25 July 2012

Twin Lakes loop

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

We awoke in the south part of Summit Campground ready for a longer day of hiking without any need to drive around. The planned trail is a loop of a little more than 10 miles passing by a large number of lakes with a few more on spur trails (in relation to the loop) if we decide we need more. We checked the campground map at the entrance to find where the trail left from the south side of the lake as the main trailhead is at the north side. With a brief stroll down a trail that actually just went to the lake, we found our way to a bridge and a route past the campground amphitheater to the trail. We should have passed an intersection on the way for a trail that travels down the drainage of the lake, but it wasn't signed and there wasn't much certain indication of the trail.

The junction to our trail was much better marked, although someone had tried to add arrows to confuse the issue. The trail started off climbing out of the lake basin area. Toward the top, the trees thin and the ground is covered in manzanita growing like heather instead of the normal 20 foot high bush. For a bit, we had views of the mountain behind us and more around before coming to another intersection and the start of the actual loop portion of the hike.

high point
Gaining a bit of height and losing a few trees, there are a few pointy mountains to be seen in the distance.

the mountain
Mount Lassen rising up behind us, also fairly pointy looking, the side that blew most recently to the right.

We consulted the map to determine which direction would give us uphill to start and downhill to end. This was a lost cause, so we settled on going over the higher bit first for a clockwise loop. We took turned left and headed toward Little and Big Bear Lakes. The trail climbs for a bit, and then drops passing by an unnamed lake before passing the two bears and arriving at another junction.

fishless lake number 1
First we come to a high unnamed lake. By the end of the hike Ruth had managed to find a name for this one and rename all the named lakes as well. This is Fishless Lake No. 1.

ghost of a mountain in the distance
In the far distance, the outline of Shasta is determined mostly by the snow that still rests on its sides.

Little Bear Lake
Little Bear Lake, or Fishless Lake No. 2.

Big Bear Lake
Looking down the trail side of Big Bear Lake, a fair bit larger than Little. AKA Fishless Lake No. 3.

Coming to the next junction, we kept right to continue the loop instead of taking a spur out to another couple lakes. This brought us quickly to Silver Lake, which I rather liked. Finding our way along the lake side, one spot was declared a good spot for swimming from and so swimming happened. The day was getting warm and the previous day hadn't left any time for washing at the end of it. The lake water was warm on a comparative basis, but still too cold for delicate me. After the swim, while on the rocks in the sun, I spotted a slug swimming through the water. It lengthened and bulged and found a rock, which it anchored to somehow, then started probing around along a crack before eventually going on its way.

Silver Lake
Silver Lake, also looking down along the side of the lake the trail passes along. This is also Fishless Lake No. 4, but it did have some life other than little waterbugs in it as a swimming slug was spotted.

Feather Lake
Feather Lake, another small lake very close to Silver Lake. Fishless Lake No. 5.

small lake next to Feather Lake
Going along, there is another small lake next to Feather Lake, but this one is unnamed except for now being Fishless Lake No. 6.

After the swim, we walked past a couple more lakes (Fishless No. 6 and 7), crossed a dry stream, and joined the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the PCT, we spotted a building still standing in the wilderness and found it to be an old ranger station with a couple of sheds. Some of the building looked in good repair while other parts were getting chewed up pretty well. The inside was a mixture of eras with mattresses one wouldn't want to touch piled up on beds, an old stove, a mountain of AA batteries, and good fire fighting gear. All of the buildings were locked tight. We got to Lower Twin Lake and turned off the PCT to our loop trail again. Here there was opportunity to go around the outside of the Twin Lakes and take a spur over to Rainbow Lake, but we passed along the pleasant and steep edge to the northwest of the lakes.

a puff of bright pink
A nice and bright example of one type of the flowers along the way. Lupin leaves hint at more to come.

ranger station in the Wilderness
A ranger station along the short section of PCT that we did.

puddle next to Lower Twin Lake
A puddle of water separated from Lower Twin Lake by a land bridge that would be the headwater of the dry creek we crossed, if there was flow. Hard to consider this a lake.

Lower Twin Lake
Lower Twin Lake along the shore the PCT passes. A large lake, but it is Fishless Lake No. 8.

Lower Twin Lake
The shoreline along our trail between Lower Twin Lake and the puddle beside it seemed very nearly straight.

We sat by this lake for a bit on the logs on the shore. Little blue butterflies were all over in the moist dirt. This was Ruth's favorite lake until we got to the Upper one which challenged it. I found myself to be out of water and so pumped some more. It's quite the luxury to not really have to worry about water. After the segment between lake and puddle, the trail goes along a thickly wooded and somewhat steep slope on the northwest edge of the lakes and starts to climb.

little blue butterflies getting water from the moist soil
A few of the dozens of little blue butterflies that fluttered around and seemed to be gathering water from the moist soil.

Upper Twin Lake
Upper Twin Lake, a nice and big lake but also, unfortunately, Fishless Lake No. 9.

The climb after the Twin Lakes took a few switchbacks. We saw someone coming down the trail with a fishing rod, but, as stated, the fisherman's expectations for these lakes weren't all that great. We passed a long lake and then another small thing before getting to Echo Lake and finally reaching the top, covered with its heather-like manzanita bushes, again.

long unnamed lake
A long, narrow, unnamed lake that is now Fishless Lake No. 10.

small unnamed lake
A small unnamed lake that is now Fishless Lake No. 11.

Echo Lake, no camping
Echo Lake or Fishless Lake No. 12, where there is no camping allowed.

As we crested the high point along this side of the loop, there wasn't much to see due to the trees. Walking along the easy going tiny manzanita, Mount Lassen was harder to see in the late afternoon sunlight. We joined our original trail and dropped back down into the thicker trees and then to Summit Lake (which is also fishless). There was nearly enough time left for another swim, but I decided to attend to other needs instead so headed back to camp.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 Aug 2012

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