TR: Trinity Alps (6/24 - 6/26/15) | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Trinity Alps (6/24 - 6/26/15)

A forum that'll feed your need for exploring the limitless adventure possibilities found in "other" places. Post trip reports or ask questions about outdoor adventures beyond the Sierra Nevada here.
User avatar

TR: Trinity Alps (6/24 - 6/26/15)

Postby pakoR » Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:28 pm

The original plan was to hike a 4-day loop starting and ending at the Canyon Creek Lakes TH.
1. Canyon Creek Lakes TH on the Bear Creek Trail to Morris Meadows
2. Morris Meadows over Sawtooth Ridge to Caribou Lake
3. Caribou Lake to Mirror Lake, over the ridge at the end of the canyon to L Lake
4. Hike Sawtooth Peak, then back to the TH on Canyon Creek Trail

We camped on Thursday night at Ripstein campground. There were maybe 3 other parties at the CG; we arrived around 10pm. It's a pretty well-kept CG sitting next to Canyon Creek. Temps were in the 50's at night and not a lot of bugs.
Image

On Friday morning we drove to the trailhead, and started hiking on the Bear Creek Trail. The trail is well maintained and exposed, with a few sections of sandy soil. About 4.5 miles in and 3200' of elevation later, we reached the pass on the trail.

SE view from the pass
Image

NW view from the pass, Little Granite Peak
Image

Once over the pass, the trail was less defined and you couldn't readily see it. It would disappear in the thick chest-high vegetation, and where there was open ground, you had to search for it here and there. It didn't look like it was very much traveled.

Continuing after the pass
Image
Image

After some bushwhacking, we reached Stuart Fork. Crossing it required hopping over some boulders if you didn't want to get wet. There is a nice campground on the east side of the river. The Stuart Fork Trail is just above the campground. In comparison to the trail we had left behind, Stuart Fork Trail looked like a super-highway.

Stuart Fork
Image

Campground
Image

Stuart Fork Trail
Image

The rest of the way up to Morris Meadows was a walk in the park. There are many swimming holes along the way for breaks and refreshing. As we entered the meadow, we found a large campground which could easily fit 5 or 6 tents. We decided to spend the night here; there is a creek nearby with a few swimming holes. The next morning along the trail to Emerald Lake, we would find 3 other well-used campgrounds along the creek. It was warm at night, with temps in the high 50s, and no bugs.

Image

Image

Morris Meadows
Image

Creek and swimming hole near Morris Meadows camp
Image

On Friday, we continued along Stuart Fork and passed Portuguese Camp and a few other campsites along the river. The trail here sees a lot of traffic and is easy to follow, though sometimes the vegetation has grown in from both sides, but you never lose the trail. All along, Sawtooth Ridge looked very daunting. Trying to figure out where the trail would cross the ridge was mind boggling. There is a sign indicating the trail to Caribou Lake. From here to the pass on Sawtooth Ridge, one ascends about 2500' in about 2 miles or so. The first 3/4 of the ascent is easy to walk on, but the last 1/4 is loose rock on steep switchbacks. However, the views are breathtaking all the way up, and once on the pass, nothing short of fantastic as you catch a glimpse of Caribou Lake.

Trail leading out of Morris Meadows
Image

Looking across the canyon
Image

Trail up to Sawtooth Ridge and to Caribou Lake
Image

Emerald Lake, Sapphire Lake
Image

Morris Meadows from Sawtooth Ridge
Image

Caribou Lake from Sawtooth Ridge
Image

From the pass down to Caribou Lake is an easy stroll. We set up camp on some granite outcrop overlooking the lake. Clouds starting gathering above the lake, and for a while it looked as if it might rain. After a few hours the clouds dissipated and the sky was blue again. The trail continues north of Caribou Lake. We walked about a mile of it, just enough to glimpse Lower Caribou Lake and Snowslide Lake. There was a party of people at Snowslide having a good time in the water. There were 2 other parties camping at Caribou who had come in from the north.

Trail from the pass to Caribou Lake
Image

Image

Lower Granite Lake, Snowslide Lake
Image

Snowslide Lake
Image

Granite bowl surrounding Caribou Lake
Image

Caribou Lake
Image

Sunday was to be the longest and most difficult day. We would go back up the way we came in, down to Stuart Fork, then to Mirror Lake. We started at 6am and the day was already warming up. We reached the pass within an hour and sat down to absorb the beauty of the area. The south side of the pass was covered in wildflowers which I hadn't really payed attention to the day before. The descent to Stuart Creek will take a toll on your knees; poles are highly recommended. Continuing up the canyon, we reached Emerald Lake which we had been staring at all morning long. The section from Emerald to Sapphire lake is primarily walking on granite: crushed rock, steps, and boulders. At Sapphire Lake we encountered some steel pipes, gears, and rails, remnants of old mining operations.

Wildflowers and amazing views
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Emerald and Sapphire Lakes
Image

Sparrow?
Image

Some kind of berries
Image

Yarrow
Image

Fireweed
Image

American Robin having a snack
Image

Emerald Lake
Image

Image

Sapphire Lake
Image

Image

Image

We were supposed to hike up to Mirror Lake, and over the ridge to L Lake. However, as we sat under the shade of a tree, taking a break, marvelling at the landscape, snacking, contemplating life, and simply being lazy, we decided that this portion would be better left for another day. From here on out, there is no trail; all cross-country travel. On the way in, we encountered some people who had hiked up to Mirror Lake, but had mentioned it was quite a trek. From under the tree, it looked like it was going to be a good deal of bushwhacking through dense shoulder-high shrubs and more hopping around on granite boulders; in short a pretty long day.

So we headed back out to Morris Meadows, and the way we came in. However, neither one of us was looking forward to ascending 3000' feet on the Bear Creek Trail from Stuart Fork. We decided to exit at the Stuart Fork TH, camp there, and then worry about getting back to the Canyon Creek Lakes TH on Monday. On the plus side, most of the trail is downhill, and it follows the river with lots of swimming holes to rest, and great views.

When we reached the TH, we struck up a conversation with a couple who were out walking their dogs. It turned out they were from Weaverville, and they would be able to give us a ride back to our car. It was very kind of them to drive us the 40 some miles from Stuart Fork TH to Canyon Creek Lakes TH.

Trail sign for Caribou Lake
Image

Honey bee
Image

Common sneezeweed
Image

Fritillary butterfly
Image

Lounging lizards
Image

Great Basin Wood-nymph
Image

Image

It was our first time backpacking in the Trinity Alps, and we enjoyed it very much. With so many springs, streams, and creeks flowing, I would have expected to be eaten alive by hoards of mosquitoes. However, they weren't a nuisance at all. I imagine earlier in the season it would have been a different story. Hope you enjoyed the photos.

fco



User avatar
pakoR
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 8:17 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Trinity Alps (6/24 - 6/26/15)

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:43 pm

Thank you for this beautiful TR, to a beautiful area, love the pictures, great to see the wild flowers so abundant, have not been up there in ages, definitely one of the highlights of the Nor Cal (Mirror, Grizzly Lake in the Trinity Alps, and Spirit Lake in the Marbles being the best IMO).
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Trinity Alps (6/24 - 6/26/15)

Postby BakoGal » Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:33 pm

In 1 1/2 years I'm moving to Scott Valley, and this area will be my backyard. Thank you for the many photos and preview of what is to come.
User avatar
BakoGal
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:31 am
Experience: N/A


Return to Beyond The Sierra Nevada



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests