Hike to Heart Lake

If you drive the Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place off of highway 395,  one begins to get a direct taste of the grandeur of this marvelous area of the Eastern Sierra. This is in an area north of the city of Bishop California and south of the city of Mammoth. First massive Mount Morgan, 13,748′ looms ahead. A few miles further along Bear Creek Spire, Mount Dade and Mount Abbot, all high thirteeners come into view beyond Rock Creek Lake. A couple more miles bring you to the Mosquito Flat trailhead parking. A short hike of less than a mile and you’re in the heart of Little Lakes Valley surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery the high Sierra has to offer.

little lakes map

Sierra Trading Post

With a starting elevation of 10,200′ and an excellent trail system one has easy access to a great cirque of peaks and 2 major passes into the backcountry that can all be done in a day.
The valley is packed with sparkling trailside lakes and streams with lofty granite giants on all sides.This is truly a mountain lovers paradise for hiking, fly fishing, camping and climbing.
With all this being the case the area is a very popular destination in the summer. Everything from short 1-2 hour strolls up to Marsh or Heart Lake to extensive climbing/backpacking adventures along the crest or over the passes await.  With a 1 yr old on my wife’s back and a 5 yr old with us, we decided to hike the 2 hour short hike to Heart Lake. And into the John Muir Wilderness we go. This wilderness is like no other, it’s special to me and my family. The John Muir Wilderness is a wilderness area that extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada of California for 90 miles (140 km), in the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. Established in 1964 by the Wilderness Act and named for naturalist John Muir, it contains 581,000 acres (2,350 km2). The wilderness lies along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra from near Mammoth Lakes and Devils Postpile National Monument in the north, to Cottonwood Pass near Mount Whitney in the south.The wilderness area also spans the Sierra crest north of Kings Canyon National Park, and extends on the west side of the park down to the Monarch Wilderness.

mary hiking
Little Lakes Valley is in the John Muir Wilderness. There are no permits required for day hiking.The Mono Pass and Morgan Pass Trails are quota trails.
Wood campfires are prohibited in Little Lakes Valley and bears roam the area.
The Mosquito Flat trailhead to the lakes starts at the end of Rock Creek road with restrooms and a picnic area to enjoy. They also have bear boxes to store food in, so you don’t leave any in your car.
Mosquito Flat didn’t get it’s name for nothing. Be prepared for a potential onslaught of pesky skeeters in the early summer of Little Lakes Valley especially around trees, lakes and streams. Pack some deet.

Ben’s 3. 4 oz. 100 Percentage Deet Repellent Pump Spray Repellent

For camping in the John Muir Wilderness permits can be obtained at:
Mammoth Ranger Station and Visitor Center, 760-924-5500. Box 148 Mammoth Lakes, Ca. 93546
White Mountain Ranger Station, 760-873-2500.
So we packed a lunch and loaded up our fishing gear and food in my pack and hit the trail. The trail to Heart lake is an easy trail with very little elevation gain,some steps we took here or there like stairs,but all and all easy. My 5 yr old son did well hiking the way in and out.My wife is a rock and carried our 1 yr old son on her back in a carrier system. Remember to get a good pack when day hiking. High Sierra makes great packs at low prices,Shop Active and Outdoors at High Sierra!

high sierra daypack 4

High Sierra

The first lake we come upon is Mack lake.  A small one at best, it is beautiful. On we go to the second lake around the bend. Marsh lake a bit bigger than Mack lake. Marsh lake  is surrounded by tall grass but there is a spot with some rocks to walk to to get to the waters edge to take a great photo. Rock Creek is flowing through all these lakes on the trail we took. There is an abundance of small Brown and Brook trout in these lakes and creek.

marsh lake

Marsh Lake

So on we go Hiking the trail. Heart Lake is not far. Along the way we pass horses and pack mules taking supplies into the John Muir Wilderness for the serious hike through hikers. Birds can be seen  everywhere and they are fun to watch.The Eastern Sierra offers dramatic landscapes ideal for bird watching in California. Study a surprising variety of wildlife in Inyo County. Bird species you’re likely to see in the Eastern Sierra include golden and bald eagles, gray-crowned rosy finches, American dippers, Piñon jays, warbling vireos, sage thrashers, wood ducks, long-eared owls, shorebirds, and migratory  waterfowl. We saw animal scat here and there ,but it was not Bear. Bears are regularly found in the area, and I saw one years back hiking this trail. So practice bear safety  while hiking this whole region for that matter. Common animals in the wilderness include yellow-bellied marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground squirrels, Clark’s nutcrackers, golden trout, Mountain Lion and black bears . The wilderness area also includes California bighorn sheep zoological areas, which are set aside for the protection of the species. And the hike continues on forward.
Orvis

