Had a great hike on Friday, June 28th. Hike took me from Horseshoe Meadows to/through Cottonwood Lakes basin, Past Lakes 3,4,&5.
Really a gorgeous hike. Only a few mosquitoes to report, although I did apply 99% Deet when first encountered, so that may account for the small number of mosquitoes noticed. Also noticed Deer and Mountain lion track on the trail. The deer track was "deep" in a few places, so I'm thinking the deer was running.
Army Pass assent was fun. A few small snow fields that could easily be avoided, until nearly at the top, where there is a 20 to 30 foot expanse of snow that either called for you to hike accross, or climb straight up. From the lower position I could not see what was on the other side of the snow field, so no idea if it led back to the trail, or not. Since I have no experience with snow fields (Stability, post holling, etc...), I opted to climb straight up. An acceptable risk vs. and unknown risk - both snow conditions and route. I think most others with any snow experience would have simply crossed. At 9:00 AM the snow was soft, but firm, so not really any traction issues. I did walk down from the pass to look at the snow field from the top side, and could see where I was on the lower side, so really no problem with the route. Too bad I did not know that from the lower side.
The hike up to New Army Pass was not as bad as many describe (due to sandy conditions). I did not follow the trail, but zigzagged up the hill. This avoided much of the sand issues on the trail, and was a bit easier.
The hike down from New Army Pass afforded many spectacular views.
View from New Army Pass
My only complaint about this loop is that nearly the entire trail is sandy. I guess this is due to the relatively flat nature of the area. Perhaps there is a geologist amongst us that could comment.