We had not originally intended to hike Little Lakes Valley – but while chatting with a friendly local hiker (see previous post) she recommended this hike. The trailhead is at an elevation of more than 10 000 feet (3000 meters) already, and the hike more or less leisurely meanders into the valley, with not too much elevation gain.
We were at the Mosquito Flats trailhead early and even for a weekday, it was surprisingly busy already (there’s also a campground there of course). Soon after leaving the campground behind us, we passed the official boundary of the John Muir Wilderness (which lies within Inyo National Forest). We took our time and bathed in the amazing scenery with all of our senses, and with our cameras of course. :) After having our sandwiches at Chicken Foot Lake we continued to Gem Lakes, about 4.5 miles into the valley.
Some people were jumping into the clear but ice cold water for a brief swim, others camped out there. We slowly began our way back, and returned to the trailhead and our car just in time before yet another afternoon thunderstorm began, clocking in a total of ~9 miles out and back.