(all images are clickable for a larger version)
After my first night staying on the Horseshoe Meadow campground (10.000 ft) I started around 9 am on the Cottonwood Lake Trail to the New Army Pass (12.300 ft). My plan was to cross the pass in the afternoon and hike until Soldier Lake. But I had heard of a huge snow cornice on top of the pass so that I was in doubt if I can make it.
It was a good trail and quite flat in the begin, not too difficult with the heavy pack. The landscape became scenic in its combination of granite mountains, lakes, meadows and primeval forest. So scenic that I missed a little marker to New Army Pass, and thus could enjoy the beauty of some more lakes, at the expense of two or three extra miles (see map above).
Back on the right trail the terrain soon started to become more alpine, and one could see the ridge where the pass is located – but which is it?
I found out later that this is the pass – it does not look very passable…
I continued the trail and was caught up by two other hikers. Together we decided it was too late to try the pass today, and looked for tent sites around the High Lake (11.500 ft), about 1.5 miles from the pass, at 5 pm.
I found mine on a granite block, protected from the winds but with a spectacular view to the east, so could expect an early sunrise. It is a bit more work to set up the tent on rock but you are rewarded by its heat storage capacity which makes the early morning a bit warmer.
Time for food and sleep. I felt my legs and had some muscle cramps but then got just tired and slept well.