We spent 4 nights at the campground near Little Lakes Valley trailhead. The campground itself is already located at 2850m. The trailheads for Little Lakes Valley start right above 3100m. This is getting to be high altitude for San Franciscans here. The first day Antoine and I had pretty bad headaches from hiking so high without a few days to accomodate. The following days were fine. On the first day we hiked the main trail in Little Lakes Valley to Chicken Foot Lake (3276m), 6 miles round trip from the parking lot which is only 150m lower in altitude. On the hike we first stopped at Heart Lake, the gem of the hike, except if you're there on a busy weekend, there can be a little bit of competition for lunch spots near the Northern shore of the lake. But the location is just stunning. Heart Lake is only 1 mile from the trailhead, so it's a short hike, except it's over 3000m, so oxygen is going thin. On the way back, we got attacked by mosquitos.
We came back to camp before nightfall, in time to enjoy some good food. That night everyone was in bed early and we all slept 10-11 hours. The next day we actually went to Mammoth to watch France lose against Germany in the world cup, then we drove down to Keough Hot springs in the 35ºC heat. But it was a great relaxing afternoon in the pool there.
The third day we went on to hike to Ruby Lake (3400m). It's only a 3 miles roundtrip but the trail is quite strenous at such altitude, with a 300m elevation change. I made it alone almost to Mills Lake (3550m), but I was completely out of breath, and had to take it slow. The kids played in the creek that comes out of Ruby Lake for about 4 hours. It was a great place to hang out, and play in the water the entire afternoon.
On the way back to San Francisco, we stopped at Kennedy Meadows for lunch, and actually stayed there for 3 hours so nice was the place. Kennedy Meadows has a lodge with cabins, and sits in the curve of the Stanilaus River. Very fun location and amazing that there are such meadows in the really steep canyon of the Stanilaus.