! You always make us happy!

Note to self: FOCUS and listen when passing food. *this was the second time I dropped a whole pot of dinner.

My Picks – May 2017

1. REI Co-op Sit Pad

> >>that pad you buy in order to not sit on a hard surface on your hike

There’s been plenty of times that I have been on backpacking trips and have to either bring out my mattress from the tent or sit on my rain jacket. Even while taking a quick break on the trail it would be nice to not have to sit and squish all of your food or on that hard bear box. Pull out this sit pad and in a matter of seconds you will be able to blow it up.

The idea came from a trip out to Monarch Lakes about a year and a half ago. We had reached the lakes and saw a couple gentlemen enjoying the sun by the lake. One was sitting quite comfortably on a rock. I then saw under him was this sit pad. I forget which brand it was when I got back home, but I definitely wanted to go shopping for one and found this one.

The Sit Pad deflates and folds down into the size of a 16 oz. water bottle. Quite small for fitting it in your pack and would be perfect for those day hikes if you do not want to pack on extra weight on your backpacking trips. Although it only weighs 4.4 oz.

Available in two colors: Dark Gray and Teal Surf

For more REI-Coop products click here:

>>$$19.95 – @REI

2. Autana SKY 3 Person Roof Tepui Tent

>> >>that tent you buy so you can be on top

Not really, there are many more reasons. From what I see there is a trend going on buying these roof top tents and they aren’t cheap. But it is an investment, honestly the camping tent that we have we bought 15 years ago and still use it. So all in all even if it’s above 1500, it’s about $100 per year if you look at it like an investment.

So, what’s so cool about it?
– Being lifted off the ground gives you a different perspective of camping.
– If you have it installed, you can take the tent out for lunch and hang out in it (not that we have ever done this).
– Space, it is very spacious and it is easy to sit up in.
– Rooftop screens – you can open up the top and look at the stars from the inside of your tent.
– 4-season – take it out in the winter too

See more Tepui Tents here:

>>$$1,850 – @tepuitents

3. ENO DryFly Rain Tarp

>> >>that rain tarp you buy as an add-on for either your tent or your hammock

There’s been a lot of trips where we take a tarp, but really those things are bulky and we’ve had them for over ten years. I decided to shop around and look for something. What’s lightweight that has a couple uses instead of just a rainfly? Then there it was the idea, I have an eno hammock. Why not buy the tarp for it and be able to use it as a rainfly as well when needed?

So I bought it. I took it on our first backpacking hike up to Pine Creek Valley area in the Eastern Sierras. It was a cold Labor day weekend and quite windy at times. So guess what we did with the tarp. We set the rain fly up as a shelter so that we can cook comfortable outside when it was quite windy. It was perfect and I am going to take it on every backpacking trip from now on. Why?

– Lightweight (22 oz)
– Can be used as a rain fly and wind breaker
– Compact and easy to fit in your pack

See more on ENO (Eagle Nest Outfitters) items here:

>>$$79.99 – @REI
>>$$79.95 – @ENO

Monarch Lakes – Sequoia National Park

Where: Sequoia National Park
Mileage: 11.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 3000 ft
Type: Out-and-back

To get to the trailhead: From Visalia take the 198 East for 31.5 miles. Turn right onto Mineral King Road. It is not easy to find, but if you hit the Park Entrance where you have to pay to get in you have gone too far. There is a green sign on the side of the road at the turn that says “Mineral King 25 miles”. Take Mineral King Road all the way to Timber Gap & Sawtooth parking areas. There are two parking areas on both sides of the road. Trailhead is located on the north-side of the parking area. There is a big sign “Sawtooth Trailhead”.

Mineral King is an extremely windy road. It is a one way road, but is a very picturesque drive. Once we finally got to the trailhead, we parked. The lot was pretty full being that it was already 10am, because we missed the turn and went too far and had to turn back around to find Mineral King Rd. It was okay because the hike wasn’t too long in just above 5 miles to the first of the lakes.

The first mile or so was unforgiving as there were many steep switchbacks that got you breathing hard and your heart pumping. A little less than a mile in there is a junction to either go to Timber Gap or Sawtooth Pass. Turn right onto the Sawtooth Pass trail. The area had no trees giving us shade and it was getting quite hot. This area is known as home to the yellow-bellied Marmots.

