CA – Klamath National Forest, Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area (June 2021)

The Klamath National Forest is home to many rare and endemic species. As such they have several botanical areas which have been protected (link) including the Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area. “A 430 acre site located on the southeast edge of the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District  (T40N, R7W, SEC 14).  The area varies in elevation from 6000′ to 6857′.  It provides a diversity of plant habitats ranging from wet seeps and meadows to rock walls. The high level of habitat diversity is associated with a correspondingly high botanical species diversity. Sensitive plant species present include Phacelia dalesiana and Epilobium siskiyouense.” Source: Klamath NF

I have fond memories of Kangaroo Lake from my childhood when we camped nearby, and my dad spent hours fly fishing.

On this day though we were out to explore the Fen Nature Trail, a word that only came to my attention over the past few years.

We found plenty of fens with Darlingtonia californica aka Cobra Lilies or California Pitcher Plants.

We were hoping to find the rare Scott Mountain Phacelia, which I’d been lucky enough to stumble across unexpectedly a few weeks earlier at a different location (link).

Are you hiding down here?

How about here?

Success!

Calochortus elegans aka Elegant star tulip and Northwestern mariposa lily

Calochortus nudus aka Naked Mariposa Lily

Owl’s Clover with bug for extra credit.

Allium (onion) but not the rare one.

Sedum (aka Dr. Seuss trees)

Buckwheat, but not the rare species.

Blue Flax

Penstemon newberryi

Bladderpods

Intense butterfly or moth mating.

We enjoyed several views of Kangaroo Lake and distant views of three other listed botanical areas including China Peak, South China Peak and Cory Peak. Someday I’ll make it a priority to spend a day botanizing in those areas as well.

We hiked the trail to where it connected with the PCT. Our trip was less than 3.5 miles and about 750′ of elevation gain/loss.

Bonus: roadside botany on our drive to the trailhead

When I spied a group of rare California Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium californicum), I was giddy. They were freshly washed after a little overnight rain.

Apocynum andrsameifolium aka Dogbane

Shasta Leopard Lily

Sidalcea, Checkerbloom.

Rhododendron occidentale aka Wester azalea

Showy Milkweed (creative edit)

My botany fieldtrips have been such a fun rehab diversion. It’s highly unlikely in “normal” times I would have taken a day to drive 3-4 hours to spend 5 hours hiking 3.5 miles, followed by another 3 hours of driving. It was a wonderfully long 12-hour day filled with friendship, education, photography and visual delights.

CA – The Eddys, Gumboot Trailhead, PCT (June 2021)

I had so much fun on my recent PCT hike from the Parks Creek Trailhead (link), it seemed time to try another section. I’m lucky to have multiple access points within a couple hours of my home base. I hiked south on this day. Note: I believe this is the only KM sign on the PCT.

There’s Mt Eddy in the distance, near where I was the previous week. It’s about 15 trail miles between the Gumboot and Parks Creek Trailheads.

This is Gumboot Lake, the namesake for this trailhead. It’s accessible via a nearby road and might be worth a stop for a swim at the end of a hike.

The view of Gumboot Lake from near the trailhead.

The highlight of my day was finding Scott mountain phacelia aka Howellanthus dalesianus.

Near the beginning of the hike, the Mumbo Lakes become visible to the west. Once again not all the easily accessible.

A couple miles from the trailhead you reach the junction to swimmable lakes.

Lake Helen is probably the most visited with it’s easier access. Shown here are Upper and Lower Seven Lakes. Someday I want to explore the basin and make my way to all seven lakes.

Although not considered one of the seven lakes in Seven Lakes Basin, Echo Lake is on private property and doesn’t welcome trail visitors. It’s backed by Boulder Peak at 6,968′, not part of the private parcel. I’m sure the PCT Association would be interested in purchasing this property if it ever goes on the market.

A nice view showing perspective of the PCT in relation to Upper Seven Lake. The trail down looks to have been recently groomed. I remember access use to be quite dicey cutting through a lot of overgrown manzanita combined with rocky terrain.

Monkeyflowers were a tiny alpine variety.

The paintbrush was brilliant red.

Bladderpods of Astragalus whitneyi var. siskiyouensis.

The most prevalent bloom of the day was Mt Eddy Lupine, named for this mountain range dominated by serpentine soil.

