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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

First Night Out: Views

Three hikes with spectacular views

by: Sarah L. Stewart and Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Upper Green River Lake (Jeff Diener)
Upper Green River Lake (Jeff Diener)
Greenstone Lake (Dave Miller)
Greenstone Lake (Dave Miller)

Hoover Wilderness, CA
Saddlebag Lake Loop

Fair warning: Making this hike through a High Sierra alpine paradise your first overnight is like learning to drive in a Ferrari—you’ll be forever spoiled for anything less than the very best. The 20 Lakes Basin, just east of Yosemite in the Inyo National Forest, boasts soaring granite fins, steep talus, sparkling sapphire lakes, and rainbow-hued bursts of columbine, all accessible via a beginner-friendly, 8-mile loop. From the trailhead on the shore of Saddlebag Lake, gain just 300 feet in elevation as you delve into the basin, passing cliff-cradled Greenstone Lake at mile 2. Near mile 3, select one of the established sites along Wasco Lake (at least 100 feet from the water) for the best wake-up of your life: a view of morning sun on 12,590-foot Mt. Conness and 12,242-foot North Peak looming above the surreal, rocky expanse. On day two, wind past a string of glittering tarns—Steelhead, Shamrock, and Hummingbird Lakes among them—and nameless pools to close the loop on the northwest side of Saddlebag Lake.

Go Late summer and early fall Get there From Mammoth Lakes, take US 395 north; turn left on CA 120. Turn right on Saddlebag Lake Rd. and go 2.5 miles. Permit Required; free Map Trails Illustrated Yosemite NE Tuolumne Meadows & Hoover Wilderness ($10, natgeomaps.com) Contact fs.usda.gov/inyo Trip ID* 17038





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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star
john
Jan 19, 2014

Would be nice if the picture that went with the high peaks article was from NY.

Star Star Star Star Star
Mike
Jan 17, 2014

The Wind River hike above is a good one for getting started. There are a lot of moose up that drainage so be smart. If you fish, get a license and take some gear. Camp away from the trail, which is easy to do, and have a more wilderness-like experience. Late August to early Sept. is a good time. Snow is gone and the bugs are gone. Hunting season usually begins in mid-Sept.

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jan 16, 2014

Live to hike another day by staying found and knowing how to use a compass. Even skilled explorers can become lost or somehow end up spending the night hunkered down because of weather or injury. Many people never consider that they might end up spending more nights outdoors than they planned on or waiting for medical help --and so they hike without the essentials. Day-hikes can be the most dangerous because hikers usually carry minimal supplies. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. Read "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon). Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. A compass doesn't need a signal, satellites, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Learn how to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. This book is for all ages. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jan 16, 2014

Live to hike another day by staying found and knowing how to use a compass. Even skilled explorers can become lost or somehow end up spending the night hunkered down because of weather or injury. Many people never consider that they might end up spending more nights outdoors than they planned on or waiting for medical help --and so they hike without the essentials. Day-hikes can be the most dangerous because hikers usually carry minimal supplies. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. Read "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon). Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. A compass doesn't need a signal, satellites, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Learn how to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. This book is for all ages. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."

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