Peeler lake, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Trip Report. July 26-27

One more trip had to be done. I was looking at Bloody Canyon that Michael spoke fondly about. However, it required a very long drive over Tioga pass and then it was rather short. Rita proposed to perhaps visit some hot springs in the vicinity of Mono lake. Then it went from there. I found a trail from Twin Lakes to Peeler Lake, that was close to the town of Bridgeport, which was close to Travertine hot springs. I just needed permits because this national forest limits the number of visitors to the lake.

Starting out Friday evening. There was some problem on the Bay Bridge so the traffic was more trouble than usual. We barely made it to Jenny’s place by 8PM. Good thing that she was willing to drive by herself. When I planned this trip I was hoping that Sonora Pass would be a less of a pain than Tioga pass, which is a very long winding road. But it turned out that Sonora is pretty much the same thing, just without Yosemite sights and sounds. Thus we made it to the Lower Twin Lakes campground by 1AM. The campground was quiet. It wasn’t a large campground after all, and it had a small stream flowing right next to the camping sites.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

We needed to get actual camping permits. This part – not having the permits in hand – always make me a bit nervous. But I came prepared with a backup plan. We packed and went to the town of Bridgeport. Jenny and I left the rest of the team at the High Sierra Bakery and went to get permits. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest office was just 1/4 mile South of Bridgeport. The friendly staff there gave us the permits and instructions on proper Leave No Trace camping. Came back to Bridgeport. The bakery was a bit more sparse than I expected. We also gotten the coolant for newly fixed Jenny’s Ford Freestyle which started leaking.

Finding the trailhead was relatively easy – it was located next to this over packed over commercialized Twin Lake Resort. There were lots of big trucks and RVs packed like sardines (what is fun in that again?). After a bit of walking through this RV camp madness we were in the wilderness.

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The first part before lunch was fairly flat. There were lots of ripe berry bushes on the trail. Mostly red currant and gooseberry (which for some reason always reminds me of the gooseberry jelly fish I saw in Monterey Bay aquarium), both wild. Actually, this was the first time I saw the berries in Sierras that can be eaten. We usually come either too early or too late for the berries. They provided nice additional source of vitamin C.

We had lunch at Barney Lake. A beautiful place. It was right at 4 mile mark. Just the place to have some food and maybe swim in the Barney Lake. It was a perfect spot for the day-hikers coming from the Twin Lakes.

After that the fun began. The guidebook mentioned a strenuous 2000ft climb to Peeler Lake. However, most of this climb was after Barney Lake. It was nice, well maintained, but relentless always climbing trail with lots of switchbacks. There were a couple of river crossings, but they were not tricky or difficult. We made it to the Peeler Lake by about 5PM. It was a bit tricky, but I found a good camping site on the further end of the lake. The forest service, or park service for that matter because the Peeler lake really span to Yosemite NP, have put a lot of “Do Not Camp” signs there. All the fine right next to the lake sites had those signs. In the way they wanted to protect the pristine beauty of the Peeler lake. And they’ve done a good job. The lake was beautiful and not overrun with campers like in some other places. I found a good site, we had some swimming in the frigid water of the lake, had dinner and even acupressure session.
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Them, when the sun went down, we stood around my burning echo candle talking. It was the end of a nice day. The clouds moved on revealing gorgeous cold starry sky. For some reason Rita didn’t even protest against sleeping without a tent.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Get up, go back. There was some contemplation of doing the circle around the Crown Point area. It, however, would add 8 more miles, which wasn’t really feasible. So we just started going back the same way we came. The weather was warm, but a bit hazy. It looked as if something was burning and the wind was blowing the smoke to our area.

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We stopped again by the Barney Lake. It was a bit cold for swimming, for my taste.

After that we finished the hike by 3PM. It was a bit mentally challenging to go back by the same route. It is as if I wanted to finish this and I knew how long the actual trail was. It was probably better not to know how long the actual route was. Perhaps I don’t really enjoy this activity. The backpack was heavy, I was sweating as usual. Maybe I’m a so-called type 2 backpacker – suffer now to enjoy later. Is it really good? I should enjoy the trips I go to, otherwise what’s the point? I look fondly on the past trips, but perhaps I forget the pain that I had during them.

After the backpacking part my plan was to visit Travertine hot springs conveniently located about 2 miles from Bridgeport. We found the springs, which were at the end of the road with a parking lot an a toilet. It seemed that the state decided to organize this activity a bit. Finding the pools were a bit trickier. There were a couple of small pools fed by a tiny spring floating down a hill slope. The pools were gray with sediments. Then I found one more clean, but very hot pool, but it was occupied.

After the springs we drove back stopping at the same old Mexican place in the town of Oakdale – Taqueria El Agave.

Trail map.

Peeler Lake

Photos are here.

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