Back to other trips Second solo trip! This
was also the earliest trip I’ve ever taken. However, it was a
very dry and warm year, so there wasn’t too much water. I didn’t
even see any snow on the peaks.
My goal for the trip was two nights at Spotted Fawn Lake. I was
there once before, in 2002, and I remember it being one of the nicest
lakes I’ve ever seen. I’d wanted to go back ever since. I
planned a route on-trail to Kibbie Lake then cross-country from there,
but I didn’t make it. The trip was characterized by decisions
that felt bad at the time but turned out to be good.
Three good pieces of equipment news from this year:
I finally got to used my one-person tent. Loved it.
My new towel (from the Ocean Mall in Singer Island, FL) was awesome. Light and absorbent.
After last year’s punctured inflatable sleeping pad, I got a
z-fold foam pad. It was quite comfortable for sleeping, plus it
made an excellent cushion for sitting on rocks. Total win.
After an overly-long breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Tracy, I finally made it to the Shingle Spring trailhead about 45 minutes later than expected. I quickly packed up and headed up the Kibbie RidgeTrail.
I’ve done this section of trail before, and it’s a pleasant, moderate
climb through forest. Near the top, I came across a four-foot
rattlesnake on the trail. He was a big, fat, meaty guy, but was
unconcerned about me and slithered quietly into the brush.
As the trail reached the top of the ridge, I branched off to the right onto the Kibbie Lake Trail.
I descended slightly into a valley filled with burnt trees and young
ferns. After winding through this valley for a while, I crossed a
pretty little stream a the base of a cliff and came upon Kibbie Creek.
Rather than follow the trail across the creek and then cross back when
I reached the lake, I decided to stay on this side and go cross-country
the last half-mile. The day was extremely hot by this point (records
were set in the the Central Valley), and there was no shade. I
pushed myself too hard going over the rocks and became overheated and
fatigued by the time I reached the shores of Kibbie Lake. I found some trees, ate my lunch, and wished I’d stayed on the trail.
After lunch, I continued north along the shore of the lake, past some
very nice campsites. I was still very tired, and after stumbling
across some large expanses of downed trees and starting up the first
hill, I realized I wasn’t going to make it. I returned to
the best of the campsites on Kibbie Lake
and stopped for the day. It was only a little after lunch, and I
felt terribly discouraged. I was less than halfway to my
I spent the rest of the day reading and trying to stay cool. I
think I soaked in the lake 5 or 6 times just to lower my body
temperature. At 9:00, the mosquitoes came out and I got into my
Day 2: Day
Hike and Explore
the first rays of direct sun, I woke up and the mosquitos
dispersed. I considered packing everything up and trying to make
it on to Spotted Fawn Lake,
but it looked to be another scorchingly hot day. Reluctantly, I
gave up on my goal and went for a day hike instead. To satisfy my
curiosity, though, I took the route I’d planned on taking the previous
afternoon. It turns out I’m glad I didn’t try it with a full pack.
After skirting the shore of Kibbie Lake,
I headed up a small stream a the north end of the lake. There is
no route at lake level here, so I had to climb over and around a hill
to get to the other side. I followed a poorly ducked route up a
steep gully on the side of the hill, which turned into easy walking up
to the summit. After pausing to look down on Kibbie Lake, I continued east down the other side towards Kibbie Creek.
Things got really rough here, but I managed to pick a route through the
confusing jumble all the way down to the creek. I found a small
swimming hole and cooled off for about an hour.
From the creek, there was no obvious route on towards Spotted Fawn Lake.
The view from the peak had revealed the country back here to be quite
jumbled and brushy. I wouldn’t recommend any cross-country route
here, though I did see three guys making their way around the east side
of Kibbie Lake. This is
extremely steep and brushy, and I was a little worried for their
safety. I ran into a ranger that evening who told me they'd made
it, thankfully. They'd come down from Many Island Lake, so I guess the route is possible -- but not easy!
I made my way back to camp the way I'd come. After lunch (and
more swimming), I went on an explore to the outlet of Kibbie Lake.
The lake is very beautiful, and I was surprised how un-crowded it
was. I’d heard it was very popular, and being only 4.5 miles from
the trailhead I expected it to fill up with weekend backpackers and
dayhikers. As it turns out, I pretty much had the lake to myself.
At the lake’s outlet, I reevaluated my decision to go cross-country on
the first day. The only ways back to this side from the trail
were a narrow, 20-foot log crossing high above the water or a
chest-deep wade. Being packless on my explore, I took the wade
and checked out the trail junction and a pretty little island.
Back at camp, I swam and read the rest of the afternoon.
Unfortunately, I was developing quite a sunburn even though I’d been
staying in the shade. The mosquitos were a little earlier this
evening, and I was in the tent by 8:00.
Day 3: Kibbie Lake to Shingle Spring
I woke at 6:00, packed up, and headed out. Instead of
skirting the lake and creek, I went due west up over the smooth granite
hill behind my campsite. I’d seen some ducks up there and assumed
there’d be a way down the cliff on the other side. I was right,
and easily found a nice scramble down a gully. I followed the
stream at the bottom of the cliff until it intersected the Kibbie Lake Trail. This was a much easier route than what I took on my way in. I was back at the car in no time.
I’d always taken Cherry Lake Road (N07) from CA120 to this trailhead,
but I decided to try something new on the way home: Cottonwood
Road (N04) to CA108. This route is longer, but it turns out to be
much nicer. The road is wider, smoother, and less windy. I
think it might have ended up being faster, too, so I’m definitely
taking it from now on.