|Banner Peak (2009)|
|Big Margaret Lake (2009)|
|Dinkey Lakes (2009)|
|Graveyard Lakes (2009)|
|Kaiser Wilderness (2007)|
|Darwin Canyon (2006)|
|Upper Twin Lake (2006)|
|Redwood Canyon/Big Springs (2006)|
|Upper Twin Lake (2005)|
|Mt Whitney (2005)|
|Dinkey Lakes Wilderness (2005)|
|Cliff Lake/Dinkey Wilderness (2005)|
|Kaiser Wilderness (2004)|
|Blaney Meadows (2004)|
|High Sierra Trail (Mt. Whitney) (2003)|
|Mt Whitney Day Hike (2002)|
|Hell for Sure Pass(2000)|
|Marie Lake/Selden Pass (1999)|
|Sandbeach Lake (1994)|
|Big Spring (1994)|
|Hidden Lake and Kaiser Peak|
|Darwin Canyon via Lamarck Col|
|Redwood Canyon/Big Spring|
|High Sierra Trail|
|Mt Whitney Trail|
|Hell for Sure Pass|
Big Margaret Lake Trip
Trail Description (coming soon)
Trip Report (8/2/2009-8/6/2009):
Day 0 (8/1/09): This was an exciting trip with a great group of retired deputies from Fresno (plus a few others). We gathered at Bill's cabin in Alder Springs and then headed on the lengthy drive to Lake Edison. However, before heading up the Onion Springs trailhead, we stopped by the stable to drop of our packs. The rest of the group planned on having stock animals pack the heavy packs in to Frog Lake and we would day hike in with lighter packs, pick up the backpacks at Frog Lake and continue on to Big Margaret Lake. I was planning on packing mine in all the way simply because I didn't have the money to put my pack on a mule. But thanks to Bill for covering the costs for me, my pack was also loaded on a mule. Although if I did have my pack, I may have kept the same pace as the rest of the group during the hike (I didn't get the nickname "Speedy Zastovnik" on my High Sierra Trail trip for nothing). Now, I'll admit that I'm usually against horses on the trail; they tear it up and most of all, they leave big messes in the middle of the trail for us hikers to walk through and enjoy the lovely smell as we go by (the forest service complains about hikers taking dumps, yet nothing is done about horses), but it was nice to only have a day pack going in. Also, a lot of trails were originally stock trails and thatís how people used to carry their gear with them, before all this new, lightweight gear they have now. So I suppose my position has changed a little on them, but I will continue to carry my pack in as long as Iím able.
After dropping off the packs at the stable, we traveled up the rough AWD road to the trailhead. That was perhaps the roughest road I've been on. It isn't too bad, but a car or anything with low clearance definitely wouldnít be able to make it (although Bill's 4WD Honda Element did make it). There were definitely some spots where we had to climb up some large rocks, but all the cars made it. After that long journey, we finally made it to the trailhead. The plan was to camp there for the first night, acclimate and then start hiking the next morning. So we got a campfire going, had some food, listened to some of Rodger's jokes and then got to bed to rest for the next day's hike.
Day 1: There were eight of us who started off that morning, Bill Dryden, Roger, Steve, Reagan, Ed, Bill Prince, Ron and me. The group kind of got spread out from the start as people started as they were ready, but we were all on the trail before 7am. I started off with Bill D., Ed, and Reagan and soon caught up with Roger. I went on ahead and caught up with Ron, Steve, and Bill P. near the creek coming from Hedrick Meadow. I then passed them and began hiking the beautiful ridge above Hedrick Meadow. By the time I got close to Arch Rock Pass, I was a good distance ahead of the group so I waited around until I saw part of the group climbing up the slope, then I went up to Arch Rock pass where I waited for everyone to catch up. Most of the group just kept hiking until we came to Arch Rock shortly after Arch Rock Pass. We took a few pictures of us all under the rock and then headed down the cross-country route to Frog Lake. This was a pretty easy hike down the ravine, though there were a few rough places that took some navigating through. After one last steep descent, we were down at Frog Lake and hiked around to where the packs were going to be dropped. Not too long after we all got there, we could see the horses starting down from the pass and maybe 30-45 minutes later they were down at Frog Lake. The packs were unloaded and by then, most of the group had decided on setting up camp at Frog Lake. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I felt like I could go on, but if everyone camped at Frog Lake, naturally I would have too. But Bill D. wasn't going to camp where the packs were set down again (apparently the same thing happened the previous year), so he and I hiked on to Big Margaret Lake. Beyond Frog Lake, all the downhill was starting to look a little discouraging because every foot we descended, we would have to hike back up to get to Big Margaret Lake. Finally, just south of Coyote Lake, the trail leveled off and we started the climb up to Fern Lake. This is where I started to feel the distance and all the ups and down. It was a bit of a climb coming up from Coyote Lake, but shortly before Fern Lake, it started to level off some. It was a little marshy going around Fern Lake, but it was a very pretty lake. The next step was the hardest part for me. I think all the distance and total elevation gain had gotten to me because climbing up from Fern Lake we had to stop every 50 feet or so to catch our breath. We finally got to the top and started down to Big Margaret Lake. I spotted someone swimming across Bathtub Lake who turned out to be David (David and Ray were also part of our group, but got started the day before and had reached Big Margaret Lake earlier in the day after camping at Frog Lake for a night). Even going down was a little tough, so I was relieved to finally get to the lake. We looked around for a bit for David and Ray, but then decided to set up camp just as David found us. We looked at a site he found, but then stuck with the one Bill and I chose. So we set up camp, did a little fishing and enjoyed a campfire before getting a good night rest.
