Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley

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Cuddihy Lakes: Jul 7-11

Hikers: Esther G., Margie M., Mike S., Maria G., Steve W.

Our Thursday drive to Haypress Meadow TH on the west side of the Marbles took 4+ hours (Google&Apple maps had predicted only 3 hrs; in addition curvy and back roads, one vehicle was a camper van which likely slowed us down also). After including a couple of other stops, including Happy Camp ranger station, we started hiking after 12:30.

Our first destination: Monument Lake — 6+ miles & ~1900’ elev. gain — was an attractive lake, with 2 group sites, each suitable for ~3-4 tents. Wildflowers (see photos) were plentiful along the way.

The original remaining trip plan was

  • on Fri to backpack the remaining 3+ mi. to Cuddihy Lakes, with possible enroute dayhike to Onemile & Secret Lakes
  • on Sat & Sun, dayhike to Blue Granite & Burney Lakes
  • on Mon, backpack out ~9.2 mi. from Cuddihy.

We knew going in that there was some chance of showers Thu night, supposedly decreasing on Fri & Sat. The rain finally started Fri morning, and then continued with cloud level dropping while we spent the morning in our tents, waiting for the rain to stop for more than a few minutes. Around noon, Mike, Maria and Steve opted to pack up and hike out since they thought the rain would continue, meaning another night (or more) at Monument Lake rather than moving on to Onemile or Cuddihy Lakes. Esther & Margie decided to remain at Monument in the hope that the rain would stop, and that they could continue the trip as planned. However, on Sat morning, although the rain had stopped for awhile, they too decided to head back. So, this trip was really just to “Monument Lake” Jul 7-8/9; it will have to remain for a future BIG trip to report on Onemile & Cuddihy and other lakes in that area of the Marbles.

Future suggestions:

  • driving from CA-96 via Ti Bar to reach Haypress Meadows TH may be fewer miles, but access further south from Somes Bar to TH may be faster due to better road conditions
  • Haypress Meadows (~2 miles in, w/ little elevation gain) — could be preferable first campsite for those who’d like a shorter backpack after long drive, and to do more miles & elevation earlier the next day. After that, there are no water or campsites until reaching Monument Lake.

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Big Foot Trail: Poker Flat to Raspberry Lake; Jun 10-14

Hikers: Nancy “Mystic Forest” B., Barb “Bashinka” S., Denise “Trailhopper” F, and Mary “Fireweed” K.

Trip Report and Photos from Mary K. [.pdf; 2.7Mb]

East Boulder Lake: Jul 12-14

Hikers: Mary E., Cory R., Greg C., Kathy U., Denise F.

Outside of Callahan, CA
2 miles to lake; 930’ elevation gain

3.2 miles to pass and PCT; 1350’ elevation gain

Dayhikes: 1. E Boulder to Middle Boulder 2. E Boulder to PCT to Marshy Lake. 3. Loop trail

Loop trail: E Boulder to PCT, approximately ½ mile. Walk PCT 2.2 miles to sign for Middle Boulder. To Middle Boulder and back to E Boulder, approximately 2 miles.

More pictures and comments

Directions: Drive Hwy 3 out of Yreka to Callahan, CA. In Callahan, turn right onto South Fork Road, which is between the grocery store and the bridge. After .8 mile, turn left at the sign for McKeen Divide. The way is well signed from there. Parts of the graveled road are good, some parts are a little bouldery, but overall it’s slow but not bad. At 8 miles, park on the left 100 feet before the trailhead marker.

We were more than surprised at the stunning scenery encountered on this trip. East Boulder Lake is contained in an open bowl, surrounded by a red rock cirque. The vegetation is high desert, not typical for this country but probably due to cattle grazing who have eaten sage seed in the Scott Valley. Sage and white pine abound.

We were alone at the lake in the best campsite, which is about midway down the trail on the east side of the lake, before the inlet stream. There was enough room for our four tents. There is another campsite on the southeast end of the lake, but it did not look very level. Before our stay was done, there were two sets of campers camping very close (too close) to the shore on opposite ends of the lake. When we first came in, there was lots of wind, which was blowing straight into the camp on the north shore.

After setting up camp, we dayhiked the trail to Middle Boulder Lake. The trail starts from the east shore, back towards the lake outlet from the campsite. There you need to bushwhack through a meadow a hundred feet or so to get to where you see a trail that climbs to a low ridge out of the lake bowl.

The trail to Middle Boulder was pleasant, and the lake itself was nice to look at from above. The trail peters out after passing the lake at a boggy area filled with wildflowers. Hopping over some rocks, we found a sign pointing to the PCT. The books say that getting to the PCT from Middle Boulder is unmarked and requires trail finding skills. It proved to be much easier than we were led to believe, which we learned the next day.

On our second day, we walked from E Boulder to the PCT. From the lake, there is no trail – one needs to do an easy, although upward cross country walk for a short distance. Cross the inlet creek and continue in an easterly direction, up towards three absolutely stunning ponds. The trail becomes very clear at the ponds. There is at least one campsite by the ponds, which looked very nice, though smaller than ours.

The trail from the ponds to the pass ascends 280 feet in a short distance, but without a backpack, it is definitely not very difficult. It felt like we were at the pass in no time.

The scenery from the pass and the PCT was jaw-dropping beautiful. We walked southwest on the PCT through lots of red rock boulders, with views of Shasta and Mt Eddy, sawtooth ridges and eventually the alps of the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The path offered a constant stream of wildflower gardens. We stopped often for pictures and flower ID-ing.

After 2.2 miles, we came to the turn-off for Middle Boulder, with a sign that couldn’t be missed. Cory and Greg decided to complete the loop, by taking this turn and found the trail well-traveled and easy. They followed the trail down into the valley where there is a small rock cairn and a wooden sign tacked to the back (east) side of a tree indicating the PCT, from which they had just descended, and East Boulder Lake. This was the sign we had seen on our first afternoon, just beyond the boggy stream where we had turned around. They then continued on the trail, past Middle Boulder Lake, to E Boulder Lake.

Denise, Kathy, and Mary decided to return on the PCT. When they got to the junction with the trail to E Boulder (going west) and Marshy Lake (going east), Denise and Kathy took the 1.5 mile trail to Marshy Lake, while Mary continued back to E Boulder Lake. Denise and Kathy returned later to E Boulder, not having found Marshy Lake.

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