Some of you may have heard the term "bagging a peak" well for this trip we were bagging a Wilderness Area. My friend, Steve, Curtis and I were headed out on an overnight and Steve wanted to venture to a lesser traveled wilderness. Our real goal was to get to the Snowshoe Brewery on Highway 4 but I had a tough time finding any trails with a moderate level of difficulty and doing a 13 mile 3000 foot gain hike wasn't going to work on this trip. So after some browsing online I found a nice moderate hike (6ish miles, 1500ish foot gain) to Grouse Lake in Mokelumne Wilderness. Mokelumne is pretty small and lies between Highway 88 and Highway 4. Our hike was off of Blue Lakes road off of Highway 88.
The trip started out as all good trips do...pulling into a campsite at midnight. In our case it was the Hope Valley Campground and quite possibly the smallest campsite I have ever setup camp in http://www.hopevalleyresort.com/. I pulled the car into the site and then realized I was probably parked in the space where our tents needed to be pitched. On the plus side there was lots of firewood setup at our site for that midnight campfire (not gonna happen). Day hadn't quite broken but we were awoken by the sounds of cars rolling on H88. Our campsite had a full hook up, campfire ring, picnic table, and spicate...nice. I was just happy that there were flushing toilets...my needs are pretty simple. We packed up and headed for the Hope Valley cafe and were served up some yummy pastries and coffee by the very friendly lady working there. After loading up on carbs and coffee we headed out to the trailhead...which took us a little while to find...for future reference it's at the Middle Lake Campground. Once we found the trailhead it meant we needed to head out.
The hike up to our first lake, Granite Lake, was uneventful but pleasant. The trail weaves through a forested area and the weather was really nice. Granite Lake was very inviting and there were some kids were playing in the water. The lake was only a couple of miles in from the trailhead so it's a great overnight for little ones. Since it was early in the hike we pushed on . The trail continued up and up...without switchbacks...yes you read right no switchbacks thank goodness for the asiago bagel with cream cheese that I had in the morning. We had expected the trail to run out and to do a little off trail hiking to get into the lake. However....the trail never ran out which was great but (there is always a but) it went straight down except for the one token switchback. It was definitely a quad and hiking pole workout. We also saw lots of great wildflowers on our way down but picture-taking was halted due to some threating clouds that had been building up....tent pitching was becoming the priority.
We finally reached the lake which was very pretty and no one was there (yeh!) after lounging around a bit we pitched the tents and Curtis and I promptly got some zzzzzs. When we woke up the clouds were more than threatening and thunder had started. For those who have followed the backpacking adventures of Steve and I you may have a false perception that it always rains when we take a trip. We were pretty determined to dispell this perception on this trip. So there was no downpour. Curtis claimed that technically it did rain because we felt a few drops but Steve and I maintain that that does not qualify as rain....I think we've rested our case. By this time we were ready for a little vino and Steve introduced us to a new card game..Golf...I conveniantly forgot to keep a running total of my score which of course means that I won (the other players disagreed with that...whatever). We took a short photo walk to the other side of the lake before dinner and then headed back to get the grub going. Dinner was enjoyed by all and topped of with some Chevalier Noir. After some pleasant post-dinner conversation and star gazing it was time to rest up.
We were resting up for breakfast...which as you know if you read my blogs means pancakes....they were stellar and complemented by Peet's coffee. This gave us the much needed energy we needed to get out of the lake. Pancakes combined with lots of stops for photos made the trip out of the lake bearable. The hike out was really nice and we didn't see anyone until we got to Granite Lake. At Granite Lake we aired out our toes and took a toe dip in the lake...ahhhh. We came off the trail around 1- , hopped in the car and headed to Jackson for some shakes and grub.
It was another great trip (number 7 for Steve and I backpacking together).