As is typical for hundreds of miles along the PCT you are granted views of Mt Shasta.

I love this trail image.

I believe these are Torrey’s Blue-Eyed Mary, Collinsia torreyi. These are tiny plants at only a few inches tall. The flowers are less than 1/4″. I can’t believe they are recognizable as the wind was blowing and I figured I’d get a big blurr.

What makes Jan happy? Cool geology, views and blooms. Oh and maybe hiking on the PCT! The terrain was a little rockier with more rolling hills than I remembered but I had a fun day tromping a few miles. I met several hikers out for multiple nights, one gal who was hoping to make it a few hundred miles before returning to her teaching job in late summer. There were also a handful off to the lakes for a swim.

Previous jaunts in this area:

I’m surprised I haven’t blogged more about this section of the trail as it was where I walked my first steps on the PCT. The year was 2008. I’ve been on this section many times with one of my most memorable getting to visit Echo Lake on a snowshoe trek.

It was a magical day where I saw my first and only Circumhorizontal arc.

CA – The Eddys, Parks Creek Trailhead – Let’s Go Hiking! (May 2021)

It’s time for another chapter. Graduation doesn’t mean I’m ready for epic adventures but with increasing feelings of normalcy it’s time to HIKE! The challenge is finding easy trail and this is where time spent on the PCT comes in handy. I knew this stretch would be a perfect test. While most head south to the Deadfall Lakes or Mt Eddy summit, I hiked north toward Cement Bluff and Bull Lake.

Early spring blooms gave me reason to take it slow. Recently I watched a video about botany in the area (Serpentine Botanical Wonders) which taught me I’d been erroneously been calling these Pasqueflowers when instead they are Anemone drummondii.

With their very distinctive leaf shape, I learned these are Viola lobata.

These are very tiny lupine, most likely Lupinus lepidus var. sellulus.

I thought this might be a rare Mt Eddy Lupine, but my botany friends burst my bubble by indicating it is Astragalus whitneyi var. siskiyouensis.

Blue Flax

Hydrophyllum occidentale.

The paintbrush and phlox were the most common blooms.

Lewisia nevadensis.

Claytonia obovata, Spring Beauty.

As I walked toward Mt Eddy I couldn’t help but remember the day nearly 9 months ago when my knee said POP (link). I’ll be back, I have no doubt especially after this hike. I felt strong and ready to start rebuilding my strength and endurance.

My journal post, “I took my knee for a walk and what did I find? Yes miles of smiles! I’m learning to accept #WhatICanDo and making each of those moments meaningful. I hiked 5 miles! YES 5 miles without any complaints or setbacks.”

Previous jaunts in this area:

CA – Shasta-Trinity and Lassen National Forests . . . falling into winter

Not only did I spend time this fall in Lassen Volcanic National Park (link), but I also found a few other favorite places in far Northern California to jaunt. 

Hike #1 – Castle Lake Trailhead

Castle Lake 

Little Castle Lake 

Mt Shasta Views 

Castle Crags and Lassen Views (on a smoky day) 

Hiking Date: October 21, 2018

 

 

 

 

Hike #2 – Trinity Alps, Stuart Fork Trailhead 

Hiking Date: October 28, 2018

 

Hike #3 – Lassen, Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center 

Ridge Lakes 

Date Hiked: November 30, 2018

Hike #4 – Mt Shasta, Bunny Flat Trailhead 

Black Butte 

Date Hiked: December 2, 2018

Hike #5 – Castle Lake Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 6, 2018 (no stats on this date)

Hike #6 – Mt Shasta, Bunny Flat Trailhead 

Sierra Club Horse Camp Cabin 

Date Hiked: December 10, 2018

 

 

Hike #7 – PCT, Dog Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 13, 2018

Hike #8 – PCT, Twin Bridges Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 19, 2018

 

Hike #9 – Mt Shasta, Southeast Wanderings 

The bears were still wandering around. 

Date Hiked: December 22, 2018

Hike #10 – PCT, Cache 22 Trailhead

Final sunset of 2018

Date Hiked: December 31, 2018 (no stats)

Instead here’s my cheer to you for a fantastic 2019 filled with adventure, good health and plenty of smiles.

And that my friends is a wrap for 2018. Below is my year in review video.

