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Little Lakes Valley conditions?

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Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby Etchilds » Tue May 31, 2016 7:52 pm

Hi All... I'm looking forward to a wonderful backpacking season. In my enthusiasm and when El Nino seemed to be weakening, I booked permits for little lake valley this June 8-11. (Last year it was perfect in early June). Has anyone been into the Valley yet this year? I'm a bit concerned about the snow remaining and ease of walking in. I have moderate skill level but am bringing a newbie and want the experience to be pleasant. I'm very open to suggestions, it just needs to be an easy route since my partner isn't in great shape. She would be fine for Little Lakes if its clear. Thank you in advance for any input. Erin



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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby mathguy » Tue May 31, 2016 8:23 pm

This is information that I obtained from the Ranger station via phone today.

Little Lakes valley is an excellent trip for a beginner. I still very much enjoy it after many years. Currently the road is closed at the Pack Station which is about 1 - 1.5 miles from the official trailhead at Mosquito Flats. The person I spoke to said that there is a lot of snow up there on the road and they do not plan on plowing it, but she thought that the road is passable. There is also a washout on the road near Mosquito Flats but did not indicate if it is passable, I would suppose so as long as it does not impact the bridge that crosses Rock Creek. From what I have heard in the Sierra this summer the water levels are quite high. It sounds as if you need to be prepared for significant snow and ice on the road, and likely beyond as well. I am going to be camped at East Fork starting Sunday and plan a day hike, but won't have internet access to update the conditions. Have a safe trip.
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby lvray » Tue May 31, 2016 8:53 pm

From our trip in April - viewtopic.php?f=5&t=14215
Road to pack station was 100% clear back then. I imagine snow has melted considerably since then.
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby Etchilds » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:19 am

Thank you both Mathguy and Ivray. (and the pictures are beautiful!). I think given what Mathguy has noted from the ranger station, that the Jennie Lake area will be better with less snow.
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby brandy » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:52 am

We were up on Sunday and there's a lot of snow up there! Let me see if I can teach myself how to upload pictures. :)
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby brandy » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:19 pm

Erin,

In my enthusiasm, I also booked LLV permits for Memorial Day Weekend and was bringing a new backpacker as well! Watching the forecast closely last week, I made alternative plans to backpack in the Golden Trout Wilderness instead because it was supposed to be fair skies...until Thursday night when the forecast shifted there! Maverick had suggested Big Sur and I even bought a Big Sur/Ventana map on Friday night, but my heart was set on the Eastern Sierra, so we decided to day hike in the mornings to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and stay at a hotel in Mammoth. It worked out perfectly for us. We did Big Pine Creek North Fork on Saturday, starting under sunny skies and getting a little bit of snow as we were leaving Second Lake to head back to the car.

Sunday we had partly cloudy, then very cloudy skies in LLV, but made the hike with no precipitation. No issues with parking, we parked by the Hilton Lakes trailhead. There are only a few patches of snow left on the asphalt up to the Mosquito Flat trailhead. There is snow covering most of the trail, but there are plenty of places to camp if you look for them. There are some pretty perfect snow free spots at the lake that is up and over the hill to the left of the very beginning of Long Lake if you are looking for some solitude. :) Travel in the snow was easy, we had hiking boots and only saw one person with snow shoes early in the day. No real issues with post holing until we were following some tracks in the snow to Gem Lakes. The main trail that goes by Chickenfoot is completely under snow with zero tracks to distinguish it. Some people were asking us where it was on the way back from Gem Lakes and I was able to find it on my Gaia GPS app, but you would (and everyone did) easily miss it if you just followed the tracks in the snow.

Edited to add: While the snow definitely made this trail a little more challenging than it usually is, it wasn't difficult, in my opinion. Had there not been the threat of thunderstorms, we could have easily backpacked this and found a great, dry campsite.

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Last edited by brandy on Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby ExploreABitMore » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:57 pm

brandy wrote: We did Big Pine Creek North Fork on Saturday, starting under sunny skies and getting a little bit of snow as we were leaving Second Lake to head back to the car.


Hi Brandy,

How was the snow coverage on the trail along N Fork, Big Pine? Thinking of heading there soon myself.

Thanks!
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby brandy » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:01 pm

ExploreABitMore wrote:
brandy wrote: We did Big Pine Creek North Fork on Saturday, starting under sunny skies and getting a little bit of snow as we were leaving Second Lake to head back to the car.


Hi Brandy,

How was the snow coverage on the trail along N Fork, Big Pine? Thinking of heading there soon myself.

Thanks!


No snow on Big Pine Creek North Fork, but we only went as far as Second Lake.
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby ExploreABitMore » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:46 pm

Thanks, I plan to camp just beyond that at 3rd Lake, and possibly 5th lake a night as well, so sounds like very minimal snow travel with the heavy backpack, which is what I was hoping for! :D :thumbsup:
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby brandy » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:59 am

ExploreABitMore wrote:Thanks, I plan to camp just beyond that at 3rd Lake, and possibly 5th lake a night as well, so sounds like very minimal snow travel with the heavy backpack, which is what I was hoping for! :D :thumbsup:


Should be easy traveling for you. :) I did talk to a couple of people that camped at Third Lake and while they had two hours of snow with low visibility on Friday night, they said none of it stuck, so I'm assuming there's little to no snow on the ground up there. Have a great trip!
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby DAVELA » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:32 pm

Hi Brandy,did you notice the conditions of the South Fork trail area as it climbs above the creek up to the Willow Lake area?
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Re: Little Lakes Valley conditions?

Postby brandy » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:05 pm

DAVELA wrote:Hi Brandy,did you notice the conditions of the South Fork trail area as it climbs above the creek up to the Willow Lake area?


I'm sorry, Dave...I didn't. It was my first time in hiking Big Pine and I had my eyes set on the NF trail.
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