Despite the ravages of the Big V, we managed to save one trip from cancellation – a six day mule packing trip (you hike; mules carry your stuff) on the northern edge of Yosemite National Park and in the Hoover Wilderness. This trip started from near Bridgeport, California, so we went down there a day early to do an acclimatization hike. The obvious choice for that was Green Lake – short, not too steep, close to Bridgeport, and with a colorful lake at the end. The old (2008) guidebook I had indicated that the trail might be hard to find in spots but it wasn’t. Not at all. It was more like an obvious freeway straight to Green Lake, as it has now become part of a popular hike/backpack between Green and Virginia Lakes.

We arrived at the trailhead at 0830 to take what looked like the last vacant parking spot at the trailhead itself. As previously noted, finding and following the trail was not a problem. It has been routed around and above the campground to an old road leading to an in-holding. After a short stretch on that road it becomes a single-track again.

Starting off from the trailhead
The trail passes through a grove of aspens that will be in full Fall colors in a matter of weeks

Passing through the aspens, we came across one – a full 18″ in diameter – that had been gnawed down by a beaver. Nearby we found its dam, which stretched all the way across Green Creek.

A large aspen felled by a beaver
The beaver dam backing-up Green Creek
A hug for a very old, very big Ponderosa pine

Past the aspens, the trail left the vicinity of the creek and started a more determined climb toward the lake. There was some smoke in the air from the Slink Fire to the north but not enough (yet) to wreck havoc with the views.

Climbing toward the lake, with Gabbro Peak on the left and Point 11437 on the right
Point 11437
Colorful cliffs overlook the trail
Arriving at Green Lake
Green Lake
Green Lake
Reflection at Green Lake
The LovedOne at Green Lake

It had only taken us about two hours to hike up to the lake and, despite the full parking lot at the trailhead, we hadn’t seen many people along the way. So we enjoyed the lake for a bit, had a snack, and headed back. It was on the way down that we started encountering more than a few folks on the trail. It was the first day of the Labor Day weekend after all. There seemed to be more backpackers than day hikers. Despite all the hype about “ultra light” small packs, all of the backpackers we saw were sporting big, full packs reminiscent of the loads we used to carry on mountaineering trips. This reinforced my impression that ultra-light is sort of a niche thing and that the general backpacker still wants to haul along the comforts – a chair, a big sleeping pad, what have you. We were glad to see people out using the trails (and secretly glad we were not carrying their loads 🙂 ).

Going back (note smoke haze in the valley)
Back through the aspens past the mega-beavers
A hug from a big, squat, very old juniper

This acclimatization hike came to about six miles round-trip, with 900 feet of elevation gain. It was an easy, fun hike to a beautiful destination.

Our path to and from Green Lake

As we were driving back to Bridgeport, we could see a giant pyrocumulus cloud form over the Slink Fire to the north. Later in the afternoon, this cloud would collapse, sending thick smoke into Bridgeport and reducing visibility to a quarter mile or less. Sadly, this proved to be an ominous portent of fire and smoke…

A fallen pyrocumulus overwhelms Bridgeport