Day 3, Big and Little 5 Lakes, and Big Arroyo


IMG_4479This morning, after a good night’s sleep, Barbara and I awake refreshed and pretty-much recovered, feeling full of energy for the day. We packed up and hit the trail up to Big 5 Lakes. It’s a beautiful uphill trail through golden chinquapins shining in the morning sun, manzanita and oaks, changing to pines and juniper as we ascended. It looked like a series of mountain gardens, with views of rocky crags and peaks every whichaway.


Miranda leads us up the trail to Big 5 Lakes

There were very few people on the trails today. We met up with Miranda, who walks faster than us. We took each other’s photos at the first of Big 5 Lakes, and then she pressed on to explore the other lakes, while we stayed to the trail to Little 5 and on north. Miranda is hiking the very-popular loop trail over Black Rock Pass (which we hear is very steep and grueling and long—as opposed to Sawtooth Pass, which is steep and grueling and short).


The first of the Big 5’s


So pleasant, walking along the lakeshores, in and out of the trees.


I could stare at the water forever.


Black Kaweah rises above us across the arroyo. The first of Little 5 Lakes appears below us.


We send blessings to the trail crews!

Now, we are at the Big Arroyo campground, where our trail meets up with the High Sierra Trail, which runs from Crescent Meadows in Sequoia NP to the top of Mt Whitney. I expect to see lots of serious mile-eating hikers on their way to the mountaintop, to cross this feat off their to-do list. The sun just went behind Mt Lippincott at 6:30 pm. We have the campsite to ourselves!


Mt Lippincott

Washed up in the creek. Such a good feeling after so much work. I love the chore of rinsing off the day’s dust and sweat. My hips hurt from the pack and the climbing. Our high point today was about 10,800′, and now we are at 9500′ There’s weather threatening over the Kaweahs, and it’s getting very cold. Last night, things froze. I wish I had taken photo of my socks standing straight up and stiff as boards in the morning, and my bandanna, which I could hold upright from a corner. It looked great, sparkling with frost.

All day, we were treated with views of the Kaweahs: Kaweah Queen, Black Kaweah, Red Kaweah and and Kaweah Peak. I remember them well from the other side, while hiking the John Muir Trail. They looked like fairy castles in the distance then, and now they look like mighty crumbling fortresses close-up.


Leaving the lowest of the Little 5 Lakes behind.



Black and Red Kaweahs, and Kaweah Peak guided our journey all day.

It was such a pleasure to have the place to ourselves this afternoon. We ate today’s hot meal at one of the Little 5 Lakes, just a ways off the trail out of the wind and in the shade. So funny! The sun is so hot and the shade is so cool, that’s it’s hard to find the right place to be just right.


A fallen giant, and a still-standing trail ant.


“Oh, give to me a winding stream, it must not be too wide…”


Looking and feeling much better after a good clean-up in the stream.


Barbara makes sure that there are no nutrients left on the wrapper.


The Big Arroyo campsite. Lovely!

IMG_4520Now, at Big Arroyo, we have been invaded by a group of about 7 men, all hiking to Mt Whitney. They are a little noisy, and their cam is a little close, but oh well. I’m glad to see people enjoying themselves out here. B and I made some rooibos tea and I read to her the notes from a couple of our previous trips, which happen to be in this same journal. I hope I don’t run out of room in it this trip!

Today’s hike was about 10 miles. Between Big 5 Lakes and Big Arroyo, we wandered through lush hanging gardens on the steep mountainside, with lupines sporting leaves bigger than my hands. Almost jungly-feeling in some spots. Mosquitos not bad, but they do prefer those damp areas, so we didn’t dawdle there.

The menacing clouds of a few hours ago seem to have just evaporated away. It’ll be a good night on level ground (I hope). Tomorrow: Nine Lakes Basin!

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