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Kuna Lake Day Hike

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Kuna Lake Day Hike
August 01, 2012 09:13PM
July 22, my wife and I did a day hike to Kuna Lake. We had previously visited this lake on our way to the Kuna Creek headwaters and beyond and decided to re-visit the lake. Unlike last year, there was no snow, but fortunately the wildflowers were still blooming. The cross-country hike up to the lake from the Mono Pass trail was as wonderful as we had remembered it, starting in open forest, then transitioning to a series of small meadows.

It seems thunderstorms always threaten us when we decide to do a Kuna Crest trip, and this weekend was no exception, although we were sprinkled on only near the end of our hike.

On the way up, we stayed to the east of the lake's outlet, which is the easiest way to the lake; in fact, there are some significant game trails in this area. At the lake we enjoyed lunch and a nice nap. On the way back we decided to descend the small creek that is west of the lakes outlet from the saddle that is about a mile north of the lake. This route was steeper and there's really nothing to recommend it--stick to the easier terrain east of the outlet. However, the saddle itself is worth visiting.

Right after we crossed Parker Pass Creek, we found the remains of a cabin, similar to the two others along the Mono Pass trail.

What's more, there was a trail near the cabin. We followed it downstream a bit, but it seemed to follow the creek more closely, while we needed to head north to reach the trailhead. Perhaps it was a segment of the old Mono Trail, or simply a worn path from the old Tioga Road to the cabin...? We also encountered pieces of the small, alternate segment of trail (labeled "LOC APPROX - LA" on the current 7.5' topo), presumably part of the old alignment of the Tuolumne Meadows - Mono Pass connector trail that now ends at the trailhead. There's no real reason to follow this segment of trail, but it did seem to be receiving some use. On the other hand, we saw no one during the entire cross-country portion.

Gear Plug sidebar: The Google Nexus 7 with a suitable applications and downloaded content makes a most excellent backcountry GPS for those who are looking for a bigger screen than is typically found on mapping GPS units. I'd recommend both GaiaGPS (written by two SF-based hikers) for the availability of several map sources (including ~1900 and ~1930 historical topographic maps--more abandoned trail goodness!) and Trimble's MyTopo Pro, which has the most up-to-date topo maps and the most detailed aerial photography I've found. The Nexus 7 has a built-in compass and its GPS gets a position lock consistently within seconds outdoors. Load up all the map tiles for the Sierra from Tahoe to the Golden Trout, snag the Kindle version of The Sierra High Route and High Sierra Peaks and Passes, (as well as the complete writings of Muir for inspiration) and pull down select aerial photos, and it almost feels like you're cheating while travelling cross-country.

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