May 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm #1290483
Emigrant Wilderness Stanislaus National Forest
Dates: May 26-29
Appx 30 Mile loop
Tom Harrison Trail Map
Temp: Night 28-35F Day 50-60F
Crabtree trail head to Upper Buck loop
Check in at ranger station around noon on Saturday as it started to drizzle. Since no hikers had been out and back, they had little information about the condition of the trails. We did get an updated weather report and were told snow until evening. It had snowed 5 inches a few days before, so there was snow on ground at the trailhead. As we were packing up to move out, the rain turned into snow.
Crabtree Trailhead – Snow…It started to come down.
Starting our climb toward Camp Lake
We ran into 2 rangers. They confirmed that the snow should be stopping before dark.
After seeing Camp Lake, we came across 2 groups of hikers. The first was heading back to trailhead to get out of snow. The second, heading back to trailhead after a long cold night and said they were not prepared for the cold and snow. We were pretty confident with the warm rain gear we had.
Snow really coming down
Looking down toward Piute Meadows
Besides snow on the ground, the trails to Piute Meadow, where we camped the first night, were ok. Crossing the creek east of Camp Lake was a little wide, but we were able to cross. We set up camp and Piute Meadow, the snow stopped and we had a nice evening.
Day 2 AM Piute Meadow
Day 2: We headed towards Buck Lake where we planned to camp
Snow for 3 days prior and the night before…was melting very quickly
Gem Lake. Saw a few hikers here.
Descending down to Upper Buck Lake
Day 3 morning: Buck Lake
Crossing between Upper and Lower Buck not easy and the water is moving fast.
We were moving fast until we hit Wood Lake. There is a cove that we had to cross, but was impassable because the water level was so high. We were forced to go around. It was very hard and took a long time to figure out how to get up and around. Then we had a hard time finding trial due to snow.
Climbing to get around the impassable Wood Lake cove
The trail from Wood Lake to the point where you cross Buck Meadow Creek is very hard to follow due to snow pack. Snow was melting fast but covered 50%+ trail.
Snow covered the trail sounth of Wood Lake
Buck Meadow Creek running really fast
Once we crossed Meadow Creek to the north, there was no snow to be seen. Thank God!
More heavy water flow.
Groundhog Meadows – The mosquitos begin!
One of the places we thought to camp was Groundhog Meadow. We decided to keep moving onto Grouse Lake because of the millions of hungry mosquitos breeding in the meadow that was now all swamp. We then planned to camp at Grouse Lake, but there were signs everywhere that said no camping within 100 feet, which was kind of strange since the ranger at the ranger station didn't mention this as when we were telling her our destinations for our permit. No big deal. We just continued down the creek to find a spot. Nothing great, but we made it work.
Night 3 camp
"Deathly Hollows" Still a lot of fire damage, but slowly starting to come back
Heading back to Crabtree. Same trail as the first pics
Great trip all around. We definitely had problems following the trail south of Wood lake and some water crossings were moving fast and wide.May 30, 2012 at 1:00 am #1882234
Nice trip report, thanks. The snow added a little texture to your trip!
In general, there is no camping within 100 feet of water (lakes, rivers, etc.). They must've put those signs up because those areas were being over-camped and the rangers felt it necessary to discourage camping there.May 30, 2012 at 7:25 am #1882281
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Great report! I have done that loop a few times. I consider it one of the prettier ones in EmmigrantMay 30, 2012 at 7:39 am #1882289
Jacob DBPL Member
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
Very cool, Chris. (pun intended)
The snow adds an interesting element. I had to double check the date, then remembered my wife telling me it had snowed at upper elevations in the Sierra last weekend. Sounds like it didn't slow the bugs down too much?May 30, 2012 at 10:04 am #1882349
Yeah, I'm aware about the 100 ft rule on camping. Some places around Grouse lake were well over 100 off the lake and the signs where still there. Maybe they are discouraging people from camping around there because of the fire? and to let things grow back? not sure, but we just hiked down the trail and found a spot.Jul 9, 2012 at 10:29 am #1893353
Thanks for the great photos along the way and the water crossing info for Wood lake !!last time i was in there there definitely was a few knarley crossings but thats why we go isnt it ?? also reminds me why i dont go back in there in may anymore!!gettin old and like to stay warm now !! haha LOL sounds like you all had it handled nicely though ; anyways getting ready to do a similar loop back in there this next week with my son; been a while since i have been back in to Buck and looking forward to it; Havent seen or read much current info about Jewel lake on any of these w-sites; anybody out there have anything on Jewel for me ?? or trail info on the crossovers at Wood ; Gem ; Piute or Pine valley ?? We are gonna head out from crabtree and havent decided yet where to crossover on the way back; last time i was back in there the fishing was outstanding !! anything on the fishing side for Buck ;Emigrant ; Long ; Deer Lake ect..How about the "Goldies up at Wire ; whatever you got click it out for me thanksJul 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm #1893534
This late in the season the crossing should be less intense. Jewel lake is very pretty didn't really put the rod in the water there. I would't worry too much about water crossings right not. They have not gotten much rain and all the now is pretty much gone. Especially in the lower elevations.
We saw some guys fishing at Deer, not sure how they did. At Upper buck on North West side there is some marsh that extended in the lake. All night we watched fish jump for the bugs.
Have fun out there. It is a great Hike!Jul 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm #1894830
David HankinsBPL Member
@hankinsohlLocale: Pacific Northwest
Nice trip report – I especially liked the snow at the outset :-).
I just got back from a planned 8-day trip in the Emigrant which I had to cut down to just 3 days due to blisters. Perhaps it was just as well – the weather was very hot and the biting flies and mosquitos were ferocious. On the bright side, the wildflowers were in bloom making it one of the most spectacular of my visits to the mountains.
I'm planning on a return trip to the area later in the year – this time with (hopefully) better fitting shoes, less heat and fewer bugs.Jul 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm #1895224
The crossing at Wood Lake is indeed very high in early season. I've had it as high as mid chest. The good thing is that is completely still so you can hold your pack above your head. The trail along the south side of the lake is a real bear because the snow bank is typically steep and if you slip you are going right into the lake.Sep 20, 2012 at 10:51 am #1914054
Brian CampriniBPL Member
@bcampriniLocale: Southern Appalachians
Now that looks like fun! A little weather, but no postholing or real misery, gushing water, great views, some blue skies…my kind of stuff.
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