CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Flowers, Ice and So Much More (May 2021)

As the snow recedes in the high country, Snow Plants (Sarcodes sanguinea) welcome spring. When I caught wind they’d arrived, I made it a priority to go see them the next day. These are the most pristine specimens I’ve ever seen.

Snow plant has no chlorophyll; it derives nutrition from fungi underneath the soil, and for this reason the plant is called “mycotrophic”. These fungi are the mycorrhizae (“fungus-roots”) of conifers, an interesting topic by itself. Many conifers (among other plants) require these fungi to live normally. Mycorrhizae are composed of strands of cells (mycelia) that grow about in the soil; these strands are quite numerous and extensive, and the conifer uses them to bring water and minerals to itself. In return, the conifer provides the fungus with some of the products of its photosynthesis. Snow plant takes advantage of this felicitous arrangement by parasitizing the mycorrhizae of the photosynthate provided it by the conifer, which makes sense, given that it is a plant without chlorophyll, and therefore a plant that cannot photosynthesize. In this indirect way, Sarcodes is a parasite of conifers; this is why they are always seen beneath (or very close to) them.

https://www.fs.fed.us/…/plant…/sarcodes_sanguinea.shtml

The snow plant emerges like a bright red nose.

Soon they look like a red pinecone.

As the plants matures, flowers the candle-like leaves open revealing a flower. Eventually fruit will fill the flower. “The fruit is a capsule containing sticky seeds. Once ripened, seed is released through an opening at the base of the style.”

Seeing the aquamarine ice of the melting lakes had been on my must-see list. While the lakes are conveniently located next to the road, winter closure keeps them inaccessible until the road is plowed unless you want to walk or ride about 5 miles from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. This is Helen Lake with Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller and Pilot Pinnacle in the background.

What causes the color? I’m guessing it has to do with (1) the minerals in the water and/or (2) glacial silt. There are no longer active glaciers at Lassen but maybe there is enough silt remaining? I wonder how long it’ll take the lakes to melt? This is a closer view from Emerald Lake.

Most trails are still buried under the snow and with limited mobility I was limited to wandering around mostly snow-free lakes although Summit Lake still had a bit more than I should have navigated. This is a view of Lassen Peak from the shores of Summit Lake where there is a one-mile perimeter trail.

One of the views of Lassen Peak from the 2-mile trail around Manzanita Lake.

Reflection Lake offers this reflection of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak as one wanders the one-mile loop.

This view of Chaos Crags was captured from the road. It was shocking to see it nearly barren of snow in early May. But then again it’s been an extremely low snow year and I read this is the earliest the 30-mile road through the park has opened in 40 years. “The road clearing process in 2019 wasn’t finished until June 22, and it went all they way to July 26th in 2017.”

Lassen Peak should be buried but instead it’s ready to be hiked, and in fact on this day the road opened there were at least a dozen vehicles in the parking lot.

I returned ten days later and found a few more blooms including these Marsh Marigolds.

These were tiny Fawn Lilies.

Not to be outdone in the tiny flower department, these were miniature violets.

There are lots of plants hiding their identification including this one, although a botany friend guessed Pedicularis attollens aka baby elephant heads, another favorite.

Lily pond was filled with yellow buds. I’m looking forward to a colorful mat on my next visit.

I anticipate this meadow showcasing Pilot Pinnacle will be filled with Corn Lilies.

Meanwhile Helen Lake was still in the melting stage.

Another round of snow plants were emerging from their winter nests. My goal is to find mature plants sporting seed-filled fruits in the flower.

Just outside the Park on the southern end is Child’s Meadows and I was hopeful to find mass distribution of camas. It appears I should have stopped during my previous visit.

I never regret stopping to enjoy this view of Brokeoff Mountain from Child’s Meadows.

What will June bring? I plan to return to Lassen regularly to enjoy the transition from spring to summer. It’s a great place to continue to work on my knee rehab as many of the trails are gentle. Until then . . . .

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.

CA – Eastern Sierra, North Lake Piute Pass Trail . . . it’s an autumnal palette

My trip the previous day from South Lake to Bishop Pass exceeded expectations in terms of fall foliage, geology and views. Will North Lake to Piute Pass be another winner? First impressions at North Lake were that color had peaked.

