2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Solo, Partner or Group


Lessons Learned:

  1. Finding available and compatible partners is challenging.
  2. Being in the right place at the right time opens opportunities.
  3. There are pros and cons to each option.

Groups:

As is common, I started my backpacking career by joining an adventure group where more experienced folks would host outings. It’s a great way to meet people, learn about trails and gear. These trips created some great memories with lots of laughter and fun. Naturally, subgroups were formed based on compatibility and personality. I’ve also taken advantage of permit opportunities by joining up with a group when invited.

  • Positives:
    • Introduction to trails and gear
    • Mentorship by the more experienced
    • Safety in numbers
    • Shared gear and knowledge
    • Assistance available
    • Unlimited conversation
  • Challenges:
    • Group think and decisions can be sluggish
    • Conflict is common between the slowest and fastest hikers, the bossy and the timid, etc.
    • Sticking to a planned itinerary is more important
    • Campsite choice is more limited
    • Breaks and chores seem to be more lengthy
    • Less likelihood to see wildlife and to experience silence

My worst experience was with a guy who did a great job planning and communicating our group trip. We met several times in advance to talk about the itinerary, gear and logistics. However, on our first day as we carpooled to our destination, the plan was already falling apart. The next day, was even worse as the planned miles became a march for more and more which was a problem for at least one participant. This person was shy and wasn’t able to say this isn’t working instead she trudged on getting hurt and being miserable as a result. Another member was really upset as he’d scheduled time off work and now the leader was pushing to end the trip early. All in all it was poor communication and revised itineraries that weren’t in the best interest of the group.

Partner(s):

If you are dependent on group outings, you may find yourself limited on number of trips per year. Are you available when those trips are scheduled? Do you want to go where they are going? Finding one, two or three friends or adventure buddies might be easier.

Is two the right number? If you have a compatible partner, it might be perfect. It takes time to find that partner and they might not be the perfect one in all situations. It’s rare that compromises aren’t needed.

How about three or more? Sometimes having a third member of the team helps with decision making and provides additional conversation and perspectives. Much like groups, the more there are is not necessarily merrier. I consider more to mean more complicated.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about this very issue (Partnership Commitments, Compatibilities & Compromises). You might find it a useful tool although I’ve learned some people don’t necessarily have enough self-awareness or experience to answer the questions honestly. Perception vs reality may be quite different, or might be biased in favor of an opportunity no matter what.

Some of my best memories are with companions. If you’ve followed me on my jaunts, you know that my Team J&J (Jan and Joan) adventures have been epic. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Joan has supported me and I her. We bring to our team unique skills and perspectives, where one may be weaker the other stronger. We’ve tested our friendship and compatibility by working together to overcome challenges. I’ve shared more miles with Joan than any other companion and look forward to many more J&J jaunts.

Solo:

This is the ultimate freedom. Pick your time, date, location. It’s easier to get permits and to find campsites. All decisions are yours and yours alone. But there are some negatives:

  1. Fun – Having the right partner or group can make the adventure more fun. I love being silly, laughing and giggling, singing and dancing. Those elements are missing when I’m solo.
  2. Sharing – I enjoy sharing moments and miss not being able to do that in the moment. Sure I can take photos and share on my blog later but it’s not the same as witnessing something special together.
  3. Decision Making – I might be more conservative when solo, or at least more cautious. The consequences for a mistake are bigger.
  4. Assistance – Having a friend who can help with obstacles is a huge advantage. I have to work harder getting over and around things solo. I also might turn around if it’s something I worry about not being able to get back up or down. If I were to get hurt, it’s up to me to figure out how to get out or get help.
  5. Equipment Failures – You need to be fully self supported and know how to make the best of a situation when you don’t have a friend with items to share if yours breaks such as water filter, stove or electronics.

When hiking solo, I’m more in the moment. I don’t have any distractions. I stop when I want to stop. I can take tons of photos, or sit by a stream or lake. I can go swimming or spend a day reading. I might want to hike off trail to the top of a ridge. I’m a slow hiker so it’s nice not feeling the pressure to go faster or keep up. But I cherish my partner and group times. Those are some of my best memories. I like mixing it up. I’m grateful for those who are willing to compromise on my behalf so we can hike together.

Links:

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Stoney Ridge Trailhead . . . Late Spring Jaunting

This is possibly my favorite area in the Trinity Alps for WOW per mile geology. It’s where the red meets gray. It’s the story of “mixed up geology” as one author wrote. According to another source, it’s a combination of red serpentine and peridotite rock plus significant intrusions of other kinds of rock. Add to that granite and glacial activity and you’ve got incredible eye candy. It’s well beyond my knowledge base so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

My goal this trip was to see more areas via high points. I had a loose itinerary, as is my typical modus operandi, limited only by the 6 days of food I was carrying. But first I have to share a couple of new-to-me orchids that I was so excited to spy along the trail.

Spotted Coralroot Orchid

Phantom Orchid

Since I’ve previously written about Stoney Ridge Trail, Siligo Peak and Four Lakes Loop (link), I’m going to focus on views from the passes.

Stonewall Pass

From Granite Peak, this is the view looking down at colorful Stonewall Pass flanked by the gray granite peaks separating Stuart Fork and Canyon Creek.

It’s a long steady climb up to Stonewall Pass. According to my Gaia tracker 4.8 miles from the trailhead with 2,650′ of ascent.

From the pass you get views in the distance of Mount Hilton at 8838 feet, Sawtooth Mountain at 8733 feet (not to be confused with Sawtooth Ridge), and Caesar Peak at 8,904 feet. Below is Van Matre Meadows and to the right is Siligo Peak at 7,926 feet.

This north facing slope is a good place to judge conditions for further up the trail, and why early spring travel is not advisable.

This is a view of the pass from further north on my return to the trailhead.

Van Matre Meadows makes a good overnight spot for those who prefer shorter miles or get a late start and want to avoid of crowds at nearby Echo Lake.

To the left is the glacial bowl holding Echo Lake. This little pond offers nice reflection in the early season when there is plentiful water.

Little Stonewall Pass

From the trailhead it’s about 6.5 miles and 3,175′ up mixed with 500′ down to this pass. The views aren’t nearly as impressive although it provides a view down toward Siligo Meadows and Deer Creek Pass. Summit Lake is hidden behind the peak on the left. Long Canyon comes up the drainage to the right.

Even though it was mid June, it was 33F degrees at my camp overnight and much cooler the next morning as I gained elevation.

This is a view of the pass from further north on my return to the trailhead.

Deer Creek Pass

It’s hard not to squeal with delight when you feast your eyes upon this view, even after seeing it multiple times. Deer Lake takes center stage. To the left is Siligo Peak a perfect example of red meeting gray. The geology of this area is so interesting. The trail to Summit Lake includes a traverse along the left slope. This north facing slope is a real deterrent in early season, with potential serious consequences. It’s 8.25 miles and 3,750′ gain with 900′ loss to reach this pass. In the far distance is Caribou Mountain at 8,339′. The nearer ridge to the right includes Packers Peak, Black Mountain, Russian Peak and Red Rock Mountain.

