Our initial intention was to have a packer take 9 of us into the West Walker River, put us into a base camp for 4-5 days, and then come back for us. The Rim fire near Yosemite, however, filled the area with dense smoke for weeks, including the week we wished to pack in. On top of that, 6 of the 9 guys cancelled out for one reason or another, leaving just Tony, Andy, and Art. Andy had just returned from a two-week backpacking trip in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and suggested that we drive out of Lone Pine up Horseshoe Meadow Road, camp at the meadow for the night, and then hike the Cottonwood Pass trail to Chicken Spring Lake, overnight there, then take the Pacific Coast Trail to Soldier Lake, spend two nights there and hike into Miter basin, then go up over "old" Army Pass into Cottonwood basin for two more nights. And so we did. We ended up walking about 25 miles over 6 days.

Andy and Tony took the opportunity, while already at 12,000' at "old" Army Pass, to stroll up to the top of Mt. Langley at 14,042'. Art looked for feldspars at the pass while they were on their hike. The next day Andy hiked up to New Army Pass while Tony and Art fished and explored Cottonwood basin.

We had pretty good weather. Plenty of photography clouds, some rain clouds, hardly any rain. We caught a few fish - Tony one nice rainbow in Soldier Lake, Art several rainbows in Third Lake. We met some nice people, especially four USGS people who shared our Soldier Lake camp for two nights, and lots of people on the trail. We encountered just two people in Miter basin; we saw perhaps a couple dozen people over two days in Cottonwood basin. When we walked out on Saturday, however, it was as if several busloads of people were let out in Horsehoe Meadow to hike into Cottonwood basin. Maybe half of them were day hikers.

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