Cottonwood Pass Trailhead to Lower Soldier Lake
(11 miles, +1,400/-600 feet).
Today was day one of a planned three-day trip with MixMaster and BarnFinder, and the first day either of them have spent in the Sierra backcountry. It’s a little late in the year to be so high up, but so far we have had good weather in the 50s.
We got our permit in Lone Pine and then drove up to Horseshoe Meadows at nearly 10,000 feet, where we started our hike at 10am.
The trail was very sandy, which can be annoying to walk on, but the incline was gentle and soon enough we found ourselves at Cottonwood Pass where we joined the PCT.
The trail follows a traverse north through the woods towards Chicken Spring Lake.
We stopped at the lake for lunch and a swim.
After lunch we continued on the PCT, climbing above Chicken Spring Lake. The dead cedar trees were amazing.
The trail peaked out at about 11,500 feet and then followed a level traverse for a couple of miles.
Around 3pm we made it to the boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
We turned north onto the Siberian Pass Trail, which took us across a huge sandy meadow and then into the woods towards Lower Soldier Lake.
We finally made it to the lake around 5pm. Many spots around were already taken by other hikers, so MixMaster and I went on a ridge above the lake to set up camp. We thought BarnFinder knew where we were, but he didn’t. After a while, MixMaster went to look for BarnFinder and found that he set up camp back down the trail a few hundred meters, so we took down our tents and went to join him. He was really upset because he was worried we would not find each other again. The whole thing was a little stressful, but we worked it out. From now on we stay together when choosing a campsite.
I brought my fishing gear and tried my luck in Lower Soldier Lake. I got no bites, but it was a great way to enjoy the sunset.