This tale leads up to our Maysen Lakes adventure, if you are only interested in the latter, feel free to skip ahead to part two.
What Brought us to the Meysan Lakes Trail
We do not watch network or cable television, but this does not mean we do not partake of visual entertainment. Instead, we watch movies and shows on Netflix and videos along our interest lines on Youtube. One of our interests is traversing the great outdoors through running (me only), cycling, hiking, and driving mountain roads.
So we watch a lot of Youtube videos of trail-riding and hiking, particularly thru hikers on any one of the trails making up what is known as the ‘Triple Crown’; the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. While we have considered the possibility of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, our positions as longshoremen do not allow for that amount of time off, plus I have reached the conclusion through some soul searching that a thru-hike is not a situation in which I want to put myself.
As it happens, we live a few miles from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail and have the ability to drive to various points for day hikes or even camp for several days, to facilitate greater exploration. In 2017. we began a tradition for my birthday of going on a memorable hike. We hiked to Eagle Rock, which is a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail, about 6 miles, which leads to a feature of a grouping of granite rocks which appear to be in the shape of an eagle with his wings slightly expanded.
We needed a new destination. We did some camping at Southern California mountain destinations, including Wrightwood, Kennedy Meadows, and a night on the side of the road at Whitney Portal because we rolled in late on a Saturday night to find no available camp sites. These locations exposed us to altitudes much greater than just above sea level where we live and we hiked around these areas to gain some experience at elevation. Still, we did not discuss it much and when we did, nothing came of it. September came around, so we began to think about our trip and look for the break in our work schedule. We talked about Devil’s Postpile and some other hikes in Yosemite. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to stay at the campground at Whitney Portal and find a day hike in that area.
We had a late start and pitched for the night in a favorite, familiar camping spot; Wrightwood, CA next to Sky High disc golf course. We have stayed there multiple times on disc golfing trips or to drive the Angeles Crest Highway. None of our usual favorite campsites were available and this one had no proper trees for hammock hanging, so we pitched the tent for the night, It was late, not to mention windy and chilly, so we were very ready to snuggle down for the night.
In the morning, we packed up all but the essentials, then took our time drinking coffee and having breakfast, after which we wandered around the campground taking pictures. We continued on to the Whitney Portal and beyond to the Whitney Portal campground, arriving about a quarter to five.
It was nice to reach camp and set up relatively early, have a meal and be settled by a fire relatively early. We did all of that and still took the time to explore some of the campground, as there was plenty to see! Impossibly tall trees surrounded us and the tall mountain ridge surrounded those, plus a river ran through the campground, separating the sites that would be back to back. It was a beautiful feature, which added ambient noise and good separation from other campers, in a campground with sites that are more packed together.
On the way in, I had noticed a sign reading “Meysan Lakes Trail” and exclaimed that I recognized the name as one that many PCT thru-hikers we watched talked about taking a side trip to day hike it. I suggested investigating it as a possibility for our own hike. I did not know anything about it other than the name. After morning rituals, we trekked down to some bulletin boards with information about the trail and hiking it. Upon reading it, we determined that permits were needed to move forward. We decided to hang around camp awhile longer and think about our next move.