Oct 12, 2009 at 4:17 pm #1240184
Ken T. from the California coast and Jay W. from the East Bay worked out the trip together. I think Ken picked the spot and Jay handled publicity and coordination. Both did an excellent job….the site was great and there was a good turnout.
We went up closer to Ken's country – the Trinity Alps in far Northern California. Three of us from the Bay Area arrived at the trailhead on Friday afternoon and everyone else dribbled in over the course of the rest of the evening. We relaxed around the fire Friday evening and crashed out, ready to get started in the morning.
Besides Ken from up North and Jay from the Bay, there was me and Cameron K., also from the East Bay, and three from the Santa Cruz area; the father and son team of Joshua B and Ocean (14) and their friend Katharina P. I'm new, but that seems like a pretty solid turnout, especially for a shoulder season trek. It's great to be able to hang out with people from all over that are really only connected through a common interest , the outdoors.
Ken chose for our destination “L” Lake, above Canyon Lakes, nine miles up at the end of the Canyon Lakes Trail in the Trinity Alps National Forest. The Trinity Alps are much lower than the Sierras, but every bit as beautiful and rugged. We topped out at about six thousand feet. I think the range is aptly named!
I had never been there before, but several in our group had been, some extensively; although I don't think anyone had been to this actual lake before. What a beautiful hike! The seven of us got started on Saturday morning bright and early at 9:30 in balmy weather and headed up the trail. The trail follows the walls of the canyon formed by Canyon Creek and climbs steadily. I would say the first part of the trail was on the easy side of moderate, but as we got closer to the pair of Canyon Lakes it was more on the difficult side of moderate.
Upper and Lower Canyon Lakes sit one above the other in a valley surrounded by high peaks and ridges, with the lakes nestled in the trees and the peaks and ridges just above treeline. We arrived and waited a bit at Upper Canyon Lake for Josh and Cameron to catch up from their shortcut. Then we got ready to push on.
To a casual observer (me) it appeared at first glance like there was no place else to go, we had reached the end of the road. But it turns out we could proceed up a gully and around a ridge and head up the three-quarters of a mile to “L” Lake. This part was on the hard side of difficult. Some of it was hand over foot scrambling. We were following what is called a “User Trail', which we discovered meant “Trail Nobody Can Find”. It was hard work, but only took about an hour or so. At one point I think I saw Billy Goat Gruff's cousin, but I might have been unconscious for a moment.
“L” Lake is set in what I learned is called a cirque, and a beautiful example of one at that. This particular cirque wrapped almost all the way around the lake. The lake itself was sort of a large pond and there weren't many good spots to set up camp, at least for seven people. We ended up finding a workable spot in amongst some trees and since it was getting late, we started getting ready for the night.
Once everyone was settled in, we ate dinner and hung out for a long while. At one point several deer showed up for their dinner, they got quite close to us. That kept us entertained for awhile, then it was time for bed. The evening was not nearly as cold as we anticipated, although there looked to be frost at the edges of some puddles in the morning. It was a great night, I for one slept very well thanks to the ProLite pad I borrowed from Jay (thanks Jay). A vast improvement over closed cell foam.
Once we were all crashed out, the deer came right on into camp and kept right on eating. It was as if we were using their “Hometown Buffet” to sleep in! They were courteous enough not to complain about it. It's interesting to me that when you are sitting next to the fire looking at a deer tramping around, it's very obvious that it's a deer. But when you are in your tent listening to the same noises, it's easy to let your mind play tricks on you. At least that's what I've heard.
The next day we learned from the couple over yonder that they had set their alarm for 1:30 am and arose to watch the moon come over the edge of the ridge. I don't what they did after that.
In the morning we got up and had a leisurely breakfast and those of us leaving got ready to head out. Josh B, Ocean and Katharina were staying in the area for another night, lucky dogs! The rest of us had to get home. We retraced our steps from the previous day, starting with the plunge down to the Canyon Lakes. I wouldn't say we hiked down there so much as fell down there. We took a break at Upper Canyon Lake where Jay showed us how to fish, then continued on. Before you know it, we were back at the truck enjoying an ice cold Sierra Nevada. Then quickly enroute to In 'n Out Burger in Redding to top off.
I know…FINALLY!!, the gear! It was a gear extravaganza of the first order. Bush Buddies, Pocket Rockets, various and sundry Caldera Cones, alky burners with and without simmer rings and Esbit/Heineken contraptions. No two setups matched exactly and everyone was perfectly happy with their selection. Everyone was able to heat up their various noodle dishes and hot liquids no problem.