Looking back toward Deer Creek Ridge and I believe Middle Peak in the distance. This view shows the traversing trail with potential steep snow fields; looks can be deceiving.

I discourage snow hiking novices from attempting this when snow is present as the conditions were varied and following old steps weren’t always best practices due to heat/melt/freeze cycles. There were several places with rotten or hollow snow. Early morning it was still quite solid and icy. Afternoon was soft and more forgiving.

Summit Lake / Siligo Peak Pass

It’s a little over 9 miles to this junction, with 4,000′ of elevation gain and 1,000′ of loss. You can see the switchbacks going up. Once again this is a place where experience matters.

While beautiful, Summit Lake is usually quite busy. Your only drinking water source is the lake which is also used for swimming and bathing. Furthermore there is limited nearby areas for taking care of personal business so I expect more ends up in the lake than you’d want to know.

Diamond Lake with views including Sawtooth Mountain and Little Granite Peak.

Smith and Morris Lakes are hidden up on Sawtooth Mountain on one of those shelves. They are still on my must visit list. I came close once but ran out of time (link).

Looking back at the ridge where there was a tricky descent to avoid the broken snow cornice.

Getting down to Luella Lake required more snow navigation. From this ridge you can see the west facing side of Seven Up Peak which looks completely different than the gray granite eastern side. The trail to Granite Lake starts at the dip where red meets gray.

Looking back up toward Deer Creek Pass and Siligo Peak, which is well worth a side trip (link).

Morning light.

Tri-Forest Divide

The view from Black(s) Basin to the high point above Tri-Forest Divide. It’s the green peak in front of Sawtooth Ridge.

The view from the Seven Up traverse trail.

Continuing down the Deer Creek Trail leads to a junction with Stuart Fork Trail as well as to seldom used Tri-Forest Trail (aka Willow Creek Trail), the passage to Big Flat Trailhead.

You won’t find a sign until you start up the trail but the junction has been marked by rock cairns.

Despite the fact this trail gets little use and is rarely if ever maintained it was fairly easy to follow with well placed cairns. It was devoid of major obstacles or bushwhacking, although it could use some raking as there was a lot of tree litter covering the tread. It is well above average grade however making it steeper than I like. According to my tracker it’s 2.5 miles from the trail junction to the high point with 2,200′ in elevation gain.

I’d say it gets more 4-legged visitors than 2-legged humans.

I found proof that occasionally others found this a worthy side trip. How do you lose a lens? Later I found a pair of glasses (on a different trail).

When you reach the divide, you say YES to more climbing. YES YES YES! When I was introduced to this viewpoint I was told it was called Horse Heaven. I’m guessing it had to do with all the green that kept the horses happy while the humans went sightseeing.

Soon you’ll see the Sawtooth Ridge.

Looking down at Stuart Fork including Morris Meadow and Emerald Lake.

To the upper left is Deer Creek Pass; to the right is Stuart Fork.

The meadow high up on the left is Black Basin. Deer Creek Pass is in top middle.

Although I really wanted to camp at Black Basin, I’d zapped all my climbing energy. There are several nice campsites near the Deer Creek/Black Basin Trail junction.

It was great to get cleaned up and take care of laundry. Having a little shade was nice as well . . . although I was still wishing for views.

There’s a large group campsite near this view.

Black(s) Basin / Bear Creek Pass

As viewed from the high point above Tri-Forest Divide, the meadow in the center is Black or Blacks Basin. To the right is Seven Up Peak. The trail drops off to Bear Creek and Bear Basin in the distance. It’s about 3 miles and 1,700′ from the Deer Creek Trail junction up to and around Black Basin to Seven-Up Pass.

This photo shows Deer Creek drainage running down the middle with Black Basin in the upper left, and Deer Creek Pass in the upper middle. You can reach this area from several connecting trails including Swift Creek, Long Canyon, Stoney Ridge, Stuart Fork and Big Flat.

From Blacks Basin you get views back toward Tri-Forest Divide and the Sawtooth Ridge, as well as the mountains dividing Stuart Fork and Canyon Creek.

This is the north/northeast side of Seven Up Peak.

Seven Up Pass

This view from above Luella Lake shows the west side of Seven Up Mountain with Seven Up/Black Basin/Bear Creek Pass on the left and Swift Creek/Deer Creek Pass on the right where the red and gray meet.

From the pass you have a view of Mt Shasta as well as the descent into Bear Basin.

The pass provides easy access to summit Seven Up Peak. On this day I opted not to summit given the snow status.

The trail traverses along the east side providing awesome views of Luella Lake and Siligo Peak.

Switchbacked trail runs down the red side toward the lake. The trail to Luella is a bit tippy and eroded in places; probably not the best place for those nervous about exposure. I met a family who said the same about the trail traversing Seven Up Mountain.

This was the worst part of the Seven Up traverse trail, at least in my opinion.

You get excellent views of Sawtooth Ridge and the high point above Tri-Forest Divide.

As well as the mountains flanking the Stuart Fork drainage.

The view toward the Swift Creek/Deer Creek Pass as you continue along the traverse.

Swift Creek/Deer Creek Pass

This view from above Luella Lake shows the west side of Seven Up Mountain with Seven Up/Black Basin/Bear Creek Pass on the left and Swift Creek/Deer Creek Pass on the right where the red and gray meet.

Looking at the switchbacks from the pass down to Deer Creek. You can see Round Lake and if you look closely Luella Lake as well.

From the pass looking down toward Granite Lake, Trinity Lake and the Swift Creek drainage.

A closer look at Granite Lake and Gibson Peak. I should have scrambled around a bit more for a better perspective.

Reconnecting to Deer Creek Trail with a long ascent to return to Deer Creek Pass. According to my tracker 1,110′ and 1.65 miles.

There was still snow on the trail returning to the Deer Creek Divide.

Back at Deer Lake and the great bug hatch.

And finally back at Deer Creek Pass.

Granite Peak

Stonewall Pass is around the corner and up toward the left. It appears you could access Granite Peak near the pass or at least Red Mountain Meadow and although tempting to retain currently elevation gains, I’ve learned about those long short cuts. The trail actually starts much lower and stays more to the right side of the mountain. According to my tracker it’s about 1.5 miles with 1,200 feet in elevation gain from the trail junction to the lookout site.

I camped in Red Mountain Meadow so I could get an early start on my summit attempt.

I was on the trail by 7am. I was looking forward to my post-hike dip in Trinity Lake.

The trail junction sign is high on a tree and not obvious. The trail itself is fairly obvious but I’d recommend watching your GPS map.

