We started off by leaving the Bay Area on Thursday Sept 19 in the evening to head up to Lake Tulloch. This cut about 2 hours off our drive time to the trailhead, and got us a little elevation (~3000’) to start to acclimate.
Friday morning, Sept 20 we drove East on Highway 120 past the Sonora Pass to the Trailhead at Leavitt Meadows. The drive took about 2 hours. Starting elevation at TH was 7,100’. Began our hike at noon on Friday.
Entering Hoover Wilderness. After about 2.5 miles and a steady elevation gain of about 300’ we entered the boundary for Hoover Wilderness. As the sign points out, early settlers traveling through this area had a rough time.
After entering Hoover Wilderness, we continued a very gradual climb for about 0.75 miles to Roosevelt Lake and Lane Lake. Weather was beautiful, but we didn’t see anyone at either lake this afternoon.
Continuing hiking for another 3 miles to the trail junction to Hidden Lake. We continued on the West Walker River Trail toward the Fremont Lake trail, but saw a few hikers on the way out from Hidden Lake. We crossed over the West Walker River several times during the hike. This late in the season the river was relatively low, and we were able to cross easily by stepping on rocks, and over log bridges in other spots.
After hiking for about 3.5 hours, we had gained a little over 800’ of elevation in about 6.5 miles…the elevation gain to this point had been steady but not too steep…this was about to change. We reached the junction with the trail to Fremont Lake and Chain of Lakes. This is where the uphill push began to increase.
We reached Lower Long Lake by about 6:45pm giving us a little time to get camp set up before the sun started going down. Over 6.5 hours of hiking and a gain of over 1,500’ and 13 miles, we were beat. Not to mention that at 8,677’ we could definitely feel the altitude! Although we really wanted to do some fishing, we decided to wait until morning, and get a good night’s rest. There were no other hikers at Lower Long Lake that evening, the solitude was very nice. It did get cold that first night, with the overnight low getting down to 28 degrees…glad we got new 15 degree rated sleeping bags the previous week!
Saturday morning we slept in a bit, then made breakfast and did some fishing before packing up camp and heading to Fremont Lake. The fishing was pretty good, lots of bites and we each landed a nice size Rainbow Trout. We took pics with our fish, then released them back into the lake.
After packing up camp, we hiked about 4 miles back towards Fremont Lake. We took the shortcut trail (marked by a cairn, but no sign) and descended into the bowl towards Fremont Lake (8,276’ at lake level). There were many nice campsites along the western shore of the lake, we settled on one close to the water with a nice fire ring, and makeshift benches (fallen trees) and table (granite)…the only downside to the sites on the western shore was a lack of firewood. We arrived at about 2pm, set up camp and started fishing. Luckily, Saturday night was not as cold as Friday, so the limited amount of firewood was not too much of a problem.
Fishing here was good. We caught 3 decent size Rainbow Trout between the two of us. I lost a second when it broke the line as I almost had it on shore😢.
After dinner, we enjoyed the lack of light pollution and watched the sky. The Milky Way was easily visible as were multiple shooting stars, satellites, and lots and lots of stars. Called it an early night at about 9pm so we could get an early start Sunday morning to hike back to the truck.
Woke up early to see the sunrise and throw the fishing lines back in one last time. Packed up camp and started hiking just after 9am. We had about 10 miles to cover to get back to the truck and start the drive home. Long day ahead.
Climbing out of the bowl from Fremont Lake gained us about 250’ of elevation before starting a steady descent over the next 10 miles back to the trailhead. Crossed back over the streams and the West Walker River a couple of times, back past Roosevelt and Lane Lakes, through Leavitt Meadows and finally back to the truck by about 12:45pm. So a little over 3.5 hours of hiking and 10 miles covered. We were beat and glad to head home. Great trip!
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