Links:

CA – Mt Bradley Ridge with views of Mt Shasta

Hikers are a funny breed. I don’t have many friends who are sufficiently motivated by sunrise views to agree to a 5:30am feet-on-the-ground start time. Not only did my friend Steve recommend this crazy adventure, but our new friends Matt and Kyle, whom we met the previous day on Black Butte (link to related post), were also looking for an epic outing. 

Kyle found a perch from which to watch nature’s show. 

Meanwhile I jumped over to Heart Lake to capture this image. 

This panoramic shot captures Castle Lake in the center, Left Castle Peak, Right Castle Peak, Black Butte (which we hiked the previous day) and Mt Shasta.

Mt Shasta got a kiss of pink. 

Soon enough it was time to say goodbye to Kyle and Matt, and resume our focus on hiking Mt Bradley Ridge toward the lookout. Once Steve and I reached the ridge, Castle Crags became the highlight. 

I’ve yet to make it to the Mt Bradley Lookout. It’s on the next hill in the photo, about an hour each direction. But with our unplanned detour to Heart Lake, we were running short of time and energy. 

Mt Bradley lookout, with the Mt Lassen range in the distance. 

From the ridge we got views of Lake Siskiyou, Black Butte and Mt Shasta. 

We stopped by Little Castle Lake on our way back to the trailhead. It’s almost ready for ice skating.

The sun was just about to slip behind the mountain as we returned to partially frozen Castle Lake. 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: December 10, 2017
  • Mileage (per ViewRanger): 10.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain/Loss (per ViewRanger): 2,670/2,670
  • Elevation Low/High (per ViewRanger): 5,381/6,122
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal
    • Overgrowth: minimal
    • Signage: none
    • Terrain: snow and ice with some steep sections
  • Navigation Skills: moderate, the trail junctions are not signed, some of the trail is marked with cairns, other requires compass or GPS navigation.
  • Water availability: minimal, best to bring what you need.
  • Camping availability: camping is not permitted at Castle or Heart Lakes
  • Solitude: at 5:30am, we had the place to ourselves but by 7am, we had company.
  • Bugs: none during the winter season
  • Wildlife: none except for birds and squirrels
  • Precip: none on this date
  • Temp: 20’s – 40’s
  • LNT: I picked up a mitten, otherwise trail was in good shape.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4+ cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

  • Much of the trail is shaded so plan for icy conditions at this time of year. Microspikes worked well especially on the steep downhill sections.
  • The access road can also be quite icy. It’s usually sanded but may not be if you’re looking for an early start.
  • This area typically requires snowshoes in December.
  • Be avalanche aware. #knowbeforeyougo

Links:

Resources:

CA – PCT Section P – Mt Eddy view of Mt Shasta

These gals needed some time on the PCT. I think you can see why my friend Jill’s trail name is Bright. She’s a ray of sunshine!

After spending the previous night on Castle Peak and enjoying a relaxed hike back to the trailhead, we traveled the short-distance to the Gumboot Trailhead.Our first night was spent at Porcupine Lake. Although it was late October and quite chilly, we were joined by a group of three guys planning to summit Porcupine Peak in the morning. Those sunset colors were insane!

The next day, we hiked north toward Mt Eddy. Not to be outdone, Mt Shasta kept her presence known. 

The geology of the Klamath Mountains, of which Mt Eddy is a part, is unique and has been studied extensively. College of the Siskiyous has published an excellent paper titled, “Geologic Overview of the Eastern Klamath Mountains” for those curious (related link). Jill is a bit of a geology nerd and pointed out a few things like intrusions and serpentine.

Serpentinite, produced by the metamorphism of basaltic oceanic rocks, and intrusive rocks of gabbroic to granodiorite composition are common rocks within the Klamath terranes. Source: Wikipedia

In the summer Deadfall Lake (aka Middle Deadfall) is usually a busy place but on this late fall day, we had it to ourselves. 

Upper Deadfall Lake at sunset. 

The summit of Mt Eddy was our first destination the next morning. 

Let’s find the 9,000′ summit. 

Nothing marks success quite like a summit marker. 

Jill’s great idea. We both found it a little challenging to get both the marker and the mountain in focus. 

Such a tapestry of textures, shapes and colors to the north. 

To the south is Castle Crags, recognizable by the pointy spires, but mostly hidden within the smoky blue ridge mountains (due to controlled burns). 