The trail was in pretty good shape until I got to a few stream crossings. I found myself off track in a messy forest before stumbling upon these items from probably a hunter’s camp. I added my findings to my cache to retrieve upon my descent and add to my LNT credits.

Also found my friend yogi again, well at least his scat.

Granite Peak can be accessed via a dedicated trail off of Highway 3 or this one from Stoney Ridge. This is the junction where the two are joined.

First signs of the old lookout.

It appears the lookout was constructed in 1941. I looked online for a photo but was unsuccessful. The best source I’ve found for lookout history is at californialookouts.weebly.com, and this is what it had to say (link). It too was missing a photo. “DESCRIBED BY COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY 1954 (LSB) THE STATION IS THE APEX OF THE GRANITE PEAK LOOKOUT HOUSE WHICH IS A WHITE FRAME STRUCTURE ABOUT 20 FEET SQUARE AT THE BASE AND APPROXIMATELY 16 FEET IN HEIGHT. THE BUILDING IS SURROUNDED BY A 3-FOOT CAT WALK AND ENCLOSED WITH WINDOWS. IT IS THE PROPERTY OF THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE.”

The actual peak is at the top of the rock pile. On solo adventures I generally avoid scrambling so no true summit on this day.

The peak register was located in the foundation of the old lookout, so I could say I was there regardless.

The 360 views were pretty great although air quality wasn’t the best on this date. Mt Shasta took center stage, while Granite Peak hung out to the left and Trinity Lake invited a swim.

This is the view back to Stonewall Pass.

Granite Peak doesn’t look very exciting from the trailhead.

Flora

Do you know about galls? According to Morton Arboretum, “Galls are abnormal growths that occur on leaves, twigs, roots, or flowers of many plants. Most galls are caused by irritation and/or stimulation of plant cells due to feeding or egg-laying by insects such as aphids, midges, wasps, or mites. Some galls are the result of infections by bacteria, fungi, or nematodes and are difficult to tell apart from insect-caused galls. Seeing the insect or its eggs may help you tell an insect gall from a gall caused by other organisms. In general, galls provide a home for the insect, where it can feed, lay eggs, and develop. Each type of gall-producer is specific to a particular kind of plant.” My friend Joan helped helped produce a video for Arches National Park about these cool anomalies (link).

I loved how this phlox found a way to take root on this rock.

The Dr. Seuss flowers were nearly ready to pop.

What would a spring trip be without blooms?

Adventure Dates:

  • June 16-20, 2020

Hike Details:

Tips:

Signage in the Trinity Alps can be confusing. This was the first time I’d heard of Willow Creek and had to research to find out it was the Tri-Forest Trail that connects to Big Flat. You need a map to know alternate trail names. If you are going by signs it’d be easy to take the wrong option. For example the Long Canyon option also returns you to Stoney Ridge.

Resources:

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Bug Management


Lessons Learned:

  1. Prevention is better than consequences
  2. Pesky pests are my enemy
  3. Be prepared for war
  4. Life is better with pain and itch relief
  5. Evasion is a great solution

Prevention:

  • Pre-Treatment

I consider Sawyer’s Permethrin my secret weapon in this war against unwanted pests. I spray my hiking garb (long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat), as well as my pack and the mesh on my tent. This treatment lasts 6 weeks or 6 washings so I usually try to time it with my first big bug outing. Tip: read the instructions especially regarding cats and also take precautions to protect yourself.

  • Protection

I prefer wearing body armor in the form of clothing rather than repellent, but since I’m also sensitive to heat I usually have some exposed skin that needs protection.

      • Clothing – long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat plus headnet
      • Chemical – I start with least harmful and work my way up the spectrum if needed. These are my product preferences for ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes.
  • Evasion
    • Running is not a great solution, but it does work for short stretches.
    • When all else fails, hide in your tent. That’s my tactic during those highly pesky dusk and dawn hours.

Treatment:

I tend to get bacterial infections from bites and am extremely sensitive so for me it’s worth carrying something for pain and itch management.

First Aid:

  • Tick Key (don’t forget to save the tick)

Gnats:

These things are evil. They drive me batty and it seems they show up when I find myself without my headnet. One little trick I’ve learned is to hang something from my hat or buff that swings in front of my face while walking. I find that tall dry grass works best but I’ve also used pine needles.

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

 

 

 

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . What’s In My Pack?


Lessons Learned:

  1. It’s an evolving process of trial and error.
  2. Choices are unique.
  3. Compromise is expected.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. Weight matters.
  6. Plan for repairs, revisions and replacements.
  7. Label your stuff; loss happens.

Base Weight:

My standard base weight is 14-16 pounds. The items in italics are seasonal/conditional extras.

  • Pack
    • Gossamer Gear Mariposa
    • Gossamer Gear Pack Liners x2
  • Shelter
    • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 with ground cloth
    • Gossamer Gear Titanium Hook Stakes 6.5″ x 8
  • Sleep System
    • Custom DIY Quilt (modified from ZPacks 900-fill down 10-degree bag)
    • ZPacks Dyneema Dry Sack (for quilt when raining)
    • Big Agnes AXL Air Mattress (replaced with Thermarest Xtherm when temps drop below freezing)
    • Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Foam Mattress (also part of pack frame)
    • Klymit Medium X Pillow with Buff as pillowcase
  • Kitchen
    • Jetboil Ti-Sol Stove and Cookpot (no longer sold) (in water shortage areas I’ll forego cooking)
    • Ziploc Twist ‘N Lock 12 oz container (for rehydrating meals)
    • Nylon Ditty Bag and 1/4 Sheet Disposable Towel
    • Sea to Summit Long-Handled Spoon
    • Ursack and Opsak (replaced with Bear Canister when required)
  • Hydration
    • Sawyer Squeeze, Full Size (may use water treatment tablets instead in below freezing temps)
    • Evernew 1500ml Bags, quantity 2-4 with one marked as dirty bag (may bring 700ml SmartWater Bottle)
    • Scoop and Prefilter (made with Platypus 0.5L, Steripen Filter Cartridge and, SmartWater Bottle Flip Top)
    • Insulated Tube, Mouthpiece and Bottle Adapter
  • Sleep Clothes
    • Icebreaker Merino Tights
    • Ibex Merino Hooded Long Sleeve Top
    • Smartwool Merino Socks
    • Smartwool Merino Glove Liners
    • DIY Down skirt, slipper leggings, mittens (winter below freezing conditions)
    • DIY Microfleece Balaclava
  • Clothing Layers
    • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket
    • Patagonia Hooded Houdini Rain/Wind Jacket
    • Melanzana Beanie
    • Gloves/Mittens (various depending on conditions)
    • Rain Gear (Frogg Toggs UL Jacket, Pants and/or Poncho)
  • Extra Clothes
    • Underwear x1
    • Injinji Toe Socks x1
  • Toiletries
    • Poo Kit (Bidet, Dry Wipes, Dr Bonners, Deuce of Spades Trowel, Doggie Poo Bag, DIY Ditty Bag)
    • Toothbrush, Paste and Floss
    • Eye Drops
    • Lotion with Sunscreen
    • Foot Ointment
    • Ibuprofen and Vitamins
    • Lens Cleaner
    • Disposable Towel (1/4 size)
    • Earplugs
    • Odor Neutralizer Bar
    • Diaper Pins
    • Ziplock (pint size freezer bag)
  • Electronics
  • First Aid and Emergency Preparedness
    • Inhaler primary and backup
    • Pain reliever (ibuprofin, excedrin, norco)
    • Stings/bites (benadryl, pepcid, anti-itch & antibiotic ointments, antiseptic and alcohol wipes)
    • Blisters/cuts (Leukotape-P, gauze, moleskin, steri-strips, needle)
    • Tummy/intestinal (pepcid, imodium)
    • Heat exhaustion/dehydration (Pedialyte)
    • Repairs (super glue, tenancious tape, needle and floss)
    • Hydration tube bite valve (backup)
    • Chapstick (backup)
    • Hairband (backup)
    • Water treatment drops (backup)
    • Mini lighter and fire starter
    • Emergency Poncho
    • Sharpie for notes
    • Ziplocks x2 (pint size freezer bag)
    • Compass
    • Multitool (Leatherman CS)
    • Pepper Spray (grizzly spray when applicable)
    • ID, emergency contacts, medical history, advanced directive, permits in opsak
  • Miscellaneous (seasonal/situational)
    • Bug Management:
      • Bug headnet
      • Bug repellent
      • Tick Key
    • Sunscreen
    • Umbrella (rain and sun)
    • Excessive Rain
      • Polycro Sheet (layer in tent)
      • Larger plastic bags (use to separate wet gear during night)
      • Utility gloves (layer over merino or separate to keep hands dry and warm)
    • Snow/Ice:
    • Desert:
      • Comb and full size tweezers (jumping cholla)

