Friday, August 13, 2021

Backpacking 2021: Leavitt Meadows Trailhead, Hoover Wilderness

We missed our backpacking trip in 2020, but by Spring of 2021 we were all able to get our vaccinations, and we were raring to go!

Unfortunately, the horrible Dixie Fire had other plans for us, rendering our first planned destination unreachable, unbreathable, and wholly out of consideration for this year's trip. With a week to go before our planned departure, we switched to a second backup plan in Siskiyou county, but the Cronan and River Complex fires had eliminated that possibility as well.

With barely 72 hours left, we frantically searched for an alternate plan, but finding a place free of smoke and yet with permits available for last minute hikers such as ourselves was quite challenging. Finally, just as we were ready to give up, we came across a viable possibility, which was to hike up into the upper Walker River watershed in the Hoover Wilderness. Permits were available, and although there was considerable smoke in the area from the Tiltill fire, the forecast was for the winds to shift and blow the smoke elsewhere.

It was time to go, so we got up and went.

Leavitt Meadows is an enormous High Sierra meadow, stretching for several miles along the upper reaches of the Walker River. The Walker River, in turn, is one of the great rivers of the Eastern Sierras, and is well-known as one of the great fishing rivers of the Western United States.

We weren't planning on doing any fishing, but it's always a joy to hike along and camp near the great rivers of the Sierra Nevada, and the approach via Leavitt Meadows was particularly appealing as you can get several miles away from any roads or buildings just by walking the trail along the meadow. This is a very pleasant experience as you can put a lot of distance behind you with relatively little elevation gain.

Above the river we stopped for lunch at lovely Lane Lake, small but ever so picturesque.

About 1.5 miles beyond Lane Lake, we were able to make our way off the main trail and found a lovely campsite near a beautiful forty foot waterfall on Walker River. Although this has been an extremely dry year, and the river was very low, the falls were still running and very wonderful to view.

I had recently invested in a Supai backpacker's boat, and Lane Lake proved to be the perfect venue for an afternoon of High Sierra boating.

The Walker River watershed in this area is dotted with many other lakes, as well as various tributaries of the river, which has its headwaters near Forsyth Peak in Yosemite National Park. Trips both short and long are easy to fashion in this area, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves.

Because this area is so accessible and quite popular, we saw a lot of other hikers (and not a lot of other wildlife), but the watershed is large and there are plenty of secluded areas where peaceful and quiet campsites can be found.

Given the way the trip had nearly ended before it even began, we all agreed that the trip wildly exceeded our expectations, and it was certainly great to be able to go back into the wilderness again with old friends.

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