The highlight, though, were the hammocks. I think Cameron observed that all the UL hammocks that exist in NorCal were probably present on this trip. That's three for those counting. The cool factor for these things is VERY high. While I was on my hands and knees preening up my tent site, the hammock guys (Cameron, Josh and Ken) were playing in the trees. Jay noted that Hammockers seem to look at a potential campsite a bit differently than us ground dwellers. For the right application, hammocks seem hard to beat.
Oh yeah, wait, actually the fact that Ocean cowboy-camped the first night and made a tree branch lean-to up against a boulder for himself the second night is even cooler than the hammocks. Sorry hammockers.
In all, everyone (even me) was more than adequately equipped and only had to worry about having fun.
The Photos:Oct 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm #1535682
Thanks Dave for the report. We all had a great time. Don't be too modest to let EVERYONE know that you had the lightest pack. Congrats on that! Plenty of inside jokes in that report too. Awesome! Jay,Katharina,and Josh saddle up.Plenty of trees and granite.David and Cameron on the trail.Campsite deluxe at Lower Canyon Creek Lake.Cross country begins near the lakes.We all head off to find our own special route. Some are more special than others.Upper Canyon Creek Lake.Slick glacier polished granite in the upper canyon.Finally El lake or L lakeA lovely Sunday breakfast around camp.Back down from EL Lake.Beautiful weekend. As always I wish I had taken more photos. Need to have Tony come along….Oct 12, 2009 at 8:19 pm #1535748
Ocean & Ken XC Marker
Canyon Creek Lake
Fun camp & dinner time!!!!
Trinity Alps Glow
David & Cameron starting the XC return…Oct 12, 2009 at 8:28 pm #1535751
Jeff CadorinBPL Member
@jeffcadorin-2Locale: paper beats rock
I miss them mountains. Did my first solo trip in the alps, always have fond memories of that trip. Anyways, looks like you guys/gals had a great time. Surprised their has not been pics of all the tent setups yet, but then again Tony wasnt there.
That campsite out on the lake peninsula is picture perfect.
Jealous in Arkansas,
JeffOct 12, 2009 at 8:42 pm #1535756
Ken starting the XC return!
Canyon Creek Lake
Nancy was able to catch a few fish here.Oct 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm #1535759
Ken taking a picture of Backpacker Chic!!
I think she was skinny dipping!
David, Cameron and Ken living the life doing some XC!!
The Trinity Alps are very cool!Oct 12, 2009 at 9:04 pm #1535763
Laurence BeckBPL Member
@becklaLocale: Southern California
Who took the pictures? Beautiful!Oct 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm #1535770
Thanks. Each of us are posting our own photos.Oct 12, 2009 at 9:39 pm #1535775
Thanks for everything Ken!!! I just got a call from from Josh & Crew and they all got home safe… Hopefully we will see ya at Pt. Reyes in January…Oct 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm #1536120
LOL Jay. I'll be at Point Reyes. Thinking of putting something else together up here before or even after that.Oct 14, 2009 at 9:31 pm #1536473
Canyon Creek LakeOct 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm #1536493
Joshua BillingsBPL Member
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
We had a blast and really glad we stayed an extra day. Thanks again for organizing the trip you guys.L-Lake
L-LakeL-LakeCanyon LakesOct 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm #1536501
Josh…did you have any luck fishing on Monday?Oct 15, 2009 at 10:12 am #1536633
Tony WongBPL Member
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Great trip…jealous that I could not join you guys.
Thanks for putting up the pictures to share.
What were the temperatures like in the evening time?
-TonyOct 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm #1536808
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
pics were amazing guys. I have never backpacked there and now I want to go there. Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!Oct 15, 2009 at 6:25 pm #1536817
Tony, Nights got down to near freezing, but no wind. Temps during the day were in the 70's. AwesomeOct 15, 2009 at 6:58 pm #1536832
Joshua BillingsBPL Member
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
We did really well. I caught about 12 small browns at L-Lake on the fly rod. Ocean caught about 3 at L-lake on lures and one nice size one at lower canyon lake. He kept and ate that one over an open fire near the creak where we stayed on Sunday night.
Ocean getting dirty
Dads tiny fishOct 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm #1536874
That's awesome Josh…I definitely want in on that some time…..Oct 15, 2009 at 9:03 pm #1536894
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Great write up Dave and awesome pics from everyone. I had no idea about that corner of California and look forward to exploring a new area.Oct 16, 2009 at 12:58 am #1536937
Emerald and Sapphire Lake
Sapphire LakeOct 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm #1539215
sheila oBPL Member
@bumpassLocale: The Far Left Coast? : /
Wow! Did the most of the Granite Lake/Four Lakes Loop this year. Just beautiful country. Thanks for sharing.
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