This was an incredible hike, but it certainly wasn't easy! We arrived around 9 AM and the parking lot was nearly full. I would recommend arriving as early as possible.
We made our way past Pete Lake and to the Lemah Creek crossing around noon. The creek was really cold. We changed into sandals to cross, so as not to get our boots wet. Extreme caution is needed here. My wife nearly lost her balance on the return trip — thankfully she only lost her sandals and didn't fall in completely.
After Lemah Creek, there is a burn area as you ascend up a ridge toward Spectacle Lake. There is scant shade and water here. I would definitely recommend refilling your water at Lemah Creek. I ran out of water quickly in the burn area and, in the 90º+ heat, nearly passed out from exhaustion. Frequent rests, sunscreen, sun buffs, water, etc. are definitely recommended here. Thankfully, the trail continues under shade after about 11 switchbacks in the burn area.
Around 9 mi in, you will be delighted by a huge waterfall. There's a nice bridge to cross and to admire this majestic site. This is another great spot to rest and refill your water.
A short climb from the waterfall, you will reach signs indicating the direction down to Spectacle Lake. The path down to the actual campsites is not obvious but we veered to the left and found our way down. Most of the campsites are on the peninsula that juts out into the lake.
It was around 3 PM when we arrived at the peninsula to pick a campsite. The best spots were already taken but thankfully there is no bad spot. We chose a central spot with a great view of the peaks that wrap the perimeter of the lake.
The lake water was refreshing and capped off a very strenuous hike. The surface of the lake was pretty warm, having basked in the hot sun all day. After some swimming and dinner, we laid out on the rocks at our campsite, waited for the stars to come out, then went to sleep.
Recommendations for this hike: sandals for the creek crossing, bug nets + insect repellent (you will get eaten alive regardless), sunscreen