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Lake Winifred 2010

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


Trip Report


Greetings from the Red Leader,


There were only three of us on the backpack trip to Lake Winifred: Cristina Lauck, Laura McKeegan and me.  We met at noon on Friday, July 23, at Cristina's in Concord and loaded our gear and two coolers into my xB before heading East to Sacramento.  Everyone was hungry so we turned North on I-5 and stopped for lunch at Chevy's, overlooking the Sacramento River on the Garden Highway.  After lunch we continued East, through Placerville, to the U.S.F.S. visitor center at Pacific House, stopping for campfire permits.  We then backtracked to Pollock Pines for last minute supplies, before heading up the mountain.  Our original plan had been to bivouac at Camp Armageddon, but we were so early we decided to press on to Loon Lake and get a campsite for the night.  It's a good thing we weren't any later, as we got the last available site.  Cristina and I set up our tents, while Laura reviewed the various tree options for hanging her ultralight hammock.  Before long we were being attacked by the mosquitoes and there was a mad rush to get out the Deet and slather it on.
For our workshop Cristina has acquired a Tarptent Scarp1.  This is a very light, double wall tent, with a single arch pole and an innovative system to provide extra height at the ends.  The tent body is hung from the underside of the fly and does not need to be removed when packed.  This system means the tent body stays dry when being erected in the rain.  A very useful feature.  The Scarp tents have the option of adding two long crossing poles which allow the tent to be free standing, and durable enough for four season use.  We didn't expect snow and Cristina had left those poles at home.  The folks in the adjoining campsite were impressed and commented on the unique look of the tent.
Since we had eaten lunch on the way up, the "girls" had purchased deli sandwiches at Safeway for dinner and I had leftover Carnitas, beans and rice.  We sat and munched, while swatting mosquitoes, as the sun set over Loon Lake.  After dinner we walked down to the lake shore and enjoyed watching a lone Night Hawk and a bat, hunting for their evening meal.  As we returned to our campsite the nearly full moon rose, and its light filtered through the trees.  We crawled into our sleeping bags and were entertained by the rowdy games our neighbors played until 12:30.
Saturday morning we were up at 6 and hurried through breakfast, before packing up and moving the car to the trailhead parking lot.  We were on the trail before 9, and made our way North, along the southeast side of Loon Lake.  We passed quite a few backpackers and day hikers on our way.  One large group of young girls, with adult leaders, was heading back from an overnight at Pleasant Camp, and there were a number of young boys, with a very rag-tag selection of gear, on their way out from a night at Spider Lake.  The temperature was in the high eighties and we enjoyed the wooded section of trail.  Hiking in the shade.  We stopped for a pack break a half mile short of the Pleasant Camp cutoff and watched boat loads of fishermen and quite a few kayaks, exploring the lakes West shore.  Then is was off, up the nasty, rocky section of trail; out of the shady woods and up the hill, past Spider Lake, to the Lake Winifred cutoff.  We stopped often in patches of shade, to cool off from the hot climb, arriving at Lake Winifred about 1:00 pm.  We set up camp and filtered water before I took a nap.  Cristina went for a swim while I slept.  Later we packed up daypacks and headed up to the granite knob, just East of the lake, to enjoy the views of Rockbound Valley, Buck Island and Rockbound Lakes.  I had carried two ceramic monuments, in memory of friends who have died, and tucked them under boulders overlooking the valley.  I'll be leaving several more in the Sierra this summer.  On our next trip there'll be one for Doug Pursell.
The sun was getting low and we returned to our camp for dinner.  For dessert we shared Laura's dehydrated chocolate cake with Cristina's dehydrated pineapple.  Yummy.  As the, now full, moon rose we retired to our sleeping bags and I killed the mosquitoes that had gotten into my tent, before writing in my journal.  Just as I turned out the light I heard a bear growl three times.  The first time I ever heard a bear in the wild I was camped at Lake Winifred.  It was good to be back and it was good to hear the bears once again.  There were no noisy campers that night and I slept like a log.
I was up before 6 and packed most of my gear before waking the others.  As I was crawling out of my tent I heard the bear again.  We had a pleasant breakfast and filtered water before loading our packs and heading out.  We were on the trail by 7:40.  Laura and Cristina don't lollygag; they're organized and ready to roll.  Maybe we should sleep in a little later.  We stopped for a pack break at the "half-way" point, on the ridge where the trail starts into the wooded section.  It was cooler than the day before and we were making good time.  When we got to the point above Loon Lake, we could see clouds building to the southeast, and it looked like rain.  As we walked the clouds grew and about a mile from the parking lot the drops began to fall.  It was a little more than a sprinkle, but not enough to warrant stopping to don rain gear.  The cool rain felt good, after the heat we had been experiencing.  Soon we were at the parking lot and loaded our packs into the car before heading down the mountain to the Apple Cafe for lunch.  It was nearly 100° in Placerville and we had the a/c on full blast as we drove back to Concord.  I stopped for ice cream on the way home and was unloading my car by 7 pm.
It was a really great trip and it was good to visit Lake Winifred again.  I wish more of you had been along.  Maybe next time.
NOTE: Laura's GPS says it's 5.63 miles to Lake Winifred.  Not the 6.5 I've always thought.





