Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

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Lumbergh21
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Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

Post by Lumbergh21 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:27 pm

19.0 miles, 9,028 feet up and down, over 3 days

I went on my first overnight trip of the year this past weekend, making the 4-hour drive from Redding to the China Gulch Trailhead, including a short detour to Weaverville to fill out a Wilderness Permit. I reached the trailhead just after noon and began climbing towards the China Spring Hunters Camp. The hunters camp was located at the top of the ridge amid a few live trees and many dead, fire scarred ones. Wherever the spring was, it was not obvious. Next up was 1,300 feet of knee jarring decent to the trail junction below at Low Gap and another hunters camp along Grizzly Creek just to the east of the trail junction where I stopped to refresh myself in the stream and have a snack before starting the next big climb up to Grizzly Meadows and camp for the night. The second climb of the day was through a conifer forest as the trail wound up and away from the creek before dipping back down near the creek and then repeating again and again, slowly ascending the 1,600 feet to Grizzly Meadow. I arrived at the north end of Grizzly Meadows just before 5 PM and decided to stop for the day at the first campsite, which was right off the trail. It wasn’t a great site, but I was physically tired, which was quite the disappointment given that I had only hiked a little over 8 miles. I went down to the creek to rinse off and rinse out my clothes only to find that the water was literally ice cold. I did get my feet and lower legs rinsed off and my socks rinsed out, but that was the most that I could stand. Having my hands in the water for even a minute resulted in the deep down in your bones ache that you get from holding your hand in a bucket of ice water. After a dinner of salami and cheese burritos with wasabi seaweed to give it a kick, I looked at the hiking stats for the day and felt a little better about my lack of conditioning. Even though it was only 8.2 miles, with all of the ups and downs, I had hiked up 4,000 feet over the course of the 5 hours.
Grizzly Meadow and Falls 1.jpg
On Day 2 I packed up camp and headed up to Grizzly Lake. There were two nicer campsites further up the Meadow and one that was not as nice. If I ever return, now I know. After crossing a snow field, I began picking my way up the mountainside, eventually coming across a trail. Following the trail now, I came to a fork with footprints going both ways. I had a choice to make, and I chose poorly. I went right when I should have gone left. After some tense moments, I made my way back to the fork in the trail and continued along in the correct direction, following cairns up to a knoll above Grizzly Lake, then descending down to the lake. After enjoying a very early lunch at the lake, I decided to go exploring up the ridge line on the east side of the lake towards Caesar Peak. I climbed to a spot a few hundred feet above Grizzly Lake before turning around and heading back. The views looking down on the ice-covered lake and the surrounding snowy peaks were a good reward for an easy scramble. Heading back to Grizzly Meadow, I decided to follow the cairns. My second mistake of the day; these were dark evil cairns down among the talus at the base of the falls. The cairns cut over entirely too close to Grizzly Creek at the bottom of the falls and lead you through a jumble of rocks and talus. It is better to leave the cairns behind around 6500 feet in elevation and keep further to the northeast as you descend back into the meadow. At the south end of the meadow, I stopped again to relax and filter some water. Leaving a little after noon, I met 10 other hikers headed up to Grizzly Meadow and Lake, in addition to the 7 that I had seen making the climb up to the lake while I was coming down. I ended up stopping at the Low Gap campsite around 2:30. Rather than make the climb up to the China Gulch Hunter’s Camp in the midday heat to dry camp among dead trees, I decided on a very short day and made camp alongside Grizzly Creek. I was joined later by three ladies and their husky dog. Today had been a leisurely 7.2 miles with a total of 3,280 feet of climbing.
Grizzly Falls.jpg
Grizzly Lake Outlet.jpg
Grizzly Lake.jpg
Grizzly Lake Ice.jpg
Grizzly Lake and Thompson Peak.jpg
Day 3 began early as I got up and started packing at 5:50 AM. I can’t seem to pack up my gear fast, and still didn’t hit the trail until 6:40. I made relatively quick work of the 1,300-foot climb in the cool of the early morning then descended back down to my car, parked at the trailhead, arriving there at 8:25 AM. A nice 3.6 miles and 1,770 feet of climbing to end the trip.
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rightstar76
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Re: Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:25 am

Wow, Lumbergh21, an impressive trip! Very physically demanding. What surprises me is how many people were out there. Guess more people are getting in shape. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:15 am

If you think you did not pack up fast, I must be the slowest in the world to break camp! I seem to take 2 hours to get going no matter how I try harder. Solution? I just get up earlier.

I am surprised at the amount if snow, given the lower elevation. How were the mosquitoes? I am trying to figure out where to go the next few weeks while the Sierra gets mosquito infested.

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Re: Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

Post by windknot » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:14 pm

Beautiful! Sounds like a great trip, thanks for sharing.
You can read a few backcountry reports here: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/

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Lumbergh21
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Re: Grizzly Lake, Trinity Alps, 7/19/19 - 7/21/19

Post by Lumbergh21 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:55 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:15 am
If you think you did not pack up fast, I must be the slowest in the world to break camp! I seem to take 2 hours to get going no matter how I try harder. Solution? I just get up earlier.

I am surprised at the amount if snow, given the lower elevation. How were the mosquitoes? I am trying to figure out where to go the next few weeks while the Sierra gets mosquito infested.
There was over 200% snowpack in northern California this year, including the Trinities, but I was surprised by the lake. I heard from a coworker that it was still completely iced over when he was up there 4 weeks ago (and snow covering the entire route up from the meadow). On a 0 to 4 scale, the mossies were a 1. There were some, but not that active and not enough to drive you into a tent or crazy. I had heard they were fairly bad in Morris Meaadow the week before, so I went with my bigger and heavier pack that includes a tent with bug netting rathed than just a tarp. I could have gotten by with the tarp and ligt pack, but I was taking it easy anyway. So, no need to get crazy light.

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