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Leavitt Meadows to Virginia Lakes

Eastern Sierra Nevada

August 17th - August 24th, 2014

75.9 miles
14540 vertical feet
59 hours, 16 minutes
Rating: 8/10

Directions: To reach the end of the trail, from Mammoth Lakes, take Highway 395 north to the Virginia Lakes turnoff. Turn left onto Virginia Lakes Road and follow it all the way to the end. The last quarter mile or so is gravel, but easily driven. There is a large parking lot at the end. To reach the start of the trail, from Sonora, take Highway 108 across the Sierra. A few miles from Highway 395, turn right into the Leavitt Meadows trailhead (if you reach the campground, you've gone too far). You can self-issue permits here (as of 2014, there is no quota).   View Driving Map

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GPX File

I spent a fair amount of time trying to find a trip that would be long enough to serve as a training hike of sorts for the John Muir Trail, which we hoped to do next year. I wanted something that was about 8 days long and 8-10 miles per day. Because of that, I eventually settled on this trip, rather than the more logical (but shorter) semi-loop trip starting at Twin Lakes.

We spent the days leading up to our trip trying to finalize our food and gear. Still, we weren't quite done. On Friday we loaded everything up into the car and left the Bay Area around 2:30pm and headed to Mammoth Lakes, where we'd stay a couple nights before the trip.

We spent Saturday doing some last-minute shopping, picking up mostly odds and ends. However, we also realized that Nathan's pack was too small, so we had to buy him a larger one. We found him a nice Osprey pack that is very adjustable and would fit nicely. Then I tried to get a haircut. I usually try to cut my hair really short just before backpacking trips, since it's more comfortable. However, finding a haircut in Mammoth Lakes on a Saturday can be almost impossible. Two places were closed, two places said they were were fully booked, and then I finally found a place that said they could take me at 5:30pm later that day. Only at 4:30pm they called and said, sorry, it wasn't going to happen. Oh well. Next time I'll make sure to cut it back in the Bay Area.

I was hoping to get a short little day hike in on Saturday, but that wasn't going to happen. We did take a short little walk and let the kids play at a playground, but otherwise just finalized our packs. I was happy that mine weighed in at 60 pounds, 5 pounds less than last year (mostly because the kids were carrying less, and I bought a new, much lighter pack).

Click here to see what's in our packs.

1Leavitt Meadows to Hidden Lake 7.61210512
2Hidden Lake to Lake Harriet 7.91706324
3Lake Harriet to Tilden Lake 12.011421471
4Tilden Lake to Kerrick Canyon 10.616892568
5Kerrick Canyon to Benson Lake 7.914361870
6Benson Lake to Matterhorn Canyon 11.429522148
7Matterhorn Canyon to Summit Lake 12.832151518
8Summit Lake to Virginia Lakes 5.711901564

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