Unexpected Snowstorm at Robinson Lake

View from Barney Lake, early in the trip.

Another early season backpacking trip was met with unexpected snow conditions out of Twin Lakes near Bridgeport, CA. Our trip was planed to go 20 miles, 3600 ft round trip, ending at Snow Lake in the Hoover Wilderness however, early season backpacking never goes as expected.

The trail started out with amazing granite views from Twin Lakes. There was so much good looking granite, I couldn’t stop from daydreaming about the hard classics on the beautiful chunk of rock that is the Incredible Hulk.

Breathtaking granite spires

There were river crossings but nothing past the shin in our five person, two dog hiking party. Eventually near Peeler Lake when we turned South at the junction the snow sections started. By the time we reached Robinson Lakes almost 8 miles in, the snow was continuous post holing, which only brought a smile to Lucas’ face, but for me was less than ideal conditions.

Consistent snow near Robinson Lakes

We set up camp here in brooding weather, stopping at 9,200 ft. A whole 1,000 ft lower than our pervious backpacking trip. Showing how the more northern Latitude of Twin Lakes (100 miles north of Big Pine) and differing geography (steeper aspects) can really change the snow situation.

In high spirits, we all piled into Jaymie and Lucas’ mountaineering tent, dogs and all. Lucas’ never ending pack of goodies produced a bottle of wine we passed around as the snow started. It snowed 1″ an hour for about four hours, piling up around the tents in wet but also pretty fluffy snow. Both Ethan and I brought summer season tents so we had to make sure to push the snow off the top so the tents didn’t start sagging.

Checking our tent after a couple hours of snow

The unexpected snow storm was concerning because we didn’t know if we would get a foot or more in one of these freak Sierra snow storms in the backcountry. Such conditions would complicate things trying to get back and make the journey a slog. However, things lifted and produced an amazing snow wonderscape.

Robinson Lake, taken from our camping spot.

The next morning we woke up to a drippy summer tent and a sun that poked out from time to time. The lake free of ice the day before was frozen thick over the night hours. Looking at a softly churning sky, we started back before another snow hit. My shoes were stiff, wet from the river crossings the day before and frozen overnight.

Waking up and making breakfast

After what felt like a short time (about 8 miles), we reached the meadows of Twin Lakes Campground and went on our way home. This trip was a nice reminder of all the fun that can be had with others on a backpacking trip. We’ll all remember Sadie telling unfathomable rescue stories to the cuddle puddle of tent time.

Tent time!