|Hungry Packer Lake|
We had many great ideas for this years trek, options in Yosemite and summiting Halfdome on a 5 day trek included, the long lasting snow pack and availability to get permits dictated our selection more than we ever knew it could! At the end of the day, we could get permits for the Lake Sabrina trailhead for a larger group and went with that, my friend and co-leader Thomas and I would figure out the details later and put together a trip.
Upon looking over the topo maps for this area, I was pleased to see numerous lakes to be explored, some on trail, some off trail. I came up with a route that would potentially get us to 15 different lakes in all if we could get to some of the higher ones that might be obscured by snow.
|Our group of 8 boys plus me in the back.|
|My view for 3 days near Topsy Turvey.|
exploration and made our way up to Topsy Turvey. We had been warned about the terrible mosquitoes in the area and chose to camp right at about treeline and a little away from the lake and other water and on a rocky outcropping to hopefully get a little breeze to keep the pests away. That thinking was sound and while we had fewer than we discovered at other areas, we still had a fair number of them and I used insect repellent for the first time in about 10 years during the morning and evening hours when they were at their worst.
|Along the way to Hungry Packer Lake|
|Moonlight Lake and the lagoon in the foreground.|
Our next destination was Moonlight Lake. Upon our arrival we found it to be a wonderful turquoise color from the glacial melt feeding it. We explored a bit and found a little section of the lake that was connected to the main water body but had large rocks almost making a protected lagoon. We opted to swim again and this time the boys did some relay races while others of us tested our diving and cannon ball techniques. It was around this point in time that my friend Thomas came up with a great incentive/plan. For every lake you swam you earned a point. Those with 6 points qualified for a free slice of pie back at the the Lake Sabrina store/cafe! As I had jumped in back at Blue Lake the day prior (I was the only one) and two more this day, I was already at 3! Our distance swimmer was awarded a bonus point for his long swim so he and I were tied. We dried off and hiked past the Sailor Lakes, not really deep enough to swim and headed back to camp for an enjoyable evening, despite the flying vampires biting at our exposed skin.
Day three had us exploring a different branch of the basin and our destination was to be Midnight Lake and then some off trail adventure up to Blue Heaven and the Hell Diver Lakes. We got back to Midnight and like all of these lakes surrounded by peaks towering 13,500 ft. above, it was gorgeous! What I did notice however on the far side of the lake is what I had been seeking. It may sound crazy but my ultimate goal was to find a snow bank that we could slide down and go directly into the water of an ice cold Sierra lake! I could see a
|My boys and I along the trail.|
|The snow bank and drop into the lake, brrrr!!!|
|Midnight Lake below and on our way to Hell Diver.|
After the ice slide we headed up a talus pile towards Blue Heaven Lake. We were about halfway but found that a couple boys were just not up to the long climb at this elevation and we diverted over to the Hell Diver Lakes. We just went to the lower lake. Only a couple of us went in and we all agreed that while the other lakes were cold, this one was easily 5 to 10 degrees colder! We threw in some large snow/ice chunks and they didn't seem to melt so I guess that gave us the answer on how cold they were.
|Nearing completion of the new rock crossing.|
Following lunch and camp setup most of us headed up to Donkey Lake. It is a short hike from Blue
|The jump point for the front flip.|
While some boys talked about earning bonus points for a night swim with a headlamp on out to the middle of Blue Lake, Thomas and I didn't hear any splashing that evening and nobody came forward to claim the points for that so apparently the only points at Blue were from a regular dip near camp.
Our final morning came and the boys agreed that they would be packed up and ready to hike out by 8 as I recall. They did and we made our way on out to where we began 5 days earlier. Of course the end of the trail just meant time for pie for those that earned it and for those that didn't was a little negotiation to pool their points to make 6 and then share a slice. I didn't care, I got a piece and enjoyed every last bite!
|The arch in the Alabama Hills.|