Sunday, September 3, 2017

Hiker's Paradise

We returned to Alpine Lake for three days to explore more of the wonderful trails from our campsite at Pine Marten Campground. Our first hike was Lakeshore trail that goes somewhat around Alpine Lake since we didn't do this hike on our last visit.

From our campsite we followed the Lakeshore trail on the south side of the lake to the dam. From there, the trail descends down and away from the dam to connect with a OHV trail, Slick Rock trail. We came across a couple that seemed lost. They had made it to the junction, but from the junction they didn't know which way to go since there isn't a sign pointing the direction back up to the lake. I didn't have a map, but knew the direction since I had memorized the map. We made a right at the trails junction, headed up the hill, past Emigrant trail on the left, and followed the road to the lake.

We then followed the paved trail that runs along the northern portion of the lake back to camp. At one point we were able to get a view of Inspiration Point.

This is a view of the direction of our second hike, Bee Gulch. After a good night's sleep and lazy morning, we headed off to explore the mountains north of the lake.

Our route was Bee Gulch. Since I had forgotten to bring maps on this camping trip, we didn't know the route, topography, and trails. This map doesn't show all the trails. There is a trail from Hwy 4, just west of the lake, to Bee Gulch called the Alpine Bypass trail.

Just after the water tank is the junction to the trails. We decided to explore the Alpine Bypass trail first before making the climb up Bee Gulch. That added another two plus miles to our excursion.

We passed by some Sierra Gooseberry plants. Thank God we didn't see a bear munching!

After returning to the Bee Gulch trail, the trail took us around some granite rocks, through a pine forest, across a creek, and up the side of a ridge for views of volcanic rocks. Rock formation similar to Inspiration Point and the Dardanelles.

Since we didn't know how much longer until the junction to the fire road and we were getting tired from the climb, we admired the views, noticed smoke just south-east of the Dardanelles, and then headed back down the trail to camp. Next time, I will remember to bring maps. Well, we have a reason to hike the Bee Gulch trail again, just to complete the trail.

On the way back down, we spotted this mushroom sweating in the hot alpine sun.

Back at camp, we rested before taking a drive east to see Mosquito Lake. We were lucky to get the same campsite as our last trip. All the snow had melted. Sadly, Meeks didn't have snow to munch.

In the morning, we awoke to a smoky sky. We started the climb up Inspiration Point, but we didn't get to the top since the view was terrible from the smoke and thunder could be heard in the distance. So we decided to head back to camp to relax a bit before packing up camp.

On the trek down, we spotted some lizards resting on this boulder. The boulder can be spotted on google maps.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alpine Lake

The Sierra Mountains were calling us to come hike and camp. So, we packed up for an overnighter and headed away from the 100+ degree heat at home.  Yes, that's snow!

After setting up camp at Pine Marten and eating shrimp salad for lunch, we headed for a hike to Duck Lake.

Instead of finding ducks, we saw lots of geese that are spending their summer at 7,300 feet elevation trying to stay cool. The temperature for that day was 85 degrees.

Since the hike down to Duck Lake was only about a mile from the trailhead, we decided to hike around the lake to explore the other side of the lake. The trail was pretty and in numerous spots we lost the trail due to washouts from the spring melt. There are lots of fallen trees in the dense forest on the east side of the lake.

The views of the lake and granite mountain range are best seen on the west side of the lake. We didn't see any snow patches along our hike.

Back at camp, we enjoyed a relaxing and quiet Sunday afternoon with the cool, pine breeze blowing through our campsite.

Most of the campers had left earlier in the day; so, four of the campsites by our site were empty.

All of the campsites located on the road to the right were empty too. There were some very nice sites for RVs on that section of the campground. One site in complete shade. Most of the campers were at the sites by the lake, which surprisingly was warmer there by the lake.

Through the trees, off on the right by the large log was a little pond that had formed from melted snow. Also, the trailhead to Inspiration Point was off on the left. Numerous cars were parked to the left of the photo, but by evening only one car was left.

After a good nights sleep and yummy breakfast, we hiked up to Inspiration Point. It was a steep climb to the lower level of the point.

We were rewarded with a wonderful view of Alpine Lake. The campground is off to the right of the photo. We could see folks kayaking and enjoying their day on the lake.

We scrambled higher for even more spectacular views.

We were delighted and surprised to see Utica, Union, Spicer Reservoirs. Basking in the view brought back wonderful memories of tent camping at Utica with our children over ten years ago. We could even spot the island which we canoed out to explore with the kids and Meeks.

And we had a view of the Dardanelles with the snowy mountains of the Emigrant Wilderness behind. Last August, we hike with daughter to Sword Lake just below the Dardanelles,

The Dardanelles and Inspiration Point are like volcanic islands in a sea of granite. Glaciers eroded most of the volcanic rock and left moraines of granite. The Dardanelles are another example of an inverted volcanic river topography.

Back at camp, we relaxed before packing up and heading home to the heat of the Bay Area. We are looking forward to coming back here to explore more of this beautiful region of the Sierra Mountains.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Squaw Valley Creek Trail

Day three, we hiked an 8 mile loop that starts by crossing over a small footbridge by the Cabin Creek Trailhead to the PCT footbridge that crosses Squaw Valley Creek.

The directions for the hike states not to cross the PCT footbridge. After exploring the bridge and pretty gorge, we head up to where the PCT splits to the right.

We hike the loop counterclockwise. After hiking along the PCT for about a mile, we arrive at the junction of trails called the "Octopus".  We head down the inviting fire road listening to numerous birds singing to each other.  We were happy to be walking under the canopy of fir, pine, cedar, black oak, and dogwood trees since it was very hot, 90s.

