Took a short trip into Sabrina Lakes area last week, 8-13 to 8-17 after spending a few days car camping with friends a Twin Lakes near Mammoth. We had a great time, in part thanks to all the useful replies to Calvin23's thread earlier about the area and info out of some guide books.
My wife and I wanted to get up to Moonlight Lake for a few days but after hearing the pack train guide say he was headed to Sailor Lake as we started out, we decided to base camp at Blue Lake for 3 nights instead and do some day hiking to some of the nearby lakes.
I had a good laugh after scouting off trail for a camp site when we discovered the packhorse sign posted at the site I had spotted from a ways off up by the inlet. Never did get any packtrain type company that wanted to nudge us out of our spot, only a couple folks over on another ledge who seemed to be quietly enjoying their time there as well. In fact, one morning, in the middle of breakfast, a furry creature suddenly and noiselessly appeared at my elbow. Thinking it was something more wild at first, and wondering about our food that we had out, I quickly was relieved to see the smile in the beagle-ish dog's eyes who apparently only wanted to say hello to her food-eating neighbors (breakfast egg burritos with salsa and cheese!). Ellie, as it turned out, was all about the love, and not a vicious arm-gnawing maniac from the high country.
We really took it quite easy the whole time, it was vacation afterall, spending a day each at Donkey Lake and then at the Emerald Lakes. Morning coffee on the ledges overlooking the lake in the mornings was only surpassed by the cocktails later in the day at the same place prior to dinner. Had it all to ourselves for the most part, except for the young buck that guided us silently up the Emerald Lakes basin to the last lake in the chain.
For such a popular spot we felt lucky to have had as much solitude as we did, and the few other folks we came across were all friendly enough and discreetly went their own ways. Weather couldn't have been better with pure blue skies each morning and some cooling in the afternoons from the building thunderclouds that only yielded a few drops of rain, if any at all. While the fish seemed a bit more wary at Blue Lake, they made us look like great anglers at the other smaller lakes with nearly a fish per cast for both of us, regardless of which flies we employed. The best surprise, esp for my wife, was the near absence of biting mosquitoes. What more could you ask for??
I know its not deep, far or maybe not even considered to be "backcountry" but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and look forward to exploring some of the other crannies in the basin another time. My wife loved it for its accessibility and scenery. For me, it was sort of a sweet revenge because in, well, along time ago, my dad took my sister, along with me, for her first backpacking trip to the Sabrina Lakes basin, our first night to be at Blue Lake. It was her first trip and was very memorable for us all as it rained on us as we headed up the trail from the trailhead, never lessened throughout the day. As the dreary afternoon wore on, the storm clouds got darker, the rain heavier, the lightening flashier and the thunder louder. My sister was a nervous wreck, and I had to pretend to be the brave one but being 16 I was up to at least that. The storm moved in on us as we passed the afternoon then the supper-less, sleepless evening and never-ending night huddled in our wet plastic tube tents. Once the morning light enabled us to see that we were basically laying in puddles of wet sleeping bags we wrang out our clothes to reverse the process and hike out having only some cold cocoa for breakfast, stoically prepared by my dad. We dried out in a hotel in Bishop and gave it another try after the geared dried, going somewhere else that I've now forgotten. My sister says her hip hasn't been the same since, nor has she given backpacking another try. My dad and I kept at it of course, over the following years. And this time, this year, the results were much different.
Sure is beautiful up there.
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I would have preferred to go further/deeper/higher, but my wife isn't as enthusiastic in that regard. So, its no big deal for me to compromise so that OUR trip is a good one for both of us. This is a result from trial and error. She loves going and being out there, and I'm thankful for that. I always itch to get over a pass and around the next corner though. Good luck on your plans!
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