Hiking the Sierras, Tyee Lake(s)

My grandson joined me recently for what turned out to be a piece of cake hike for him. He will turn six in August and is already an experienced hiker and boulder climber. Of course, when he’s with Mimi, I tend to squelch the bouldering a bit. The hike was to Tyee Lakes (four of them), but I had already decided after looking at the elevation gain of 1,350″ in 1.4 miles, that going to the first lake would be enough for both of us on a hot day.

Scrumptious wildflowers were in abundance all the way up the trail.
Scrumptious wildflowers (Davidson’s Penstemon) were in abundance all the way up the trail.

After a very nice bridge (with railings) crossing the Bishop Creek from the parking area at the trailhead, the trail immediately started climbing with the first of MANY switchbacks as the elevation gain was steep until the first lake. That was the only complaint I heard from Elias: “how many more switchbacks are there Mimi?” I counted them from the app on my phone – 22. He has such a curiosity about everything that I would barely finish answering his question before he would say, “Mimi, do you think there are fish in the lake?” or “Mimi did lightning hit that tree?”, “Mimi, what was that noise in your car?” (My catalytic converter), “Mimi, what does a catalytic converter do?”. It was constant. 🙂

TyreeLakes (3 of 14)

A lodgepole pine - growing out of granite.
A lodgepole pine – growing out of and holding onto granite.
In addition to the switchbacks, there were steep steps.
In addition to the switchbacks, there were steep steps. Yes, this is the trail.
The bridge we didn't cross.
The bridge we didn’t cross.

The stream was pretty fast and wide here, although it doesn’t look like it in the photo. Fortunately, another hiker appeared just between the boulder and the tree on the left and told us there was another crossing just up the creek.

You can barely see the stream in the photo, but it did require stepping on a couple large rocks and balancing to get across.
You can barely see the stream in the photo, as it is shaded by the huge boulder, but it did require stepping on a couple large rocks and balancing to get across.
Elias did manage to climb a few boulders.
We are almost to the lake.

We passed a few other hikers and one had told us that it was just another 15 minutes to the lake. The lake is surrounded by trees.

Our first view of the lake.
Our first view of the lake.
Before the wind started ruffling the water.
Before the wind started ruffling the water.

Watching the wind blow across the water was neat. With no boats or swimmers to make waves, the wind on the water reminded me of gusts of wind blowing through tall grass making it wave. The water looked pretty deep and we had many discussions about catching the fish we could see through the clear water which dropped off quickly past the sand. Elias even found a stringer left there by another fisherman and suggested that I help him fish with our bare hands and we could take the fish home on the stringer for his Daddy.

The lake shore wasn’t easy to get to. We had to slide down a brushy bank along with the melting snow that was entering the lake. When we got there, the first thing we did was take off our shoes and socks and try the water.

This is what we settled for instead of fishing. The water was frigid.
This is what we settled for instead of fishing. The water was frigid, as there was snow just above us.
The water on the lower right is what is flowing into the lake from the snow above.
The water on the lower right is what is flowing into the lake from the snow above.
These were the only columbines I saw on the trail.
These were the only columbines I saw on the trail.

I didn’t see these on the way up before the wind started, I keep telling myself to go back and try for a better photo when its not windy. Maybe today would be a good day (it’s 104°F in the valley today (40°C) and it is usually 10-20° cooler in the higher elevations.

NOTE: I did go back to the trail and the mosquitoes chased me back down the mountain before I found the columbine above. However, a waterfall off the trail called to me and as I was figuring out how to get a decent picture, I found MANY columbines by the streams. There were two stream beds, but it was the same stream we had crossed above that divided itself into two about 50′ above me.

The elusive Columbine.
The elusive Columbine.
Indian Paintbrush on the way back down.
Indian Paintbrush on the way back down, yes, they were this vivid.
South fork of Bishop Creek taken from the top of the first switchback.
South fork of Bishop Creek taken from the top of the first switchback.
The view from the bridge.
The view from the bridge (about 15′ above the water). Thank goodness the car is just steps away, we’re (I’m) pooped!

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