Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Deer Lake - Emigrant Wilderness - 8/26 - 8/27/06

On Friday the 25th Mike, Steve and I headed out of the Bay Area and up to one of my favorite easy-to-get-to hiking areas...Emigrant Wilderness. From door to door I think the drive took about 3 1/2 hours, of course Steve was at the wheel which was definitely a factor :) Our plan was to an overnight loop from Gianelli to Crabtree Meadow staying at Deer Lake. In order to make that happen we called the ranger station in advance and had them fill out a permit. They were suppose to leave the permit in a pick up box so we could get it after hours but we got no love and no permit was there when we arrived. So we made a couple of slight adjustmens and camped out at one of the campgrounds in Pinecrest. Also instead of doing the loop from Gianelli we did a semi-loop from Crabtree. We started out at Crabtree and then went down a secondary trail to Pine Valley. I had done a trip through Pine Valley a few years ago to get to Chain Lakes and nicknamed the trip was all burnt out, ashes everywhere and no sign of a trail. The first lake we ran into on this trip was Grouse Lake.

After a little mid-morning snack we were back on the road again and headed through Groundhog Meadow. The site from the intersection of the West Fork of Cherry Creek and Buck Creek was spectacular to the east we were surrounded by a great granite bowl while the landscape dropped down to the west via Cherry Creek.

gWe then headed south following Buck Creek and doing a bit of climb to get to our trail junction. Along the way we were rewarded with a beautiful waterfall in Buck Creek.

At about the 9 mile mark we hit our trail junction that would take us east to Gem Lake. By this time our stomachs were rumbling and we were looking forward to resting our dogs and chowing down on some cheese and crackers or in Steve's case an oh so yummy Cliff Bar and Sour Bears. Gem Lake was beaufitful and crowded I think we saw about 5 tents setup so while it was a great spot I was glad that we were hiking a bit further in the hopes of having fewer people.
Gem Lake was also the first time that we rehydrated our bladders and Nalgenes. Given the traffic through the area I think the bump was a good call. Okay well not too much further to go now, 1.7 miles, past Jewerly Lake. The hike from Gem Lake to Jewelry Lake was great there were a lot of wildflowers still in bloom it was amazing given how late in the season it was.

The trail was flat and easy going all the way to Jewlery Lake. We passed about 6 people on our way up to Jewlery Lake which was a great sign and when we finally got to the lake we saw only one campsite set up.

12 miles later we finally made it to Deer Lake and it was beatiful it was about 3:30 in the afternoon so we had plently of time to relax and enjoy the lake. We were also the only people staying at the lake we couldn't believe it. The long hike was definitely worth it and to reward ourselves we cracked open a Nalgene full of wine and built a great campfire.

We were up bright and early Sunday morning and hit the trail around 9. Don't we look ready to go?
The hike back was great and we had bluebird conditions. A reminder of why I love the Sierras so much. We passed through Jewelery and Gem Lakes again on the way back and not far from the trailhead we took a break at Camp Lake which was really pretty.
This was a great moderate trip with about 3000 gain and probably around 2500 in loss. I would highly recommend this trip if you are looking for some solitude in a place that is easy to get to.

See all of my Deer Lake pictures

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