Sunday, August 17, 2014

Emigrant Wilderness - Kennedy Meadows to Unnamed Lake by Iceland Lake - July 4, 2014

Trip Logistics
  • When – July 3 – 5, 2014
  • Emigrant Wilderness – Kennedy Meadows to Unnamed lake above Iceland Lakes – Partial x-country route
  • Elevation gain from Kenedy Meadows to unnamed lake – approx..  2700 ft
  • One way hike from Kennedy Meadows to unnamed lake – approx.. 9 miles
  • Unnamed Lake – approx.. at 9200 ft
  • Pictures -
I’ve fallen out of the habit of doing a write up after each backpacking trip and this is my attempt to restart.  For the last several years I’ve always gone backpacking on the 4th of July.  I miss the fireworks but being in the backcountry makes up for that.  This year we did a trip in Emigrant Wilderness with the intent to get to Iceland Lake.  The same trip participants from last year were in attendance this year – me, Curtis, Steve and Nora.  Our trip got started out with margaritas and great Mexican food in Alameda.  We also got to see how much a Subaru Outback can carry in the trunk – 4 backpacks…of which 3 were pretty big and a good sized cooler that fit a growler (beer growler) and a melon!  That’s some good room. So much for an early arrival in Sonora we finally arrived around midnight & we were super excited about getting up at 6…at least the Best Western free breakfast was something to look forward to (seriously it’s good).

We picked up our permit and headed to our trailhead at Kennedy Meadows.  There were plenty of backpackers packing up and heading out when we got there.  I wanted to get on the trail as soon as possible because it can get really warm at the start of the trailhead, we had a pretty serious hike up and it was going to be a long day given the off trail.  There were several small packing scares as I thought I left my nightclothes at home and Nora couldn’t find an assortment of things.  As bags got packed eventually everything was found and it was time to hit the trail.   

We hiked straight up hill and although it had been several years since I had been on this trail I certainly remember the hike up.  Thankfully there was a bit of breeze that helped with the heat.  We took a lunch break above Relief Reservoir about 4 miles into the hike.  Nora had a little treat with her – Barbara’s jalapeno cheese puffs – Da Bomb!  I think Steve and I devoured the bag by ourselves….it was the perfect combination of salt and crunch.  After lunch we eventually hit the junction with Lower Relief Junction….I should mention this was after the rest of the group did a fair amount of tree sniffing.  There were claims of trees smelling like butterscotch…I smelled tree.  At the junction we continued to the left vs. going towards Relief Valley.  We didn’t know exactly where we going to cross the creek and start our uphill but figured the best spot was where the trail came very close to Summit Creek.    At some point we stopped to take a breather and I looked to my right off of the trail and I spotted a black wallet.  I did ask some folks we ran into if it was belong to them but no luck.  I did end up sending it to the owner when I got home…it’s good karma. 

There was a very obvious crossing across the creek where a large group was taking a break and we began the off trail part of our hike.  Once we got through some dead trees the terrain opened up and it was a matter of staying directionally correct.  Steve, who loves navigating, took the lead with map and GPS in hand and in true style he started charging uphill.  The hiking was moderately challenging and the views were great on the way up.  We finally got to Ridge Lake and headed off right from there…although we were looking for Iceland Lake we happened across a small unnamed lake right above Iceland and it was so beautiful we made the decision to setup camp there.  We were also tired and it was getting late.  The weather was great, we had the lake to ourselves and we watched a great sunset.  It was hard to believe we had the lake to ourselves given how many people were out Ridge Lake and the popularity of Iceland Lake…but I’m not complaining.

The next day…July 4th was a base camp/hiking day and with Steve and Nora as willing day hikers I knew we wouldn’t be doing anything too easy.    The plan was to hike to the top of Granite Dome, which was just to the west of where we were staying and loomed directly upon us.  It was clear though that you couldn’t approach it from the northwest, which meant going directly south and then hiking up the ridge where we could.   Steve took the lead and we made good progress.  We did hit some areas with recent snowmelt, which meant bugs…yeah.  In order to avoid going up through snow we did a little scrambling and walked to a point where we had great views to the South and the West.  I am pretty sure we were looking at Long Lake, which happens to be one of few lakes I haven’t been to around the Gianelli/Crabtree loop. It was windy up top but given the views we were in no hurry to get up.   We did eventually pick our way back…Curtis had been productive while we were gone and had built was appeared to be a fairly accurate sundial.  After some reading and swimming it was time for happy hour!  I had brought my new backcountry toy….the backcountry beer maker by Pat’s …based out of Talkeetna, AK. I won’t go into the nitty gritty detail but the beer was quite a hit and seconds were had.  We had the ale and saved the soda that I had brought…surprise.   I did setup the camera to do some milky way/start shots but unfortunately the location wasn’t perfect for it but it was still great to see the stars in the middle of the night.

We woke to a great sunrise and didn’t hurry too much to pack and leave.  The hike out was pretty uneventful but someone had turned the heat up and we were soaked in sweat.  At the end of the hike Steve thankfully hustled ahead and got some cokes from the store at Kennedy Meadows.  It was so hot people had to carry their dogs.  I thought the temp in the car was wrong until it never went down…it was 85 degrees at Kennedy Meadows.  We had our traditional late lunch meal at the Diamondback Grill and made sure to have some of their yummy onion rings. 

Another great trip with good friends exploring a new area!

1 comment:

Steve Geahry said...

Super duper great trip! Thanks for organizing another awesome one Renee!