Sierra Trip – Carson-Iceberg Wilderness – Toiyabe National Forest
Sierra backpacking and fly fishing trips are the stuff of legend. From the earliest native tribes, European explorers, and ’49ers, to John Muir, Ansel Adams and Mark Twain the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range has been a mythical figure in our California identity. Containing Lake Tahoe, giant and majestic at over 6,000ft, Yosemite’s half dome, two of the largest western rivers, and Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States, the Sierras beauty and geology are unrivaled nearly anywhere.
Past Twain’s Calaveras Jumping frogs, above the 49′ers Angel Camp, and over Ebbett’s Pass (8,732ft), Hwy 4 meanders past both the Stanislaus and Mokelumne rivers. Just before the pass beautiful mosquito lake is just off the road, and coming down into the next valley you’ll find wolf creek road, combination of gravel and asphalt, making it an easy drive even in a car. At the very end of that road, some 6mi in, [TH] Wolf Creek Meadow [trail# 21010] appears. A large trail head with campsites and pit toilets, and right on Wolf Creek, making this a car camping adventure wouldn’t disappoint either.
After filling out our Wilderness passes and leaving a copy at our car (so they know who’s out there, and where to look for you) we started out. Rain had delayed our departure by two days, and had even still been in the area when we showed up, making a late afternoon start less than ideal. The idea was to loop around Bull Lake, through Bull canyon on trail 2125, to Scenic Trail, back past Wolf Creek Pass on 21021, to 21010 again, a big bite to chew for sure, but both my father and I are very experienced and fit hikers
With the late start, and some left over weather, we were on a mission to set up base camp #1. We estimated our camp to be at about 4+mi in, an easy make even with a late start. We had some intelligence from a friend, and a NTNL forest map (not the best, get an USGS topo), so we had a couple landmarks to look for to know we were where we needed to be. Even for hikers with as much experience as we have, matching hearsay and map coordinates to actual geology is difficult at best, and with daylight ending and the possibility of a little rain, our minds were on “get there” mode. The difference in size alone would make my father and I hike at different speeds, not to mention that with me in MY mid-thirties my dad is pushing 70. 70 just so happens to be how heavy my very full external framed pack was loaded, and no matter how much pre-adjustments you do you seem to need to always change it on the trail.
Adjustments done, and creeks crossed, we were not seeing what we needed and were running out of light. I was looking for a cabin that was supposedly right near where we wanted to set camp, and just off of a trail we wanted to hit the next day. Getting on to 8 o’clock, having STILL not seen the trail head or the cabin, we had wet feet and sore backs. We needed to stop. I’m like a stubborn mule and will keep going until I die, my dad has more sense and called it for the day. We had made it to a beautiful clearing, next to an alpine meadow, at the confluence of two creeks.
This is Patrick’s block. I wrote some commemorations and Put it at our first but misguided camp. A place both extremely harsh, and possibly the most beautiful spot you have ever seen. A quiet pine clearing, pushed up next to an alpine meadow at nearly 8,000ft. Sounds amazing right? The creek crossings and inclines, are hard enough, but you’re in one of the most remote places in California. Every form of native wildlife is abundant there, especially the predators. It’s not always the biggest who become the mightiest. The mosquitoes at this elevation and time of the year were thick. Like clouds of unrelenting BEASTS! Very, very tiny beasts, but beasts none the less.
There was a lot more to say, but life got in the way. If you’re even still reading this blog I thank you.
Life inevitably changes things, and now I find myself far away. Far away from my writing as well.
That will not always be, and I WILL be back.
Love you all.