Monday, July 28, 2008

July 26 & 27, 2008 - Emigrant Wilderness - Crabtree to Granite Lake

Another attempt at a partial off-trail trip and in a place that is becoming very familiar....Emigrant Wilderness. This trip would start out at the Crabtree trailhead close to the site of my first outing of the FY08 backpacking season. The route this time was a bit less ambitious than the last time but definitely an adventure. The route was the Crabtree trailhead to Bear Lake then cross country to Granite Lake. On the second day we would hike down to Y Meadow Lake loop around to Chewing Gum Lake and then take an unmaintained trail back to the Crabtree trailhead. The mileage wasn't much at 14 miles in all and about a 1500 foot gain each day but the off trail portion was sure to seem more than a 1500 foot gain.

The trail out of Crabtree was nice and after a couple of miles we hit Camp Lake. There's no camping allowed between the trail and the lake so we didn't see anyone camped out there. We stopped and took some lake shot photos before moving on. At the south end of the lake there was a junction to Bear Lake. The trail went up through a forested area and after a mile or so we reached Bear Lake. Bear Lake is definitely a popular lake for those who like to carry a few folding chairs, coolers, steaks...There were a lot of people camped out at this lake. We took some downtime under the shade and contemplated our next move as the trail was quickly coming to an end. I took the opportunity to dust off the compass and try my map reading skills (not as cool as bow staff skills).

After crossing Lily Creek at the end of the lake we started to climb out of the creek staying low but not too low with the goal of getting out of the brush and being able to see enough to orient ourselves. At some point we were high enough and the terrain open enough that we could look back onto Bear Lake which helped us figure out exactly where we were. We kept checking the map about every 20 mins and finally got to a point where we were pretty sure if we just headed uphill that we would run into the lake...AND....we did (oh yeah). I told Curtis I think this was the first planned successful off route trip that we had done...there had been unsuccesful planned off trail trips and succesful unplanned off trail trips.

So Granite Lake a nice little alpine lake...pristine...isolated well except for the group of 6 with their inflatable kayak and inflatable swimming rings. Hmmm I am not going to say more about the kayak. We hiked to the other opposite side of where the other group was staying and found a great camp overlooking the lake. Unfortunately it was about this time that we noticed the smoke that was from a fire that had gotten started outside of Yosemite at the 140 entrance. The only thing to do at this point was to hop into the lake for a dip....a short dip at least for me. Ah 5:00 and nothing to do so nice and I decided to pop open a new book while Curtis got some afternoon zzzzzs. Book started, tent setup...afternoon snacks in tummy...check. We scouted out our day 2 trail a bit before dinner and then headed back to fire up the dragonfly. Dinner was an expirement....note to self....bring salt. The rest of the evening was uneventful and made complete by a fire and much much much more importantly by HT&T. Commit that acronym to memory as it is important especially in cold and unpleasant backpacking situations. HT&T = Hot Tang and Tequila....Good Night!

Day 2 - Nice blue skies...smoke gone for the moment...and the breakfast menu...pancakes...there are no words to express my joy at having pancakes for breakfast....but this was the first time Curtis and I were making them. Let's just say there were a few failed attempts but we finally got the equation figured out...high heat was the key. Tummies full with pancakes and maple syrup we headed towards Y Meadow Lake. The route was very easy over granite and the lake was nice...we didn't see anyone camped there and have no idea why it is called Y Meadow. We headed over to Chewing Gum Lake and thought we were almost there when we saw a little lake. I was surprised by this because I had been on this trail about 5 weeks before. As we got closer we figured out that it was just a lake of lupine.

The wildflowers were in full force and were really amazing. There were many different kinds of flowers and just meadows after meadows full of them right through to Chewing Gum Lake. There weren't many folks at Chewing Gum since most had probably hiked out already for the day. We headed out of the lake after a half hour break and had some trouble finding the unmaintained trail. The trail out of Chewing Gum was really nice....lots of wildflowers, good views and lots of uphill w/out switchbacks...well maybe that wasn't so nice. Unfortunately the smoke was noticeable so the views were not as good as they could have been. After awhile we hit the top of the ridge we were headed towards and it was all downhill from there...about 3 miles or so. The trail down was not remarkable and not so kind on the knees but it was shaded and some good wildflowers on the way down. This was about the time I started hallucintating and believing I was seeing a small bright blue cooler. Those who know me well know what's in that blue cooler...yes beer a known Renee backpacking tradition. Thankfully the hallucination became reality and the beer was mine! This marked the end of another great outing...probably my favorite of the season so far.

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