Xerox Mountaineering and Backpacking Club

Cottonwood LakesTrail, Inyo Natíl Forest August 11-13, 1995

Brief: A moderate two-night backpack to Cottonwood Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness starting at Horseshoe Meadow out of Lone Pine. Dayhikes, optional peak climbs, and fishing are all possible.

When: We will depart from the Cottonwood Creek trailhead (not Cottonwood Pass - that's a completely different trail) at around 9:00 am Friday morning, it is strongly advised that you arrive Thursday night to acclimatize to the altitude. There are camp sites available near the trail head. We should arrive at our trail camp by early afternoon. Return to the trailhead is planned for early afternoon Sunday.

What: The trail begins with a gentle ascent through a dense stand of lodgepole and foxtail pine. We follow Cottonwood Creek for about 2 miles to Golden Trout Camp, and then another 2 mile to the Cottonwood Lakes basin. We will camp somewhere in this area, either at one of the Cottonwood Lakes or a little farther at South Fork Lakes. Saturday is a free day to do whatever you please. Bring fishing gear to try your luck, or a good book to kick back. We will organize a dayhike to other lakes, or to nearby Mt. Langley or Cirque Peak if there is interest.

Who: This hike is open to XMBC members and their guests. Six persons are allowed by the permit, so reservations and leader approval are required. There is a wilderness permit reservation fee of $3.00 per person. Reservations will be accepted on a first come basis.

Trailhead location: From the L.A. area take highway 14 through Lancaster and Mojave then merge onto US 395. From San Diego take I-15 north to Victorville then turn off onto US 395. Take US 395 north to Lone Pine. Turn west on Whitney Portal Road at the traffic signal in the center of town. Drive 3.5 miles and turn south (left) on Horseshoe Meadow Road. The Horseshoe Meadow Road goes south, passes Granite View Drive after 2.0 miles and comes to a gate 4.7 miles later. The road starts to climb via a few huge switchbacks and comes to the trailhead for the Cottonwood Lakes/New Army Pass Trail after another 13.0 miles. The road continues another 0.3 mile to Horseshoe Meadows, with its campgrounds, and the trailhead for Cottonwood Pass. Drivetime from the south bay is about 5 hours, from San Diego about 8 hours.

Trailhead facilities: an undeveloped camping area and public corral are located across from the Pack Station, one mile below the locked gate. Toilets and garbage cans are provided. No piped water. Creek water is available but should be filtered or boiled three minutes before use. Parking available along the side of the road near the locked gate. Parking may be crowded on weekends due to the number of visitors. The nearest supplies and gasoline are 24 miles away in Lone Pine.

Rating: Moderate - this is a 10 mile round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 1,500 ft. Elevation at the trailhead is 9,600 and at Cottonwood Lakes itís 11,180 feet.

Weather: Summer days are usually warm but night temperatures often drop to freezing or below even in summer. Snow cover from last winter will probably still be around, especially on the high peaks and passes. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. Snowstorms may occur at anytime.

Equipment: Raingear, good boots, a warm sleeping bag, and warm clothes are essential. Sunglasses, a sunscreen (factor 10 or more), a hat and insect repellent are advisable. Tents may be shared. Campfires are not permitted east of the Sierra crest; portable gas stoves are recommended. A California State Fishing License is required for fishing. Hunting and pets are prohibited. If you have any questions then feel free to contact the leader.

Water: Carry one dayís supply of safe water. Giardiasis is a serious problem. Boil or filter all drinking water. Many of the creeks may be dry by mid-summer.

Bears: This area is as popular with bears as it is with people. Carry at least 50 feet of rope to securely hang your food using the counter balance method. A bell or other suitable bear-raid-alarm device could be a good idea. We will check at the Ranger Station before starting our trip for current information of bear activity.

Topo Maps: Cirque Peak, USGS 7.5' series (provisional ed. 1988), optional: Mt. Langley, USGS 7.5' series (1982). For reference, the 15' maps are Olancha (1956) and Lone Pine (1958).

Reservations: To make reservations or if you would like more information, contact Bruce Corning at 310/333-3568 (work), 310/325-8735 (home), or E-mail: BCorn.LAX1B@Xerox.COM (BCorn:LAX1B inside Xerox).