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TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:00 am
by Wandering Daisy
Stuart Fork
Trinity Alps, northern CA, Oct. 21-25, 2011

We decided to squeeze one more trip out of the lingering fall. Debating between Marble Mountains and Trinity Alps, we choose the latter, primarily due to the shorter drive. We left just in time to get stuck in the morning traffic commute before hitting I5 and faster travel to Redding, where we turned off towards Weaverville. We self registered at 12:30 at the Forest Service office and reached Bridge Camp trailhead at 1:00. On the trail at 1:30 we hoped to beat the darkness and hike the 5 miles to Boulder Creek to camp. Slow and steady we proceeded and found a nice campsite on Boulder Creek at 5PM. We quickly set up camp and hubby went fishing. My attempt simply tied a horrible knot in my fly line. Hubby came back with two small fish- a meager addition to dinner, but nonetheless appreciated. Dinner was finished in darkness, and our little campfire had burned out so we were off to the tent in darkness by 7PM.

Dawn arrived damp and cold. We quickly cooked breakfast and packed up for our longer day of 7.5 miles and 2,000 feet gain to Emerald Lake. After miles deep in forest, we finally broke out with a peek at the river below. We reached Morris Meadow for an early lunch, our first real rest break. We met a few people from a large group camped at the north end of Morris Meadow and passed their tents at the large and beautiful established campsite. Then it was one more uphill section, through brilliant yellow and orange leaves that were literally falling to the ground before our eyes. When we reached the upper valley, we were rewarded by an expansive view. By now we were tired but really wanted to reach Emerald Lake and had plenty of daylight left. Our pace slowed to that of a snail’s, but we finally reached the lake at 4PM, just enough time for my dead-tired husband to suddenly get a burst of energy and off fishing he went. Three fellows were camped in the trees fairly near us but did not see us. Soon I heard a crack of a rifle. Later I met the fellows- they were not hunting, but just thought it would be "neat" to shoot across the lake to hear the echo. My dear husband was across the lake fishing. Sorry, they said, they did not know we were there. What idiots! Then the built an illegal fire. Arrogant idiots! This time I gave my husband the edict- back at camp by 5:30 because I was not interested in cooking fish in the dark again! He came back with three smallish fish, which again, tasted delicious even though they were just tidbits. Relaxing in the tent felt great. I tried out my new IPod Shuffle and listened to a book on tape until 9PM, which certainly helped make the long night more bearable. This night was much warmer and I slept great. The stars were magnificent. There sometimes is a silver lining to having to get up several times at night!

Morris Meadow

Image Walking through brilliant fall colors

Image Upper Valley below Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

We slept in until 8AM! Today was a rest day; hubby spent the entire day fishing the entire south side of Emerald Lake. I headed up to Sapphire Lake reaching it in 45 minutes and hiking to the end of the trail which improbably clung to cliffs until it ended mid-shore in a tangle of brush in a steep gully. Back to the outlet fish were jumping, so I decided to go back and get my fishing gear. Down I went, ate a bit of lunch and then back up the trail to fish. On the way up I spotted my naked husband taking a brief swim at the inlet to Emerald Lake. So this is how he fished! Although the knot in my tapered leader was now undone, the crinkly line did not play out very well. I tried several flies, then gave up in frustration and cut the damaged end off the leader and tried again. All the fish seemed just out of my reach. One nibbled but I did not set the hook. On the way back I dropped to the inlet to Emerald Lake and tried again, with little luck. Then I tried the outlet, took my own swim/bath and headed downstream from the outlet, again no luck. Hubby came back with seven nice little fish. With heads and tails off, they just fit into our little frying pan. We had both run into two fellows today who were measuring lake depths for some research. They had measured Emerald Lake at 70 feet. They were still out in Sapphire Lake before I left so no information on this lake depth. We never saw them come back so hope they did not sink to the bottom. Two deer walked into our camp. It was last day of hunting season. It was another warm night with brilliant stars.

Sahhire Lake from outlet

End of trail at Sapphaire Lake

More fall colors

Image Fish for dinner

We awoke to high clouds that came and went all day long. We had planned two days to walk back. We left at 8:30 and noticed that a lot of leaves had fallen off the trees since we had walked up the trail a few days earlier. We reached our planned campsite at 1:30 and decided to push on a few more miles. This was not the greatest decision as we never found another suitable campsite and ended up walking out the entire 12 miles. We were being too picky, hoping that a better camp spot would be “just around the corner”. My faulty memory thought there were plenty of nice campsites –flat spots, yes, but high on a bluff above water. We found a nice site at Bridge Campground, cooked dinner and slept in the back of the truck. Next morning was foggy and cold and we were glad to get into the warm truck. We stopped in Weaverville for a nice civilized breakfast and drove home. We seemed to have picked the perfect timing for brilliant fall colors. The mixed forest made great contrasts between the dark green trees and colorful deciduous vegetation. The deep canyon allowed precious little sunlight. It was perfect hiking temperature and not a mosquito in sight. Due to this year’s high snowpack, the vegetation was still lush and lots of small water sources were still running. The trail looked as if it were recently worked on and was in perfect condition. Two nice bridges eliminated any need to wade streams. Our only regret was the fishing was poorer than we expected.

More fall colors as we walked out



Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:51 pm
by Troutdog 59
Very nice TR and Pics WD!!! Love the fall colors. I'm looking at hading up that way next summer so your TR adds a little recent info to the list. I'm looking at hiking to Papoose from Hobo Gulch. Not sure if you fly fish exclusively, but if not you might want to try a spinning rod to get at those distant risers. Just a thought. Again, thanks for another wonderful post!!

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:01 pm
by gary c.
Great report and beautiful pictures for sure. :thumbsup:

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:24 pm
by Timberline
A wonderful read, WD. So like the Sierra, and yet so different. Trips this time of year are always the most special ones; your narrative conveys it clearly. Glad you found it that way. :)

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:40 pm
by giantbrookie
Very nice report and beautiful photos. The Trinity Alps are truly a scenic place and the fall colors really highlight things beatifully.

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:25 pm
by Cross Country
My girlfriend and I took a trip to Emerald Lake in July of 1962.

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:55 pm
by TehipiteTom
Great report, nice pics. I would love to do a trip up the Stuart Fork sometime; so far I've just done trips east (Anna & 4 Lake Loop) and west (Canyon Creek) of there.

Re: TR Trinity Alps

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 8:31 pm
by Matthew
Great report. I got thoroughly confused with your directions until I realised that adjacent valley's in the Trinity Alps both have east flowing Boulder Creeks with trails along them!