We rolled into Hetch Hetchy Friday evening just before the gates closed at 9PM. After grabbing our permit, we made our way to the backpacker camp. It was warm and the sky was clear as we set up camp for the night. The weather for the weekend was supposed to be hot, so we were planning on getting an early start to beat the heat.
Day 1: Backpacker Camp to Lake Vernon (June 8, 2013)
I woke up with the sun at about 5:30AM. Hugues and Paul arose shortly after and we hit the trail by 7AM in an effort to climb out of the reservoir valley before it got too hot.
The wind was blowing hard across the reservoir as we crossed the dam and started up and out of the valley at 7:30AM. The temperature had already reached 80°F!
The climb out of the valley was steep and hot, but we made it to Beehive by 10AM. From here we took a short detour to Laurel Lake for lunch and a swim. At this point the temperature had reached 95°F. I was the first one in the lake and the water felt amazing!
After a swim and some lunch, we continued towards Lake Vernon. Much of the trail was through forest recovering from a wild fire several years ago. The recovering forest had a fair amount of standing water to support enough mosquitoes to keep us moving at a quick pace.
As we approached the hottest part of the day we cleared what remained of the forest and made our way across granite slab with sparse tree cover. The sun was beating down hard, but we were getting close to the lake where we would set up camp for the night.
Once at the lake, it wasn’t long before we found a nice campground with a fire ring in a small cluster of trees. We dropped the packs and headed for the lake. Vernon was a bit colder than Laurel Lake, but after hiking in 95°F weather it was just the refreshing swim we needed!
It was still early when I started preparing dinner, but I was baking pizza so I needed the extra time. This was the first trip in CA that I was able to build a twiggy fire on my Fry-Bake because of the ever-present fire restrictions, so I took advantage of it! After baking to perfection, I chowed down on a pizza in the backcountry!
As the daylight faded, we managed to clean up from dinner just before the mosquitoes attacked… The sun had just set, the wind died down and the skeeters came out in full force! Even my 100% DEET didn’t seem to phase them, so we retreated to the tents for the night.
Find more photos from this trip on Flickr!