Emigrant Wilderness, July 2018

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My first trip in three years! Sometimes life gets in the way. I thought I'd try a short solo trip to see if I'm still able to do all this. Answer: I'm a lot slower than I used to be, and get tired much more easily. My plan was to hike all the way to Long Lake on the first day, then climb Granite Dome on my layover day. That didn't quite work out.

Due to the Ferguson Fire, visibility the entire time was extremely poor. Fortunately, there was no smell or sting of smoke. Due to it being a weekend in July, there were a lot of other people.


Day 1:  Gianelli Trailhead to Leopold Lake

I woke up at 4:45am and got on the road by 5:15. I stopped for a really great breakfast at the Sportsman's Coffee Shop in Twain Harte, got my permit at the Summit Ranger Station in Pinecrest, then drove up Crabtree Road to the Gianelli Trailhead. I started hiking at about 10am.

By the time I reached the Chewing Gum Lake turnoff I was already quite tired, and by the time I hit the Y Meadow turnoff I was wiped out and very discouraged. I stopped for lunch, had some chocolate-covered espresso beans, and both my energy and mood improved.

I continued on through Whitesides Meadow, contemplating whether I had enough in me to make it all the way to Long Lake. Eventually I decided no, I didn't. I was OK with this, and the consequent abandonment of Granite Dome, mostly because of the smoke -- there wouldn't have been any views from the top. I refocussed the trip on small beauty, and took the turn off towards Toejam Lake, intent on Leopold Lake.

Leopold Lake was only about 1.5 miles closer than Long Lake, but with less climbing. Nevertheless, it was quite a slog in my exhausted state. I finally made it, and set up camp in the exact same spot as in 2004. I spent the rest of the evening swimming and enjoying the fiery sunset.

Day 2:  Day Hike to Long Lake 

My plan for today was a day hike loop to Long Lake and the Wire Lakes. Again, that didn't quite work out. I started out at 8:30 on the cross-country route down into Cherry Creek canyon. I stuck to the right side, as suggested by Ben Schifrin's map (I didn't have the text with me). It was moderately difficult, with some brushy sections and scrambling.

Once at the bottom, it was easy to find the trail, and I started up the 400' climb to Gem Lake. A quick pause at the lake, and I continue the gentle climb past Jewelry Lake to Deer Lake. From Deer Lake, I set out cross-country, following the outlet creek from Long Lake. This was one of the few flowing creeks I found this year, and it was quite lovely, with many small cascades and pools.

Finally, I reached the Long Lake dam and sat for lunch atop a huge boulder with an amazing view out over the lake. Long Lake was incredible, full of islands and surrounded by what looked like excellent camping, and I'd definitely like to go back some day.

I was very fatigued by this point, unfortunately, and decided to skip the big loop and just head back to camp. I was not looking forward to the 1000' cross-country climb awaiting me at the end of my hike. Retracing my route, I soon reached this and started up. Very, very slowly.

On the way up I took a different route, though, which turned out to be much better. From the small stand of trees ⅓ of the way up, this route heads straight up, then to the right. It had a few ducks, only one short brushy section, and no real scrambling. Definitely recommended over my route down.

I arrived back at my camp around 4pm and enjoyed the remarkably warm evening.

Day 3:  Leopold Lake to Gianelli Trailhead

Nothing too exciting today, just retracing my route back to the car. I woke up already fatigued, though, so it was a very long, slow, painful hike.

I had an uneventful drive home, with a stop for carne asada at Cocina Michoacan.

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