hiking in john muir

I’m feeling excited to get to Heart lake. I can’t wait to get my pole in the water to catch some wild mountain trout. I used salmon eggs and tiny lures. I also carry a telescopic fishing rod which folds up compact and can be attached to your pack like this Blue Telescopic Fishing Rod 2M 6.56Ft w 5.2:1 Spinning Reel  .I caught several trout and released them back into the wild. I figured they wouldn’t keep well on the hike back ,with it being around 90 degrees, out. Always bring a good full water bottle when hiking the backcountry. I also carry a Sawyer Products Mini Water Filter which i can purify water out of the creek or lake with right into my water bottle.

Outdoor Products 0.75-Liter Stainless Steel Rocket Bottle

So we get to Heart Lake and everybody goes wild. My kids love it, both are running around barefoot on the nice grassy shoreline. My wife is happy and we sit under a tree in the shade and have a wonderful lunch we brought. Sandwiches,chips,nuts and fruit were among the delicacies we enjoyed. We took some photos because the view was amazing,it’s hard to describe , you just got to be there.

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Fishing Heart Lake with son.

 

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Enjoying Little Lakes Valley

 

liam heart lake

Liam did not want to leave.

High Sierra

We pack up our stuff and head back toward the trail head. The walk back seems easier than hiking in but at the same time I was tired from the day and being out in the sun so it felt the same. We loaded up the car and used the nice restrooms they had at the trailhead and then we headed a short drive back to Rock Creek Lake to enjoy a slice of delicious pie. The restaurant is called “Pie in the Sky,” its at Rock Creek Lake Resort across from the lake. The pie slices are huge portions. The price is ok considering where you are. It’s first come first serve.When they run out thats it for the day. Lodging is available as well,for info check out www.rockcreeklakesresort.compie in the sky.jpg

Our trip to Heart Lake in the John Muir Wilderness was wonderful. There is so much to see and take in. On our way back to our campground I wondered what is was like back then for John Muir. That night we sat by the fire sharing what we had seen ,and had some quality family time together. The Eastern Sierras are a special place that can only be explained if you see it yourself. Until next time here on Campingandfishing.org.

“This is creation. All that is going on today, only men are blind to see it…They can not pause long enough to go out into the wilderness where God has provided every sparrow enough to eat and to spare, and contemplate for even an hour the wonderful world that they live in”.

“You say that what I write may bring this beauty to the hearts of those that do not get out to see it…The good Lord put those things here as a free gift that he who chooses may take with joy – and he who will not walk out of the smoke of the cities to see them has no right to them.”

John Muir
“Three Days with John Muir,” The World’s Work (1909)

 

Camping checklist

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Extra 15% off at Sierra Trading Post with code ALWAVES6. Valid through May 4, 2016.
It’s that time of year again to get ready for summer camping. Whether your going alone, with friends,or family,you have got to have the right gear you need. What you bring depends on a lot of factors. Location and climate play a roll. Always prepare for rain and cold weather even in the summer while camping. So bring rain gear and cold weather clothes. A tarp isn’t a bad idea either ,it can be used as shade or a rain shelter to cook under etc. The amount of people who are going does affect how much and what you bring. Pets also need gear too. Car camping let’s you bring more gear of course than if you were backpacking your gear into a site via a trail. Any recreational activities being enjoyed also determine what gear to have. A kayak or fishing pole may be on the list to take with you. So I have devised a list of basics and a few cool items to take with you on your next trip into the outdoors.
1. A tent. Pick a tent that fits the number of people you plan on having in your tent with you. I always get one a little bigger than my headcount in my family to have some storage .
This Sundome 6 Person Tent is the one I have for my family and I. We really like it and we are happy with the quality of Coleman tents. Ours has lasted for several years now. If you need a smaller tent they have a Coleman Sundome 2-Person Dome Tent  which is smaller but also works well if your hiking.  For those big families that all want to sleep together you need an 8 to 12 man tent like the Ozark Trail 21′ x 10′ 3-Room Instant Tent with Awning, Sleeps 12, Red


Ozark Trail is Walmart’s brand. It is great quality at a low price. I have a 2 person Ozark Trail tent I use for backpacking that I love.
2. A good sun canopy is great to have. You can use this to cook under if it rains if you have to.  A canopy has saved several of my trips in the past. They are also great to rest at the end of the day under and have a cold drink in the shade. The Trademark Innovations Lightweight and Portable 10’x10′ Canopy Tent Is affordable and available in several colors.
3.Sleeping bags vary on climate and user preferences. Coleman,Tetonsport,and Kelty  make quality bags at reasonable prices compared to other high end bags. My wife uses the Coleman Brazos 75″ x 33″ Rectangle Sleeping Bag Navy/Beige 2000004419 its a 30 degree bag and works well in the mountains in the summer.