Things I Don’t Carry:

  • A chair
  • Camp shoes
  • Extra hiking clothes
  • A weapon, hunting or fishing gear

Things I Wear and Carry:

Things I’ve Carried Since My First Trip:

As I reviewed my list, I realized I’ve changed everything over the years. There are quite a few items I’ve carried at least 5 years, in fact many probably 7-8 but even those might have been modified. This kit keeps me comfortable and happy through most conditions.

Ongoing Challenges:

  1. I’d love a lighter less bulky tent
    • Stake-dependent shelters are frustrating in hard rocky ground
    • Single wall shelters have condensation issues
    • Dyneema shelters are so expensive
  2. It’s about time to replace my well-loved pack
    • The GG models change slightly year-to-year and are expensive to return
    • All cottage company models require an investment in return postage
    • I’m tempted to make my own
  3. Simplifying water treatment is always on my mind
    • The Sawyer Squeeze takes time and has to be protected during freezing temps
    • The Katadyn BeFree has enough negative reviews to cause hesitation; the custom bottles don’t excite me.
  4. It’s time to do a pack shake down again with weight creeping up to 16 pounds; 12-14 would be better. Yes I know the changes I could make. Like I said at the beginning it’s all about compromise.

Related Posts:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

Note: The purple mat is not part of my gear.

 

2020 – A Decade of Section Hiking Long Distance Trails . . . my podcast debut and resume

As I prepared for an interview with Jester on Section Hiker Radio, I took a trip down memory lane. I had many stories, tips, tricks, lessons to share, but 45 minutes just isn’t enough time. During a recent hike, I came up with this solution. Why not supplement the podcast with blog posts? So here is the interview, an introduction and the first of several posts to celebrate a decade of hiking (PODCAST LINK).

PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) Highlights:

Between 2010 and 2020, I’ve hiked about 1500 miles on the PCT.  Many of my stories and photos can be found on my PCT page (link).

AZT (Arizona Trail) Highlights:

Between 2010 and 2020, I’ve hiked about 500 miles on the AZT.  Many of my stories and photos can be found on my AZT page (link).

CDT (Continental Divide Trail) Highlights:

My time on the CDT has been mostly unintentional. It’s been a mix of being invited by friends to join for sections or coincidental as I hiked other overlapping trails. Here’s a link to my CDT hikes.

PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail) Highlights:

Like the CDT, I didn’t make a plan to hike sections of the PNT. Sometimes I found myself on the trail and only realized by looking at the map. It’s rare to find a trail marker.

Wonderland Trail:

I can actually mark this one complete. It’s the only long trail I completed in one go. I’m not satisfied though as there are so many side trails I’d like to explore.

What long trails await (map link)?

So many trails, only so much time. I feel my personal timeclock ticking. Whether I’m section hiking a long trail or exploring trails with WOW per mile, I’m happy with that pack on my back moving my home each night while chasing sunsets, sunrises, wildflowers and so much more.

 

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Tangle Blue Lake Trailhead . . . spring jaunting

While you’ll find information for Tangle Blue Lake in guidebooks, it takes more than casual preparation to find the trailhead as there’s no signage at the highway junction. In fact this sign at the trailhead no longer exists. This is a photo from my 2013 visit. 

This is your 2020 welcome board.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone refer to this as the Grand National Trail, named for an old road to the Grand National Mine. This sign has been defaced since I took this photo in 2013. Maybe because the mileage isn’t exactly accurate. It’s now 3.75 miles from the trailhead to the lake although I’m not sure how far along the trail this sign is located.

This sign is long gone as well. I’d like to think it was removed by the Forest Service for maintenance rather than stolen.

Expect 1,200 feet in elevation gain on a well-used, rocky, easy-to-follow trail. According to Mike White’s Trinity Alps book, “Legend suggests that Tangle Blue Lake and Creek were named by an early resident of the area who started his trip into the wilderness after awaking from a long night of partying to find his feet tangled and the air blue.”

It’s a rare treat to get the lake to yourself like I did. There are far more private campsites along the creek or further up the trail.

Marshy Lakes

There are several options for exploring off the main trail, although signage is somewhat lacking and trails are not necessarily maintained. My goal for this trip was to hike to Marshy Lakes, then up to East Boulder Lakes, followed by a northwest jaunt on the Pacific Crest Trail, then returning on the Tangle Blue Lake Trail which connects to the Eagle Creek Trail.

You’ll need decent navigation skills to find the lakes. Along the main spur trail, you’ll see a pond before finding a trail near a “no hunting” sign which leads to Little Marshy Lake.

There is a mighty fine camping area which is on private property, a carve out in the wilderness (shown below on the map). The memorial is for a mule or horse. They even have piped water to a faucet. So fancy!

The lighter shade on the map represents private property which includes a little more than half of Little Marshy Lake, the end with the camp.

