We started off our day by picking up a pastrami sandwich at Tom’s Place, and then headed off to start a hike through Little Lakes Valley. The trail, which begins at the ominously named Mosquito Flats, was pretty popular. We certainly bumped into some characters — a girl who looked transported right out of Silver Lake in her moccasins and oversized glasses, a man who covered every inch of his face except his forehead with so much sunscreen it looked like clown paint, a couple of bleary-eyed guys clutching their Bud Lites and snickering. What made this trail great, though, was that we had pretty scenes to look at the entire seven-mile roundtrip walk. (Why do trails where the only payoff comes when you reach the summit?) Sometimes we were walking by meadows fringed with shimmying Aspen trees; at others, we were clambering over geometric blocks of rosy granite. We even saw fields blooming with Sierra columbine and mountain aster. We passed several lakes before settling down for a picnic by Gem Lake, whose water was a divine shade of peacock green-blue. We settled into the boughs of twisted Jeffrey pines to enjoy our sandwiches.
(By the way, we saw lots of dogs on this trail, in case you’re looking for dog-friendly hikes.)