McLeod Lake

Three Lakes in Three Days

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Before I share the hikes, I want to tell you a story.

I have a very close girlfriend who is more like a sister. I will call her Liz. We’ve been friends for over 15 years. Sadly, Liz was attacked by a dog when she was a child. Due to her childhood trauma, she’s been afraid of dogs all her life. Although the dog that attacked her was big, she has been fearful of all dogs regardless of the size. Cynophobia. Phobias are never logical.

Although Liz never met Xena, through me and, of course, my blog, she got to know Xena well over the years. One day last year, while we were on a video call during the COVID lockdown, I suggested that when she is ready, she and Xena should meet. I knew Xena would be the perfect dog to help her heal from the past trauma. She’s been my unofficial therapy dog all these years anyway. If it weren’t for her, I would still have acrophobia. To my great surprise, Liz was open to the idea.

Fast forward. Early this year, I brought Xena to one of our Saturday morning coffee meets. We were going to be outside, and there would be plenty of personal space for both girls. The first “therapy” session was a great start. Xena had no idea what her role was. Regardless, I was proud of both girls.

Liz used to get panic attacks at the sight of a dog approaching, so hanging out with Xena for several hours in the same vicinity without getting an attack was unthinkable. Oh, I guess at this point, I should mention that she’s in her 50s, so you can see how long she’s had this condition and how monumental this breakthrough was.

After that, Xena became part of the monthly coffee meets with my girlfriends. Years of phobia don’t just disappear in one positive meeting. As her confidence grew around Xena, we tried a day hike together in February and then again in March. Both times went very smoothly as I expected. It’s been an emotionally and spiritually rewarding journey for Liz. After each meeting, Liz’s confidence grew around Xena (and other dogs from distance). She no longer had panic attacks.

Fast forward. Liz’s felt more relaxed around Xena to the point we could try with Xena off-leash. We decided to take a trip together for a few days end of June. Logically, sharing confined spaces would be the next step in healing. We carpooled and shared the hotel room. Xena, being Xena, rode the car like a polite passenger and stayed calm, especially around Liz. The trip felt unreal. Like a wonderful dream. But it happened.

Liz is no longer having panic attacks when she sees a dog approaching ahead. She is no longer changing her walking route in the neighborhood to avoid incoming dogs. No more living in fear. She still has work to do to be phobia-free, but one step at a time. Not only the positive transformation she experienced this year is huge for her personal growth, but it also made a positive impact on her family.

I am sharing Liz’s story to celebrate her progress and to inspire anyone who is living with a phobia. If her story speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you!

Ok, now it’s time to share the 3 lakes 3 of us visited in 3 days in the Eastern Sierra. Usually, at the end of June, heat wouldn’t be an issue. But when we were in town, it happened to be during a heatwave.

These short hikes are around 2-3 miles and are rated as easy to moderate, which makes a great hike for the entire family even if you are not used to hiking at high altitudes.

Day One

On the first day, we drove to Convict Lake. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know this isn’t our first time here. This loop hike was perfect to stretch our legs after being on the road for about 4.5 hours and get acclimated to high elevation…although I still get a dull headache on the first day in Mammoth Lakes. If you are not as sensitive as me, this hike should be enough.

I will leave one photo from this hike. If you click on the link above, it has all the info you need to hike the loop. You will find more photos there.

Convict Lake

Find a perfect harness for your adventure dog at Ruffwear!

Day Two

On the 2nd day, we explored Crystal Lake near Mammoth Lakes. The trailhead is in Lake Geroge Campground. Crystal Lake Trail is a beautiful trail that offers a panoramic view. Roads leading to this trailhead are subject to seasonal closure. The best time to hike here is from June until October.

Hike Details:

  • Hike Date:  6.28.21
  • Distance:  3.1 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain:  833 ft.
  • Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
  • Starting Elevation: 9,036 ft.
  • Fee/Permit:  None for day-use
  • Trailhead: Crystal Crag Trailhead (37.603530, -119.011206)
  • Notable: Ansel Adams Wilderness, forest, lake, switchbacks, panoramic view, out and back, vault toilet, fishing, well-maintained, easy to follow

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View of Lake George (N) and Lake Mary (F)

After a short 1.5 miles of climb, we arrived at Crystal Lake.

How she eats her treats and mine

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Day Three

On the last day, we wanted an easy short hike by a lake in the morning so we could get on the road before noon. If it got too warm, Xena could always cool off in the lake. McLeod Lake Loop hike sounded perfect, and it was!

  • Hike Date:  6.29.21
  • Distance:  2 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain:  328 ft.
  • Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
  • Starting Elevation: 8,976 ft.
  • Fee/Permit:  None for day-use
  • Trailhead Coordinates: Mammoth Pass Trailhead (37.613037, -119.021221)
  • Notable: Ansel Adams Wilderness, forest, lake, panoramic view, out and back, vault toilet, well-maintained, easy to follow, fishing

I had the most fun at McLeod Lake because Xena had the most fun. The sandy shore and shallow water were inviting even to this selective water lover.

Well, there you have it. Three beautiful lakes in three days. We had such a great time on this trip. We are planning to do a trip together annually. I am looking forward to our next hiking trip!

Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here!

Happy Hiking!

2 comments on “Three Lakes in Three Days”

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