Trinity Alps, June 2015
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Lush forest in Trinity Alps
Lush Forest

We began our trip by hiking up the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River, through lush green forests in a deep river canyon.

Unmaintained trail with blowdowns in Trinity Alps
Unmaintained Trails

Funding for the Trinity Alps Wilderness has been so severely cut that there is now only one ranger for the entire 500,000 acre wilderness. The trails haven't been maintained in years, judging from the overgrown vegetation and the number of large fallen trees across the trail. The silver lining of this is that many of these fallen trees are "stock stoppers" so we didn't have to hike through piles of manure on the trail.

Horse skull

After crossing a bridge over a tributary, we encountered this skull (horse? mule?) tucked into the rocks. In the days when the trails were maintained, they were used by stock. I wondered if this was a memorial to a horse that frequented this trail.

Granite Dam at Emerald Lake with Close-up of dam blocks
Granite Dam at Emerald Lake with Close-up of dam blocks

On our second day we hiked to Portuguese Camp where we set up a base camp for the next two days. We hiked up to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes in the afternoon and made the surprising discovery of this large dam on Emerald Lake. Built in the 1890s, it raised the level of the lake by 20 feet to provide water for mining activities at the La Grange Mine on Oregon Mountain, 29 miles to the southwest. Today the dam has been notched and the lake level is back to its normal level. We found a lot of abandoned equipment in the area.

Caribou Scramble in Trinity Alps
Caribou Scramble

The next day we climbed an unmaintained trail called the Caribou Scramble up 2200 feet to get over the Sawtooth Ridge to visit beautiful Caribou Lake. If you look closely at this photo, you can see the switchbacks heading up the middle. Although most of the trails we hiked on had not been recently maintained, this was was truly unmaintained and incredibly steep and rocky - it kicked our butts!

Sawtooth Ridge in Trinity Alps
Sawtooth Ridge

Here's an up-close and personal view of some of the Caribou Scramble trail and the Sawtooth Ridge, near the top of the ridge. We were thankful to have cloud cover that day because even with clouds, temperatures were in the high 80s at 7,000 feet.

Caribou Lake in Trinity Alps
Caribou Lake

The water was crystal clear and cold.

Frog in Trinity Alps
Froggy Friend

It always makes me happy to see frogs in the wilderness - I think of them as signs of a healthy ecosystem. We encountered this beautiful specimen near Caribou Lake - I believe this is a Cascades frog, which has been on the decline.

Butterflies and Wildflowers in Trinity Alps
Butterflies and Wildflowers

The wildflowers were unbelievable on this trip and I can't remember the last time I saw so many butterflies.

View from Deer Camp Campsite in Trinity Alps
View from Deer Camp Campsite

On our 4th day we hiked to Deer Camp and had this incredible view from our campsite. We refreshed ourselves in nearby Deer Creek and watched the sun set on the peaks while we ate dinner.

Climbing around a Fallen Tree
Indigenous artifacts

While wandering around the meadow near Deer Camp, our friends found what we believe to be a grinding stone and a perfectly knapped obsidian arrowhead. The obsidian wasn't found to the region we were in - it was brought there. We made sure to return the arrowhead to the meadow where we found it.

Dr. Seuss Wildflower<
Dr. Seuss Wildflower

We saw lots of wildflowers we've never seen before, including this one. Not knowing what they were, we nicknamed them the "Dr. Seuss" flowers. I have since learned that this is the seed head of the Western Pasque Flower, Anemone occidentalis, in the buttercup family. And yes, they are just as soft and fluffy as they look!

View from Seligo Peak
View from Seligo Peak

On our last day we hiked the Four Lakes Loop around Seligo Peak and then scrambled to the top of the peak (8162 ft.). We were rewarded with an incredible view including Mt. Shasta (the snowy peak in the background at the far left)

Map of our Trinity Alps Backpacking trip
Map of our trip

This is the map of our 50-mile, 4 1/2 day trip. We did this as a shuttle trip, starting at the Stuart Fork Trailhead and ending at the Long Canyon Trailhead.