After a strenuous mile and a quarter climb there is a perfect spot to take a break and have a snack. We crossed over a small creek, before realizing there was a beautiful waterfall just above us hidden by all the green scenery around. This is where you hit the shadier part of the trail. We took a small break right by the creek and after cooling down headed onward. All I wanted to do was get up there, set up the tents and jump in the lakes. That’s what was on my mind.

The ascent was a little easier at this point turning away from the valley below (carved by the East Fork of the Kaweah River). There are a series of switchbacks in this DENSE forest area that we had to climb. About 1000 feet over 1.7 miles. Along these switchback you can catch glimpses of jagged peaks through the trees. The climb was interesting because the switchbacks were pretty long and one second we turned north and the other west. One way you were able to see Timber Gap and the other direction Mineral King Valley.

Before hitting another junction the trail sort of straightens out in elevation into a bowl called “Chihuahua Bowl”. The junction is about 3.5 miles in. One way leads to Cobalt and Crystal Lakes and if you continue straight it will lead straight up to Monarch Lakes. There are a few more switchbacks after the junction and the trail then finally hits Monarch Creek drainage. This area was very picturesque as we walked over several areas of the creek drainage and the trees were more scarce but you could find fox tail pines here and there. Gorgeous trees I must say. You could feel the cooler air from the lake above. 1 mile later we took our last few steps away from the site of the valley below and found the western shore of Lower Monarch Lake which sits at 10,390 feet.

It was time for us to find a campsite. There weren’t that many people around which was nice, but we found a perfect spot with a view of the lake. Remember you have to camp at least 100 feet away from any water source. The lake sits in a perfect bowl shaped area surround by orange, red and brown rock formations. What’s nice about this camp is that they have a bear box where you can put all of your food and scented items for the night. Once we set up a camp, we packed up a day pack and headed up the trail to Upper Monarch Lake 300 feet above its sister. There is a lot of scrambling and we lost the trail a few times, but finally hit the lake about 15-20 min later.

Southern California Edison built a dam for this lake and is used to hold back water. There was a small family (Dad and two daughters) who had just been fishing. The smaller one of the daughters was holding about 4 to 5 fish up and said to us “look what my dad caught. we’re going to have them for dinner, would you like to share with us?” She was quite the chatter box and invited us for dinner a few times. After a fun quick dip in the extremely cold water of Upper Monarch we headed back down to Lower Monarch and also took a swim there. This lake was much warmer and we stayed in the water a lot longer. There are a few places where you can jump off rocks.

That night we cooked some mac and cheese, unfortunately we dropped a lot of it as I was passing it on. We ate other snacks that we had and shared whatever bit of the mac and cheese we could save. Too bad I was a clutz because it tasted so good. All two bites that we each got (shared between 4). There were several groups around watching the sunset on the west. It was incredible as you can see in the pictures we took. This is one of the four of us that I’d like to blow up on canvas and throw up on a wall somewhere in my place.

The nights sleep was quiet and the next morning we headed down the trail early. I’d like to come back to this area and explore the other lakes and peaks around.

Note to self: Get up there earlier in order to hike up to Sawtooth Pass or hike into Crystal Lakes before heading up to Monarch.

Steelhead Falls – Deschutes River

Where: Crooked River Ranch
Mileage: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: Little to none
Type: Out-and-back


To get to the trailhead: From Terrebonne on Hwy 97 North, turn left onto Lower Bridge Road. In 2.1 miles turn right on 43rd St. 1.8 miles later to left onto Chinook Drive. 1.1 miles, make a left on Badger Rd. 1.8 miles, turn right on Quail Rd. 1.2 miles left on River Rd. River Rd will end after .9 miles at the Steelhead Falls trailhead.

When we went to Steelhead Falls it was the dead of summer. I think that that’s one of the most perfect times of year to go, but I suspect on the weekends it would get busy. We had gone on a Friday mid-day and saw a couple groups hiking the area as well, but still felt as though we were in our own world.

The trail itself is a hike down on the way in, therefor making the way back an uphill trek. This doesn’t matter, because the surrounding area and canyon you are hiking in is quite beautiful.

The trail goes another mile past the falls and offers a ton of swimming holes, fishing and picnic sports and canyon walls similar to high desert. The falls are about .6 miles in from the trailhead and the sight of the Deschutes River plummeting down 20 feet was riveting.