At the far end of the lake, you’ll find this waterfall created from Big Marshy Lake’s outlet.

Big Marshy Lake.

East Boulder Lakes

I recommend reversing direction slightly from Big Marshy Lake to reconnect with the old road and current use trail to the PCT. Attempting a short-cut ends up being a lot more wasted time and effort. You can see my track on the above map photo when I wandered to the left of the trail.

When I hiked the PCT in 2015, I wasn’t inclined to add miles so I was excited to see the East Boulder Lakes basin. I explored the ridges on both sides of the pass but wasn’t motivated to hike down into the basin itself.

Pacific Crest Trail

The PCT provided spectacular views down toward Big Marshy Lake and the mountains towering above Tangle Blue Lake.

The close-up details of the rocks was worthy of closer inspection and pondering the geologic history.

You can expect snow on the PCT in early spring. Some patches had serious consequences should you slip.

I spent a night along the PCT where I got to watch this bald eagle hunting for it’s dinner.

It was a perfect place to watch the nearly full moon rise while smiling at this sunset view.

The next morning I enjoyed a brilliant sunrise with Mt Shasta hidden within.

I continued hiking northwest on the PCT. My next POI was Middle Boulder Lakes basin. It was filled with a frog choir. I’d need earplugs to camp there. I considered hiking the loop that connects these lakes with Telephone Lake.

I caught a little cell signal for an updated weather forecast which told me no lollygagging.

I found a great view of the northern side of Caribou Mountain and other major peaks of the Trinity Alps.

I tried to find a view down to West Boulder Lake but without a trail and steep cluttered hillsides, I wasn’t too motivated to play hide and seek. However, there’s a trail junction on the PCT for another lakes basin which includes Mavis, Fox Creek, Virginia and Section Line Lakes.

The lakes aren’t visible from the junction but if you hike up a bit and explore the ridge, you can find this view of Mavis Lake.

I was able to see Virginia Lake with my naked eye, but it was hard to capture with my camera. It’s tucked just below the granite side of the mountain. I met a group who were staying at Fox Lake. They said it was a great base camp from which they’d spen one day hiking to all the lakes in the basin and the next up to the PCT and down a side trail to Wolford Cabin. So many options for loops and trip extensions. Be warned though, trail conditions are a big unknown especially given recent fires.

Bloody Run Trail / Eagle Creek Divide / Eagle Creek Trail / Tangle Blue Trail

I reversed direction back to this trail junction. I had no idea if I’d find remnants of trail or if it would be a big mess or . . . it was a big mystery but one I was willing to at least take a stab at ground truthing. I was happy to at least see this sign on the PCT (it reads Bloody Run Trail and Eagle Creek Divide).  As you may recall I found the sign for the Eagle Creek junction when I was on my way to the Marshy Lakes.

Step 1, go the 1/4 mile to the divide. Take a look around and see if I could find a trail that matched my digital map.

I found the divide without incident on a fairly well used trail to a campsite. From there I wasn’t able to find the trail that connects to Wolford Cabin but found the light use trail continuing down Bloody Run to this junction. By this time I was beyond hopeful as I’d dropped quite a bit of elevation and was not looking forward to reversing direction.

I was thrilled to find this sign at the junction of Eagle Creek Trail and Tangle Blue Trail.

According to the map you can connect to/from the PCT to the Tangle Blue Trail. I didn’t find any evidence on the PCT but I found this sign along the Tangle Blue Trail and it looked like a fairly straight shot through an open meadow but I didn’t check it out so it remains a mystery.

I found a few old trail blazes on trees. I wouldn’t attempt this trail without excellent off-trail navigation skills. When you temporarily lose the trail, backtrack and watch the digital map as the old trail stays fairly true to what’s shown on the maps.

Cairns were well placed in many spots, and very helpful with the navigation game.

It was a beautiful area filled with meadows, flowers, streams and views.

The lower section is more in the forest and bit messier than the upper section. Had I been paying better attention and not gotten off track a one point where I found myself in a manzanita quagmire, I would have been 100% thrilled I’d taken this alternate. Buy hey, I came, I explored, I survived.

I was especially excited to find this sign on my way back to the main trail. Yes, the Tangle Blue Trail exists!

After that wild day, I found a cozy spot to call it a night. If I hadn’t gotten off track, I probably would have camped along the Tangle Blue Trail where I would have had more open views. But that too is all part of the adventure and something that will keep this trip memorable.

Grand National Mine

On a previous trip I took the side trail to explore the mine. I didn’t find a sign this trip, but it’s pretty easy to spot the old road. You can see the red roof of the old stamp mill in the lower left corner of this photo I captured as I was coming down the Tangle Blue Trail from the Marshy Lakes/Eagle Creek junction. You can see the old road above the mill. Someday I want to come back and continue further up the road to the ridge. I’m sure it would offer excellent views.

As of my 2013 visit there was lots of debris left behind. According to the Trinity Lake Revitalization Alliance, “The Grand National Mine produced about 1,500 ounces of gold, 2,200 ounces of silver, and 1,900 pounds of copper between 1934 and 1937. A few ounces of gold and silver were produced in 1930 and 1931. Nearly 54 percent of the gold was from quartz veins, which assayed at an average value of $23 per ton. The owner estimated that some 22,600 tons of material was in the three veins of the main mine diggings as of the late 1960s. At some $20 per ton, that was a value worth pursuing. Of course, now that the mine is wholly within the Trinity Alps Wilderness, it has been retired for all practical purposes.”

Flora and Fauna:

Early spring flowers were abundant on this trip. I was especially happy to see the lavender pasqueflowers just waiting to become Dr. Seuss blooms.

Although I thought these were all bleeding hearts, it appears a couple are really steersheads, all in the Dicentra family.

This trip was devoid of bears, instead my wildlife was this snake and a lot of frogs.

For a high-use trail, it had very little trash or obvious TP. I picked up quite a lot of micro trash on the first section and later on found these sunglasses. They were covered in mud and looked like they’d been lost a long time ago.

A little something new to get used to as we experience this COVID-19 global pandemic.

Adventure Dates:

  • June 2-5, 2020

Hike Details:

Resources:

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

 

Safety First . . . says the Old Lady with a Tiny Pack

Perceptions vs Reality.

Little did I know when I stopped to chat with some construction workers that their perception of me was an old lady. I’m guessing they were in their 20’s or 30’s. To them 40’s is probably old. Remember when 20 seemed old?

As non backpackers, their perception of my pack was tiny, which in their minds the blue pictured above is probably more normal for overnighting. Funny I took this photo when I received my inflatable SUP (stand-up paddleboard) and included was this giant blue pack for storage and transport.

Why does this matter?

Well . . . about a mile before the trailhead, the road was blocked by ongoing bridge construction and wouldn’t be open for a few hours. I talked to the workers about parking and passage, then up the hill I walked.

