Day 1: Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead to Cottonwood Lake #4
August 25, 2005
|My tent near Cottonwood Lake #4
|Cris enjoys the view after dinner
|Meadow near Golden Trout Camp
|The morning at Campsite #13 (lucky #13) at the walk-in
campsites at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead
|We dubbed this peak "Half Moon Peak" because during
this hour a half moon was still visible in the sky over it.
|Mt. Langley from Cottonwood Lake #1
I planned this trip with Justdropinâ€™ aka Cris whom I had met through Backpacker.com.
I drove over Walker Pass and up 395 to Lone Pine and then up to the Cottonwood Lakes
Trailhead on the Inyo National Forest on Wednesday the 24th. I wanted to spend the
night there before hiking out the next day so as to get acclimated. The trailhead is at
10,000â€™ in elevation. And the road going up there out of Lone Pine is crazy! It is quite
an engineering marvel as it switchbacks right up the side of the mountain climbing from
4,000â€™ to 10,000â€™ in the span of only a few miles. I picked up a hitchhikin
backpacker along the way, his name was Mike and he gave me some good advice about
acclimating to high elevations.
At the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead there are a few walk-in campsites that are $6 per
night. They are close to one another so I was glad that there was only one other party
camped there that night. There is also a larger equestrian campground and a pack station
at the trailhead.
On Thursday morning I awoke at sunrise, packed up my tent, and began organizing and
packing my gear. Cris arrived an hour or so later and he brought me breakfast! I ate and
finished packing up and then we were off!
Most of the first day was pretty easy hiking. The first 2 miles of trail go up and down a
few moraines, you see a few meadows, and you cross the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek
and then the main fork. Then the trail starts climbing rather steeply up to the
Cottonwood Lakes Basin. Once you get there itâ€™s incredible â€“ the meadows and
lakes and surrounding forests and mountains are breathtaking!
We stopped and ate lunch at the edge of the basin then pushed on to get up to
Cottonwood Lake #4. This way our next day goal of Old Army Pass and Mt. Langley were
relatively nearby. We found a campsite above the lake a ways and had one other guy
camped nearby. His name was John and he was a nice guy who turns out was also planning
on hiking up Langley the next day.
|Cottonwood Lake #2 I believe this one is called
There were some pretty waterfalls emptying into it