After pitching the tent, Jackie and I went for a walk through the forest at behind the camping area, and came upon meadows and great views of Mount Langley off in the distance (dead center in the photo).
Our campsites at Horseshoe Meadow
The plan was to start hiking up the next morning, camping that night at Cottonwood Lakes. If you want to visit that beautiful area of alpine waters rather than just bypassing via *New* Army Pass, you'll want (Old) Army Pass to get from the lakes up the next leg towards Langley. The alternative New Army Pass is free of snow for more of the summer, but it bypasses Cottonwood Lakes entirely. My guess is that when people reach the higher elevations, and look down on the Cottonwood Lakes area, they'll wish they had taken Old Army Pass instead of the new one...
So early next morning we set off with beautiful weather and the goal of getting to the upper lake well before dark, then have an easy evening.
From this gorgeous vantage point, lakes 4 and 5 are off to the distant left, and completely invisible as they are at higher altitude. Our thinking is to make camp somewhere around Lake 5 so we'll be closer to the pass come daybreak. Once we pass Lake 4 and approach 5, it's pretty clear that the best camping spot is right near the closest end - the trail goes right past it, and then all there is is talus. So we make camp.
In this photo, Lake 4 is straight ahead, and Lake 5 and Old Army Pass is behind me. The trail came up on the right and out of view.
The Head Marmot whistles directions as he supervises the campsite from a favorite perch.
To get there, first we stay on the trail and make our way up to lakes hidden from view up and off in the distance to the left. In the picture you can just make out a small ridge that starts at the tree line in the center of the frame and rises gently to the left. The trail climbs to that ridge and goes off to the left where all you can see is scree.