Coleman Heritage 84″ x 40″ Rectangle Sleeping Bag Navy 2000008710 This bag is a bigger bag for tall or wider people like me. I really like Coleman bags ,Lanterns and tents. They have been a family tradition for me since I was a kid.
3. A sleeping pad or an air mattress really makes the night more comfortable both in warmth and hardness on the back and neck. The INTEX Pillow Rest Classic Full Bed Inflatable Airbed Air Mattress w/ Pump is a brand I use and is affordable and has lasted me for several years.If your backpacking or just want a pad rather a mattress the ALPS mountaineering pad is great. Pads are expensive and range how light you want one to carry.

ALPS Mountaineering Summit Sleeping Pad – Regular
4. A pillow. Bring one you don’t mind getting abused. I like to use a flannel pillow case.
5. A multitool like the LEATHERMAN 832132 Multi-Tool, Silver, 12 Tools can handle all sorts of projects around camp or on the trail. I even take mine fishing with me.
6. A knife. I usually bring several with me camping for different needs. The Morakniv Clipper 840 Knife – Straight Edge, Fixed Blade

This is a great knife for bushcraft meaning ,doing things around camp. The Mora knife is from sweden and was made as far back as the 1800’s. It is used by their military still today. The carbon steel blade can be used with a flint to start a campfire. I also bring a big survival knife ,which is military issue, for large jobs and protection. K-bar has been making combat knives forever.The United States Marines recognize a superior knife when they see one. The Ka-Bar USMC Serrated Edge Knife 5018

And lastly I bring a good fillet knife for preparing the fish only. Keep your knife sharp at all times. This knife comes with a sharpener which makes it easy.


7. A good axe is needed  to chop kindling for the campfire and do other tasks around camp.This axe really gets the job done. Condor makes excellent knives and axes. Especially primitive bushcraft knives.
8. A backpack. Whether you need a daypack for short walks around the lake or a 55 liter hiking pack,High Sierra has got you covered. They make quality packs at low cost.

high sierra daypack 4

High Sierra
9. A camp chair. I have a nice big guy chair that I love. I was tired of the other chairs I had that were uncomfortable.Coleman in general makes good quality chairs.

10.Headlamps and flashlights. A good headlamp like the Coleman 2000021027 Axis HP LED HeadLampkeeps it bright while you do chores or hikes at night. As far as a flashlight ,I like Cree type lights ,the technology is brighter than LED lights and is compact. Lumintop has a great variety of lights to choose from.

And top of the line 800 lumen super bright cree light from Nitecore,it’s more expensive but superior to all cree lights.

11.Lanterns. By far the Coleman lantern is the best propane lantern out there for camping. It is an icon of the outdoors. The propane lanterns are a lot brighter and last longer than battery powered lanterns. The propane bottles can be interchanged with the Coleman camp stove as well. This one has a nice carrying case. Also bring extra mantles.

12.Water filter and water tablets. The Sawyer water filter is the one I have and I’ve drank river water for a week while hiking and love it. Sawyer makes a great product at inexpensive prices compared to other filter systems.

