Hilton Lakes

July 24-26, 2015
"I haven't seen a bear for awhile, so I'm overdue for an encounter," I told Albert and Debra on
Thursday night at Rock Creek Lake Campground.  On Friday night a Mamma bear and cub came
within 40 feet of my tent at Hilton Lake #2.  I had just retired for the evening when I heard a
thump and a baby bear cry out.  I've never gotten out of my tent quicker in my life!  I yelled at
Albert and he got out of his tent and we started shouting at the two bears.  They didn't seem
scared of us at all but backed away then headed towards our bear canisters which we'd stashed
about 200 feet from our tents.  Then we watched as Mamma bear tried every conceivable
method to get into the cans!  She threw them on the ground with a very loud bang that must've
been heard for a mile in every direction.  She banged them on a log, and the baby bear seemed to
be imitating Mamma because it to was leaning all its weight on the log and rocking back and
forth.  She picked the canisters up in her paws and rolled on her back chewing on the edge of the
lids.  After about 20 minutes of trying they finally moseyed away.  We waited another 20
minutes then cautiously approached the canisters to check out the damages.  Well, Albert's
canister was about 15 feet from its original location.  Mine was a few feet away.  Both were a
little dinged and dirty but otherwise intact.  We went ahead and moved them another 200 feet
away and had a fitful night's sleep!

On Saturday we didn't see or hear any signs of the bears, so we had ourselves a nice dayhike up
to Lakes 3 & 5 and had a better night's rest.  But on Sunday morning I was awoken to the sound
of campers near us yelling at the bears and the baby bear crying out for a solid minute.  I
figure she must've gotten separated from her Mom to keep crying out for so long.  Needless to
say we decided that we'd had enough bear excitement and started to pack and left a couple of
hours earlier than planned.

Even though I was nervous and didn't get much rest, especially right after seeing the bears on
Friday evening, I was very excited to see them.  They were a beautiful shade of honey brown
and appeared very healthy and happy.  Watching Mamma play with our canisters was incredible.  
She appeared very cub-like and playful with them.  I'm glad they held up.  Albert's is the
newest Bear Vault model, while mine is the oldest with the retrofitted lid.  Unfortunately I
didn't get very good photos of the bears, because I'd forgotten my SD card for my camera - so
I had only my cell phone on this trip.  It takes decent photos when the light is bright, but
terrible when it is dim.

Overall it was a good weekend - Hilton Lakes are in a beautiful basin surrounded by granite
peaks to the west of Rock Creek.  The hike to get to Lake #2 is about 6 miles, so combined with
dayhikes to Lakes 3, 5, and Davis Lake (twice) we did about 20 miles.  The lower 4 lakes have
many great campsites.  Davis Lake in particular had so many sites all around its shoreline that it
would be hard not to have privacy if that's what you want.  

In between the lakes are tumbling streams and waterfalls lined with wildflowers.  We saw
leopard lilies, ranger's buttons, monk's hood, lupine, paintbrush, elephant heads, phlox, aster,
shooting stars, corn lilies, skyrocket gilia, and many others.  We timed our trip right to catch
some flowers, but after the majority of the mosquitoes had already left.

Debra had planned to hike with us, but she had to bail out Friday morning because she wasn't
feeling well.  So my trusty hiking partner Albert was my company for this trip.  He's one of the
best hiking partners, he never complains, he's helpful and has a great sense of humor, and when
he's along on a trip we usually have good luck seeing animals.  This time the luck overran us lol
More photos here!

Read about my other bear encounters here

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Krummholz and erratics
Boundary Peak can be seen in the distance, it's the
highest peak in Nevada
Davis Lake far below us
Hilton Lake #6
Hilton Lake #4 is down there
Alpine Phlox
Hilton Lake #3
Shooting stars at Davis Lake
The trail gets a little sketchy going to Hilton Lake #6
The trail to Hilton Lake #3 is very steep, but it's worth it
Hiking to Davis Lake from Lake #2 is very easy - we did it once
on Friday and once on Saturday
Hilton Lake #2 is where we camped