Fast forward 4 days. I returned to my car and drove off thinking about my eventful adventure which included a serious dog bite and an obnoxious owner. A runner had been bitten by the same dog earlier in the day. This German Shepherd was off leash and aggressive. The owner didn’t have voice control. It was traveling with another male who also had two aggressive, off-leash dogs, one also a German Shepherd. I was seriously traumatized and angry about these guys who felt it was their right to terrorize others humans, pets and wild animals of this wilderness.

This is the story I shared on my facebook.

I’m hurt, mad, angry, sad, disappointed and so much more.

I was bit by an aggressive off-leash out-of-control German Shepherd while out hiking a wilderness trail. I have two 3” deep bruises covering 7 inches of my bum. Thankfully the dog released before embedding her teeth. It could have been much worse.

Those few minutes were absolutely terrifying, the following hours and days have been filled with pain and nightmares. The owner is a selfish ass who thought his freedom of allowing a vicious dog to run the wilds ranked above anyone else’s freedoms. I found out later she bit another hiker earlier in the day. His wounds were worse as it was his hand.

The back story:

Picture a triangle with a trail on two legs and a river on the other. This guy and his friend had decided to camp in this triangle. They had 3 unleashed aggressive dogs including two German Shepherds. One guy seemed to have some vocal and engineered controls over his dogs. The other guy had zero control and that’s the dog that bit me and the other guy.

The camp I needed to reach was along one of the trails. As I started down the trail, the dogs started barking. One of the guys (the non-bite owner) came up to greet me as well as the biting dog. He told me the dog was friendly and just needed to smell me. I stood still while she sniffed. She seemed to settle and all seemed normal. The guy escorted me down the trail. Meanwhile the dog came around behind and grabbed my butt. When I yelled, the owner said you’re coming into our camp. HELLO I’m ON the trail!

Why would you camp near a trail with aggressive dogs? Why would you tell someone your dog is friendly and have your dog off leash after it already bit someone earlier in the day?

I had a basic first-aid kit with me and was able to clean the wound with soap and water as well as antiseptic wipes, and then treat with triple antibiotic ointment.

I was in shock and scared. I just wanted out of the situation so sadly I didn’t get the owner’s information except I found out from his friend about the previous bite, that all the dogs were supposedly current on shots and where they lived.

It was a nightmarish night. The next morning as I hiked back to the trailhead I warned all the hikers heading the opposite direction. They were much appreciative but felt as I did. They did not come to the wilderness to be terrorized by a selfish asshole.

I left a warning note at the trailhead as the men planned to stay through the holiday weekend. Sadly I didn’t find out their itinerary. There were 10 cars at the trailhead, some could easily be ruled out as not appropriate for transporting 3 giant dogs, but none stood out as the owners.

The story continues . . . As I’m driving through the nearby town I spy a Forest Service Law Enforcement vehicle. I pull in behind and as the officer exits I say, hey just the person I need to talk to. He then says my full name. I’m in shock, WHAT? He says . . . well the construction crew you talked to when you parked (the bridge was closed for a few hours so I parked near it and walked the additional mile to the trailhead) were concerned when your car was still there the next day. They reported their concerns about “this old lady with a day pack” who hadn’t returned. The next day the LEO went up to check out my car. He ran my plates and noticed my PCT sticker as well as my open hiking guidebook noting the trail I’d be hiking. He said I know those PCT hikers, they have tiny packs (ha, with 6 days of food I don’t think mine was very tiny, and it sure didn’t feel tiny). So when I met him at the gas station he was heading back up to see if my car was gone. If it wasn’t he was planning to contact someone in Redding to check with my family and neighbors. If they didn’t know my itinerary, he planned to activate SAR the next day. Eh gads! All because they construction workers thought I was an “old lady with a day pack.” I like this part of the story much better than the dog bite.

I reported the two men and their three dogs. He planned to pass on the information to the wilderness ranger. Hopefully he’ll do more and go to the trailhead and run some license plates to find out who lives in Grass Valley.

I’m still not sure what to do about this anger. I don’t want to be afraid of dogs. I think I’ll carry mace in my pocket for a while. I don’t want to give off negative energy as I know that makes dogs anxious. I have friends and relatives with dogs I love. I don’t want this incident to stop me from going into the wilderness. In my 10 years of backpacking this was an isolated incident. I know that, but damn this was terrifying. I’m hoping I can overcome with mind-over-matter thoughts like I have after other incidents.

In the meantime I’m hoping to avoid infection. I took an epsom salt soak when I got home, treated with more triple antibiotic ointment, and am now icing and taking ibuprofen to control pain and inflammation.

Sorry for my long rant, but I needed to share the details.

Memorial Day Update – The offender was not caught today and the LEO is off tomorrow when it sounds like they’ll be exiting. He met several groups who encountered the bad group including one whose dog was bit. Another group was camped at a lake when the bad group arrived. They were so bad the group packed up and hiked 3 miles before finding a new camp. The officer believes he found the offender’s vehicle and will minimally be sending a warning letter noting infractions. He’s been doing some code enforcement research and is possibly going to contact Nevada County Animal Control about the dog’s license, rabies etc. I’m continuing to heal with no indication of infection. The bruising is turning dark purple with green edging. Oh so pretty. I haven’t had to ice today.

A few takeaways:

(1) I found a way to wear my pepper spray so it’ll be quickly accessible in the future rather than stored in my backpack pocket. If interested, check out these runner options (link). I wrapped the wrist strap around my pack shoulder strap.

(2) My neighbor is on my notification list and was aware of my itinerary and receives my inReach check-ins. They know about this story and are even more prepared should an officer come calling.

(3) The construction workers noticed the inReach on my pack. That was reassuring for the officer. Of course had my bite been worse I would have used it.

(4) I’m glad my PCT sticker and hiking guidebook alerted the officer to the fact I was most likely a prepared hiker.

(5) This was my first bite in 10 years of backpacking. I’ve had a few other tense encounters but never anything close to this situation where I was terrified all three dogs would gang up on me. It was clear from the bite that dog was ready to take me down. Hopefully I’ll never experience this again or at least be free for another decade.

(6) I didn’t seek medical attention due to COVID-19 concerns. Obviously if it had been worse I wouldn’t have had a choice. However, I’m sure if I would have gone to the Emergency Room, it would have been more likely animal control would have gotten involved with a higher likelihood the offender being caught and facing consequences. Had this happened in town, this dog would be in quarantine or dead.

Stay safe my friends. Be alert, be wise.

CA – Marble Mountains Wilderness, Mule Bridge Trailhead . . . Spring Jaunting

There isn’t a lot of information available about the trails in the Marbles. Thankfully I have Art Bernstein’s book, “Best Hikes of the Marble Mountain and Russian Wilderness Areas, California” written in 1996 but to date still the best resource (available at Amazon). However, since it is aging, it’s best to visit a local ranger station such as the one in Fort Jones as the Klamath Forest Service website doesn’t offer many clues either although I did find they are keeping a trail conditions report (link). Many years ago I picked up some handouts they offered. I don’t know if those are still available either.

