Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Couple days in the Trinity Alps

Left Friday to hike into the Trinity Alps. This was a good decision all around since the place is insanely beautiful. We did the Canyon Creek hike, which according to the guidebooks is the "Yosemite valley of the Trinity Alps" so I was worried it was going to be packed. It wasn't. We got lucky. We passed two people in the first 8.5 miles, so that was pretty good. I think it draws a good summer crowd, but then people get afraid of the cold - as they should. We did a total of a little more than 17 miles, so we took it a bit easier than the King Range/Lost Coast trip. Pretty gradual incline which made for a rather easy and vert scenic hike.

Not many wildlife sightings (mule deer an an alligator lizard, various birds, one snake) but lots of great trees like Jeffrey Pine, Brewer Spruce, White Pine, Douglas Fir, California Red Fir, Western Hemlock, Pacific Yew, White Fir, Incense Cedar, CA live oaks, Cottonwoods, Aspens, etc. Tons of chest high ferns and azaleas also. Some were even changing colors, so it was nice to see a little of that fall color. So the Brewer Spruce is the rarest spruce and only grows in the Klamath Mountains (where we were), so that's pretty badass. We saw a lot of them.
We ended up camping between the upper and lower lakes in a completely unsheltered spot. The scenery made up for the cruel and bitterly cold winds though. Friday was a full moon (yay!) and since the whole area is surrounded by granite peaks and two big lakes, it was like day once the moon came over the mountains. Pretty awesome. If it hadn't been so cold, we could have easily done a night hike without headlamps. So pretty. There were some some mule deer who came into the campsite a few times during the night. They made a pretty good attempt at trying to get into our packs. They got nuthin. Lots of little unknown succulents around. Tried my hardest not to step on the little guys.
The morning was painfully cold. Horribly, painfully cold. However, there was some pretty fancy fog happening over the lower lake. Very nice. Check it ooot.

I managed to drag myself out of the tent to snag a few pictures but then chucked myself right back in that there little bubble. I had those handwarmer things that you shake to warm up, but they were expired. I figured they'd work anyway. Since when do expiration dates mean anything? They didn't work. One exploded all over Zac's bare hands. So then he had to go wash his hands in the cold cold lake. He was unhappy with this scenario. I found it slightly entertaining. Chaos ensued. (not really). Eventually we got up and made several Jetboils worth of coffee (anything steaming would have done) and waited almost two hours for the sun to make it over the mountains. It took it's sweet time, but without the shine, I pretty much was immobile. See Exhibit A below:

After we thawed out to an acceptable extent, we hiked up to El Lake. It was a decently steep little climb with beautiful views of the Canyon Creek Lakes. It was freaking awesome. Lots of Brewer Spruce and fantastic rock walls. The third picture is one of the Brewer Spruce. Good lookin' tree.

We headed down from El Lake, picked up our packs and started the hike out. There were some pretty intense storm clouds brewing over the peaks on our way back down. It was all pretty much downhill, so we made crazy fast time. It started to rain about the las mile, so we timed it perfectly and jogged the rest of the way to the trailhead. The light on the lake was perfect when we left. I like this shot a lot -

Anyway, great hike! There's a few more mountain lakes past El Lake that I'd like to check out in the spring. Here's a few last shots of the ferns and madrones.

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