Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Twenty Lakes Basin Hike

Steelhead Lake, Twenty Lakes Basin, Lee Vining, California

How to go here:  From the town of Lee Vining, leave Hwy 395 at Hwy 120. Follow Tioga Pass Road toward Yosemite. At about 9 miles, turn North onto well marked dirt road to Saddlebag Lake.

Best Time of the Year to Hike: All summer; whenever Tioga Road is open (closed most time of the year due to snow accumulation ). Early of summer season, high water, wet meadows, and deep snow may make the hike difficult. We hiked this trail July 5th, 2013. There were less know because the past winter was one of the driest winter the Sierras had.

Trailhead: Saddlebag Lake, east of Yosemite National Park, in the Hoover Wilderness Area.
Saddlebag Lake
Mileage: 5- 8 miles.
option 1: 8 miles from Saddlebag Lake Resort area.
option 2: take a water taxi to the upper end of Saddlebag Lake across the resort, the main loop is about 5.5 miles.
option 3: take water taxi to the upper end of Saddlebag Lake across the resort, take the trail on the left side of the loop for a 3-mile easy (very gentle slope here and very well defined trail) out and back hike to Steelhead lake.

Change in Elevation for the complete loop: 400 ft (but it all depends since there are some trails that could go higher for more exploring )

Because it looked like the walk from the south end of Saddlebag Lake to the north or upper end seemed to be simply meandering around the lake without much change of scenery, we decided to cut our hike by taking the water-taxi to the main trailhead and only hike the 5-mile loop. While waiting for the water taxi, which runs every 30 minutes, we enjoyed our time throwing stones on the lake and doing some photoshoots. :)
Skipping Rocks @ Saddlebag Lake
During our ride in the boat taxi, we were told that there are three options to enjoy Twenty Lakes Basin Hike:
1. An easy 3 mile out and back hike to Steelhead Lake, starting from the left side of the loop trail. This is advised for people with kids, who may not be able to handle some rocky and undefined trail sections in the right side of the loop.
2. Complete 5.5 mile loop, they advised to take the counterclockwise direction, that is starting from the right side of the loop first. Reasons for this, we are still not tired when we reach the loose rock area and undefined rock scrambling area because it is in the earlier part of the trail and we go downhill on the steepest and rockiest part. 
3. Complete 5.5 mile loop with adding a little bit more mileage to the hike by exploring Lundy Canyon (out and back), then, go back to the main loop trail.

We decided to follow #2 ( complete 5.5 mile loop hike in counterclockwise direction), then, add more miles to explore some parts of Lundy Canyon ( #3). However, by the time we reached Lundy Canyon, the very strong chilly wind stopped us from continuing further Lundy Canyon, we went back to the main loop for a more FUN hike. 

Here are some pictures from our hike ( counterclockwise of the main loop trail):
 FUN Started as soon as we reached the main trailhead, Can you tell he was dancing gangnam style? :)
 What is hiking without stopping for pictures of whatever interesting sights we see?
 I don't know why hubby ( in the middle of the photo above) kept on running back and forth
  and jumping too ( could you see him?), I actually only knew what he was doing when I took a look at the pictures. 
 Skipping Rock, one of our favorite past time when hiking.  :) The lake above is Hummingbird Lake
 Odell Lake
 Going Down to Lake Helen (trail here is on loose rocks )
 Cooling Myself on a Bed of Snow at Lake Helen
 Lake Helen
 The Power of Lake Helen was Strongly Pulling Me To It ( jumping on a bed of snow )
 Between Lake Helen and Shamrock Lake 
~ After Lake Helen, there was no trail coz we scrambled past huge rocks, but it was easy enough following the rock cairns, if not, using judgment and GPS as to which direction we should be going ) ~
 Shamrock Lake 
( they could not resist, they just had to extend hiking to the middle of the island ) 
 Little Stealhead Lake
Steealhead Lake
Wasco Lake
Wasco Lake
Greenstone Lake
The last 4 pictures above ( Greenstone, Wasco and Steelhead lakes) are the scenery of the 3-mile out and back hike from the main trailhead starting from the left side of the main loop trail (option 1 above). The 3-mile out and back hike is recommended for hikers with kids and others who worry they may not complete the hike in the other side of the loop. The scrambling part and the hike on loose rocks are only in the right side of the loop trail ( from Odell Lake to Lake Helen to Shamrock Lake), which can be avoided if doing only the 3-mile out and back hike to Steelhead Lake. I wish I could have taken more pictures in this area, but we were trying to catch our water taxi because we spent so much time jumping, and jumping,
and yes, JUMPING! :)
Thankfully, despite all the jumping we did, we still could run to the dock making it right in time before the water taxi leaves. :) But otherwise, it would be okay, since we could always wait 30 minutes again for the water taxi (no assurance if you miss the schedule, only when there are seats available) or walk the extra 1.5 miles back to the other side of Saddlebag Lake where we parked.

