As summer faded into fall, we knew we wanted to get in one last trip in the Sierra. Schedules didn't line up until the first weekend in November. To minimize the risk of getting snow, we targeted lower elevations. We also had a dog and really wanted a fire. Not a lot of options but we did find some nice pics of a hike to Maggie Lakes (source), which was tucked away in the western end of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Looking at the weather report, it showed cold air but no rain, sleet or snow. This was our destination.

The four of us arrived at the trailhead later than expected, sometime around 1 pm. We had 7 miles to camp and about 5 hours of light... shouldn't be a problem. The hike started pretty easy, mainly through a forest with hundred foot tall pine trees (although not much of a view). A few meadows along the way helped with the scenery, especially with the warm colors being lit up by the sun. After a couple of miles, we found a nice overlook with our first real views, which also gave us an opportunity to take some hero shots. After that, it was more forest and the occasional meadow with a few granite peaks poking through. As the sun started to get close to the horizon, we were close to our destination but one of our members was having some knee pain and required a slower pace. We made the call to split up with two of us double timing to camp to get things set up while the other two took their time. Once I saw the perfect place for my tent, I dropped my gear and went back to check on the two. At this point, the sun was gone and the headlamp was lighting the dark forest. I hiked back up a small hill where i expected to find the slow pokes, but they were nowhere to be found. I continued backtracking on the trail until I saw some lights and heard them calling out. A few shouts back and forth and I led them into the campsite.

Without the sun, the temperature started to drop. Luckily there was a pre-existing pile of wood at our camp spot (which was part of its appeal). We quickly got the fire started, threw down our camp chairs and started making dinner. By now, it was in the mid-40s so we spent very little time away from the fire. Our camp was on a nice perch overlooking Lower Maggie Lake so we enjoyed watching the stars fade into view before deciding it was time to sleep. And it was only 9 pm. I guess that's what happens when it gets dark at 5.

Shortly after sunrise, we had some light on the tent so that helped motivate me to get up. I spent some time circumnavigating the lower lake as the sun rose. Lower Maggie isn't that big of a lake but does have a couple of peaks surrounding it which helps with photographs despite the overcast sky. The plan for the day was to day hike up to Twin Lakes and if we felt good enough, head up to Summit Lake. After eating some breakfast, we started our hike through more forest and meadows. As we continued to climb elevation, we did get to see more granite. By the time we got to the partially frozen Twin Lakes, there was the opportunity to scramble up to get some shots looking back down towards the lakes. I assumed if I kept scrambling up, I would get better views, which made me want to check out Summit Lake. Unfortunately, my buddies weren't up to it so we started our hike back. Once we were close to camp, we went to check out the other two Maggie Lakes. Both are beautiful lakes that have different characteristics than each other, which was a nice surprise. I kicked around the idea of climbing Maggie Peak, which seems pretty accessible but since it was already close to sunset, I instead returned to camp and warm myself by the fire.

The next day, we woke to blue skies which was a nice change of pace from the previous two days. We packed up our things and broke camp by 9 am. The hike out was fairly easy and it helped that we could follow the trail more easily on the way out (since some parts were poorly marked and we lost the trail several times on the way in). As we neared the car, we could see the smoke from the controlled fire that was happening on the other end of the park so we were happy to get back to the car, heading away from the fire and towards Mexican food.

Nights: 2
Miles: 24
Type: Out-and-back
Dogs: OK
Campfires: OK
Trailhead: Google

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