To the west is Mt Shasta dwarfing Black Butte. While exploring this tongue, I noticed a hiker over on the next ridge and discovered a route leading the way. I didn’t have time this day, but I’ll be back to explore that area. 

This is about where my blog banner photo was taken. 

Looking west into the Upper Deadfall Lake basin. 

We choose to spend the night with another view of Mt Shasta. Goodnight my lady . . .

Good morning from the PCT! 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: October 27-30, 2017
  • Distance: About 30 miles round trip

Links:

CA – Castle Peak view of Mt Shasta

When you have a guest, you want to show them the best, right? 

It’s a short jaunt around the shores of Castle Lake and on up to Heart Lake. You can tell by the shadows in the above photo, we’d gotten a late start. Now it was time to earn our grub. 

This is a spot that’s long been on my list. Just like my previous night on Girard Ridge, I didn’t get a WOW sunset, but who can complain about a view like this, perfect weather and spending time with a new friend. 

My 7am view. 

Good morning world!

What a view! Black Butte on the left, Mt Shasta taking center stage, Castle Lake in the middle flanked by what locals call Left Peak. If you look closely near the bottom right corner, you can see the heart of Heart Lake. 

Standing on Castle Peak (aka Middle Peak) we also had front row views of Castle Crags and the many ridges beyond. Fall in Northern California means controlled burn season, which means smoky skies and the opportunity for amazing sunsets, sunrises or in this case misty looking mountains. 

Hidden in the shadows of this ravine lies the PCT. Soon enough it was time to descend through the rubble and manzanita. 

Back at Castle Lake, we could look up toward Castle Peak (aka Middle Peak) but alas it’s a fool’s ridge as the reward awaits only those willing to climb further. 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: October 26-27, 2017
  • Distance:  8-10 miles round trip

Tips:

  • Camping is not allowed at nearby Castle nor Heart Lakes
  • Overnight parking is not allowed at the trailhead

Links:

PCT – CA Section P . . . as in Persistently Practicing Patience (Part 2)

Dates Hiked: May 22, 2015 (Part 2: Miles 1530.85-1537.19) . . . to be continued Direction: Northbound Section P: Castella to Etna -Miles: 98.5 (Halfmile 1498.7-1597.2) -Elevation: Low Point 2,157′, High Point 7,769′, Gain 17,594′, Loss 13,770′ After 10 days of stormy weather, it was time to face my retreat point and see for myself how conditions have changed.

Destination: The ridge between Deadfall Lakes and Toad Lakes

A bit of snow outlines the trail as it ascends from the Deadfall Lakes basin.

Lower Deadfall Lake

The beautiful colors of the mountains surrounding Deadfall Lakes basin.

Middle Deadfall Lake

The beginning of the snow trudgefest.

It was raining while I crossed this section of soft wet snow.

Such a contrast from 10 days prior when this was a steep snow covered slope punctuated by an avalanche fracture (Part 1 Post).

The cornice is gone . . . but . . . notice the bike tracks 😦

Only a fracture remains of what once was the cornice.

I postholed to my knees at times on this traverse. The rain stopped after I reached the ridge making for a much more pleasant descent. It was great to be able to grab some photos before the rains returned. Being wet and cold makes me question whether I have what it takes to be a long-distance hiker. I sure was glad to be heading home to an Epsom Salt soak and warm bed.

This snow traverse at 7,000+ feet is about 1/2 mile.

Not much snow on the south-facing slopes

The PCT sign is a good snow level indicator as the trail transitions from a north-facing slope into snow-free terrain.

There were several down trees, crossing with snow and on steep traverse slopes can be a challenge. The Backcountry Horsemen can’t clear the trails until the snow melts. I I was appreciative of the tree-free trail from Deadfall Lakes to Parks Creek Road.

A nice look back at the ridge separating Toad and Deadfall Lakes, showing the 1/2 mile snow traverse.

The geology in this area is quite interesting.

This is the trail crossing for the Sisson-Callahan trail, one still on my list to explore.

Ahhhh, back into my bright green forest . . . I love this section of forest. The trees are coated with a delicious shade of green – think Granny Smith apples.

Another look at Lower Deadfall Lake, this time from the PCT.

Deadfall Creek is running full with all the recent rain and snowmelt. This sprawling creek makes for an interesting crossing.

This tree was a real standout.

Looking northwest toward the Trinity Alps!

