Oct 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm #1239948
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Emigrant Wilderness Crabtree Trailhead to Long Lake, October 2-4
My boss asked me last minute if I was interested in joining him on a backpacking trip after his brother in law canceled. Since my boss is 47 and an inexperienced backpacker, I was not sure how far we would make it but the goal was to hike 10 miles to Gem Lake on Friday night.
Gem Lake Saturday Morning
We set off east on a day hike to see if we could find a nice fishing hole at Long Lake. There are supposed to be nice rainbows in the lake but we got skunked. The scenery was a satisfying consolation.
Long Lake, it was a bit windy as a storm was slowly moving in.
Three small dams raises the water level a few feet and helps maintain outflows year-round. No fresh trout for dinner, only tuna in a foil pouch.
A picture of Jewelry Lake on the walk back to camp at Gem Lake
Back to camp to experiment with a homemade wood-burning stove and make some tea.
The forecast before we left showed lows in the 20's and a 30 percent chance of snow with high wind gusts for Saturday night. The wind arrived on cue but there was no signs of precipitation as I turned in for the night. The gusts shook my tent a bit but I stayed warm in my WM Summerlite and down jacket. I woke up around 1:30 to the sensation that there was a weight smothering my feet. After shaking the sleep induced haze, I realized that my tent was sagging due to a build up on snow on my tent. I peeked outside my tent to see a intense snowfall and what looked like a lot of snow but was actually only about 3 inches. I realized that I had left quite a few odds and ends laying around camp, which may never be found if I didnt rescue them from the snow now. After consolidating the items I contemplated whether to wake my boss, pack up and hike out. I ultimately decided to ride it out till morning and hope the snow would slow and the trail would allow us to get out.
The Contrail handled the wind well but sagged a bit in the snow.
My Boss's tent
Here is the contrast of Saturday morning to Sunday morning (Gem Lake)
We packed up and hiked out. The snow continued but slowed enough to allow decent visibility. Fortunately it was possible to make out the trail most of the time. The hike out was peaceful and quite picturesque.
The trail remained visible
Back to the trailhead after enjoying the first snow of the year.Oct 5, 2009 at 9:23 pm #1533388
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Nice shots and a fun narrative David. Thanks for posting them.
I once hiked into Emigrant from Crabtree in September and was nailed with two feet of snow, so it's great to see you were both well prepared and hiked out with no fuss. How were the mosquitoes? ;-)
RickOct 5, 2009 at 9:30 pm #1533391
Jay WilkersonBPL Member
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Cool pictures David, I was there last year just about the same time.. We only had a 1-2 hour dusting of snow in the afternoon—I froze by butt off!!! I brought a tarp–Not good planning on my part. I learn something new every trip like bring a tent in October!!!! BBRRRRRRR!!!!!Oct 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm #1534054
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
Nice pictures and trip. I certainly would not want to get caught in a Contrail with too much snow. The tent is so flat that it really can't shed snow at all. I can see how that little snow made the tent sag.Oct 10, 2009 at 1:51 pm #1535098
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
I was just telling my son that it's fun to hike in with sun and wake up to a white shroud of snow. It almost makes it two completely different trips!
How did your boss like the experience?
What would you have changed in your kit or hike if you would have known that the snow was coming?
Thanks for the photos…it looked like a great spot and trip.
TomOct 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm #1535395
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Great pics Dave, looks like you like to hike hard hikes huh??
Jay is right, last year was only a few inches but it was cold!!!!!Oct 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm #1535420
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
I really enjoyed hiking out in the snow for the very reason your mentioned. It felt like the seasons had changed from summer to winter overnight and it was a different hike on the way out. It scenery was appeared entirely different and it seemed like there was a lot of animal activity in the morning after the snow. Perhaps they were also caught a bit off guard. I saw three separate sets of bear prints along the trail and also my first wild bear sighting while hiking. The bear was on the trail, about 50 yards from us and took off running the opposite direction It ran along the mountain, plowed through a large plant and was out of site in seconds (it was to quick for a picture).
Most of the Emigrant Wilderness in an area that is inaccessible in the winter. It felt like to real treat to be out in the snow.
My Boss handled the experience very well. He stayed clam through the weather, although he admitted in the morning the thoughts of snow and possibility of not getting out kept him up most of the night (it kept me up for part of the night too). He was worn out by the end of the trip, particularly the last 2 miles, but I let him know that 25+ miles over 3 days is definitely respectable. He can hike with me anytime. Perhaps he will come along to an upcoming BPL meetup in the area.
The only piece of equipment I wish I had was my canister stove and a windscreen. Instead, I brought a homemade wood burning stove and a supercat stove with 2 portions of alcohol. The woodstove was fun to play around with but I struggled with it once the winds from the storm kicked up and I didn't have a windscreen. I used the alcohol stove in the morning after it snowed to heat up water. It took all the alcohol I had to heat up about 2 cups of water due to the low temperature. It was enough water for either coffee or oatmeal. My boss chose coffee. The hot beverage was heavenly but it meant eating a powerbar for breakfast.
Perhaps my two favorite pieces of equipment are my Monbell down jacket and Patagonia baklava. I wore both of them in my sleeping bag and stayed warm though the night and into the morning, despite high winds, lows in the low 20s and a 32 degree bag.
Ken, this one was a breeze compared to the North Lake to South Lake trip. I really want to do the JMT next summer over about 15 days but the last day on our trip this summer seriously made me doubt my ability to do consecutive 15+ mile days that include a 12k+ pass. It is my motivation to improve my conditioning over the winter. Next year we will have to plan a late season hike. How is your health these days? I am looking forward to meeting up and getting out in the snow.
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