Backpacking Buena Vista Lake to Quartz Mountain Trailhead – Day 3 Buena Vista Loop
There is something very strange about waking up in the morning without having any idea what time it is, nor anyone to judge your own sleeping habits against. I had forgotten my analog watch, which was alright since I had my GPS and cell phone for the time, but not very convenient. On day three I woke up somewhat before sunrise (it was getting light out though) and I was just stuck laying there trying to judge if I was ready to seize on the day. Or, if I was ready to try and find another comfortable angle to sleep on my Z-Lite.
Whatever, my hips were not buying it. I instead made my coffee and watched the sunrise over Buena Vista Lake. Carpe deim?
Day 3 Buena Vista Loop: Buena Vista Lake to the Quartz Mnt Trailhead
Trailhead: Quartz Mountain, Sierra National Forest (See day one for more information about this tricky trailhead)
Distance: ~11 miles, Traveling from Buena Vista Lake, over Buena Vista Pass, out of Chiquito pass, getting slightly off track to visit Chiquito Lake, and out to the trailhead (Total trip just below 30 miles of hiking for 3 days)
By the time time I began backpacking it was 8:3o am (I turned on my gps to check!), starting with the small climb up to the Buena Vista Pass. Buena Vista Pass meanders over a large expanse between Buena Vista Peak to the Southwest and the the Bueana Vista Crest to the Northwest. There is no pass sign (unless if I completely spaced it), and the views along the pass are not like the spectacular views you obtain on the higher elevation Sierra passes.
What did stand out about Bueana Vista Pass was how green and alive it smelled. Here I ran into the first, and only, running creek I had seen on the trip. And, because it was not at that high elevation the plant life was able to thrive.
Heading back down I quickly passed Royal Arch Lake, then traveled up the same annoying hill that had been at the end of my journey on day one. Arriving at the Buck Meadows ranger station, which had already closed for the season, I enjoyed the freedom of being able to creep around the cabin. I am fairly certain if a ranger had been present I would have not been able trounce around looking at what was someone’s personal home (plus, weird). The cabin in this blog’s main photo is from Buck Meadows, in all of it’s rustic glory.
Minus the half mile jaunt over to Chiquito Lake, the journey here was a repeat from day one. A forested hike in rolling hills and then, finally, the opportunity to obtain my picture with one very beat up banana at Chiquito Pass.
Overall, would I recommend the Bueana Vista loop I did? Perhaps. I would recommend Buena Vista Lake in a heartbeat, and Johnson lake was not shabby either. To the contrary, at times on this trip it seemed as if I was not walking in the mountains but up a large hill near the mountains, which could be a bummer if this was your only trip of the year. As a loop though the trip made sense to me, and it provides a way to uncover the mystery behind this Southern portion of the park. I was happy with my trip, and happier yet once I drove out of the bumpy Sierra forest roads with the compact car still intact.
More photos from Day 3 in the Gallery below, including Royal Arch Lake, Buck Meadows, a small lunch spot vista, and Chiquito Lake.