While I tested a new hammock setup for a relaxing afternoon; James was restless and wandered around the campground, finding his way back to the trail info sign and onto a piece of key information we had missed.
You do not need a permit to day hike the trail, unlike Mount Whitney. A permit is only required if overnight camping is your intention. James came rushing back to camp. to tell me the exciting news — only to find to me warm and cradled in my hammock, instead of raring to go hike the Meysan Lakes Trail, our would-be second trail and a trail about which we knew nothing. Come on. Look at that hammock. Check that sweet underquilt setup.
Alright, Alright. So we went, starting at something like a quarter after four, believing this to be a moderate to difficult hike, totaling 4 miles, round trip. We were in athletic shoes, but fortunately, we had hiking poles. We would never have made it without them. Thankfully, it is all worth it when you reach this sign —
And see this view, when you look over your shoulder (or head in that direction on a switchback, of which there are many!) —
Now, back to the trail — are you ready to take on this beast?
First thing first —
The entire trail is a 10.9-mile loop. It is 4 miles to the first of the lakes — Grass Lake. (Forest Service)
Do not wear athletic shoes of any kind. I slipped and slid too many times at the edge of the trail and through terrain that was rockier, sandier, more powdery, or more littered with debris such as pine cones, small bones, and twigs. Wear some type of appropriate hiking footwear. This is not an easy hike in regards to terrain variance and stability or elevation gain. Do not attempt this hike unless you are in good aerobic shape.
Be prepared for a long, steady, fairly steep ascent most of the way, except for the switchbacks, which are a challenge all their own. They are flat, well defined, and an excellent alternative to what would otherwise be brutal inclines. However, turning around over and over to walk the other way after a short distance can be disorienting.
The trail is only as wide enough for a pair of feet and a pair of trekking poles most of the way up. The drop off is this and sheerer.
Be prepared to stay focused and alert. Keeping your footing is obviously crucial. Always plant your trekking pole before moving your foot forward.
Sounds dreadful, right? No! All of this just means the reward is so much more gratifying! You are going to work for it, and it will be worth it!
Knowing every step in reverse would be in the dark, we were ever diligent in our awareness of changes in the trail. There were a lot of them. I am not an experienced or seasoned hiker but I have hiked and the Meysan Lakes Trail is thus far the most diverse and challenging. That and it was so, so beautiful! The views were amazing and when we reached Grass Lake, the feeling of triumph was eclipsed only with awe of our surroundings.
Including a 20 minute-ish stop for an issue with previously untested equipment, it had taken us two and a half hours to reach grass lake and we arrived around a quarter of seven, just before dusk.
We were fortunate enough to see a group of bats swooping above and skimming the water, but were not able to get any good footage or images of them. Bats are tiny and the light was challenging, what can I say? We decided at this point that Grass Lake would be our destination, which we later learned was the wise decision as reaching the final destination – Meysan Lake, requires some bouldering and we did not want to do that in the dark! We loved the Whitney Portal campground and the trail is definitely worth coming back for a second time.
So we stayed; enjoying the sunset and the views, wolfing our energy chews and drinking water like it was a picnic. We practically ran back to the campground, the return trip was so much easier, and we figure it took us about an hour and a half to get back.
… and that is my Meysan Lakes Trail Tale!
United States Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd530479.pdf