We hear the Bear Trap Creek to the right, which is located way below the fire road at the start of our descent. As we descend, we notice many springs and seasonal creeks feeding into Bear Trap Creek. Once the road levels out, we cross a vehicle bridge. In the pool by the bridge are numerous Umbrella plants or Indian Rhubarb.

This region of Northern California is so much greener and healthier looking than Central California.  We stop to put on the extensions of our pant legs since the next section of the loop will take us through sections where poison oak grows profusely along sections of the trail. Mainly the first mile from the junction of the fire road and the Squaw Valley Creek Trail, aka Cabin Creek Trail, has the densely patches of poison oak. We were happy we were hiking this in the spring and not late summer when the poison oak would be covering the trail.

The Squaw Valley Trail follows the Squaw Valley Creek until it connects to the PCT. As we got closer to the PCT, about half way into the hike along the Squaw Valley Creek, the trail improves. We stop at an opening along the trail to look at a falls, rest, and eat a snack.

So many flowering plants line the rocky gorge in this area. After a relaxing rest, we continue the gentle climb back to the trailhead. We only came across three folks that walked from the trailhead to the PCT bridge and back. Later that evening, we saw them at Fowlers Camp. They had explored numerous places by car that day.

Our drive back to McCloud on Squaw Valley Creek Road provided us with such a rewarding surprise, majestic Mt. Shasta.

I was so pleased to have found this hike:

There are so many more beautiful places in this region of Mt. Shasta that my husband and I are looking forward to exploring.

Part 3 of Mt.Shasta/ McCloud

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fowlers Camp!

Sunday morning, we drive to Fowlers Camp to see if there are any open first-come-first-serve sites. We find that most of the camp is empty and very quiet. Site 32, situated away from the trail that runs next to the river, we call home for two nights.

After setting up our site and eating lunch, we head off for a hike on the McCloud River Falls Trail. The trail from Fowlers Campground to Middle Falls is heavily used by many folks wanting to see the Middle Falls. Folks will come in for the day to hike from the lower falls to the middle falls region of the trail.

We continue our climb up the trail to the viewing area for Middle Falls.

I had read that some young, fearless kayaker went over this falls this past April. He survived!

The McCloud River meanders for miles until it flows into Lake Shasta. We continue our hike to the Upper Falls, which isn't as impressive as the Middle Falls.

From the Upper Falls, we find the marker for the trail and hike to Lakin Dam Picnic Area. The dam is much small than I excepted.

The trail snakes close to the river with numerous places of volcanic rocks to scramble over-- and reminding us that Mt. Shasta is close by.

We rest in the peaceful clearing in the picnic area before heading back to Fowlers Camp.

Part 2 of Mt. Shasta / McCloud.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Blessing in Disguise!

My husband stated that he wanted to camp at a place we haven't visited. I stated I wanted to see the Mt. Shasta area. We both knew it would be at least a six hour drive from home. So, we planned on staying at least three nights. This was the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend, and we didn't make any reservations. The plan was to camp for three nights at Fowlers Campground, but that didn't happen.

While driving the portion of I-5 through the mountains of Shasta Lake, the oil light came on. The car was overdue for oil change, which was scheduled for the next week. We drove into McCloud to get gas and top off the oil, but McCloud didn't carry the correct oil for our car. So, we came up with a plan to find a campsite at Fowlers, unhitch trailer, and then head to the NAPA store in Mt. Shasta for the oil. It was a great plan, but that didn't happen. We got to Fowlers to find all of the sites taken. Yes, my bad since it was a Saturday afternoon. And yes, I know that reservations at a popular campground on a weekend is essential to nab a site; but, I didn't make reservations, and it was a blessing in disguise.

While waiting for husband to get the oil, I walked Meeks around the parking lot and enjoyed the stunning view of Mt. Shasta. Once husband had topped off the oil, I told him of a campground that is located closer to Mt. Shasta city than McCloud. I told him to keep fingers crossed.

We got lucky! From our campsite we had a view of Mt. Shasta. There are no views of Mt. Shasta from any of the campsites at Fowlers Camp.

Not only did we have a view of Mt. Shasta, we also had views of the snow covered Trinity Mountains.

Our site was so private. Nobody was camped in the site across the street from us or right next to our site. And even if someone had been right next to us, we wouldn't have been able to see them.

After settling in, we took a stroll around the campground.

While researching this campground, I read of a small creek that runs through the campground. Meeks enjoyed drinking the icy cold, clear water from this spot.

There is a hidden water pump. One has to cross the creek and hike a short distance to an open area where the pump is located.

We were camped at one of the sunnier sites. Many of the other sites are under the canopy of trees and were not as private as our site. 

We walked across the main road, Everitt Memorial Hwy, to check out the dirt road across the street. Sadly, that was just a dead-end and didn't provide us with a road to hike. There are no hiking trails close to the campground.  From the middle of the road, there is a great view of Black Butte.

Since the weather forecast for the next day was the low 90s and I had planned other hikes in the McCloud area, we agreed to just one night at this beautiful campground.  

In the morning before hitching up, we drove the Everitt Memorial Hwy until it ended at Bunny Flat, due to snow. Many cross-country skiers were taking advantage of the late season of snow, which doesn't look like it will melt until late August. 

This gem hidden beneath gorgeous, snow-covered Mt. Shasta is such a wonderful campground that I wish it wasn't so far from home. My husband and I would love to explore more of this area of Mt. Shasta.

Part 1 of 3 Mt. Shasta/ McCloud