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Caribou Wilderness

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Caribou Wilderness

Postby balzaccom » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:14 am

OK--this is right at the northern end of the Sierra, so move it if you want!

We're just back from three days of some of the most peaceful and relaxing hiking we've done a many a year: twenty-three miles of lake after lake in the Caribou Wilderness.

It was a long drive from Napa, so we didn't get started until well after lunch, and we hoped to hike in about six miles. Leaving Caribou Lake itself, we went up towards Turnaround Lake, passing Jewel and Eleanor Lakes on the way, as well as a few smaller ponds that haven't been named yet.

We weren't sure that we would make it all six miles, but as it turned out the six miles included only about 500 feet of elevation gain, and that was done very gently, with only one serious switchback. In fact, in twenty-three miles of hiking we counted only three switchbacks in the Caribou Wilderness. This is pretty easy hiking.

The only real challenge was the number of deadfall trees across the trail...which were everywhere. But there was usually a quick route around them, or they were low enough to step over. There were quite a few good campsites at Triangle Lake, and even though the first two were occupied, we soon found a place that would work just fine--albeit designed for a group of twenty. We fit our tent into a small corner of the site, and sat back to enjoy the peace and quiet.

And cool temperatures. It never got above 70 degrees on this hike, and in the cool shadows of evening, we were wearing most of the clothes we brought.

The next morning it was darned cold--close to freezing. We slept in a bit, and didn't hit the trail until about 9 a.m. We continued on our route around Triangle Lake. Turnaround Lake had only one campsite occupied, but it did have a lone wood duck patrolling the surface. And from there we passed Black Lake and the two Divide Lakes (North and South) on our way to Long Lake. All of this hiking was between 6750 and 7000 feet of elevation, and so we easily hiked the six miles in well less than three hours, even though we stopped for photos, a snack, etc.

Long Lake had quite a few good campsites, and they ranged from very developed sites to areas that were seemingly untouched, but still perfectly usable. We choose to stay in a developed site on the peninsula on the West shore of the lake.

We set up camp, ate lunch and then decided to do a quick day hike of the Posey Lake Loop. This is a five-mile route through at least ten lakes, and it certainly didn't disappoint us. In a little over two hours we were back at our camp, and trying to remember the names of all the lakes we'd seen.

We met a few small groups each day on the trail, but all of them seemed rather quite and reserved--unlike some of the "epic" hikers we sometimes meet in the Sierra. This place has a different, and very pleasant, vibe. T

hat evening we settled into our camp and put on all our clothes again. It was a bit breezy, and the clouds had changed from high cirro-stratus to puffier cumulus...some of which looked a little bit dark and threatening. By dusk they had all pretty much disappeared. Of course, at 4 a.m. it started sprinkling...but not enough for us to worry.

The next morning we forced ourselves to get started just a bit earlier, and despite the cold weather we were on the trail by 8:30. From Long Lake it was a quick six miles back to the car, passing the Divide Lakes again, as well as turn-offs to Emerald and Gem Lakes.

We were back at the car by 11, and into Chester in time for lunch. Here's a link to the full report on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/backpackt ... landolakes

And here's a link to the rest of the photos: https://goo.gl/photos/PX5SSGp4cNB2zyGYA

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

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Re: Caribou Wilderness

Postby rhyang » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:55 pm

I keep meaning to go up there, and autumn seems like the time to go (have heard the skeeters in early season are ferocious). Loved the pics !

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Re: Caribou Wilderness

Postby psykokid » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:14 pm

rhyang wrote:(have heard the skeeters in early season are ferocious).

Indeed, very nice trip report! There is so much nice territory up in that neck of the woods. And the fact that it's very lightly visited even in the peak season makes it a nice get away.

I grew up near the bottomlands of the Mississippi River and the mozzies there were pretty fierce. Or so I thought until I visited Caribou one summer to check it out while up in that area around the 4th of July. On the skeeter scale we use here of 1-5, Caribou in peak skeeter season rates up there as an 11..
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Re: Caribou Wilderness

Postby paul » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:28 pm

My son went in there in June, planning to spend a couple nights. Got to Long Lake, too many skeeters to even stand still, turned right around and walked straight back to the trailhead. Definitely a late summer or fall place.
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Re: Caribou Wilderness

Postby dave54 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:29 pm

Over 600 bodies of water one acre or larger in that small wilderness. The central lowlands of the Caribou is basically one giant conifer marsh in the Spring & early Summer. I did my thesis on fire modeling in the Caribou. In it I described the principal wildlife species as the mosquito. One of the review panel was familiar with the area and laughed. Just other side of the NP/Caribou boundary the soils are just different enough that there is less surface water and only a fraction of the mosquitoes.

Caribou Wilderness was one of the original Wild Areas that pre-date the 1964 Wilderness Act, established 1947 IIRC.
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Re: Caribou Wilderness

Postby rlown » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:34 pm

that cracked me up in a good way!! =D>
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