It was 29F degrees when I arrived at the trailhead. So while I was adding layers and trying to find my hiking mojo, I watched these packers head out. I later met a couple of hunters who’d hired this crew to carry gear and supplies to and from their camp.

Sun was out, it was time to go.

It wasn’t long before I was smiling.

This is the view looking back toward the trailhead. There’s a popular backpacking loop using North and South Lakes as beginning and ending points. After hiking both, I’d choose to start at South Lake where the climb to Bishop Pass is much more gradual than going from North Lake to Piute Pass.

Loch Leven

This view made my heart go pitter patter.

Piute Lake

Stairs to more sierra goodness.

First views of Piute Pass.

Nice little tarn.

I’ve come to expect a lot of false summits in the sierra. Will this be the top of the pass?

Nope, not quite.

And then there I was looking down on Summit Lake (not the same one near Green Creek Trail). As has become custom on this series of day trips, I’d dream of someday visiting Humphrey’s Basin.

There wasn’t a cool sign marking the pass but I did find this benchmark survey marker.

I could only wonder about these signs or markers.

Looking down toward Piute Lake and Loch Leven, flanked by Mount Emererson.

On the way back to the trailhead, the lighting was much better for enjoying the colorful geology.

Talk about perfect fall hiking weather. I couldn’t believe I was gifted another week. I’m not quite sure why I was being a baby about overnighting but whatever, I was just glad to be out and about experiencing such amazing wonders crowd and bug free. Oh where oh where shall I go next? There sure isn’t a shortage of choices.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 10, 2019

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • Take extra precautions in selecting your parking site. I’m guessing it’s quite busy in the summer with lots of tickets issued.
  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower I recommend The Hostel California rather than the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi. Astorgia’s is a fab mexican food option.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).

Resources:

Links:

CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park . . . fall adventures

For those following my travels, it took a couple months to recover from surgery (link) and then it was time to get back on the horse. I was missing trails and outdoor time. Wildfire smoke had kept me indoors and away from my happy spot for far too long. 

I was welcomed back in style. 

Hike #1 – Terrace Lake Trailhead

Terrace Lake 

Shadow Lake

Paradise Meadows 

Hiking Date: October 10, 2018

 

 

 

Hike #2 – Kings Creek Falls Trailhead

Sifford Lake 

Kings Creek Falls 

Kings Creek 

Hiking Date: October 17, 2018

Hike #3 – Brokeoff Mountain Trailhead 

Hiking Date: October 24, 2018

Hike #4 – Kings Creek Picnic Area Trailhead

Crumbaugh Lake

Bumpass Hell 

Cold Boiling Lake 

Hiking Date: October 31, 2018

Hike #5 – Summit Lake Trailhead

Summit Lake 

Big Bear Lake

Silver Lake 

Feather Lake 

Lower Twin Lake

Upper Twin Lake 

Echo Lake 

Hiking Date: November 5, 2018

Eye Candy

Volcan’s Eye on Lassen Peak 

Manzanita Lake 

Resources:

Links:

 

WY – Bridger Wilderness, Elkhart Trailhead (Part 3 of 4)

After a day in Titcomb Basin and another in Indian Basin, it was time to explore areas further north while creating some distance from both the weekend and eclipse crowds. 

So I said goodbye to my lovely campsite with this welcoming sunrise. 

I love hiking in the early morning. 

Instead of returning to the trail junction, I opted to hike cross country through the Island Lake basin to connect with the Highline Trail #094 (aka Continental Divide Trail aka CDT) near the Fremont Crossing Bridge. I was so sick of hiking stock-beaten trails. I’d sank to my knee in this muck my first day. 

Let’s play, make a route. 

Then there I was at the Fremont Crossing Bridge

To the Jean Lake’s I go. 

Lower Jean Lake

I know these for-profit pack trains are required to obtain permits, but I wonder if a fee is involved? If so, the forest service should be using those funds to repair the trails. If not, the groups should be required to participate in maintenance. There were so many on these trails and as a result the tread was a mess for hikers. Rant over! When rocks had been placed in low spots, it made a huge difference in being able to hike through, although it was still a bit like playing hopscotch.

The stream connecting Upper and Lower Jean Lakes. 

This waterfall was gorgeous. I spent a lot more time enjoying this location on my way back through. 

So much water. 

Even on this trail snow traverses were required. 

Of course you know whenever I find flowers and granite, I’m happy! 

It’s hard to tell, but my tent is on a bench above Upper Jean Lake. There were many benches and options for camping although finding privacy for potty time was another issue. There is a small lake just off trail, perfect for a short dip.

The next day, objective one was to summit Shannon Pass

Looks quick and easy, right? 

Looking back down at Jean Lakes. 

Also looks shorter and flatter than it really is. 

There are some nice ponds near the top. 

And, yes more snow traverses. 

The top is within sight, or just another false summit? 

Such a tease. 

In reality it only took me about 45 minutes to ascend but it sure felt longer. 

Peak Lake is another popular destination. The scree fields on the far side of the lake are the beginning of the route over Knapsack Col. I’m so happy with my decision to skip that option after seeing this. I really dislike hiking on scree!

It was great to enjoy the occasional floral display before I hit hell. 

Now I know why this is called Cube Rock Pass. Not my idea of fun 😦

30 minutes later I’m still having fun, NOT!

I was so happy to be out of that rock hell. Took me about 45 minutes to get to this point. 

Now time to lose lots of elevation, visit some wildflower meadows and drop back into treeline. 

I passed over Vista Pass without noticing anything special. It certainly wasn’t memorable. I transitioned to the Highline Trail #094 (aka CDT) heading south toward Summit Lake. It took me about 2.5 hours to descend to this junction from Cube Rock Pass.

Green River Pass was another one that I didn’t recognize immediately. 

There is a long green mesa/plateau between Green River Pass and Summit Lake. It was a huge surprise and I found myself at Summit Lake before I knew it.

This would have been a great place to have watched the solar eclipse, but alas my timing was off. 

As I descended from Summit Lake, I found this welcoming waterfall. 

Looking back at the mesa. 

I was treated to this fiery sunrise from camp the next morning. It’s Eclipse Day! Will the clouds stay away?

My private pond for the night. 

As I headed into the Elbow Lakes Basin, Mother Nature was keeping the suspense high. 

I decided to stop here for the eclipse viewing. I was headed toward higher mountains and worried the clouds might back up against the peaks preventing a clear view. The wind was blowing and it was quite chilly while I hung out for about 1.5 hours. 

I hadn’t researched options for capturing the big event so mostly I just experienced it. But I did capture this photo during Total Eclipse and the next one as the eclipse passed. You can also compare to the before photo above. They don’t even come close to the WOW I experienced during and after the event. The wind stopped, it became freezing cold, so very quiet and a little eerie. 

After the big event, I walked in silence through the Elbow Lakes Basin enjoying the natural beauty. It seemed like it took 15-30 minutes before the atmosphere returned to normal. 

I really liked this softer side of the Winds. I could see myself returning to the Elbow Lakes Basin to roam this hills. 

Soon I was back at the Shannon Pass junction and headed back down to Jean Lakes

I spent lunch enjoying this waterfall between Upper and Lower Jean Lakes. It was funny I watched a group of four grumpies march by without even giving it or me a glance. 

Lower Jean Lake is huge. It’s slightly off trail with plenty of private dispersed camp areas in the trees. 

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/19-20/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 20-25 miles (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, constant up and down (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: none
    • Overgrowth: minimal
    • Signage: moderate on main trails
    • Terrain: most memorable was the challenge of Cube Rock Pass with some bouldering, plus several areas of snow travel, some soggy hiking and wet feet water crossings.
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: excellent
  • Solitude: Moderate
  • Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t use any repellent this trip
  • Wildlife Sightings: none beyond birds, squirrels, chipmunks, pika, and marmuts
  • Precip: None this day
  • Temp: Dropped to 33 overnight in my tent
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4 cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, bugs and navigation. Also review current food protection requirements/guidelines (I used an Ursack with an Opsack liner). If I were to hike this loop again, I’d use my bear canister as in many areas there were no trees to use as an anchor for my Ursack.

