Shoulder season can be a drag. Weather can be so variable in the mountains that I’m not sure what conditions I should be packing for. Days might be warm, but once night falls, it drops so cold that all I want to do is climb into my sleeping bag and lay there until the sun comes up. If it comes up.
One November weekend, my friends and I got a perfect weather window. The skies were blue. The trails were clear. There was nary a cloud in sight.
We hopped in our cars and headed down to a park I’ve never officially been to. Our destination was Pear Lake, about 7 miles into the Sequoia National Park backcountry.
Our plan was to car camp in the park on Sunday and then hit the trail for a quick overnighter on Monday. We wanted to enjoy our time in the park and not speed hike our way in. We spent Sunday night building the biggest campfire and making burgers under the stars.
Monday morning came and we intended on waking up early. It was a bit chilly out so our crew of seven was moving slowly. A hearty breakfast of sausage and eggs was on the burner, fuel for 6 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain to our destination.
The sun came out. We packed up our car camping gear and readied our heavy backpacks. Our trailhead was Wolverton, elevation 7,250 ft.
We hopped onto the Lakes Trail Because we got lucky with weather, the trail was free of snow and icy in only a few spots. It was t-shirt weather so we took our time hiking. When the trail split between the Hump and the Watchtower to get to Pear Lake, we opted to go to the Watchtower. Because gorgeous, thigh burning views are better than thigh burns with no views.
The Watchtower is an enormous granite formation jutting 1000 feet up from the valley floor. A small pile of boulders atop the formation truly looks like a watchtower. The trail took us almost to the top of it. We stopped here for a scenic lunch, watching several parties run up the granite slabs.
With full bellies, we continued on to our destination. We passed Heather Lake and caught the beginning of the sunset as we passed Emerald Lake. One mile to Pear Lake to go…
As the sun set, warmer daytime temperatures rapidly dropped. We were shivering and piling on layers as we set up our tents. Dinner was short-lived as everyone scrambled to crawl into their sleeping bags as it got dark. It was lights out by 8pm.
When the morning came, it was tough to get out of our sleeping bags. We were nestled beneath tall peaks in a basin that didn’t receive sun until late morning. Stoves were fired up to boil water for our Gluten Free Power Breakfasts. We needed fuel to power ourselves back.
Tents were taken down and backpacks stuffed with gear. We snapped a few group shots and retraced our steps back to the Wolverton trailhead to head home. We lucked out with amazing weather: warm during the day, and cold, but not too cold at night.It was a brief, but beautiful trip with great friends.
Looking for more adventure? Hang out with Paulina everyday on Instagram at @paulinadao .