With such an excellent guide as Bob Watson we have no hesitation in striking out in any direction and in a short time Mt. Mildred (8400 feet) is on our right.
Great groves of willows and alders cover immense areas of the canyon’s sides, while we pass a giant red fir with a diameter of fully six feet.
When about half a mile from Five Lake Creek the largest portion of the canyon is taken up with irregular masses of granite over which a glacier, or glaciers, have moved. The striation and markings are down the valley, and looking up from below the canyon for a mile or more it has the appearance of a series of irregular giant steps, each step gradually sloping back to the step above. From above the course of the glacier seems clear. It must have flowed downwards, polishing and smoothing each step in turn, then falling over the twenty, thirty or fifty feet high edge to the next lower level, to ascend the next slope, reach the next precipice, and so on.
At the point where we strike Five Lake Creek, in a large expanse of meadow, we pass a camp, where in the distance we can clearly see three men and a woman. Deer hunters probably. We give them a cheery Halloo! and pass on.
Five Lake Creek here makes a sharp bend into the canyon which is a continuation of the canyon down which we have been traveling, and enters the Rubicon River at Hell Hole. We, however, turn up the Creek to the northeast, here striking the regular Hell Hole trail built a few years ago by Miss Katherine Chandler, of Deer Park. Just ahead of us, appearing through a grove of trees near to where the Five Lakes are nestling, is a perfectly white cloud, absolutely startling in the vividness of its contrast to the deep blue of the sky and the equally deep green of the firs and pines.
A wilderness of bowlders compels the winding about of the trail, but we hear and see Five Lake Creek, roaring and dashing along, for it has a large flow of water and its course is steep and rocky. We pass through groups of willows, wild currants and alders, enter a sparsely wooded meadow and in a few moments see the first of the Five Lakes. There is but little difference in their levels, though their sizes vary considerably. The first one is the largest. Here is a log cabin and two or three boats. These are owned by the Deer Park Springs resort, and are for their fishing and hunting patrons. They also own a hundred and sixty acres here, which include the area of the lake. The two first or lower lakes are the largest and the deepest. It is their flow which makes Five Lakes Creek. The three upper lakes are smaller and shallower. It is said that a divide used to separate the two lower from the three upper lakes, and the flow from the latter descended through Bear Creek, past Deer Park, into the Truckee River and thence into far-away Pyramid Lake in Nevada.