This trip was an attempt to squeeze in one last hike before putting away the backpacking gear for the winter. The weather forecast was for highs of 60°F and lows of 38°F, which is well within the limits of my summer UL gear, so I figured why not. I left home in the East Bay at 9:20 am and, after getting my permit at the Pinecrest Ranger Station, arrived at the Crabtree Trailhead and was on the trial at 12:20 pm.
Within the first 200 yards I met Sean from Sunnyvale. He is just making the transition to UL and was interested in discussing preferences in UL gear. He had a Jam 2, merino shirt, trail runners, and hiking poles, and was obviously well on his way to UL. I saw some dayhikers at Camp Lake but only saw one other backpacker all day, ironically also camped at Piute Lake.
Fall Colors enroute to Camp Lake
At the Notch above Piute Meadow
The storm the previous week had obviously dumped a lot of rain/snow in the area. The soil was moist, and there was water standing on the trails. All the rivers had much more than the normal amount of water for this time of year.
Snow in the High Country
Alpenglow above Camp at Piute Lake
My camp above Piute Lake had a 360 degree view of the sky and scenery. The sunset made it one of the more spectacular campsites I’ve had.
Sunset at Camp above Piute Lake
The next morning I pushed on to Gem Lake then descended to Buck Meadow Creek to return to the trailhead via Pine Valley.
As I descended into the Buck Meadow Creek drainage on Sunday morning, I saw another hiker climbing up to Gem Lake. He was the only person I saw all day.
Descending to the Gem Lake Outlet to Buck Meadow Creek
Descending to Louse Canyon, Notch to Groundhog Meadow Ahead
Every other time I’ve been on this trail Cherry Creek was dry. I’d never seen these cascades before.
Cascades in West Fork Cherry Creek
More Fall Color
Descending into Pine Valley
I arrived back at the Crabtree Trailhead about 4:20 pm and was back home in the Bay Area by 7:30 pm Sunday night. All in all a great, quick mountain fix.