Trip Information

The first backpack of the workshop is to our old favorite, Lake Winifred.  We will be hiking from the backpacker's trail-head parking lot, at Loon Lake, six and a half miles to Lake Winifred.  The hike is on trails and some old "haul road".  T  here is only a little elevation gain, and this hike is rated easy to moderate.  We have been stopping at Lake Winifred since 1988 and have only had to share the lake with others just a few times.  It is not on an established trail and is a quiet and lovely place.  We hike in and out on the same trail so there will be no car shuttle required.
We will meet at the McDonald's in Cordelia.  From the Concord area, take Interstate 680, northbound, to Cordelia Junction.  Turn East, on Interstate 80, to the Suisun Valley Road exit.  At the end of the ramp turn right and then left at Central Place.  Mc Donald's is ahead, on your left.  Be there and ready to leave by Noon.
From Cordelia we will caravan East on I-80 and Highway 50, through Placerville, stopping at the U.S.F.S. office in Pacific House for campfire permits.  We'll then backtrack the few miles to Pollock Pines, where we will stop for dinner.  We have a choice of Chinese, Pizza, Mexican, The Burger Shack, or our favorite from the '80s, The Haven.  After dinner we will stop at Safeway for any last minute supplies and ice cream.
From Pollock Pines we drive East, on Highway 50, to Ice House Road.  There, we turn left and begin to climb the switchbacks up and out of the canyon of the South Fork of the American River.  Near the top of the ridge we will turn left on Peavine Ridge Road and follow it for about a mile, before turning left and stopping for the night at Camp Armageddon.  This is a place we have stopped before and is on the site of an old forest fire.  When we began using the spot it was still open country with burnt trees and low scrub by bushes.  Now the mountain is covered with small, densely space trees.  The place was christened by Jeanine Wilson (97).  There is no water at Camp Armageddon so you should bring enough for Friday night and Saturday breakfast.
On Saturday morning, after breakfast, we will pack up and drive to the backpacker's parking lot at Loon Lake.  We will top off our water, make one last potty stop, hoist our packs and begin the hike to Lake Winifred.  We should be in camp by 1;00 pm and you'll have plenty of time for swimming, fishing, sight-seeing, or general sloth.
On Sunday morning, we'll eat before packing up for the hike out to Loon Lake.  We may stop in Pollock Pines for lunch on the way down the mountain.  We should be back in the Bay Area by early evening.


1. Your Fallen Leaf Lake, 15 minute quadrangle map.  (The one from Wilderness Press)
2.  Your compass, 12 inch ruler, and a sharp pencil.
3. Your tent.
4. Your sleeping bag and pad.
5. First-Aid kit.
6. "Canteen" or bladder and water filter.
7. Flashlight.
8. Pot, cup, utensils.
9. Stove and fuel.
10. Clothing suitable for expected conditions.  You should carry rain gear for this trip.  (There have been scattered thunder showers at Lake Winifred for the past two days.  It is supposed to clear by this coming Saturday; with clear skies and temperatures in the mid seventies to the low fifties by next Wednesday and Thursday.)  I will keep checking the weather through next week, and will keep you all informed of changing conditions.  You should have a sun-stopping hat and sun glasses.  You should also carry a warm "wooly" hat.  At night, if your feet are cold, put on your wooly hat.
If you have any questions regarding gear for this trip, call me.


2 Breakfasts.
2 Lunches.
1 Dinner.
Trail Snacks.
For a trip of this length and duration I recommend that you carry one extra lunch, as emergency rations.  Call me if you have questions.
If you are planning on joining us for this trip please call or email me at once.  If I know who's coming I'll know who to look for.



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