a special place

This weekend I went on what will probably be the last backpacking trip of 2011. It was to a place called the Trinity Alps Wilderness. After having been to Yosemite twice in the last month, I didn’t have overly high expectations of this place.

This trip was with the usual backpacking crew that Dan organizes, Dan, Johnny, Robert and Victor. I’ve been backpacking with those guys for more than three years now. In addition I invited a couple of friends from college, but only one of them was able to make it. Dan and the rest of the crew decided to drive out to Redding on Thursday night and start hiking out on Friday morning. Since my friend Johann had to work on Friday, we left Davis in the evening and ended up arriving at the trailhead after midnight. We were so tired from the long drive that we ended up setting up the tent right at the trailhead parking lot.

In the morning we packed up and started our hike. Our plan was to try to find the campsite that the rest of the crew had setup, drop off our gear, and then try to meet up with them by Lower Canyon Creek around lunch time. Before we started out I took a look at the map to get our bearings. The sign said we were about to enter a special place…

For the first few miles the trail seemed pretty typical, not the truly special place that the sign alluded to. About a mile in, we crossed a creek and then started uphill before ending up in a canyon with a creek down below. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, but I couldn’t help but think that so far this place hadn’t been all that special…

After hiking along a ridge for a bit the trail started to run parallel to the creek. About three miles in we saw our first waterfall. I’m not sure if the waterfall has a name, but this area is called “The Sinks.” In the summer time it would be really cool to swim in the pool below the waterfall. You can even walk right up to the waterfall and let the water splash down on you. I guess that’s pretty special…

There were many little swimming holes along the way. This one looked almost like a natural spa.

We found the campsite around 11 o’clock. It was a really nice campsite, with a huge fire ring. It was literally a few footsteps away from the creek too. Later at night I would lie in my hammock underneath the stars, falling asleep to the sound of the gurgling creek.

Having found the campsite, Johann and I dropped off our gear and continued on up the trail toward the lakes. On the way we passed a waterfall. This is one of the coolest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. It’s not all that big, but it’s really cool because it’s made up of several tiers instead of one long vertical drop. And what’s really cool is that you can scramble up the rocks right alongside the waterfall. We ended up climbing up to the top of this waterfall and looking down over the edge.

After the waterfall the trail started climbing for a bit. We climbed up a few switchbacks which put us on top of this rock. From there we looked out on the valley that we had hiked through. It’s hard to believe we had come from way out at the end of that valley.

We passed another waterfall. None of the waterfalls are all that big out here, but they’re all really cool in that you can hike right up to the base of the falls, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can climb up the rocks to the top of almost all of them. There’s little pools that you can swim in at the base of almost all the waterfalls. It really is a special place. I’m already thinking about coming back in the summertime.

We ended up losing the trail on the way to the lake, so we ended up climbing along the creek for the last mile up to the lake. There were some areas where it looked like we would have to wade through the water, but we ended up finding ways to climb up on the rocks beside the creek. Miraculously we made it without getting our feet wet.

At the end of our scramble along the creek, we ended up at another waterfall. We climbed up on the right side of the waterfall.

At the top of that last waterfall we found the lake. And lo and behold, the rest of our crew was there. Perfect timing. They had just finished lunch and were about to hike back down to camp. The lake was at a higher elevation and had little protection from the wind, so it was colder up there.

Dan and the rest of the guys headed back to camp, but Johann and I decided to trek a little bit farther to the upper lake. We had to climb a bit because the upper and lower lake were separated by a big rocky area.

After we made it to the shore of the upper lake, we headed back to camp. Originally the forecast had said it would rain, but by evening the sky had cleared up. I setup my hammock and took a short nap underneath the beautiful blue sky.

In the morning we packed up and hiked out. As usual we ended up at some casino buffet in the middle of nowhere. All in all it was a pretty awesome trip. I can say without a doubt that the Trinity Alps area is a special place, I’m looking forward to returning here soon.

Rest of pix are here:

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