It was almost July and due to the heavy snowfall from earlier in the year, we hadn't been to the mountains yet. Looking to fix that, I scoured sites like PCTA to determine if there were any snow free areas. Based on the site, Lillian lake looked clear so that was our goal.

My buddies Nick and Beau, along with Beau's dog Olive piled into the car around 7pm and headed towards the Oakhurst, where we would stay the night. The following morning, we picked up a wilderness permit at the Forest Service Office. We originally wanted the Fernandez trailhead but that was full so we went with the Walton trailhead (which just reverses the direction of the loop).

We finally hit the trail around 1pm due to the very rough roads to get to the trailhead. Later than we expected, but we only had 7 miles to camp, so it felt like plenty of time. The trail wasn't too difficult and had a nice mix of shaded forest and sun exposed trail that offered views of the distant mountains. There were several stream crossings, one which required taking of the boots and fording. Getting to the lake was mainly uphill but it wasn't too steep. After several hours of hiking, the sun was starting to go down and we came across thick snow that hid the trail. I knew we were close to Lake Lillian so we followed the countour of the valley we had been following. Sure enough, after a half mile or so, we were looking at our destination.

Lillian Lake also had a blanket of snow covering about half of it. We immeditely found a nice spot next to the water so we dropped our packs and started to set up camp. We decided to explore the lake since there was still a few minutes of light. There was another group at the lake that were busy diving into the ice cold lake. It was way too cold for that, which was evident from their reactions as they scurried out of the water as quick as possible. As the sun faded, we returned to our camp and got a fire going. After a good day of hiking, a roaring fire helps lift the spirits so we sat by the fire late into the night.

The next morning, we day hiked to Flat Lake. It required some backtracking on the trail from the prior day through the snow but at least we knew where we were going now. After hiking for a couple of hours, we once again hit snow and lost the trail. We pushed on until we found Flat Lake. The only problem was we appeared to be a hundred feet or so above it and likely on the path to Rainbow Lake. While I would have loved to push on to see the higher lake, we didn't have a ton of light left. To get to Flat Lake, we basically slid down on the snow. If only I had some skiis, it would have been much easier.

Flat Lake was fairly uneventful. After hanging out for a few minutes, we decided to head back to camp. Finding the trail continued to be a problem which caused some stress for one of my buddies. Luckily, I was always able to pick up the trail with a little map reading and got us back to camp before sunset. We repeated the routine from the night before by hanging out all night by the cozy fire.

Around 9am on our last day, we packed up camp and headed for the car. On the way back, we took the Fernandez trail to make it a loop. This way was actually a lot more scenic than the route in. After leaving Lillian, we dropped into a georgeous lush area covered with crystal blue water. The guys stopped to fish for a few minutes and caught a couple small fish. After the break, we continued to the trailhead while passing more lakes and streams making for a pleasant day.

Nights: 2
Miles: 26
Type: Loop
Dogs: OK
Campfires: OK
Trailhead: Google

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