Would I hike this trail again? SURE I WILL!! I love California's High Sierra, truly, a hiker's paradise. 
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  1. Beautiful, beautiful pictures of your adventure. Obviously you guys enjoy it so much until you can't stop jumping. :D

  2. nice shots! the lakes looks amazing specially lake helen! its been a long time since i tried hiking with friends~ love everything!

  3. it is always amazing how beautiful mountain lakes are

  4. Blue sky, blue water, and blue heaven.

  5. so beautiful photos Betchai...catching my breath here! hahahaha nope I could not tell he was dancing Gangnam Style hahaha...super love that last joyful jump shot! and everything else above...wish I could see that lake and lie on the snow bed too! ..hmmm those pink wild flowers by the lake must have made you smile so widely! :)

  6. the place really looks nice.. I could imagine me going there. I would usually just see this picturesque creation made by God on postcards. Hope I could one day visit this place too.. thanks for sharing :D

  7. Just saying "hello" and making my presence known. Haha! Awesome pictures and I'll never tire of saying these two words over and over. And "Hello!" to all your friends as well! :)

    Joselyn Sharp

  8. back here and once again fascinated by the beauty of Twenty Lakes Basin :) love that "you being pulled" by its beauty photo :D

  9. a hiker's paradise indeed,Beth. the kind of hike that i can handle, heehee! so literally there are 20 beautiful lakes? i'd love to cool myself on a bed of snow too! ;)
    one of my childhood memories was throwing flat stones into the river bed and make sure it "bounces" many times before sinking. :)

    1. hi Che, there are twenty lakes, but, to complete the 20 lakes is a backpacaking hike ( for several days), we only did a part of twenty lakes, the one we could do for a day hike. :)

  10. Such a marvelous view ate Beth. Seeing you skipping rocks makes me miss my childhood lol. We used to that in the ocean when I was a kid.

  11. I so love the scenery of all the photos,Betchai,peaceful and romantic. I guess jumping is your trademark.

  12. Simply beautiful. Yan ang dream place ko to put my own dream house.

  13. Everything is breathtaking! I don't think tiredness will hit you when you're hiking in this beautiful scenery. It is so healing! I wish to experience such beauty, too, as I hike for miles and miles! :D The nature is absolutely a Divine's creation.

  14. You take my breath away again Sis with your amazing pictures. The lakes are beautiful and so inviting. My husband will love to explore those lakes. I just want to play with the water :-)

  15. You are one physically active lady! I salute you! The lakes are awesome and serene to look at. I do not blame you for enjoying its scene.

  16. That one photo looks like snow on the ground, but I know it couldn't be. So awesome that you get to experience all these trips.

    1. there were actually a lot of snow on some grounds Amanda, though it is already summer, but usually, some now do not get a chance to melt in the HIgh Sierra before the snow season ( September for the area ) comes in. There is even a glacier there, but we did not climb to the glacier, lacking time.