Just past the falls there is a perfect spot to do some cliff jumping with the falls in sight. The jump itself is a mere 25 feet above the water and providing a perfect cool off the short summer hike. The water felt amazing as it was 80 degrees outside. We even jumped in a few times for the fun of it. Of course I put up my hammock to relax a little before heading back to the trailhead.

Note to self: Bring fishing poles as down the stream and up stream from the waterfall the river offers very nice swimming holes.

San Ysidro Trail – Los Padres National Forest

Where: Los Padres National Forest
Mileage: 10.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Elevation gain: 3000 feet
Type: Out-and-back

To get to the trailhead: From US 101 South take San Ysidro exit. Turn left on San Ysidro. East Valley Rd. make a right. Park Lane. will be your next left, but keep an eye out because it’s not well marked. Park Lane make a left. East Mountain Drive turn left. Park at the end of the road. Make sure you read the signs, because it is in a residential area. The trailhead is well marked by a sign at the end of the road.

I was itching for a hike and was willing to drive a couple hours. San Ysidro Trail is about a 2 hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s located in a beautiful mountainous neighborhood called Montecito. From what I hear, the waterfall is best to visit after a strong rain. There were no rains recently, but I was willing to take a chance to see even was little trickle of water flowing in the area.

The trailhead begins in the backyard of some residential homes and offers shade for only the first part of the trail. Because of this, I would recommend bringing a hat for cover. After about a half a mile of traversing through the neighborhood back trails, I reached a part of the trail that begins the treacherous uphill. At this point it was no more houses, the brush became thicker, but no trees overhead to give shade for those on the trail.

There wasn’t much water flowing, but on the way up I did see an area where I would be able to take a quick swim on the way back down. Took about 2 hours to get to the top. The elevation gain is about 3,000 ft especially high amount within 5.1 miles. When you get to the top, you get quite the view of the beach and the surround area of the Los Padres National Forest on the other side. I spent a good half hour basking in the sun at the top, ate a quick bite and headed down back to the small little swimming hole I found earlier on the way up.

After a quick refreshing swim, I went back to the car and finished up for the day. Took about a two hour drive home. Not too far of a drive for a good amount of mileage.

Note to self: Come back after a rainfall or early spring to experience more water.

My Picks – February 2017

1. Oakley Flight Deck XM Goggles – Women’s

> >>those goggles you buy for all weather use

I had a couple goggles over the years and it was time to get a perfect pair because I have a season pass and go snowboarding a lot. We were at Bear Mountain a couple weekends ago and were in line to get some burgers. My sister mentioned that she loved the look of goggles a gentlemen had in front of her in line. He explained to her that they were such good goggles, not only did they look cool, but they were good for so many reasons. Comfort, visibility in any type of weather, lighting and easily swappable lens.


Yes, the item is a little expensive, but you pay for your money and you’ll be able to use these for seasons to come. Make sure you take care of them and keep them in its bag case that it comes with.

Pros: Antifog coasting, comfort because of its triple-layer face foam, easily swappable because of its ridgelock lens and 100% UV protected.

For more Oakley products:

>>$$210.00 – @rei

2. REI Co-op Trek Pole Large Snowflake Baskets – Pair

>> >>that extra item you need when you are snowshoeing, especially in powder

Funny thing, I’ve had the REI Carbon Poles for 3-4 years now and have never used the snow baskets I bought for them until this past weekend when we went up the Pear Lake Ski Hut for our overnight hike and boy were they awesome.


Pros: Your summer poles can become your winter trekking poles, easy to attach by just one turn, can be used for REI and Komperdell trekking poles.

>>$$8.99 – @rei

3. SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger

>> >>that electronic item that you take on adventures so your family can follow your tracks

I’ve been inching towards getting a satellite messenger and ended up going with the SPOT GPS. My first use was last weekend on our overnight snowshoe hike. Ideally you would explain to your family/friends who you shared the link with that you won’t be checking in that often, maybe give time frames or possibly say you’ll press track when you leave, when you get to where you’re supposed to be and when you get back to the car. Any extras are just nice.


The big plus of the satellite gps is the S.O.S. button to alert authorities you are in a life-threatening situation. Or you can use the HELP that will alert your personal contacts (2 people) that you need help, but not life-threatening.

Learn more here on additional specs:

>>$$149.99 – @REI
>>Plans not included, go to to find what suits you.

