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Big Pine Lakes: My First Hike in California

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

I'm pretty convinced that mountain air is good for the soul. There's something about being outside. Maybe it's the freshness of the air or the quiet of the forest. We hadn't had a hike quite like this in some time. The trek up to the Big Pine Lakes in California was rewarding and gave us everything we'd been missing while staying in NYC.

During our LA-Vancouver road trip, we drove from Death Valley to Lone Pine which took us about 2 1/2 hours. From there, we met two of our friends, Tiff and Vanessa, who were waiting for us with overnight permits for the hike. And then we were on our way. We passed Big Pine and drove up a winding dirt road with a terrifying drop-off for 15 minutes until we arrived in the parking lot. Tiff warned us about bears and how it was mandatory to keep goods inside bear containers. Since we planned on camping at the lake, we decided to take extra precaution and went ahead and put everything scented inside the bear lockers. When I say everything, I mean from unopened tunafish cans to toothpaste.

Our friends hooked us up with an extra two-person tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, a backpack and some snacks. It was heavy, but we attached all of our gear to our packs and we were on our way. A question I receive often is the type of gear/clothing I travel with. Something I look for in hiking clothes is quality (I tried getting away with cheaper gear but it didn't last long), sustainability (no fast-fashion), quick drying, good for both hot and cold weather, light-weight, and easy to roll up into my backpack.

For this hike I brought my Halti gear with me. I wore the Puijo Women’s Hoodie Jacket in Salmon, as shown in the picture above, and also, my Free Seamless Women’s Base Layer Shirt in Mint Blue. I stumbled across them when researching adventure clothing companies and I'm so glad I had. They're a Finnish outdoor brand with over 40 years of experience, providing products for outdoors, camping, skiing, running and cross country skiing. The clothes are exactly what I was looking for and super comfortable! (Sponsored).

We hiked for approximately 4 hours each way with only a couple of stops to refill our water bottles. There are 7 lakes in Big Pine, and we had planned on camping at the second. The trails were well marked up until we neared the 1st lake, where we started to encounter lots of snow, leaving us with no choice but to follow faint foot markings and hope that they led the us in the right direction.

The hike was taxing on the legs and I had bruises on my hip bones from the backpack, but it was so worth it. We finally arrived to the lake and what a view! It reminded us of a mini Torres Del Paine. The sky was clear and the sun cast a warmth on the mountains. The wind was calm, allowing a gorgeous reflection to show on the water. We took photos, explored our home for the night, and set up for dinner which consisted of pasta primavera from Backpacker's Pantry, courtesy of our friend Vanessa.

The sun began to set, we put our snacks in bear canisters, snuggled up in our sleeping bags, and called it a night.

The next morning we woke up late, chatted with some friendly neighbors, had a few snacks and were on our way. The hike down was quick, and besides a few slips down the snowy parts, it was super leisurely. We had an absolute blast and highly recommend this little adventure if you find yourself driving up the 395. I would rate the hike as difficult only because of the snowy parts and length of the trail, otherwise there were kids and older folk enjoying the journey as well.

Thanks for reading! Added a bit from our road trip vlog. You can see more of our journey on my IGTV.



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