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TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

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TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby larroyo33 » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:59 pm

I wanted to get my wife and my two dogs up in the High Sierra over 4th of July weekend. My wife had not been backpacking in almost two years, so she wanted a fairly easy hike. Little Lakes Valley seemed like the perfect option because the trail allows you to get deep into the High Sierra in minimal time and with minimal gain.

Image[url=https://flic.kr/p/opXBuz]
Us With The Dogs Above Box Lake

It was definitely bear country out there. We saw a bear running around down by Box Lake, and then we saw another bear at Long Lake. The bear at Long Lake put on quite the show for us. He did a lap in the lake, swimming from the far end of the lake until about 20 yards in front of us on the trail and then scampered up the hill towards Chickenfoot Lake. The bear was a strong doggie paddler. When we got up to Chickenfoot Lake, people told us that they had just seen a bear. I figured it was the same bear, but you never know.

We made it up to Chickenfoot Lake and set up camp there. We had a nice afternoon by the lake. There were some big puffy clouds in the sky that gave us some much needed shade. I worried about the clouds turning into an afternoon thunderstorm, but by the early evening the sky started to clear up.

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MoMo Lounging

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Chickenfoot Lake Vertical

Around 7:30 p.m., I was sitting on a rock staring at the sky waiting to see how the sunset was shaping up and then I saw off in the distance a huge wall of purplish clouds coming straight at us. I knew it was a thunderstorm headed our way, so my wife and I got all of our stuff organized in our tent for the storm. I waited in the tent until about 8:20. I knew it was about sunset time, and it was not raining that hard, so I ran down to the lake with my camera to see what I could capture before it started raining harder. I only ended up having about 5 minutes to take pictures, but boy was I happy I went down there.

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High Sierra Storm

In the morning, there were still some lingering clouds so I went back down to the lake to try and take some morning reflections shots.

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Once I finished taking pictures, we packed up and headed back down the trail. The skeeters were pretty bad in the morning (the rain the night before probably made them worse), so other than a stop off at Long Lake for more pictures, we just hustled down the trail back to the parking lot.

Image[url=https://flic.kr/p/ood2S1]
Long Lake



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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:49 am

Beautiful photos and nice report. That's also a pretty neat experience to see that bear swim across Long Lake!
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:23 am

The Chickenfoot (what a name for such a beautiful lake) storm and sunrise photos are marvelous.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby jessegooddog » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:19 pm

How lucky to have such great bear sightings and those gorgeous colorful clouds! Nice report!
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby jmac » Wed Jul 23, 2014 8:46 am

Beautiful photos! I really like the first sunset shot with the wall of rain in the background. I'll be up there in two days to take my kids on their first backpacking trip. I hope the sunsets are as good to me. Thanks for the TR and the inspiration.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:32 am

Looks like you all had a fine trip. Nice images.

I also so a light tan young bear thrashing around in Box Lake, morning July 12. Where you took your group pic above Box, a large international Christian organization group of over 100 people stopped later that morning and sang a series of and well known popular music and religious songs for about an hour led by an acoustic guitarist. I was about 3/10 mile away across the lake and up some at the time and was amazed at how strong their voices carried. Was quite wonderful.

During following week of Monsoon flow from se and thunderstorm flow from the sw Rock Creek got some considerable precipitation. Enough that when I went back after a backpack down south on July 19, noted good numbers of new wildflowers had bloomed and generally there is considerable green everywhere. In fact despite the drought, I was quite impressed what is showing above Mosquito Flat. An excellent choice in the next week or two for day hiking in the Sierra. Although it is pounded by heavy day use, for the topo savvy offtrail hikers, it is very easy to avoid all people by vectoring off the trail early beyond Mack Lake, crossing the creek to the east side, then working south and can do so all the way to Chickenfoot or head back west to the trail at any of several points.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby ofuros » Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:32 pm

Great pics, larroyo33.
Sharing the wilderness experience with your family gets a big thumbs up in my book... :thumbsup:
Out 'n about....looking for trout.
https://ofuros.exposure.co/
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby larroyo33 » Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:29 am

Thanks for the compliments guys. Yeah, bears and thunderstorms made it a pretty exciting trip for a simple overnighter. I thought the name Chickenfoot Lake was odd until I was standing on a hill on the south side of the lake and I could see four or five little pennisulas on the north side of the lake. It made me think maybe the lake does look like a chickenfoot when viewed from above.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby balance » Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:02 pm

larroyo

Thanks for the spectacular photos. I wonder how your two dogs reacted to hearing the thunderstorm from a tent? Sometimes dogs don't like thunder even inside a house.

Peace.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby jessegooddog » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:32 pm

A group of 100? Waaay too many on that already overused trail, in my opinion.
I was unable to figure out a way to Chickenfoot off trail from Mack, as the narrow and steep willow choked steam bed forced me back to the 3rd lake. What did I miss?
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby larroyo33 » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:51 pm

Hi Balance,

They were fine. The storm was not too bad. There was only about 5 real good cracks of thunder. I think the dogs enjoyed being in the tent during the storm because it is a tight enclosed space (probably not that much different to them from when they hide under our coffee table from the thunder) and they are close to their masters.
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Re: TR: Little Lakes Valley 7/5-7/6/14

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:59 am

jessegooddog wrote:A group of 100? Waaay too many on that already overused trail, in my opinion.
I was unable to figure out a way to Chickenfoot off trail from Mack, as the narrow and steep willow choked steam bed forced me back to the 3rd lake. What did I miss?


There were several hundred others on that trail Saturday so I was fine with that. Easily the most hiked trail about the Eastern Sierra most weekends. The primary issue is trailhead parking. On weekends unless one arrives early in the morning say before 9am, one will likely be forced to park down the road. On my visit many cars were parked way down the road all the way to the Hilton Trailhead which is maybe a mile of extra walking.

The willow can be avoided but will instead describe an easier start. An easier start is to take the use trail on the south side of Heart Lake, cross Rock Creek at the inlet, continue a wee bit north around the lake then hike up through trees to the bench above where the Hidden Lakes be. Then head east to start going around the southeast most lake. One can simply follow the stream up to Box Lake then continue around its intricate north shore but that is tedious with ups and downs. Back on the east side of the above Hidden lake one can continue around its shore but that will end up squeezing up against a cliff and willows that though passible will only get into more willow and talus ahead. I've gone that way. Doable but tedious. Better to climb up 100 feet to the bench above and then follow that south traversing at that level through easy up and down forest. Eventually one reaches some dark gabbro talus cliffs with easy gaps of vegetation where a short drop brings one to a long level section of idealic streams and small ponds. Great place to camp where one is unlikely to see anyone all day except maybe Bob (Tom's place local) and his dog Brandon who take that route frequently. At the end of that valley one can either make the modest climb up the outlet stream to Chickenfoot or turn west and work up and over a rib to the outlet of Long Lake where the main trail be. Anyone with good crosscountry and topo skills ought to be able to do this fascinating and interesting route. At worst one will end up backtracking a bit here and there moving through the puzzling sections.
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