And so the story of Section P continues . . . 60 miles remaining . . .

Related Posts:

Jan’s Tips:

  • Permits are not required to backpack within Section P (exceptions Castle Crags State Park and Castle Crags Wilderness).
  • Bear canisters are not required. It is recommended that you hang your food. I use an Ursack and Opsak.
  • Cell signal and internet service are limited.
  • Spring trips mean unreliable weather forecasts and unpredictable weather. I had rain one night, sleet and hail another.
  • PCT resources
  • Sections of Section P (reference Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail by George & Patricia Semb)
    • I5/Soda Springs to Dog Trail (7.9 miles)
    • Dog Trail to Gumboot Trailhead (18.2 miles)
    • Gumboot Trailhead to Parks Creek Road Trailhead (14.3 miles)
    • Parks Creek Road Trailhead to Fen Trailhead (12 miles)
    • Fen Trailhead to Highway 3 (10.9 miles)
    • Highway 3 to Carter Summit Trailhead (19.9 miles)
    • Carter Summit Trailhead to Etna Summit (20.2 miles)

PCT Section P – Cement Bluff, Bluff Lake, Calling my Bluff?

Feeling a bit down spirited as I turned tail to retreat off The Eddy’s, my friend Dorinda and I decided to reconnoiter the north side of The Eddy’s and preview snow status for a few miles north of Park Creek Pass (Mile #1537.2).

Our destination is at the left edge of this ridge, about a 9 mile round trip hike. I’ve been to Park Creeks Trailhead numerous times but have always elected to head south toward Mount Eddy and Deadfall Lakes. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore the northern section. Things happen for a reason, right?

The trail was soft, smooth and level leading to this beautiful meadow with a few lovely water sources.

Finding High Camp Creek and an old trail to High Camp Pass will provide motivation for a return visit on a day when visibility is better.

The nearby mountains were frosted and frozen, and remained so during our entire hike. Just another reminder that spring storms can be brutal and I made a good decision to get off the slopes the previous day.

The geology in this area is completely different than that in the Deadfall Lakes basin.

First close up glance of Cement Bluff in the distance.

Bluff Lake sitting pretty below Cement Bluff

I loved the colors in this monolith, chocolate brown and bright blue. The shape sort of looked like a whale jumping out of the mountain.

Once on the bluff it was easy to see why it was named Cement. There was absolutely no sign of erosion nor rock slides. This composite rock is cemented in place. There were a couple of campsites, definitely not tent stake friendly, and no loose rock to use in place of those stakes.

Looking to the southeast at The Eddy’s and the area where I was turned around the previous day. It’s not quite visible from this angle, but along the ridge to the left hidden behind Mount Eddy.

Mount Eddy gave us a few moments of viewing before once again finding solace in the clouds.

I believe this ridge showcasing Cement Bluff is part of the Scott Mountains.

It’s worth taking a minute to climb a small ridge for this view of Mt Shasta and the town of Weed. Mt Shasta has remained mostly elusive during my entire hike through Section P, forcing me to focus on the many other beauties in the area.

It’s obvious that our wheeled friends don’t agree with PCT policies.

Trail magic is usually defined as happening upon someone who might share a drink, a treat or a ride. On this day, as we returned to the trailhead, we met a thru hiker who followed my footsteps to the cornice hanging over the Deadfall Lakes basin (link to my post). He didn’t like the steep slope containing the trail either so elected to go over and slide down the cornice. He was happy to have survived, but wouldn’t do it again nor recommend it to others. As expected there were more steep north facing slopes to traverse. He was shaken enough to skip the potentially snowy section between Highway 3 and Sawyers Bar Road. The good news is that now he’s ahead of me and I’ll get intel regarding the down trees from last summer’s fires and the winter. Furthermore, he’ll experience the crossing of Grider Creek minus the bridges and I’ll be happy to use that information to make decisions as to whether I want to proceed. Thanks Ugliest Cheerleader!

Jan’s Tips:

  • If you’re up for a bit more hiking, you’ll find Bull Lake in a couple more miles.
  • This area is loosely considered part of the Klamath Mountains, Mount Eddy range, and Shasta-Trinity Divide Mountains. For purposes of this blog, I’ve categorized the various mountain ranges that parallel Interstate-5’s western side from Castella to Gazelle, as the Trinity Divide Mountains.
  • Reference my Trinity Divide Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For day and multi-day access points along the PCT, I recommend the book, “Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail – California” by George and Patricia Semb.
  • Information about the PCT can be found on my PCT Love page.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Divide Mountains category, Hikes near Mt Shasta category, and PCT Hikes category.