Links:

Resources:

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Stoney Ridge Trailhead

Destination: Van Matre Meadows

Van Matre Meadows are about 5.5 miles 3,000′ elevation gain from the trailhead

The trail rounds the bend to Stonewall Pass while temping hikers with a green shoulder leading to Granite Peak.

At Stonewall Pass, looking north into Red Mountain Meadow

At Stonewall Pass, looking south down at Trinity Lake

Lovely Van Matre Meadows, looking west toward Stuart Fork mountains.

Leaving Van Matre Meadows enroute to Echo Lake and Little Stonewall Pass, subalpine ponds or tide pools can be seen in the Deep Creek Drainage.

From Little Stonewall Pass, looking toward Echo Lake and Granite Peak.

Sunset alpine glow at Echo Lake

Siligo Meadows back dropped by Gibson Peak.

From Deer Creek Pass, looking south at Siligo Meadow and far in the distance Stonewall Pass.

From Deer Creek Pass, looking down at Deer Lake, and across at Siligo Peak (gray granite).

From atop Siligo Peak, looking down at Round Lake, and across to Seven Up and Gibson Peaks. Mt Shasta is visible in the far background.

Seven Up Peak and Mt Shasta

From atop Siligo Peak, looking down at Summit Lake, Siligo & Van Matre meadows. The trail from Deer Lake is off to the left (with a few snow patches remaining). The switchback trail down to Diamond Lake is near the middle of photo).

From the shores of Summit Lake

Another view of Deer Lake (with better lighting)

Sunrise alpine glow in Van Matre Meadow at my campsite.

The timing of this trip was perfect to enjoy wildflowers galore.

Jan’s Tips:

  • The access road is in much better condition than it has been for quite a few years. In my opinion, a high-clearance 4×4 is no longer required.
  • The Stoney Ridge Trail was in superior condition. To my recollection, the best trail condition I’ve encounter in the Trinity Alps in many years.
  • On this low snow year, late June was perfect timing for a fantastic wildflower display; however, many streams were already dry. Planning on water sources normally available could be problematic.
  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc. (SUMMER 2014:  Fire Restrictions)
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

 

 

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Long Canyon Trailhead . . . summer jaunting

In my trails book, this loop is called Disneyland for wilderness lovers due to the amazing views per mile. However, to enjoy this Disneyland you best have eaten your Wheaties and love switchbacks (aka STEEP terrain)! We entered from the Long Canyon Trailhead.

Siligo Meadows from Bee Tree Gap at 7,200′

The trail from Deer Lake to Summit Lake, Siligo Peak is the gray granite (an easy off-trail scramble)

Looking down on Deer Lake from Deer Creek Pass, the beginning of the 4-Lakes Loop.

Looking east toward Deer Lake, Granite Peak and Seven-Up Peak.

From Siligo Peak, looking back at the trail coming up from Deer Lake and looking over at Summit Lake. Siligo Meadows are between the two ridges behind Summit Lake.

Summit Lake and the trail down to Diamond Lake, the next destination on the 4-Lakes Loop.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake and mountains from the Stuart Fork drainage

Lake Luella the 4th Lake of the Loop

From Bee Tree Gap, time to descend back to the Long Canyon Trailhead

Jan’s Tips:

(1) If you are visiting during peak season, consider camping at Siligo Meadows rather than the lakes where there is little privacy and sanitation can be a problem. There are springs available in the meadows as well as established campsites.

(2) The loop requires about the same amount of ascending and descending whether done clockwise or counterclockwise. We did it counterclockwise, starting at Deer Creek Pass, descending to Deer Lake, ascending to Summit Lake Pass, taking the side trail down to Summit Lake and back up to main trail, descending to Diamond Lake, descending to Lake Luella, then climbing first back up to Deer Lake, then finally back up to Deer Creek Pass. Plan on a bit more climbing if you want to bag Siligo Peak.

(2) Visit my trail links page for resources on the Trinity Alps Wilderness.