The smell of wild onions greeted me as my morning began on the Saddlebag Lake Loop. This is going to be an easy hike, no drama, perhaps find a future lake for some Golden Trout action next trip to the eastern Sierras, I thought to myself. All the reviews I had read of the Saddlebag Lake hike through the Twenty Lakes Basin made this eight-mile loop sound like a piece of cake; Even though the resort located here is for sale and therefore no longer offers a water taxi across; Cutting out two miles of the boring part of the hike. Of course, I did actually research this hike two summers ago but I assumed two summers later the trails would be the same.
The wild sage and wild onions growing trailside may be the same as two summers ago but I have no idea how you can refer to this gorgeous Switzerland like hike as an eight-mile loop. I hiked four miles up past Odell Lake (I think) and the trail just looked like it was still heading north towards the Lundy Lakes. What the hell kind of loop was this?
I started my hike early in the morning, along the north shore of the lake and this is for sure the longest way around. It’s also the way that takes you along the best, easiest, least rocky trail. The south shore, counterclockwise route is shorter but full of scree and crazy ankle rolling rocks. Say you decide to go the longer route like I did and take the north shore, about two miles after you start along a trail that hugs Saddlebag Lakes north shore you come to a cut off that is just begging to be hiked to the Lundy Lakes. But on this trip, I choose to hike that one another day. My boyfriend and his daughter and our injured dog were fishing by the Saddlebag Dam and I told them I would be gone between two or three hours so my hiking time was a bit limited on this July morning.
Our original plan today involved hiking back to the Saddlebag Lakes and catching some wild trout but with a hurt mountain dog the plans changed and I found myself enjoying the wild onion smell early morning by myself. Which I am totally fine with. Sometimes running wilderness trails solo is an awesome way to spend your last day of vacation. I mean unless you are sharing the trail with marmots; Then it’s not exactly solo hiking. I’m kind of glad my dog did not meet her first marmot today because I’m not sure how that would have gone…
But back to the bullshit “Loop” that is not really a loop.
I don’t have an issue with this gorgeous trail through the Hoover Wilderness and I can’t wait to come back and hike back to Odell or Helen Lake again and catch some Golden Trout, what I do have an issue with us referring to this madness as “An easy loop” that makes it seem like the actual “Loop” part of this hike is easy to find.
This “Loop” is making me loopy!
Yeah, it’s not.
Although I did find many, many lakes. I had to have seen at least twenty in this Twenty Lakes Basin, but part of that could be because of the intense thunderstorms that battered this region yesterday.
This area got a lot of rain late yesterday afternoon and there were a plethora of lakes that might not usually be lakes, as well as creeks running down the trail.
But back to a loop that may not be a loop.
So when I realized I had hiked up four miles to where the trail should be heading back, at I believe Odell Lake and the trail was absolutely not heading back in the direction of Saddlebag Lake, I decided to make my own loop back. I mean what the hell, the land was all grass-like, there are no rattlesnakes hiding at well over 10,000 feet ( Although I did see some mystery poo that I have no idea what kind of animal it came out of. A very regular marmot?)
I pretty much just went cross country across the grass below, still, snow-capped in late July North Peak. I found my way back to my little injured dog and the trail on the opposite side of the lake but what a clusterfuck this “Easy” hike turned out to be!
Normally my little dog hikes all these miles with me but she did something to her leg two days ago and is for once not being a mountain goat and quite happy to relax in the sun and not move today. It was a relaxing day for the pup and a fun day exploring a new and confusing trail through the Hoover Wilderness for The Hungry Mountaineer.