PCT – CA Section P . . . as in Persistently Practicing Patience (Part 1)

Dates Hiked: May 10-12, 2015 (Part 1: Miles 1498.7-1530.85) . . . to be continued
Direction: Northbound
Section P: Castella to Etna
-Miles: 98.5 (Halfmile 1498.7-1597.2)
-Elevation: Low Point 2,157′, High Point 7,769′, Gain 17,594′, Loss 13,770′

Initially I called this post “Putting together the Pieces” as I’ve hiked many pieces of Section P, but never the entire stretch, so it felt a bit like the coming together of a puzzle.

When I finished Section O in Castella, my friend Kim hosted me for a little respite between sections, then accompanied me for the first few miles of Section P. THANK YOU for being such a fantastic Trail Angel!

Section P starts in Castle Crags State Park (camping restrictions apply).

The Park has a designated non-paved trail for the wheelchair bound. It shares the PCT for a few feet. Cool sign!

Too soon it was time to get on up the hill, carrying 7+ days of grub and a couple liters of water, sure feels different than day hiking. (Photo Credit: Kim)

Within a few miles, the PCT exits the Castle Crags State Park and enters the Castle Crags Wilderness area. Camping requires a wilderness permit unless you have a PCT permit.

I don’t think I’ve ever hiked this stretch of trail. I’ve taken the PCT from the Soda Springs Road at Interstate 5 to the Crags Trail, and from Dog Trail to the PCT to Burstarse Falls and beyond. I found the Winton Canyon Creek bridge beautiful with it’s side-cut stacked wood architecture. Water was plentiful among the many creeks and streams; however, in tune with the drought, there were just as many already dry.

Creative names, eh? I believe Ugly Creek is on this stretch also, but I seem to have missed capturing the sign.

The first glimpse of granite, just a tease of what’s to come.

Burstarse Falls is quite worthy as a destination or distraction. I did neither on this trip, but here’s a photo from one of my previous visits as a teaser to consider a detour.

It was humid, overgrown and heavy with gnats and black flies as I climbed out of the canyon. During the night there was light rain. Morning brought mist and low clouds, magical skies, and a little concern as to whether I’d made the right decision to head out knowing the forecasts called for unsettled weather all week. I had no interest in retracing my steps through that overgrown bug infested section, so onward I went. I loved feeling one with the weather. Walking into and through the clouds, watching the sun come and go, so many shadows and temperature changes.

Many days and miles have been spent over the ridge at Castle and Heart Lakes, along Bradley Ridge and another that looks down upon the PCT.

I saw the first patch of snow about 6,500′ mile 1519. Another piece of the puzzle was seeing the Soapstone Trail junction, where I’d hiked up to explore Castle Crags from a new perspective.

Grey Rocks versus nearby Gray Rocks

Grey Rocks and Seven Lakes Basin.  I’ve been told this is Boulder Peak and Echo Lake.

A George Washington $1 coin so perfectly placed on the trail in this perfectly sized hole. How long has it been here? Is it a geocache? Should I take it? or leave it?

This section of trail may have been my first steps on the PCT. In 2008, I’d joined a local hiking group, and one of my first hikes with them was to Seven Lakes Basin on the PCT. And, so my journey began . . .

Looking west into the Mumbo Basin and at Mumbo and Upper Mumbo Lake (sure wonder why such a name, except there is a big mumbled jumbled mess of rocks nearby). I believe this is the official beginning of the Trinity Divide, the division between the Trinity and Sacramento River flows, between Siskiyou and Trinity Counties.

In the distance my heart beats a little faster seeing my beloved Trinity Alps mountains, where I’ve spent more miles backpacking than anywhere else.

This photo was taken about 3:30pm, just before the thunder and lightning started, followed soon after by rain, sleet and hail. I tried unsuccessfully to capture a photo of me hiding out under my umbrella sheltered by some trees while waiting out the worst of the storm. The temperature dropped quickly, the wind was intent on counteracting the benefits of the umbrella by trying to pummel me with the hail. Funny thing is that last time I was at this location (July 2013) I was providing trail magic when a hail storm arrived. Around 5pm the precip slowed do a light drizzle so I quickly set up my tent and crawled into my sleeping bag to prevent hypothermia. By 8pm the temperature was 36, dropping further to at least 32 during the night.