Proxy Falls – Willamette National Forest

Where: Willamette National Forest
Mileage: 1.98 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: Little to none
Type: Out-and-back


To get to the trailhead: From Highway 126 and 242 junction, take Hwy 242 (McKenzie Pass Highway) for 6.5 miles. You will see a Proxy Falls trailhead sign on the side of the road (easy to see).


A trip to Oregon is much needed for any adventurer; I was able to take a trip in July of 2015. Home base was Bend and I was going to visit an old friend that lived in Newport, which in turn led me to the McKenzie Pass Highway and all it’s beauty. McKenzie Pass Highway is closed during the winter months, so be sure to check road closures here:

Luckily since it was July, I had come at the right time of year. Make sure before you do this drive, map out all the sites that you could stop at. The drive is spectacular as it results in your eyes laying upon dense forests, lava-rock formations, moss hanging off trees and lots of water including waterfalls and the rivers flowing aside it.

The trial begins at the marked trail head along Hwy 242. The hike to Proxy Falls begins on a dirt section and slowly as you get closer, you’ll have to scramble over old lava flow. There are vast changes within the 1 mile it takes to reach the falls. The trail has a loop you can do, one turn off can take you to the top of the falls and the other to the base. I took the path to the base of the falls and enjoyed every moment of climbing on rocks, jumping over the stream to get closer to it. Check out the pictures below of it’s remarkable moss covering over lava rocks.

Note to self: Come back in the spring/early summer at some point, one could only imagine how much more water there could be.

Read more information on regulations and fees here.

Mt. Hawkins via Islip Saddle – Angeles National Forest

Where: Angeles National Forest
Mileage: 10.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 2200 feet
Type: Out-and-back


To get to the trailhead: From 210 take Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) for about 39 miles to Islip Saddle. The parking lot is across the street from the trailhead. Make sure you display the National Forest Adventure Pass before you leave your car for the day.

There are three trailheads at Islip Saddle which sits at 6670′. The PCT crosses the 2 here. Islip Saddle is named after a Canadian homesteader who used to live here in the 1900s, George Islip.

The trailhead that I would take was across the street from where I parked. I captured a picture shown below of the perfect crisp moment as I stepped onto the PCT at about 7:15am. It was a little breezy and the white flowers danced next to me on the first part of the trail. The trail was steep until I hit Little Jimmy Trail Camp.

Mt. Hawkins 001

Little Jimmy Trail Camp is nestled along the route of the PCT at 7500′ and offers 16 hike-in campsites. It’s only about 2 miles in, which makes for a perfect overnight if you want to feel like you’re away from the city! Campsites here are first come first serve. Possibly interested in staying here read more here.

After the Camp the trail steadies with not much elevation to Windy Gap, 7588′. Windy Gap offers great views and high winds… No, but honestly while I took a short break at Windy Gap it was actually pretty windy, I’m guessing that may have something to do with the name of the junction.

At the junction I turned left toward Mt. Hawkins. The trail doesn’t climb much in the beginning, but it gradually gets steeper and steeper. I spent a little time on top of Mt. Hawkins, just after a refreshment I decided to keep going further another 30 minutes. There were a couple girls I kept running into that were actually going all the way to Mt. Baden Powell. If I didn’t have to get back into town at a certain time, I would have done the same thing.

Mt. Hawkins 10

Instead, I turned around and headed back down to the car. The hike back out took half the time.

Note to self:Try this hike all the way to Mt. Baden Powell.

Little Baldy – Sequoia National Park

Where: Sequoia National Park
Mileage: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 739 feet
Type: Out-and-back


Little Baldy 001

To get to the trailhead: From Dorst Campground drive about 1.5 miles South. You will see a large sign on the left side of the road “Little Baldy Trailhead”. On the right you will see a sign that says “Little Baldy Saddle”. There is some parking across the street from the trailhead. The trailhead is 11 miles north of the Giant Forest Village located on Generals Highway.

We’ve camped near Hume Lake a lot and have done many hikes in the area. This was one we finally decided to tackle. The trailhead begins at Little Baldy Saddle sitting at 7335′. After parking on the other side of the street, we took the single track trail. The beginning of the hike is a bit steep, but levels off most of the way up.

At some point along the trail the views become more vast as there are less trees. The last mile or so is a bit more rocky as it opens up to the granite summit.

