May 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm #1303424
I'm probably going to do a trip at Emigrant in a week or two. The plan is to head from Crabtree and go to Pingree or Big lake.
I have some questions:
Where can I pick up a permit?
What are the mosquitoes like now?
No snow right?
How cold will it get at night?
This is my first time to the area.May 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm #1990015
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
We love this area. You get your permits at the Summit Ranger station. They are free, and there are no trail quotas. You will have to tell the rangers where you are going to spend each night—or they will tell you. We often vary from this route once we have the permit, but you need to know it is part of the process.
Anything we would post about mosquitoes right now would be out of date in a week. Snow levels are about 9,000 right now. We were at 7,900 feet on Friday, and the only snow we saw was on a very steep north slope at that elevation. But at 3 p.m. it was 47 degrees, and blowing about 30 mph–absolutely freezing. We've had snow in June at 5,000 in this area…so expect the weather to be unpredictable.
Stream crossings may be something else. Last I saw, both Piute and Cherry Creeks were running very high, and considered uncrossable right now. That's not a joke. EMigrant is a huge granite bowl, and when the snow melts, all the water comes down that granite like a giant flushing toilet bowl. Don't get hurt.
WE've got a full trip report on exactly the trip you are considering on our website at backpackthesierra. com. The granite between Pingree and Big Lake is simply unbelievable!May 26, 2013 at 10:07 pm #1990016
Thanks Paul, when I first searched for the lake I found your article. It was really helpful for planning.
I will be very careful with the creeks and if for some reason they block us from continuing I'm sure we could change plans and explore some other area.
Have you camped at Grouse Lake? We might hike in Friday evening and camp there for the night.May 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm #1990146
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
camping at Grouse Lake is quite nice. My bet is that mosquitoes will be a pain though. You should turn this into a loop with Pine Valley. Great area to hike BTWMay 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm #1990263
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Actually, we find Grouse Lake the least attractive place to camp in Emigrant Wilderness. There are lily pads covering virtually all of the shoreline, and the north side of the lake, which is flat, has been trampled to death by all the horse packers who ties their mounts up there every day. The only good campsite is on the far side of the lake, on a bench above the lake. Not great.
But you can hike about another mile south of there and get to Chain lakes—that might be better. We always hike right past Grouse Lake, after we camped there one night. That was enough. But if you can't get further, it will have to do. We made it to Resasco Lake the first day—but we had a full day to hike. The crossing of Cherry Creek can be crazy this time of year…and the climb up to Resasco will not soon be forgotten.
Here's a link to our trip report on Picasa from 2010: https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/BackpackingInTheSierraNevadaEmigrantWildernessBackcountryLakes2010#
On the other hand…your trip to Big Lake from Pingree is an amazing route. The granite between those is simply a massive sheet about a mile across. Don't worry about following a trail–just head straight across it, and you will get to Big Lake.May 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm #1990276
We are going to hike in Friday evening to get a head start. That sucks that Grouse is overused. Maybe we will just stop along Lily Creek.
The Pingree/Big Lake area looks amazing. We will probably explore a few of the lakes and choose the one we want to camp at.May 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm #1990285
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
unfortunately, much of what I've seen of the parts of Emigrant Wilderness that are close to the trails suffers from many years of over use. It breaks my heart to see beautiful lakes with trees along the shore mutilated by the axe for the purpose of camp fires. Too many years of pack animals carrying tourists with swollen beer bellies, me thinks. And too easy of a drive from the SF Bay Area and no trail quotas add to its over use. Not as protected and not near as pristine as the High Sierra in the National Parks.
But get off the trail and things may be different. A bit. But the general rule every where is the easier the access, the more likely to suffer from over use. And Emigrant is much easier to get to from the Bay Area… and the hiking is much easier than the High Sierra.
billMay 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm #1990288
"But the general rule every where is the easier the access, the more likely to suffer from over use."
No kidding. I've done some really difficult off trail/bushwacking trips (1/4 to 1/2 miles per hour) where I have never seen any sign of humans at all. I have seen some stunningly beautiful canyons in Big Sur that way. And these are in places where the main trails get flooded with people.
I have very little experience in the high sierras but off trail travel looks really fun and (relatively) easy.May 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm #1990290
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Justin, I think your plan is a good one. Once you are in the Big Lake area, you should find some very nice scenery.May 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm #1990942
I use a flat tarp and I don't have anything for bugs. I could borrow my friend's Eureka Solitaire which is a lot heavier. But it would allow me to escape the bugs.
Should I carry it? Or are the bugs tolerable enough for a regular tarp?May 30, 2013 at 9:36 am #1991283
I was just there with a couple people last weekend touring Boundary Lake and the adjacent area. I forgot my headnet and slept under a tarp. Mosquitos were annoying but not to the point that a simple headnet or lightweight bivy with good netting won't be perfectly comfortable.
Temps were freezing at night over three days. Daytime was sunny and comfortable in the mid-sixties.May 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm #1991866
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
I would bet money that you are more likely to need netting than a tarp this weekend, or next (assuming the good weather holds). Maybe take the Solitaire and leave the fly at home?
I do realize that getting caught out in a surprise storm without a tarp/fly might be more likely to kill you than being caught out in a swarm of Emigrant Wilderness mosquitoes without bug netting.
But I've been there with the mosquitoes, in a tent even, and death did not seem like such a bad option at the time. They were that bad.
YTFMMV (Your Tolerance For Mosquitoes May Vary)
More seriously, the bugs depend a lot on one's elevation, the aspect of the slope, the amount of tree cover, the amount of snow melt, the temperature, and the wind. So you might be fine. Or you may rue the day you were born. I'd take some protection from the bugs for the same reason I'd take a tarp: just in case.May 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm #1991881
@creachenLocale: East Bay
I was at Long Lake and Kennedy Lake out of Kennedy Meadows last weekend and did not hear or see any mosquitoes. I guess the lack of mosquitoes is the only benefit of the worst snow-pack in recent history.May 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm #1991889
Jay, how was the water flow in the creeks? Any dangerous crossings?
I suppose if you didn't see any mosquitoes last weekend then it would only get more dry (and less mosquitoes) after 2 weeks.
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