It had snowed lightly during the night. I was at about 6,600′. The skies had cleared and it looked to be a beautiful day. I had a friend meeting me the next day, so I wasn’t too concerned about the continued forecast of intermittent weather; however, I knew I would need to find a spot to dry out my gear.

Just a little frost as I started my hike around 8am.

And a little snow (about 6,900′)

Big Yogi breaking trail for me (one of my bear hunting friends said that’d be a 500+ pound bear).

Yogi’s girlfriend?

A little ice

Finding Porcupine Lake could be a little daunting when the trail is lumpy and bumpy with snow. Good thing I’ve been here multiple times.

Beautiful Porcupine Lake at about 7,200′! (about to be overrun this summer by several large REI led backpacking trips – part of the WILD effect)

Back on the PCT, there were several areas between Porcupine and Toad lakes where the trail had been lost under a slope of snow. This is when previous snow hiking experience comes in handy, knowing how and when to traverse, how to kick snow steps, etc. Most importantly how to use your maps and technology as losing the trail can happen quite quickly.

Toad Lake (about 7,300′) and The Eddy range where I’ll be traversing to the far end before finding the passage down into the Deadfall Lakes basin.

Looking down at Toad Lake and the pyramid-shaped backwall to Porcupine Lake.

The snow gradually grew in depth to 4-6″ as I climbed toward the pass over the Eddy’s at about 7,700′.

Ah there’s Mount Eddy (by the way that where my blog cover photo was taken with Mt Shasta behind me) . . . but what’s this wall that lays between me and it?

Look to the right . . . Hi Mt Shasta and big red rocks . . . I’ve been here before, I know the trail is to the left and there’s a big drop off in front down to the Deadfall basin . . the wind’s blowing, it’s cold . . .

Look to the left . . . that’s where the trail lies, near the base of the steep slope . . .

I know, I know . . . I don’t want to see that avalanche fracture . . . I know there’s a hard snow base topped with a nice fresh coat of 4-8″ . . . I know a perfect storm . . I know I’M NOT GOING THAT WAY!!!

But just beyond . . the trail is clear and it looks so inviting . . .

Reassess options to the right, NO!

Reassess the fracture . . NO!

It’s not worth risking my life . . . I can hike back 8 miles to the trailhead . . . I have cell signal . . . I can call for a ride . . . It’s time to retreat Jan . . . It’s TIME! What would you do?

Flowers? did I forget flowers? NEVER, if I can help it.

I’d arranged for one of my friends to retrieve me from the trailhead in a couple of hours. As I approached the parking area, I smiled as I saw a car and wondered if I could save my friend some time. As I sat in the sun sending out my InReach checkin, I heard voices coming down the trail . . . sure enough it’s a nice couple who just completed their hike to Seven Lakes Basin and were more than happy to give me a ride down the hill to Mt Shasta. Trail Magic is real. This is a reminder to provide it when you have the opportunity and receive it thankfully when it’s provided.

And so the story continues, including meeting a hiker who followed my footsteps . . . (link to post)

Related Posts:

Jan’s Tips:

  • Permits are not required to backpack within Section P (exceptions Castle Crags State Park and Castle Crags Wilderness).
  • Bear canisters are not required. It is recommended that you hang your food. I use an Ursack and Opsak.
  • Cell signal and internet service are limited.
  • Spring trips mean unreliable weather forecasts and unpredictable weather. I had rain one night, sleet and hail another.
  • PCT resources
  • Sections of Section P (reference Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail by George & Patricia Semb)
    • I5/Soda Springs to Dog Trail (7.9 miles)
    • Dog Trail to Gumboot Trailhead (18.2 miles)
    • Gumboot Trailhead to Parks Creek Road Trailhead (14.3 miles)
    • Parks Creek Road Trailhead to Fen Trailhead (12 miles)
    • Fen Trailhead to Highway 3 (10.9 miles)
    • Highway 3 to Carter Summit Trailhead (19.9 miles)
    • Carter Summit Trailhead to Etna Summit (20.2 miles)