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Wolf Creek Lake

Page history last edited by lmckeega@... 9 years, 9 months ago

August 4, 2005, Wolf Creek Lake



Greetings from the Red Leader,

SECOND BACKPACK TRIP - THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2005

Donn's Beemer was parked in the trail head lot but Donn was nowhere to be found. Gigi and I checked out our bivouac site and I "Bruced" south, across the highway. There was a bit of a breeze and I didn't really expect Donn would hear me. Rather than just stand around and wait, we decided to walk to the top of the ridge to the north of the lot and see what we could see. It was clear and the sun was getting low in the west. The views of Sonora Pass and the mountains to the east, south and west were spectacular. there were wild flowers everywhere. The spring snow pack was melting fast and there were only patches here and there. We could see water It's spring at 9000 feet and falls cascading in every draw. Donn finally wandered in. He'd been hiking south on the PCT and had climbed more than half way to the ridge overlooking the pass. We settled down at a picnic table and ate our dinner. By about 7:30 the mosquitoes had joined us and so we retired 

for the night.

It was clear and warm on Saturday morning. We hurried through breakfast and were on the trail by 9:30. It was about noon when we reached "The Castle" (a large rock outcrop at 10,500 feet on the south face of Sonora Peak) and took a break to rest and eat. I had no more than downed my PB&J sandwich when we felt raindrops. There was a flurry of activity as we donned rain gear and shouldered our packs. By the time we forged on it was raining and hailing with some vigor. We hurried east and found out how much the mountain had shielded us from the wind when we rounded the corner at "the gap" and headed north. At that point the hail was blowing mostly horizontal. It was then I wished I had put on my rain pants.

The rain soon eased off and we pushed on. There was only one small snow bank across the trail until we got the fault block ramp down to the Sonora Peak east saddle. As we made our way down the ramp we had a choice of picking our way through the rocks or slipping and sliding through the snow. We tread the rocky path. It was only sprinkling lightly by the time we got to Wolf Creek Lake and we hurried to find well drained spots to set up camp. Gigi and I carried tents but Donn had elected to go ultralite with a bivy sack. Various offers of shelter were made but Donn wanted to stick with the bivy. We got our shelters set up and I took a short nap.

We gathered at the cooking rock and tried to boil water. Gigi had brought along a white gas stove that was giving her some problems and reverted to her Brasslite alcohol stove. Donn had brought his Brasslite too. It turned out that we had all carried alcohol stoves. Donn and I have been experimenting with light weight alcohol stoves for three years. All last summer I used a stove of my own design. It is made of 5.5oz. aluminum cans, and weighs 0.23oz. It was only designed to boil 16oz. of water and I had made a larger version designed to boil a liter of water with 1.5oz of fuel. It had worked last fall at Point Reyes. We found that it takes 2oz. of fuel to boil 1 liter at an elevation of 10,000 feet. It was somewhat frustrating but we finally had hot food. Gigi had dehydrated her own food and shared some of her 

delicious beef stew. She had also carried a Backpacker's Oven and we shared hot whole wheat biscuits with honey. The weather had cleared some but it was chilly and the Wolf Creek mosquitoes were in attendance so we retired by 7:30.

In the morning the sun rose through some clouds gathering to the southeast. We ate breakfast while discussing the likelihood of lightning on Sonora Peak and decided to forego the thrill. For a moment we considered just hanging tough and doing some exploring around the area. Remembering the hail and wind of the previous day made the decision easier. We broke camp and packed our packs. For the first time in nineteen summers we had been driven off the mountain by the weather.

On the way down the hill we stopped to take a break at "The Castle". As it had the day before, rain and hail started to fall. We hurriedly donned our rain gear and kept walking. When we reached a point just below "The Castle" there was a streak of lightning and instant clap of thunder. There had been a strike on top of Sonora Peak. It was about 1:30 and we would have been on top. Before we got to the parking lot the sun had come out and we stopped and stripped to shorts and tee shirts.

Gigi headed west to the Valley, and home, while I followed Donn east to Hwy 395. We stopped at the Cutthroat in Markleeville for a late lunch before continuing on to Pollock Pines. With Inge gone we spent Saturday evening and Sunday vegging out and fantasizing about light weight gear.


Red Leader out

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