From the moment I found out about Big Pine Lakes, I automatically knew that this was a place that I had to visit. It was also so hard to believe that a place as beautiful as this is only about 5 hours outside of Los Angeles, and that it's been there all along without many people knowing. Taking advantage of a few days off from work, we headed out to what is now one of my favorite places on the planet. My photos will never be able to do justice to the beauty that this place holds.
We left Los Angeles around 4:30 am and made it to Big Pine just after 9:30. Just the drive there alone held so many beautiful views. And little did we know that the mountains that we were watching from a distance would be the same mountains that we would be hiking in the day after.
A few snippets from our campsite. We stayed at Big Pine Creek Campground and found the perfect spot to camp. It was shaded with lots of trees and right next to the river.
We relaxed at camp for the rest of the day in preparation for the hike the next day.
We forced ourselves to wake up at 4:40 am the next morning despite it being really cold to get an early start to the hike. It was definitely worth it though! Seeing the sun rise from the trail is something that I feel is so magical.
Little by little, the sun started to illuminate our surroundings and reveal the landscape around us. The golden hour has always been my favorite time of the day and this particular morning's golden hour certainly did not disappoint! I couldn't get over how amazing the light looked as it hit the sides of the mountains that surrounded us.
The beauty of it all was almost enough to distract us from the continuous uphill hike that we were enduring.
A few miles in, we found this small bit of encouragement on the trail. Not going to lie, the first couple of miles on the trail are not a stroll through the park. A lot of elevation is gained in a short distance which can sometimes feel discouraging. But nonetheless, the thought of the views that we would see once we reached the lakes pushed us forward.
Once we entered John Muir Wilderness, the views just got better and better. I can't even describe the happiness that being in this place made me feel!
The terrain started to change quite a bit and the we knew that the lakes were getting closer and closer.
About 5 miles and a few hours later, we finally reached our destination. The first lake of seven in Big Pine Lakes. Everything about this place was breathtaking and we even had the lake all to ourselves for quite a bit! It was also the perfect place to rest and eat lunch.
Afterwards, we headed to lakes two and three before heading back.
(I really wanted to write something long and eloquent here about how wonderful and magical the lakes are but I don't even know what words to write to describe the vastness of this place. I would let the photos do the talking but they can not even compare to what we saw with our own eyes. It's definitely something that you have to experience for yourselves!)
That concludes our Big Pine adventure! All the guides I found on the internet said that it is a 13-mile hike, yet with all our extra exploring, we managed to ring in 16 miles by the end of the day. This was by far the longest and most challenging hike I've ever done, but every single step was so worth it! Just sitting here writing this post is already making me want to go back, and I definitely know that I will! I'll be backpacking it next time though, so hopefully I'll be able to make it up to the seventh lake then. :)
And just a little side note before I go, when going to places like this, please make sure to be wary of your actions and how they affect our environment. We all want to enjoy the beauty that our world holds, but that also means that we need to play our part to protect it for our generation and the generations to come.
Leave no trace.
Til next time!