13.A stove.  A great camping stove like the Coleman 2 Burner Triton Series Stove 2000012034 gets things cooked fast. It has two burners to do the job. A Coleman griddle fits the stove perfect, to make pancakes and other delicacies. The one I’ve had for years has done the job well.Don’t forget extra propane bottles and matches.
14.Camp fire grill. I use the Camp Chef Lumberjack Over the Fire Grill to cook meals in my skillet or grill meat.It folds up easy to take with you. I like to wrap mine in a trash bag so I don’t make a mess in the car while traveling.
fish fry
15. A skillet,pots,and pans. My Camp Chef 20″ Lumberjack Skillet really is nice and home cooked meals in camp. An iron skillet lasts forever. Remember to not clean it with soap you can use sand or salt and water to clean it with a scrubber. I also preseason it each time after cleaning with cooking spray and heating it up on the camp stove.
16.A Dutch oven is another great method of camp cooking. It is like a camping crockpot. The Camp Chef 10″ Deep Dutch OvenI have ,I really like and I make all kinds of recipes in it. Cookbooks are available for Dutch oven cooking like this book I have; The Wilderness Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking . Follow the same process to clean and season just as the skillet. And don’t forget your food ,and drinks your going to bring. Put that on a separate list.
17.Kitchen accessories like paper towels ,cutting board,cooking utensils,ziplock bags, aluminum foil,a can opener/corkscrew,pot scrubber and camp soap are good to have in camp.A good coffee pot is absolute like the Stansport STN11230B Enamel 8-cup Coffee Pot With Percolator & Four 12-ounce Mugs . Splurge a little and bring some starbucks ground coffee. Nothing like a cup of joe lakeside.
A cooler is another item necessary on the outing. I bought a Coleman 54-Quart Steel Coolerand I love it.The cooler is made out of steel belted radial tire material and it keeps the ice cold for 5 days. I have had it for 7 years and nothing is broken,The thing is tough. Mine is stainless ,but they come in several colors all steel. All you need is the Ice.
owens river camp
18.A camping table set is an awesome thing to have. Everything you need to eat with is all there for the entire family. Both Stansport and Coleman make a great set. The enamel stone finish is tough.

19.Personal items like toilet paper,shampoo,toothbrush and paste,lip balm,sunscreen and insect repellant are just a few items to take.Don’t forget any medications you may need.A good first aid kit is essential to any outdoor adventure.

20. A camera or camcorder works ,most people use their phones nowadays.
21.Binoculars come in handy in the outdoors.Get a good pair and you won’t be sorry. They can be used to enjoy the beautiful scenery or view wildlife.

22. Maps,guidebooks,magazines and books are nice to take along.A notebook ,pen and pencil are nice to write memoirs. A sketchpad is a great idea,to draw the surroundings. Don’t leave your camping reservations at home either.
23.Pet needs. Pets have to have things too like toys,pet bed,food,a leash Maybe a stake ,and water.
24.A good radio to listen to music or the weather conditions is a sound idea.
25.If you have kids then you might want to invest in these.I have them and they work great to keep in contact with my son while he plays close to camp.

Motorola MS350R – 35 Mile Range Talkabout 2-Way Radios, PAIR

26. A deck of cards,games,water toys,kites,and a hacky sack bring enjoyment to camp.There is nothing like a good hack and a cold drink at the end of the day.

Hacky Sack – Alie (Colors Will Vary)n

At night a star gaze map,hot cocoa, glowsticks for the kids,and S’mores really are a big hit.Don’t forget a coat hanger or a marshmallow roasting stick.
27.Clothes and footwear. Remember to always bring warm clothes and rain gear to the mountains even in the summer.A good jacket will keep you warm at night.

A good sweater or sweatshirt is also a great idea. Bring pants and shorts,but don’t forget the swimwear. Wool socks are a good choice even in the summer they work fine. I wear Long underwear at night to sleep warm. A good hat is hard to beat. Ballcaps work great. A beanie also keeps you warm at night. I love my boonie,it keeps the sun off me.
river trail 7
Fishing Hunting Bucket Hat Boonie Outdoor Cap Washed Cotton Military Safari Summer Men – Land Camouflage
Footwear is a personal choice, but I prefer hiking shoes. They protect my feet and give me a good footing on the rugged terrain.  Merrell makes great footwear and is lower in price than other great brands.

I also bring a solid pair of outdoor sandals. They do me just fine. They are great around the water and I’ve even worn them swimming.

28. Recreational items are needed depending on the type of activities your going to enjoy on your trip. I always bring Fishing gear when I go camping.Walmart seems to have the best prices on fishing poles and tackle. I rarely spend over $30 for a rod and reel and I catch just as much fish as the guy next to me with the $200 set up. Don’t forget the powerbait and lures.

Daiwa D-Shock 2-Piece Spinning Combo 7′ DSK30-2B/F702M

canoe
29. Kayaks and Canoes are a great way to explore the water while on a trip. Walmart has nice kayaks at low prices that won’t cost $800 plus out of your wallet.Remember to always wear a life jacket.
Lifetime, 9’8″, 1-Man Boyd Sit-Inside Kayak, Yellow, with Bonus Padded Seat Back

30. Mountain bikes are also popular in the outdoors. There is nothing like zipping around the trails on a bike in the woods. Take a backpack along and a water bottle. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.

26″ Mongoose Men’s Maxim Mountain Bike, Green
So whether your going a week ,or going a weekend you have to make a checklist to see what you have and what you need. Don’t be unprepared in the outdoors. Put things together early and you’ll be glad you did. Your next journey outdoors awaits. Until next time here at Campingandfishing.org.