Ted's Hiking World Gertrude Lake
Desolation Wilderness

July 10, 2007

Although I am familiar with many of the trails around here, this one is new to me.  It already is quite warm at 10 o'clock.

Soon I am greeted by a cute little marmot, who doubtless loves to scavenge the local campgrounds.

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Yellow-bellied Marmot

The trails near Wrights Lake are quite soft and well-maintained; but those conditions change before traveling far.  Crossing the wilderness boundary nearly two miles into the hike, I already have encountered a number of especially rough spots on the trail, requiring hands-on scrambling.  It is clear that the Forest Service considers this lightly used route a lesser priority.

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Always a pleasure to enter

A pleasant distraction from the difficult trail conditions is a plethora of checkerspot butterflies.  There are countless thousands of them, sometimes a dozen or more on a single patch of mountain monardella.  Sharing space with them is exhilarating.

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Butterflies are everywhere

Although there is no running water on this route today, a particularly verdant area appears.  The red heather are all dried up, unfortunately; but some of the more shady spots are filled with alpine lilies — the first I have seen this season.  Numerous Mariposa lilies line the trail's sunnier areas as well.

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Alpine Lily

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Leichtlin's Mariposa Lily

The lake appears at last.  Four hikers resting there aren't sure whether this actually is Gertrude Lake, believing it to be too small.

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Gertrude Lake

My map shows a long, thin, smaller lake just on the other side of Gertrude.  Scrambling back there past a field of corn lilies, I find the little lake in its anticipated position.

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Back side of the lake

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Rose Spirea

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The little lake in back

This seems to be a day for lilies of all types.  This also is a good spot for a lunch break, even though the thermometer says it's about 80 degrees.

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Gertrude Lake and Peak 8925

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Sierra Stonecrop has become a personal favorite

Shortly after starting back, the weather starts acting up.  There is a a quarter-mile cross-county spur to Tyler Lake some 200 feet above, and it probably is beautiful up there; but it looks as if I had best not tarry.  This could become a serious storm.

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Storm brewing over the Crystal Range

Some small waterfalls and cascades are noisily doing their thing on the creek that drains all the upstream lakes.  I would love a closer look; but it would take time to scramble over there, and some raindrops already have fallen.

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South Silver Creek

I never am too rushed to visit with a butterfly, though, and this one poses nicely.  Now it is time to put away the camera, zip up the pack, and get out of here; the threatening blackness is coming directly this way.

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A Hoffman's Checkerspot likes Labrador Tea

Curses!  For the last last mile and a half I am drenched by the downpour, with no windbreaker or rain gear of any kind.  Oh well, this is another new experience.  It isn't cold, it's not all that far to the car, and the lightning bolts and thunder claps are exciting.

I change clothes at the car and head for home.  The first few miles are enshrouded by clouds and pass through the remains of a recent hailstorm.  The outside temperature is 47 degrees.  I was lucky not to have encountered these conditions during the walk.

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Evidence of a very recent hailstorm

§: Some parts of this trail were tough, requiring hands-on climbing.  Other areas were sandy, shady walks in the park.  Perhaps it came out even.

The old adage, "It never rains in the Sierra in the summertime." is generally accurate.  Today's anomaly made the Sacramento headlines.

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