As a young lass, Walden West Outdoor School & Summer Camp took me on my first backpacking trips on the Skyline-to-the-Sea route through the Santa Cruz Mountains. As the years went on, they added more offerings in the Sierra, which is how I discovered Mineral King. I’ll never forget flipping through those brochures in awe of kids jumping off rocks into alpine lakes. After 15+ years of waiting, my boots (trail runners, more accurately) finally touched the trails of Mineral King. If you’ve got some time to spare, this 5-day Mineral King backpacking loop is a must-do.
This winter was a Sierra snow year for the books. I’ve lived in California all my life but don’t remember a winter where it rained for three months straight. All the snow meant my Sierra objectives were looking a little bleak and buried. I brushed up on my map and compass skills with REI and hit the trail in Mokelumne Wilderness at the beginning of June. My destination was a place I’ve never been: Fourth of July Lake in the Carson Pass Management Area.