Gordon Lake 2014

Google Earth KMZ – Gordon Lake

Wilderness: John Muir Wilderness
Latitude: 37.307015
Longitude: -118.917578
Elevation: 8,888 feet

Day 1 – Hike in
Gordon Lake sits almost 10,000 feet above Florence Lake. You can get to it from the Hooper Trail (about 2.9 miles from trailhead to Gordon). If you think that it is an easy hike, think again. Google Earth and topo’s don’t do it justice. Usually our mileage is based on steep and short, or long and gradual. Even though we choose the short and steep this trip around, the trail barely existed. Additionally, it is littered with thousands of ankle busters (small round rocks), lots of brush and direct sunlight most of the way.
The first 1.9 miles or so are the hardest. You climb approximately 1,900 feet. From there, the trail levels off slightly and start dipping into the trees. The last mile climbs about 600 feet gradually until you reach Gordon Lake. If it wasn’t for all the trail markers (“ducks”), it would have been a confusing hike.
In any case, when you get to Gordon Lake, you forget about all of the harad work that got you there. Such triumph when you peak over the rock pile and drop your pack for the night. Gordon Lake would continue to be our base camp for the remaining 4 days. This is the first time we have done a 5 day trip and it was definitely worth having the next day to recuperate and acclimate.
There is only one camp spot at Gordon Lake (that we could easily find) and it is setup with a nice dual fire pit (that we couldn’t use because of ristrictions) and a small flat rock for the stoves. Logs are placed around the fire ring for seating and there are plenty of trees for hammocks.

The day ended with tri-tip and mashed potatoes and lots of whiskey.

Day 2 – Recover
On day 2 we just took it easy. Local fishing, napping, and getting the camp site ready for the next 3 days. The guys fished the lake somewhat but did not have any luck. The day ended with beer brats, rice and whiskey.

Day 3 – Fish the lakes
On day 3, we just wanted to fish all the lakes in the area. These included Harvey Lake, Hooper Lake and Neil Lake. Hooper was absolutely beautiful and easily my favorite of the bunch. Here is the fishing report for the four lakes:

– Gordon Lake: We only caught 1 about 6 inches.
– Harvey Lake: Rainbows and Golden Trout about 6 to 8 inches. Not big on crickets. Okay with lure. Did the best with power bait.
– Hooper Lake: Did best with lure and crickets. 6 to 8 inches. Mostly Golden Trout.
– Neil Lake: No Fish. The lake is probably only 6 feet deep in the deepest part.

Total fish caught between all lakes in one day: 15 (we only kept 7).

We ended the day eating fresh trout, rice and whiskey.

Day 4 – Climb the peak
The climb to the peak was difficult. On the internet, we read that it was hard to get to. We can vouch that is the case. Not because of the grade, but because the slope was sun facing and dense with brush. It was difficult navigating up the ridge as there was no trail and we had to double-back a lot.
We actually never made it to the peak, but to the ridge next to it (which was still 12,000 feet). In any case, the view was beautiful and well worth the effort to get to it. If you try it in the future, bring 3 or 4 bottles of water. There is none once you start out from Gordon Lake
We ended the day with Mac-N-Cheese with spam…. and whiskey.

Day 5 – Hike out
Nothing much to report here. The climb down the steep hill is worse than coming up. It took a good 4 days for my legs to fully recover once we made it back to the city. Aaron lost a toenail and I blew out my boots. Still – it was an awesome trip and worth the work it took to get there.
Here is some additional info that may be helpful:

– Hike in: 11:30 am to 6:00 pm (6.5 hours).
– There is a little stream at the top (about 1.8 miles) that you can get water at. There is a bigger creek about 1/3 of a mile up the trail
– Temperature AM: 43 F
– Temperature MIDDAY: 75 F (shade 65 F)
– Lake water temperature at 2 feet:: 60.2 F

This is a 360 degree panorama image. Just click on the image and drag your mouse. Shift and Ctrl to zoom in and out.