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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Trip Report: Emigrant Wilderness

This year's backpacking trip was suddenly changed to the Emigrant Wilderness (so named because it adjuncts the old wagon road into California) because a cold spell was forecast and Arturo decided that it was a good idea to go lower and not freeze ourselves. We hadn't been hiking much this year, so the proposed length of 4.5 miles sounded good to me.

We drove up on Friday night as soon as Bowen's school let up, and navigated horrendous traffic all the way to  the Pinecrest Ranger Station after a burger dinner. It was already late, so we visited the Meadowview Campground, paid $28 for a site, and went to sleep.
The next day, we headed over to the Crabtree trailhead, repacked all our belongings, and headed down the trail. As a last minute decision, I decided to bring the hammock, since it was only an overnight trip and my pack felt light. This turned out to be a good decision. Because we were at a lower elevation, the hiking didn't feel as hard as in previous years, and even Bowen whined a little less than usual.
For it being the weekend the day after labor day, the trail was fairly crowded, with relatively few day hikers but lots of backpackers heading up the trail. Arturo had picked up a permit, saying, "The chances of meeting a ranger are low", but of course we did meet one. Arturo offered to show him the permit but when the ranger found out that the permit was stowed in a hard to reach compartment of the backpack he declined and just said, "I'll trust you." He told us that on the far end of the lake there would be more campsites if the main ones were full.
At Camp Lake, it was time for lunch so we found a spot next to the lake, set up the hammock, and proceeded to eat lunch and enjoy the spot. Bowen felt the water and said it felt warm, not cool, so we had hopes that Bear Lake would be swimmable, even though it would be cooler, since it was significantly bigger.

Bear Lake was only a mile and a half away from Camp Lake, so after lunch, we kept going. Camp Lake was attractive, but there were lots of signs saying: "No camping between trail and Lake", which meant that any camping we did there would be quite far away from water. In retrospect, it would have been a much less crowded campground, with better swimming, but that's only in retrospect.
At Bear Lake, we found that all the spots near the trail was taken, but Arturo hiked around and found a big area that would have been suitable for a group three times our size. We hurriedly took it, pitching tents and putting up the hammock to indicate the boundaries of our spot. None too soon, for another big family came by and eyed our campsite jealously, but moved on and took a spot further along the lake. After all that we gathered firewood for the night's campfire, which was quite an effort since the area was quite denuded of dead wood!
Then it was swimming time, and sure enough, the lake while cold, wasn't too cold to swim in. It was fun and felt fresh, since we hadn't had showers the day before. We then made dinner and watched the sunset. The clouds that had appeared earlier while swimming had gone away, leaving us a crystal clear sky. Arturo told us this was normal in the Sierra during low pressure --- there's not enough moisture during the summer for the clouds to stick! Arturo taught Bowen how to create sparks to start a fire using steel and magnesium. To our relief, the cold spell seemed to have killed off the mosquitoes, and I got away without a single bite.
The purpose of a campfire, of course, is to roast marshmallows and make smores. Bowen ate 10 marshmallows, and then we called it a night.

The next morning, we ate a quick breakfast and packed. It had been cold and my tent had significant bits of condensation, so I had to take it down and move it into the sun so it would dry, but we said goodbye to Bear Lake and headed back to Camp Lake.
At Camp Lake, Bowen was hungry, having ate none of his oatmeal or even drank his apple cider at breakfast, so we setup the hammock, and ate the rest of the lunch we'd brought with us. We were definitely getting a fair bit of use out of the hammock (Arturo said he spent some time in it last night star-gazing as well), so I was glad I paid the weight penalty and brought it! From there, it was less than 2 hours from the trailhead, and we were done! 

1 comment:

E said...

You've got a Google Sipping Appliance! I've got one of those too.