Friday, June 24, 2016

Hike To Nellie Lake 2016

Dale Matson

Click On Images To Englarge

The trailhead to Nellie Lake is at the west end of Huntington Lake out of the Billy Creek Campground. There are not potties at the trailhead. At this point, Huntington Lake Road is called Big Creek Road. The hike is about 10 miles round trip with most of the 2,000’ of elevation gain outbound. Think of the hike to the Nellie Lake in thirds*. The first third is 1,000’ of gain. The second third is mostly flat with some rollers. The final third is another 1,000’ of gain. The final short section is a drop to the lake.The lake elevation is approximately 8,900’For additional information I have previous postings here:
            The trail was uncluttered and free of bugs, snow and deadfalls. However, I would recommend that you include insect repellent in your daypack. It is better to have it and not need it. This year there were still two seasonal creeks to cross that also could be a source of water resupply if purified. There is also the lake as a water source. Sharon and I each drank a liter and a half of water on a day with a high of 75 degrees. The hike duration was 6 hours of hike time with one half hour of lunch break at the lake. Younger/fitter hikers will hike much faster.
            The photographs are similar to previous years but this year I used the Zeiss Batis 18mm 2.8 and Batis 85mm 1.8. I think these are my best photographs of the same things over the last three years.
            As Sharon and I were taking a lunch break, Terry Miller and his dog arrived and we chatted for a time. He has a cabin near Huntington Lake. He is a couple of years older than me but started hiking over an hour after we did and arrived only 15 minutes after we did. He caught up with us on the return leg and seemed to know about as much as Sharon about the wildflowers along the way.  *He also showed us a village area that had been used by Native Americans just west of the trail before we arrived at the Mary’s Meadow trail junction. It is waypoint #3. There were pieces of obsidian scattered about which are not native to the area. The obsidian was brought over Mono Pass from the east side of the Sierra Nevada by the Native Americans and used to make arrow and spear heads. There were also several Mountain Mule Ear plants used by the Native Americans as medicine. If you find this area I would ask that you respect the sanctity and history of the site.
            I was amazed that I had hiked past this ancient village site for the last 20 years and not known that it was there. There is a creek that flows southward on the west side of the village site. It is near but quite a bit below the site. There are boulders with several holes where the acorns were ground for food.

* Terry said we could include his hike description and the whereabouts of the encampment if we gave him credit. He has been hiking in this area since he was a boy.
 Map At Trailhead
 New Signs This Year

 Snowpack Measurement Site

 Trail Marker

 Sierra View Above Trail On West Side Looking South

Terry Back At His Cabin


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hike To Potter Pass And Twin Lakes From Kaiser Pass Road

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
Hike Route
This hike is about 9 miles total out and back with about 1,500’ of elevation gain. The trailhead elevation is about 8,300’, Potter Pass about 9,000’ and Twin Lakes about 8,600’.

Additional information can be found on an earlier posting on Potter Pass here: There are established campsites available at the lakes for overnight. Wilderness permits are required and available where Kaiser Pass Road leaves Highway 168.

It was a cool morning beginning to the hike with a starting temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The trailhead is across Kaiser Pass Road from the parking area and bathrooms at Badger Flat. I was surprised to run into a patch of snow only about 50 feet from the beginning of the trail.

There is 800’ of civilized climb to Potter Pass in about 2.5 miles. Once you crest the trail at Potter Pass, there is a grand view of the Sierra Nevada to the east about 25 miles as the crow flies.

I did not have bug spray with me and was glad the mosquitoes were not around. This time of year there are several crossings of seasonal creeks. There were places on the trail covered by deep snow for hundreds of feet but plenty of folks have already done this hike and it was simply a matter of following the dirty footprints over the snow.

As you continue to climb you will see Huntington Lake below and the China Peak ski runs across the lake. You can also see China Peak if you look behind you. Once you reach the pass a grand view will open up to the east. You then begin to descend toward the lakes. Pay attention to the sign at the creek crossing. There is an intermittent view of the Sierra along the way and at one point you can see Mammoth Mountain Ski area with the cable buildings on top.

I seem to get an earlier start than most and as I turned and headed back from Upper Twin Lake, others were coming toward me on the trail. My wife and courageous others I have hiked with before take a break by swimming to the island on Upper Twin Lake. It is possible to continue on to George Lake (about 9.100’) beyond and above Upper Twin Lake. It is the prettiest of the three lakes. It sits below Kaiser Peak and makes for a longer and more difficult hike.

The hard part of the hike is the climb back up to Potter Pass after you pass Lower Twin Lake. The rest of the hike back to the trailhead is downhill as they say.

This is one of my annual warm up hikes in preparation for backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains each summer.

China Peak Right Of Center

 Huntington Lake
 Potter Pass With View Of Banner Peak

 Kaiser Peak (10,300')

 Lower Twin Lake
 Upper Twin Lake

 Upper Twin Lake Outlet
 Mammoth Mountain

My second hike to Twin Lakes included wife Sharon and friends Carol and Mike.
I have added three photographs taken with my Sony RX1R at Upper Twin Lake.