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Eastern Sierra backpacking

Green Lake and beyond

Story by Chris Cothrun August 12th, 2014

Backpacking!

I haven’t gone on a proper backpacking trip since I was a child. My dad has been talking about backpacking for years. Unfortunately work, marriage, startups, marriage failure, business failure, and more work interfered. So when my brother proposed I join a trip he was planning I was happy to set a few days aside and head for the mountains to do something I hadn’t done since childhood.

Our destination was Green Lake, a popular hiking and backpacking destination in the Hoover Wilderness not far from Bridgeport CA. The trailhead is at about 8000 ft (2400 m) elevation and Green Lake is 2.4 miles (3.9 km) and 1000 ft (300m) of elevation away. With a 40 lb (18 kg) pack and being out of shape and acclimated to the near sea level elevations of Las Vegas I was huffing and puffing my way up the hill.

Here’s a view down the canyon, up the canyon, and the first shot of our arrival at Green Lake.

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People

On the trip were Dayne, Jake G., Levi, Jake C., Wilbur, and me behind the lens for most of these.

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The Trip Up

We stopped about halfway up for a much-needed break.

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Green Lake

After setting up camp we settled in for some fishing as the sun set behind the Sierras.

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East Lake and Beyond

Saturday morning we set out for more hiking and adventure. First destination: East Lake!

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Fishing at East Lake

Finally we had some success! Jake G. caught a nice sized trout, the rest of us started off the day with nibbles and snags. Still, a nice morning as we worked our way along the shore.

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Ever Higher

Beyond East Lake we passed Nutter Lake on our way up the canyon. We had heard of good fishing out of Gilman Lake but chose the wrong trail and had to be content with looking down on it as we worked our way up the trail. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful stream crossing and worked our way up to Lower Hoover Lake.

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Hoover Lakes

We finally all had a share of Jake G’s good fortune with some fish out of Lower and Upper Hoover Lakes. They were all small though, 6’ to 8’, so they were released back into the lake hopefully for another season. As we fished these lakes and debated continuing on to Summit Lake, the gathering clouds built into a summer thunderstorm to the south and east and the rain started.

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Summit Lake and the trip down

Wilbur, Jake C., and Dayne elected to continue on to Summit Lake while the rest of us fished Upper Hoover Lake. As they pushed up the trail the thunderstorm moved in, intermittently showering us with rain as the wind and lightning increased. We took cover among some scruffy trees, noting that some had already been hit by lightning.

Once the Summit Lake crew rejoined us we started back down the mountain. We had a brief glimmer of hope as the sun lit up the mountainside but the clouds closed back in and the rain started back up. As we descended further hail started pelting us. It was looking like a miserable hike back down to camp as the hailstones increased in size, especially for the unprepared among us, but fortunately the storm relented as we descended to East Lake.

Dropping back down into our camp at Green Lake I noticed a tree, previously struck by lightning, still growing out if not up.

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Wrapping Up

A warm dinner and early bedtime finished our adventure for the day. Sunday morning we repacked our backpacks and trekked back down the trail. We had a bit of a surprise when Wilbur’s truck wouldn’t start but his expertise made quick work of the issue and we were on our way home, tired, bug bitten and ready for the next adventure.

In all honesty, this photo of Wilbur working on his driveline was at the beginning of our trip, not the end. He was just as excited to jump the glow plug relay to get the truck started as he was changing driveline shims as pictured here.

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Footnote: What a fantastic trip! Thanks to Wilbur for organizing this and everyone who went.
Green Lake, Mono County, CA, United States