For this specific adventure, we knew we needed a plan. Thankfully, my husband’s friend, Eric B., had taken the time to put together a great idea on how we were going to trek through the Hoover Wilderness.
We were set to start at the Virginia Lakes and finish at Twin Lakes, or so that was the plan. If you are not familiar with the Hoover Wilderness, it is near Bridgeport, Calif., right off Highway 395.
Prior to heading out on this trip, the people who knew where we were hiking constantly warned me about bear. I heeded their advice, but my experience hiking through the wilderness has taught me that there are many things that can trip us up along any path we take, bears or no bears.
The Virginia Lakes area is a magnificent place to spend the day. However, our intentions were to put on our packs and leave this beautiful spot for another destination further along.
As we headed off, there was little discussion as the eight of us were pulling in deep breathes of fresh air and taking in the scenery. The landscape reminded me of Colorado, only with its own beauty.
The higher we hiked, the more mosquitoes that swarmed us. Thankfully, enough of us had packed bug spray to dissuade them from circling us. Despite the several trips that I have shared with these annoying bugs, I find it funny they never really seem to be what I remember when thinking back about a trip. On beautiful hikes, it is the spectacular views and spiritual moments that captivate you and hold strong in your memory.
As we reached our first spot, Frog Lake, we were filled with excitement. The boys quickly dug out their fishing gear and hustled to the water’s edge while us girls fought off the mosquitoes and snacked in the shade. Because we had almost an entire trip still ahead of us, we could only briefly enjoy the beauty of Frog Lake; we needed to reach our next stop before it got dark.
After more wonderful hiking, we reached the summit, which was over two miles above sea level at 11,129 feet. As we pressed on, the clouds started to roll in, bringing hale and rain down all around us. Thankfully, it was still warm out so it made for a fun experience rather then an unpleasant one. The rain became very inspiring to me.
The next stop on our adventure was East Lake, where we had decided to erect our camp. When we arrived at our day’s destination, we were all soaking wet. Luckily, as we hiked in, the rain lightened up. As we set up camp, we also built a fire to help us dry out.
Looking around, I realized that this spot was simply amazing. It was a grassy stop and East Lake was as still as glass. As the raindrops fell into the lake, little ripples polka-dotted the scene. I paused to take in the fresh air and my gratitude for being alive. We recognized that there were plenty of bear tracks in the surrounding grass and dirt; we took note, but did not allow the possibility of bear to keep us from enjoying our spot.
The night passed without any bear sightings and as the sun rose, I knew we had a trek ahead of us. Our next stop was four miles up hill with about a 1000- foot incline. The incline attacked the muscles in our legs while the area’s biting flies attacked any exposed skin.
Our next stop was West Lake. We knew once we reached the lake there was only one more mountain to climb before we reached Twin Lakes, which was our destination and where we parked our second car. Once we arrived at West Lake, we all stood looking at the mountain ahead of us and wondered, do we really want to be in pain tomorrow? After gaining a consensus, the verdict was to set up camp and enjoy the hard work we had already completed by taking a swim in the lake.
The next day was our last day in this wonderful wonderland. Since we had to back track out, we decided to drop down to the nearest campground, which was about three miles down hill and better then hiking all the way back. After trekking down to the campground, we had to hitch a ride with the camp host to our cars that were parked on the other side, next to Twin Lakes. We were lucky to find a camp host that was kind enough to help us out.
This was the end of our discoveries in this area for this weekend. The trail had ended and if we were to press on over that big mountain to Twin Lakes it could be a horror story rather than an inspirational hiking story. Who knows, maybe the bears were waiting for us at Twin Lakes.
I realized that sometimes the beauty that wilderness can bring translates to a greater awareness. I always push myself to go a little further and a little harder. However, it is all right to slow down and set up camp right where we are; it can save our lives.
Comment below on what brings you awareness or follow me on Twitter @KellieHiking.