Monday, June 8, 2015

Morgan Pass

For several reasons, including the weather forecast, we decided to do a relatively easy hike on Friday.  Our trek would start from the Mosquito Flat trailhead at the end of the Rock Creek road.  This trail is extremely popular in the summer season as it starts already in alpine habitat at 9,800 feet elevation.  Our hike would take us through the beautiful Little Lakes Valley and on to Morgan Pass at 11,000 feet.  Morgan Pass divides the Rock Creek drainage from Pine Creek to the southeast.  Pine Creek contains one of the largest Tungsten mines in the world, active from 1918 until 2001, along the flank of Mt. Morgan.  Because of the relatively tame terrain, the Rock Creek trail through Little Lakes Valley and over Morgan Pass was the original route into the mining area.  Today there is little evidence that this was once a busy mine access road kept open in winter by giant snow plows.

The view south toward the Sierra divide from the Long Lake outlet
 The trail through Little Lakes Valley wanders up and down through gorgeous meadows and past numerous alpine lakes.  The strange spring weather we have been having continues, and we found quickly melting overnight snowfall of around an inch from the start.  It was much too early in the year for flowers, but they will come soon enough.

Long Lake view to the west

With the weather holding, at Morgan Pass we decided to continue over and down to Lower Morgan Lake.  Views toward Pine Creek opened to the southeast.

Small tarn near Morgan Pass.  The edge of Mt. Morgan on the left, Mt. Tom in the far background

Lower Morgan Lake
The first of the alpine flowers
Reversing course, and with the thunder clouds building, we hustled back down the trail.  A short off-trail detour took us past Chickenfoot Lake.  Then a leisurely stroll through the lakes basin and back to the car - just as the first raindrops fell...

Little Lakes Valley from Morgan Pass

Sierra Crest from Chickenfoot Lake outlet
Mileage: 10.6
Elevation gain: 1,800 feet

Map Track

Bird Lists:

Trailhead to Morgan Pass
Morgan Pass to Lower Morgan Lake

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