Gem Lake from Mosquito Flats (Sierras)

Trailhead: Mosquito Flats
Length: 10 miles RT  (we added more by visiting Morgan Pass & Chickenfoot Lake)
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced (only due to exposure & elevation)
Total time: 7 hrs for all
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Lots of parking at Mosquito Flats, but get there early.

Let me preface this by saying: YES I KNOW THIS ISN’T IN THE INLAND EMPIRE AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT MAKE YOUR OWN BLOG.

Great, now that we’ve got that out of the way.

I love the Sierras. I’ve been up there four times in the past year, which isn’t a lot except when you consider I’d never been prior to last August. My first experience was Kersarage Pass and Bishop Pass with Lazy Ass Hiking about a year ago. I was hooked after that… so hooked, in fact, that I’m still willing to camp to go there even though CAMPING IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD.

This time I went up with the Lazy Asses on Thursday where the first day we hiked in the Rock Creek Area to Third Lake. A beautiful trail that I may write about later.

The next day we headed out to the aptly named Mosquito Flats into Little Lakes Valley.

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Mosquito flats was gorgeous, but full of mosquitoes. I’d gotten bitten up pretty badly two days before at the hot springs we visited, so I was armed with bug spray and sun screen and was practically bathing in it hourly.

Anyway, after a quick orientation, we headed to the trail on the right to go into Little Lakes. When you have a group, only 15 people are allowed on the trail in each group, so we had to split into two. The trail quickly revealed itself to be incredibly scenic and beautiful.

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We passed several lakes along the way, including Hidden lake and long lake. There were also quite a few stream crossings.

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As we made our way up, there were some steeper parts of the trail, but nothing unmanageable. About 4 miles in we came to a post that used to have a sign on it (thanks, thieves of the Sierras!) and turned right. About a half of a mile from there, we came upon Gem Lake, and my was it purdy.

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After Gem lake, we made our way back down the trail and took a right at the post up to Morgan Pass. This was the steepest of the climbs at 600 feet, but because we were at elevation it was more like 1 million feet. There were also patches of snow on the trail which were slushy, and that’s always a good time when you didn’t bring microspikes or poles because you’re an idiot. #beprepared

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It was at Morgan Pass that I had a hard time and began to overheat from the exposure. While the climb isn’t particularly strenuous, two days of hiking trails at full exposure at high elevation was making my body go “WOAH LADY I AM NOT A MACHINE.”

I also *probably* shouldn’t have sat in the sun for an hour at Gem lake.  When I got to upper Morgan Lake, I crawled into what little shade I could find and worked to get my heart rate down. And to be honest, Morgan Lake wasn’t all that great looking in comparison to everything else and wasn’t really worth the detour.

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We then headed back down the trail and turned right at that now infamous post. About two miles in we made another right and headed to Chickenfoot Lake, where I sat in the sun some more because that’s always a solid plan when you’re dying.

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Some of the group jumped in the lake but I refrained because mosquitoes. A couple of the Lazy Asses pulled out inflatable rafts and floated around and made a lot of “dingy” jokes because every male I hang out with is perpetually 12 years old.

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After a bit there, we made our way back to Mosquito flats. The sun exposure was strong here and I just kept drinking fluids and cherishing any shade I could find. When we got back to the parking lot I sprayed, and sprayed again to avoid any more blood sucking incidents while we waited for the rest of the crew. On the way back we stopped off at Rock Creek where I took the best shower ever just to get out and spray myself with mosquito repellent again.

All in all this trek was worth the possibility of Zika (but probably not West Nile).  Hands down one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever seen. If you make the trek, you won’t regret it.

Just be sure to bring bug spray… not sure if I mentioned it, but there were a lot of mosquitoes there.

 

 

 

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