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Emigrant Wilderness

Page history last edited by lmckeega@... 10 years, 11 months ago

Emigrant Wilderness
August 9-12 (Thurs.- Sun.)
Written by Deborah Raushi


Warmest swimming ever. That's how the nine of us will remember this four-day trip. (Hopefully not for the dustiness of the trail or the heat!)

Randy, Conci, Jenine, Lupe, Jeromie, and Rebecca met in Santa Rosa and headed up to Twain Harte. Julie and I drove from San Francisco (unbelievably not hitting much commute traffic and arriving early!). Steve drove solo meeting us there also. We headed over to "The Rock" for lunch at 11:00, then headed up to the Summit Ranger Station in Pinecrest for the permit. Another half hour took us on a paved, gravel, dirt, and paved again forest road to the Crabtree Trailhead, where we finished packing and adjusting, then admired the Mack's tiny GPS unit. We followed it's general direction to the trailhead and were lost before we even started. It was because we'd followed the "pack crossing" of the creek. The "people crossing" had a nice bridge over a lovely creek. So, we were on our way around 2 PM.

The trail was dusty and dirty, with occasional horse or mule scat. We reached our day's destination of Camp Lake around 3:30 PM and scouted for campsites near the beautiful lake. Signs asked us to camp above the main trail, so up we went over the ridge above the lake. A wide open flat area was available, but further over were many cozy spots nestled among the trees, bushes, and rocks with a beautiful view of Pine Valley and granite mountains. We settled in. Adventurous Lupe headed out on the smooth granite rocks and found a great tent-sized spot overlooking the valley. Rebecca likewise found a bevy-sized spot above her. And Jeromie scouted out his own private cliff dwelling. At Steve's site, his tent had to be tied to surrounding rocks, but also had a view. The rest of us were a bit more conservative, although the view of the sky from my site was remarkable.

Our next task was to head to the water. Bath water some called it. A swimming pool, it was named by others. The warmest water I've ever encountered while backpacking. Swimming was inevitable. The water snake along the edge didn't hinder any of us from entering Camp Lake. Soon it was dinnertime. A ground squirrel poked its head out of a nearby tree hole to observe us. Food bags were "squirrel bagged" in a small pine tree, making it look like a decorated Christmas tree. We watched for shooting stars, the first of which trailed across the sky just as Conci was commenting that it was too early to see any yet. Further star gazing commenced from our sleeping abodes.

Up at 6 am as usual. Breakfast, packing, and even a morning swim for Randy. By 8:30 we were up on the ridge "shooting points", then hitting the trail at a late 9:30. It was a very hot hike with many rock stairs, long breaks, (Every time I stopped for a short water/snack break, people began taking their packs off and we'd be there for a half hour! We fixed that the next day, with short breaks only!), and a mad dash at the end to Piute Lake. Along the way another snake was spotted. It was named both the "legless lizard" and a "Northwestern Brown Slug Snake". We debated about our destination, as passing hikers relayed how fishable and swimable Gem Lake was, but we were beat by the time we got to Piute and decided to stay there. The water cooled us down again, and we ate our lunches on shady rocks. Jenine decided to clean both herself and her clothes in one step, so she swam in the lake with her clothes on. "But you need to agitate the clothes," someone commented. Jenine's reply: "Oh I agitated!"

We nine hikers spread out our campsites about a quarter of a mile (OK, maybe not that far), spent the afternoon recuperating (swimming, napping, reading), had dinner, and then were treated to a cooler night of sleeping.

We were on the trail by 8:30 and headed back to Camp Lake. Our original plan was to do a loop around Gem Lake and then back west, spending the night at Grouse Lake, but we'd been informed that Grouse was stagnate, and we had fond memories of the "swimming pool" of Camp Lake. Early on we spotted a large marmot and then later a coyote that eyed us, ran a little ways, and eyed us again, before finally running out of sight. After a few short breaks, we spent a lovely lunch at Piute Creek, cooling our feet. Lupe lost a honey-covered bagel to the giardia in the stream. At least it landed honey-side up. Two horses and four mules carrying gear came by. Two people and so much equipment! What's up with that? Then it was up the switchbacks to Camp Lake where we quickly regained our campsites and headed to the water. I was the only one wanting to switch sites and gave mine up to Steve (who didn't want to tie off his tent to rocks again). But, not being able to find another site I liked, Steve readily offered my old site back to me. What a giver!

The afternoon was even more leisurely at the pool, oops, I mean lake. Jeromie eyed a large rock (boulder, really) perched on the top of the ridge on the other side of the lake. He had to get up there and attempt to push it down into the lake. We were all looking forward to the show, but soon Jeromie was back. The thick bushes on the other side wouldn't allow him to pass. Luckily more entertainment was to come. Not only did the women enjoy quite a conversation on girdles (particularly the concept of a 24 hour girdle), but also we all gathered to watch the time honored sport of "rock rolling".

Randy and Steve decided to speed up geological time by rolling rocks down the smooth granite and over the edge. Conci was our fabulous commentator as we sat on the rock bleachers under the shade of the only tree. Although Steve had the most luck with actually getting them over the edge, the shrubs, boulders, or cracks in the granite claimed most of the rocks. Lupe entered briefly and earned "noise points" for a beautiful sound display, as her large rock tumbled along the granite. The contestants quit way before Jeff would have. Where were you, Jeff?

The usual dinner ensemble, star watching, and then heading to bed. The next evening I found out that the Perseid Meteor Shower that night around midnight. We'd talked about a meteor shower in August, but no one knew when it was. I don't think anyone was awake at midnight, or if they were, perhaps the speckling of clouds across the sky hid the meteors from us.

Our last breakfast together, our last packing up, our last granite hopping, some brief rock rolling by Conci and Jeromie, then it's "hit the trail". The breaks were even shorter as I was trying to outpace the mosquitos! Somehow I acquired dozens of mini-bites - mostly on the back of my left upper arm. We seemed to stay quite spread out, avoiding the dust kicked up by the hiker in front of us. Back at the cars we washed up, had cold drinks, and jump-started Randy and Conci's car. Then we headed back to the Ranger Station so Steve could buy his kids some t-shirts. Then it was on to lunch. Strawberry had a 40-minute wait, so we headed back to "The Rock" at Twian Harte for burgers, salads, fries, cold drinks...


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