I led a group of 4 Bay Area Boomer Backpackers through the 20 Lakes Basin, located in the Hoover Wilderness of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, from Saturday 6/22 to Monday 6/24/13. The team consisted of me and Zuri, BABB veteran Alex, Anthony, and Greg S. Greg and I headed out Route 120, through the the Yosemite high country, to our departure point, Saddlebag Lake. Saturday morning, Alex joined Greg, Anthony, and me, and we took the water taxi across the lake to the Hoover Wilderness trailheads. The intention was to find a nice lake to camp by for two nights, and then pack through scenic Lundy Canyon to our shuttle vehicle on Monday. We were all struck by the beauty of the area, and had a choice of numerous lakes by which we could set up camp. We settled for Cascade Lake, which sat at the foot of massive North Peak. From our camp we had a grand view of the towering granite of the mountain, and the glaciers that filled its steep canyons.
For a dayhike on Sunday, we decided to set out for Lake Helen, the northernmost lake in the Basin, where we could catch the trailhead down into Lundy Canyon. Having heard that snow and ice made the descent into Lundy a risky endeavor, we decided to see for ourselves what the situation was. The descent into Lundy is very steep, as I had already known from my research. Within the first .75 mile, there is an elevation loss of 1,000 vertical feet. That is STEEP! Although we discovered a few snow fields, the scouting team of Alex, Anthony, and I decided the descent would be navigable, although a challenge carrying our backpacks. As we hiked back to camp, the clouds began to turn dark, and hung lower in the sky. The wind kicked up by dinnertime, with gusts of 40 mph whipping a chill over the evening.
We woke up Monday morning to a howling sideways snowstorm. Foolishly, several of us had forgotten gloves. My hands turned numb with the cold as I tore down my tent, and packed up my backpack. A unanimous decision was made to return to Saddlebag Lake and Resort, and leave Lundy Canyon for another day. We just missed the water taxi, so we hiked 1.5 miles around the lake back to the parking lot, wet, cold, and hungry, having departed camp without breakfast or coffee. Fortunately Greg and I discovered the Tioga Pass Resort and Cafe as soon as we got back on Route 120, and stopped off for a lunch of delicious sandwiches. All in all, it was an excellent adventure, although I could have done without the snowstorm. I hope to make it back someday, and do the hike through to Lundy Canyon, but maybe as a dayhike.