It’s a little confusing that the trailhead name doesn’t correlate with the trail name which is North Fork Salmon River. There isn’t a trail name sign nor other indicator that this bridge is the beginning of the trail.

You know you’re in the right place when you see the wilderness boundary sign.

The trail is in good condition for the first few miles as it meanders along the river, crossing multiple creeks. Most of the early crossings can be easily done without getting your feet wet but later on plan for a couple that are deep and swift.

Along the creek and river was lots of Indian Rhubarb, one of my favorite flowers.

There were also plenty of other flowers like these sedum and Naked Broomrape (Orobanche uniflora).

I believe these are Senecio integerrimus (aka Lambstongue ragwort, Mountain butterweed). It was fun observing them in various stages of development.

And a nice mix of so many more spring blooms with critters as a bonus.

I found a perfect rocky bank for a break where I could watch the river cascading downward. Something caught my eye in that waterfall. At first I thought it was a log but as I studied it more carefully I was amazed to find a river otter. What a treat to watch him bob up and down and gracefully power past me. No photos only the memory of this moment.

While sitting on this special rock, I had a couple of visitors. I couldn’t figure out why they were so inquisitive and hanging out within inches of me until I noticed a new hatch of some type of insect. They were having a feeding frenzy.

It was also on this rock where I found a large distribution of Siskiyou Lewisia.

It took me about 3 hours to reach bridge #2, the last of the easy dry-feet river crossings.

Fire, age and neglect are evident at Abbot Ranch.

At 6.5 miles from the trailhead, this sign marks the junction of Right Hand Fork, which continues to Shelly Meadows requiring a water crossing, much too swift this day. In fact I couldn’t easily determine where the path continued on the opposite shore. This area includes several well used campsites, one which I called home.

The deer used the nearby trail for quick access to the water. They were curious but not deterred by my presence.

The next morning, back at the junction, it was time to continue going north/northwest along the North Fork of Salmon River.

It didn’t take long to find much different trail conditions with some of my favorite obstacles.

Water crossings went from ankle to crotch deep with at least two being through swift water.

There were a couple of sections of trail with fairly serious drop-offs. The trail was sufficiently level and wide, although it might make some hikers and livestock nervous.

The forest was a mix of some mildly burned areas to other more severe areas. These burned areas limit potential camping in otherwise topographically friendly zones bordering the river.

I saw quite a bit of fresh bear scat and activity, but no bears during this visit.

Knowing horses use this trail makes me happy as they help remove the down trees and maintain the trails for equestrian safety.

With the recent burns, conditions seemed right for morels. I believe a permit is required to harvest from the wilderness.

This was an unusual white or albino mushroom/fungus.

The actual signed location of the Lake of the Island trail junction is nowhere near where it’s shown on USGS digital map. It’s quite a ways further west and 11 miles from the trailhead. There’s an unsigned light use trail near where it shows on the map. I didn’t explore but guessed it was to a campsite. The trail is more properly placed on the USFS map.

The Abbot Lake/Wooley Creek junction was a better match to the digital map at 12.25 miles from the trailhead. It too is signed although the trail to Abbot Lake was not evident as it begins through a grassy meadow.

This way to Abbot Lake.

This way to Wooley Creek and several lakes including Horse Range and Wild Lakes as well as Lakes Katherine and Ethel. In the guidebook this is referred to as the Big Meadows/Bug Gulch Trail.

There is a well used campsite at the junction where I found some leftover utensils and this saw which I considered taking for trail maintenance. My pack was heavy with 6 days of food, so I decided to reconsider as I exited.

My next objective was English Lake and then hopefully English Peak.

I loved this big old tree, which I believe is incense cedar.

It was impossible to resist taking a break on top of this huge piece of rock. I was looking forward to a possible view.

And views I found! Looking back toward the trailhead.

The junction to English Lake around mile 14.5 isn’t marked but hard to miss. The campsites are in the shade of the trees. The shoreline is choked with willows making it challenging to find a spot to gather water, fish or swim.

I wandered for an hour trying to find a campsite location where I could see the lake and peak. This was the best I could find. I also wanted as much sun as possible as it was quite chilly with a breeze.

It dropped to a very frosty 25F overnight.

It was obvious I wouldn’t be hiking to 7,350′ English Peak nor over the ridge to Hancock Lake. So I decided to leave camp set up so my tent could dry out while I hiked as far as I could to obtain views of English Lake and Peak from a different perspective.

The trail traverses to the right of English Lake.

Upper English Lake is visible at the top of the meadow in this photo.

This heart of snow may have caused me to detour but it didn’t deter me from continuing upward.

Eventually these slick, post holey, unstable snowfields were a big enough deterrent to encourage a little bouldering for a better view.

This looked like a reasonable objective.

When I made it to the ridge I could see the lookout on top of English Peak.

I could see the distant peaks over the ridge and imagine the location of Diamond Lake, one of my original objectives.

If I would have made it to the lookout, Mt Shasta is said to be visible.

It was exciting to spy Hancock Lake, another hopeful objective of this trip.

English Lake to the left and English Peak to the right.

English Lake

A funny story came out of this trip. About a mile from the trailhead, the bridge had recently been replaced and the crews were finishing up with installation when I arrived. They told me it would be several hours before I could drive across. I parked below the bridge across from another trail. I talked to the crew and verified it’d be okay to park there and gained permission to walk the bridge. As I drove through Etna I noticed a USFS Law Enforcement vehicle at the gas station. I stopped to chat about another issue only to find out the officer was about to initiate SAR on my behalf. The construction guys were sure this “old lady with a day pack” was in trouble. They reported their concerns on Thursday. The officer ran my plates and upon noticing my PCT sticker decided I was probably one of those thru hikers who carries a tiny pack. He was on his way to check on my car again when I appeared. Good thing since I wasn’t expected for a few more days. I have to say I wasn’t offended and instead feel honored to be part of the gray-haired club who’s earned a little extra TLC.

Adventure Date(s):

  • May 20-23, 2020

Hike Details:

Note: This includes extra mileage as I parked a mile from the trailhead. I also spent time exploring, meandering and wandering so just consider it a vague idea as to what your might experience.

Tips:

  • Stop at the Ranger Station in Fort Jones for information on trail conditions.
  • Order your map in advance or call the ranger station to see if they have available.
  • Obtain your California campfire permit online in advance (it’s required for your backpacking stove).
  • Mileage in Art’s book were quite different than those I obtained from my Gaia track and noted above.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Long Canyon Trailhead . . . early spring jaunting


COVID-19 message from Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “Please continue to recreate locally and practice self-sufficiency & responsible recreation when visiting the forest. Pack it in, pack it out. Pick up all of your trash and dispose of waste properly. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes potential sources for the spread of COVID-19. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please avoid visiting national forests if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If an area is crowded, move to a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.”


