Dates: Weds Sept. 30th -Friday Oct. 2nd 2015 Who: Ben & Sarah Where: Trinity Alps Four Lakes loop in Shasta-Trinity National Park Total miles: 18 (for the full loop) Enter/Exit: Long Canyon Trail Head
This was me and Sarah’s (aka Hiddy Ho) first trip solo and we had no idea what was in store for us but we had a great time! We left Oakland, Ca at 5am for the drive up to Long Canyon Trail Head in hopes of getting on the trail by 10am. It took longer than expected due to road work on a mountainous two lane road that is the only route to get to the trail head. We stopped at the Weaverville Ranger Station to fill out our free wilderness passes and continued up the back roads. We finally arrived at Long Canyon and headed out onto the trail at 11:35am. I had read that the elevation gain on the way in was 4,000 ft over about 7 miles and we both considered ourselves in good shape from our recent 10 day trip to Oregon and trail running but were not prepared for the long ascent mentally. It was also extra tough because Hiddy Ho got sick on the way in and the long uphill the whole day was extremely draining on both of us.
We took several breaks to catch our breath as the uphill felt never ending. It was also hard to gauge how far we had come as there are only a few markers on the way in to know where you are and our usual miles per hour was not any where near our usual. Luckily when we exited the tree lined trail we were greeted with uplifting mountain scenery!
We finally crested a long switch back up to Bee Tree Gap (elevation 7,750ft) and had a great view behind us of the valley we had walked through down below. We continued up to Deer Creek Pass and our first lake of the trip way down below us, named Deer Lake with Siligo Peak towering above it.
We headed down long, narrow switch backs towards Deer Lake which is pretty but very exposed and has only a small campsite on one shore. Our camp site was at the Summit Lake (the largest and highest of the lakes on loop) further up the side of the mountain on talus and sandy switch backs. Hiddy Ho lost her footing at one point and with her fear of heights this was not a favorite spot for her at all. We were rewarded with our hard work at Summit Lake which has trees, ample campsites, and beautiful views. We arrived at 5:30pm, it was a very long day for just 8 miles!
We had Summit Lake all to ourselves and wandered around the perimeter before setting up camp. We had only seen one older gentleman on the way up to Bee Tree Gap who was heading out after spending two nights up here alone and a group of three people who had just come down Siligo Peak but headed off to camp else where. The weather was pleasant while we ate dinner and we were provided with perfect alpine glow on the mountains around Summit Lake and then a beautiful sunset.
We were soon snuggled up in our bags after a filling dinner and looking forward to completing the loop tomorrow morning. We planned on base camping at Summit Lake so we could just carry a few things around the loop and return to our already set up camp. Unfortunately the weather system that had brought our lovely sunset clouds was also bringing a lot of rain as well. We got up in the morning pretty early to enjoy the sunrise, coffee, and breakfast. Just as we were finishing up our coffee and getting our day packs together the rain started in.
We had hoped that we could hide out in our tent for a while and wait out the main down pour but it continued throughout the day. As it got later we abandoned our hope to do the whole loop after walking over to look down onto Diamond Lake as the slick rock and long narrow switch backs did not look very safe, especially if you are scared of heights. Plus Hiddy Ho was not looking forward to going up the sandy switch backs she had slipped on the day before to get back to camp. We were disappointed to not get to do the whole loop but really happy for a great camping spot at Summit Lake.
The views were still spectacular and there were all these cute little succulent plants in between the rocks. I climbed up to a little peak slightly off the trail before it heads down to Diamond Lake and got a cool view of the surrounding grey trinities. I love the varying color of the rock here from marble grey to the red of the periodite.
We spent the day laying around the tent and escaping to stretch our legs when the rain would let up a bit. It finally stopped pouring right around dinner time so luckily we could cook some hot food and enjoy some tea outside of the tent.
We got in our tents shortly after dinner when the rain started up again. I had my fingers crossed that the system would blow itself out over night so our trip back across the talus would be sort of dry tomorrow. When we woke up the next morning my wish had been granted and we had beautiful blue skies! We packed up after letting the tent get some sun to dry a bit and headed back down towards Deer Lake. It took us about an hour to get through the switch backs here as it was very windy and slick from the night before, especially up at Deer Creek Pass. Hiddy Ho did great getting through this scary part, she told me to keep close to her but not to look at her, so I had to find creative ways at keeping an eye on her without… keeping an eye on her, haha. We took one last look back at the beautiful lake, tiny switch backs cutting across the slope, and grey Siligo peak.
We wove our way back down 4,000ft with great views of the mountains in the clear distance.
Our last few miles felt like some long ones as we were looking forward to enjoying our normal post adventure beer and burgers. Our first solo trip did not go exactly as planned, big surprise there since the wilderness does what she likes. However we learned a few things, like that we can do a trip together and still want to spend time together after, that even though Hiddy Ho is terrified of heights she can conquer some really scary things, and even though we did not get do what we planned on we had a really good time. Cheers!