Monday, September 21, 2015

Mills Lake (guest author: Susan)

10 miles

Little Lakes Valley with a hint of smoke
A couple days after returning from our three week trip, Susan, Bob and Hikin' Bill repeated a hike we had done a couple of years earlier going to Ruby Lake and then cross county to Mills and Long Lakes. We had an early start and got off the main trail to the Little Lakes Basin before the hoards descended. We choose this hike to try and stay out of the smoke, a tricky proposition this summer. There was a bit of smoke up by Mt Morgan. Ruby Lake and Mt Mills were smoke free allowing stunning views.  

Ruby Lake

After Ruby Lake we rock hopped up to Mills Lake.  This can be tedious but we kept our eyes open for birds. Unfortunately, it was not particularly birding and we had to content ourselves with the scenery. Mills Lakes were suffering the low water levels that have plagued the Sierra these last couple of years. We kept our eyes open for ptarmigan, but could only come up with feathers. We did manage to see a dipper, which is always a joy.

Climbing the talus between Ruby and Mills Lakes

A look back to Ruby Lake
Mills Lake with Mt. Abbot and Mt. Mills

Mills Lake with Mt. Abbot and Mt. Mills

Tarns above Mills Lake

After soaking in the scenery of Mills Lake and Mt Abbot we headed out of the drainage. It is a bit of rock hopping to the top, then a bunch of down. The cross county down involves steep sections, talus boulder navigation, and avoiding cliffs. We took several breaks to enjoy the views of Bear Creek Spire, Mt Dade, and Mt Abbot.

Looking back down at Mills Lake

Looking back down at Mills Lake

Cross country climbing above Mills Lake

Tarn between Mills and Long Lakes.  Mt Morgan in the distance.

Tarn above Mills Lake. We had to cross the talus field.

Crossing to Little Lakes Valley. Mt. Morgan and Mt. Tom in the distance.

Chickenfoot Lake in the Little Lakes Valley at the base of Mt. Morgan
Eventually we met up with the trail near Long Lake. Then it was just a stroll down past Box, Heart and Mack Lakes to the car.

Meadow above Long Lake

Long Lake

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