At 3,800 feet, this trailhead is between Stuart Fork and Swift Creek Trailheads, both logistically and elevation wise.  But as you’ll see beginning elevation does not always equate to similar snow conditions.

On this day, my objective was Bee Tree Gap, the pass at the top of this photo. Looks can be so deceiving. The summer trail is on the left through the snow.

You get glimpses of the pass well in advance of arrival.  It’s a continuous 5-mile climb from the trailhead to just below the pass.

You’d think it would be no problem to find a way to the pass given these conditions.

Well . . .  on this early season jaunt, looks were indeed deceiving. The purple track represents my efforts. The green line is from a February snowshoe adventure (the tent symbol was from that trip and the objective on this day). The red is the summer trail. After a couple hours of effort, it was time to cry uncle. Microspikes might have helped.

Early spring trips for me mean taking time to enjoy the journey. Views like these make every step worthwhile.

It’s a time to be grateful for sleeping mosquitoes.

It’s a time to enjoy watching the sun slide behind the mountain.

How cool to see the shadows of the western peaks overlaid on the eastern ridges.

Sunset magic is a part of the journey.

And if you’re really lucky you might be perfectly positioned to catch the full moon rising.

Early to bed, early to rise.

With a foiled attempt at going higher, it’s nice to have other options.

The trail to Bowerman Meadows has much lower use than the Deer Creek Trail. In early spring, the first consideration is whether you’re up for a wet feet crossing of the creek.

Then you have some fun navigating through thin to non-existent trail tread. Tip: stay to the right side of the first meadow and look for the trail darting into the woods.

There were a few ties marking the route.

While down trees and deadfall is typically indicative of early season, my guess is that this is no longer a maintained trail.

You might find some patches of snow.

I believe this is an old snow survey station.

I have photos of me sitting on this boulder from my first trek on this trail many years ago.

Continue staying high and to the right.

You’ll be tempted to drop down low, just say NO!

Watch carefully for this escape hatch to cross the creek.

Notice the cut branches.

The white rope trail markers switched to a few red ribbons.

These miles are hard earned. But the reward is worth the effort.

Remember that snow patch I showed earlier? It was obvious that bear prefer the trail to bushwhacking. There was plenty of bear scat along the trail, some nice footprints and finally a beautiful shiny black-colored bear in the green meadow. While drinking coffee the next morning I watched, mostly likely the same bear across the ravine from my campsite. The bear’s location is circled in yellow in the top right photo. The zoomed image is on bottom right. I thought the left bottom photo was funny with a beer can between two piles of bear poo. Hmmm did the bears take it away from a human?

Keep your eyes peeled for little tree frogs.

What else does spring mean? That’s right wildflower blooms.

Early spring means it’s a little winter mixed with a little summer. It’s best to key your eye on the weather and make plans to exit the high country when you see a forecast like this one, unless of course you like risking hypothermia.

Adventure Dates:

  • April-June, any year, depending on winter snow levels

Resources:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Swift Creek Trailhead . . . early spring jaunting


COVID-19 message from Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “We ask the public to please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing, etc., or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please read our frequently asked questions on the U.S. Forest Service Coronavirus (Covid-19) webpage http://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency/covid19-updates”


With the trailhead at 4,000 feet, it’s a gamble to find out how far you can get before finding high water creek crossings or snow fields requiring a bit more effort than reward. The majority of hikers, especially those out for a day jaunt, target Granite Lake or Foster’s Cabin.

License plates serve as snow survey trail markers. It’s hard to imagine the snow being that deep.

Spring snow melt makes the cascading waterfalls exciting and noisy.

If you choose to follow the trail to Foster’s Cabin, the first obstacle is Parker Creek. The bridge was washed away years ago and early spring means you’ll either need to ford the creek or find logs up or down stream.

I like that this trail provides access to many other trails which can be used to create loops or longer out and back hikes. With federal budget cuts, trail condition and recent maintenance reports are not easy to access. Some trails are considered “maintained” while others have been left to volunteers or to return to nature. I’d like to volunteer with the forest service to make this information more available.

Sometimes the cabin is locked, other times not.

Continuing west past the cabin means a wet feet treacherous crossing of Swift Creek.

If you’re lucky these logs upstream might still be in place making for a nice dry feet crossing of Swift Creek.

Landers Creek Trail

Getting to Landers Lake early season might prove to be a bit of a challenge. First, this sign is to the east of Landers Creek whereas maps show the trail starts to the west. Second with blow down and snow it’s nearly impossible to find clues as to where the trail might be.

The trail veers far to the east as shown by the blue line on the right. You can see the black dotted line showing possibly the original trail. The blue line on the left was me attempting to find the trail. This is the digital map on Gaia. I tried several layers and none showed the location of the current trail. My paper USFS map matches this view.

I located the trail just before this wet feet crossing of Landers Creek.

Once located, I found the trail to be well maintained and in excellent shape.

Snowmelt continued to provide delightful waterfalls.

Soon it became apparent Landers Lake would not be reached on this day. Staying on the main trail to gain additional heights and these views was a better option.

Looking down at this unnamed lake, my viewpoint into the Union Lake drainage and turnaround was at about 7,100 feet. Those ridges to the west looked worthy of some future exploration.

A little extra off-trail navigation might be necessary to avoid meadows that have become ponds.

Finding dry places to camp can be a bit of a challenge.

Parkers Creek Trail

It’s easy to miss the sign that signals this junction off the Swift Creek Trail. Fair warning: this is a steep rocky trail with some erosion issues but otherwise easy to navigate.

Wet snowy trail is a given.

This is where the trail crosses Parker Creek. With a steep slippery snow slope, it marked my turnaround.

Upstream options didn’t look any better.

Finding this tarn was a fun reward.

Deer Flat Trail

Along Parker Creek is a junction for the Deer Flat Trail.

The first obstacle is getting across Parkers Creek. This giant log upstream made for a dry feet crossing.

This is definitely an unmaintained and wild trail. Yogi likes these conditions.

This was a fun blowdown to work around. The tree was huge!

Cairns mark the route in many open meadow areas. I’m guessing Deer Flat is accessed more frequently from the Poison Canyon Trail.

Knowing weather was changing, I took advantage of this view of the 7-Up Peak ridge to find a home for the night.

There were also view of Lassen as well as Trinity Lake.

It turned out to be a good location to watch sunset.

First light invited another day of exploration.

The forecast said otherwise.

Overnight temperatures reminded me it was still more winter than summer.

I love seeing the blue ridges.

Early blooms will keep you entertained.

Adventure Dates:

  • April-June, any year, depending on winter snow levels

Resources:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.