Day 2: The next day Ed, Reagan, Ron, and Bill P. showed up. Ron and Bill were just over for the day, but Ed and Reagan packed their stuff in. I then went with Dave and Ray up the ridge to try to get a cell signal. We ended up hiking a bit farther than I had expected, but never did get a signal. We did get some great views of Fern Lake, Coyote Lake, Cockscomb, and the Ritter Range. Most of the snow in the area was melted, but we did find a little patch sheltered by a rock and filled up our water bottles with some nice cold snow. After getting back, Bill D., Dave, Ray and I went down to Bathtub Lake to do a little fishing, and then hiked to Rainbow Lake and fished a little there before heading back to camp for the night. On the way back we stopped and chatted with another group who had their entire camp packed in on animals. They had a whole kitchen setup with tables, stoves, and ice chests, with ice!
Day 3: Dave and Ray had to head back down the mountain on Tuesday, so it was just Bill D., Ed, Reagan and me at Big Margaret Lake. We all then went to Rainbow Lake to do a little fishing, and then Bill and I hiked up to the basin between Silver Peak and Sharktooth Peak. Some parts of the climb out of Rainbow Lake were very steep, but we slowly made our way up, climbing the brush, crossing creeks and using both hands at times. Useless Lake may be a small, shallow lake, but it very pretty with one of the most beautiful shades of blue I've seen in a Sierra Lake. The fish were also very hungry, though quite small. We then headed to Hedge Lake and tried to do a little fishing, but didn't get anything, not even a nibble. The lake was pretty though with a hedge damming the lake. Our next stop was Shorty Lake. The fish here were really hungry. I caught one almost every cast. It was also amusing to watch the other fish follow the fish I was reeling in. We then went back down to Rainbow Lake, met back up with Ed and Reagan and then followed the stream up to Bathtub Lake. We briefly did a little fishing there and then headed back to camp for the rest of the day.
Day 4: We woke up to cloudy skies and were getting worried about thunderstorms, so Bill and I hiked up to the pass southwest of Big Margaret Lake to see what the weather looked like. I brought my ham radio up to the pass with me and barely got a signal from the weather station just as they were warning hikers and campers in the high country about unusually cold weather and a chance of snow above 9000ft. That caught our attention and we went back to quickly take down camp. We took a different route out, going over that same pass where I got the weather report. It seemed much shorter and I believe it was 100ft lower in elevation than following the trail. Finding the path to Fern Lake was a little difficult though and we found ourselves going through bushes and climbing down some rocks a few times. I got the weather again below Fern Lake and heard that the cold front was coming in Thursday night, so we still had a day or two before we had to worry about it snowing. We got back to Frog Lake and found a group of women who had their camp packed in by mules and warned then of the forecast. We then rejoined with the rest of the group and told them about the forecast and had all decided to hike out the following day. Bill, Reagan, Ed, and I set up camp and then Bill, Ed, and I took a day hike back to Coyote Lake. I wasn't sure if I'd go or not, but I was glad I did because there were some nice rainbow trout in the lake. We then went back to Frog Lake, had some dinner and hung around the fire before going to bed. The wind that night was intense. The radio said to expect 50 MPH gusts and I wouldn't be surprised if thatís how strong they were. My tent was getting whipped around, but it held through the night.
Day 5: The next morning was very cold; I think Steve's thermometer said 38F around 8am, so it could have been below freezing that night. After breakfast, we packed up and headed out. We took the trail out and I once again took the lead. I made it up to the pass in about 45 minutes and waited for everyone to catch up, which didn't take very long since everyone was still pretty close behind. The wind-chill on the other side of the pass was extremely cold and the clouds definitely did look like they could dump some snow on us. I quickly made my way down the slope and later could see the pass shrouded in clouds. I kept going until Hedrick Meadow and took a break to regroup. Bill, Reagan and Ed were right behind me, but it took awhile for Ron and Roger to catch up. When they did catch up, they told us that Steve wasn't doing so well. Bill and I headed up to help him. He wasn't too far from us, but his pack was up the hill a little way. Bill went after the pack while I ran down to drop my pack off at the car and run back up to get Steve's pack. Ron and Ed had also gone back down to drop off their packs and help out. After dropping my pack off and ran up to get Steve's pack which was at Hedrick Meadow. So, I got the pack and took it down and was relieved to see Bill at the bottom of the switchbacks to take the pack from me. After we all got back to the cars, we headed down the AWD road and back down to Shaver Lake. It was clouding up on our way day and there was one thunderhead that definitely looked like it held some moisture, so it was probably a good thing we headed out. We took some time at Shaver Lake to enjoy a Hut Burger then we all headed back down to the valley.