Little Baldy 009

Little Baldy 011

Little Baldy sits at 8044′ and offers 360 degree view of the surrounding area. We hung out on Little Baldy for a bit before heading back down to the car and campsite. Felt quite good to soak up the sun with a view like this.

Note to self: If in the area again with families with kids, I would bring them here.

Peanut Lake via Meysan Lakes Trail – Inyo National Forest

Where: Inyo National Forest
Mileage: 11.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Elevation gain: 3000 feet
Type: Out-and-back


Permits: To hike Meysan Lakes overnight you can either walk-up and get a permit at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine for free or reserve ahead of time on for $5.00 per person in addition to a $6.00 “reservation fee”. I recommend getting it in advance unless you are willing to chance it.

Peanut Lake_006

To get to the trailhead: From 395 in Lone Pine, turn west on Whitney Portal Rd. There is no parking lot for Meysan Lakes; there are signs that say “Meysan Lakes Trailhead” on the side of the road next to Whitney Campground. You can park at any turnout; when receiving the permits they will issue an overnight parking pass as well. Make sure you display the parking pass in your front window.

I’ve done Meysan Lakes before, but the lakes were never visible as I hiked it in January right after a storm. While I did the hike I had to turnaround 1/2 a mile from Meysan Lake as a storm blew in. I was excited to come back on a less stormy weekend. We got up at 3:30am in the morning to drive up to the visitor center to pick up our permits for our overnight trip.

We arrived in Lone Pine around 7:15am and had to wait around till 8:00am as that is when the visitor center opened up. After some coffee we picked up some water to put in our bladders. Unfortunately once the visitor center opened up we had to stand in the same line as those waiting to receive their Mt. Whitney Permits (this takes much longer because of the pre-cautions the Ranger needs to explain, etc.)

We received our permits and parking passes as 9:15am rolled around. We drove up to Whitney Portal Parking area, which is where we were told to park because of construction on Whitney Portal Rd. This added a couple miles to our trek up to Meysan Lakes. There are large sized bear boxes for you to store any food and scented items you will not be taking on your hike. Be sure to not leave these in your car as bears are very active in this area!

Peanut Lake_015

To get to the actual “Meysan Lakes” trailhead you’ll have to walk through the Whitney Campground on the paved area and go towards the back of the campground where there are summer homes located. There are clearly marked signs that are easy to follow where the trail is. As soon as we stepped onto the dirt portion of the trail the up and up and up did not stop.

Peanut Lake_001

Luckily the first mile or so was in a shaded area, but through the ascent the less the trees. The trail is mostly exposed so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water especially in summer months. 3.5 miles into the ascent we headed into a leveled area of the trail with some shade perfect for a break. This was a nice rest-stop before a not so fun part of the trail.

Soon after the leveled area the trail became tougher to climb as it was steep and sandy. After a few switchbacks we finally hit an area that is just as steep, but a rocky terrain making it a little simpler to ascend. The views at this point were vast of the valley below and the mountains above. We decided when we got close to Peanut Lake we would take a look and see if we can find a place to set up camp. Peanut Lake is a good 2 minute walk off trail and offers shaded camping in areas around the lake.

We weren’t the only ones around when we arrived, but it sure felt like it as soon as we found our small campsite with views of the peaks above Grass and Peanut Lakes. We never actually went up to Grass Lake and instead fished and relaxed in a spot on a larger rock overlooking Peanut Lake. It was a perfect crisp afternoon with a deer spotting and especially topping it off by catching a few fish and two rather larger ones that would be perfect for the stew we were going to cook; now that stew was amazing. We used our new GSI Outdoors Ultralight 1.8L pot from the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Ultralight Cookset we bought.

That night we laid out on the rocks and relaxed under the stars, but not for long because we were exhausted from the early morning wake up call. During the night it was a bit windy, but still slept amazing. The sun awoke us before 7:00am and we decided to cook our breakfast that was leftovers of eggs, turkey bacon and asparagus. We found an open space on the rocks where the sun lay upon us keeping us warm. At some point we realized we had to head back to reality and started packing up and left the camp at 10:00am. Of course the way down was all downhill and we made it back to the car around 12:30pm.

Before arriving to the car on the last part of the trail we had to cross a creek to get to our vehicle. We found a perfect swimming hold to take a quick dip and clean off before heading on our drive back. Soooooo cold, but the best idea ever as it felt terrific.

Note to self: Make sure to plan more overnight trips even if it’s a one night out in the wilderness.