Saddlebag Lake Hiking – to Greenstone & Hummingbird Lakes
October, it has gone by so quickly! & Between a trip to Michigan and the government shutdown I have not spent much time in the Sierra. Actually, Curtis and I were supposed to go backpacking with our friends, Jen & Ryan, over the Columbus day weekend – but without being able to get a wilderness permit we had to call off that plan. Not the type of people to let the United States government completely derail our plans, we instead traveled across to Saddlebag Lake on the Inyo national forest to have one chilly day hike.
Thankfully the ‘2013 Government Shutdown’ ended last Wednesday, meaning the national parks are once again open. If you desired it is once again possible to obtain a wilderness permit. No bets on how much longer the pass will stay open this season though, the park has temporarily shut it down at least once so far due to snowfall. Plus, did I mention it is getting cold?
Exploring in the Saddlebag Lake Area
Trailhead: Traveling out of Yosemite on Hwy 120 turn left onto Saddlebag Lake Road just beyond Tioga Lake (but prior passing Ellery Lake). The road is partially gravel, partially paved, and very drive-able even for low compact cars. Follow the road until it’s end to find Saddlebag Lake and a couple of parking lots complete with bear bins and outhouses.
Distance: We ended up hiking about 5.5 miles. Just the loop around saddlebag lake is about 4 miles long – if given more time this could become a longer day hike exploring more of the lakes.
We got a late afternoon-time start to this dayhike, beginning down the trail on the west side of the dam. There was a dusting of snow on the mountains which made this fall time hike even more beautiful – but meaning we all should have thought about bringing waterproof boots to help clear the snow covered trail.
Or, as it “Surprisingly” turns out, waterproof boots are always a good idea if you are going to step into the stream while fishing (ImNotNamingNamesButIfIDidItMightHaveBeenCurtis). The boys did not have much luck at Greenstone lake, “Catching” only a couple of nibbles from tiny trouts. Meanwhile us ladys went to explore up the Lundy pass trail, traveling into the Hoover Wilderness. We did not spot any hummingbirds at Hummingbird lake (try again next season?) – but the view of Odell Lake was amazing. From our vista it became pretty obvious that a through hike between Saddlebag Lake and Lundy Canyon is an excellent idea for a future 2+ day backpacking trip.
Fighting for the last rays of sunshine we hurried back on the trail to the east side of the lake (which incidentally was covered in less snow). It was enjoyable a short eastside dayhike, made more majestic by the snowy sierra. A dusting of snow along the contours on talus covered peaks makes these mountains more dignified. And more chilly. It was a bummer to not be able to backpack this weekend, but perhaps for the best as it would have been a couple of frigid nights.
More photos in the Gallery below – they are a mix of regular camera shots and photos from my Samsung once the camera died. We really need to buy a backup battery!