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Emigrant Wulderness 8/7/10 Ridge, Iceland, Sardella, and Lewis Lakes
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David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Emigrant Wulderness 8/7/10 Ridge, Iceland, Sardella, and Lewis Lakes on 08/11/2010 19:39:36 MDT Print View

Emigrant Wilderness
Kennedy Meadows Trailhead to Ridge Lake
6/6/10 to 6/8/10

I have been eying a trip to the series of lakes that sit below Granite Dome for over a year and I took advantage of the weekend to get there. I camped at the Kennedy Meadows Trailhead and set off early in the morning heading south and Saucer Meadow, where I departed from the trail shortly after.





The storm clouds were brewing in the east but the skies were clear to the west. Fortunately the lighting held off until I made it over the pass. I took shelter in a patch of trees, cooked some dinner and waited for the storm to pass.

After the storm passed I went out to see what lakes I could find. Ridge Lake was less than a half mile from the pass and it looked like a good place to set up camp.

5 The mosquitoes were fierce and were out for blood all night. I experienced mild condensation from the sleeping on the grass.
6Ridge Lake


I fished a bit but only saw fingerlings, most of which were not even big enough to take my fly.

I attempted to do a loop back to the trailhead by traveling on a another cross-country route shown on my map that goes down to Lower Relief Valley. On the way down I passed Iceland Lake.


9 Iceland Lake

The cross-country trail shown on the map follows a stream out of Iceland Lake but the stream turns into a waterfall because it is so steep. I was within a couple hundred feet of the valley but I reached a point where I could not see a way down safely.

11Relief Reservoir

Relief Valley Relief Valley

I was frustrated but I knew I had climb back up to Ridge Lake where I started and see if I could go out the same pass I came in. I missed the pass by a few hundred yards and ended up at Sardella and Lewis Lakes.

SardellaSardella Lake

leLewis Lake

Although the scenery was nice, I was not happy about my navigating, it was getting late in the afternoon, storm clouds were building and I was tired. I backtracked again and found the correct way up to the pass, down the mountain and finally made it to the trail. I felt great to be back on the trail but I still had about 5 miles to get back to the trailhead. The rain and lightening started instantly and continued all the way back to the car. It was a rough few miles. My pants and boxers got wet and chaffed with every step, I had a mean blister on my toe that was becoming painful with every step and the rain was turning the horse $hit on the trail into soup. I was thankful to reach the car and conclude a great trip. I looked forward to making it back some time in the future.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Emigrant Wilderness on 08/11/2010 20:41:10 MDT Print View

Cool stuff David-great photos-Emigrant Wilderness has so much to offer plus the easy home court advantage.

danny chough
(puffdc) - F

Locale: Republic of Boulder
Lewis lakes on 08/12/2010 22:52:47 MDT Print View

Nice write up...I was just up @ Lewis Lakes(middle & lower) last weekend(thurs-sat). The mosquitoes took its toll but the Lake & scenery was awesome! I only saw a couple of people there...I wonder if we crossed paths?

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Emigrant Wulderness 8/7/10 Ridge, Iceland, Sardella, and Lewis Lakes on 08/13/2010 10:22:59 MDT Print View

Nice report David.

I did a counterclockwise tour of that lake group, approaching Iceland from [edit] Relief Creek. I too tried to follow the guidebook and found myself climbing slabs that tested the limits of my shoes' adhesion. It was no fun, as any slip would have sent me scooting down several hundred feet. Here's a shot taken partway up.

North of Iceland Lake, CA

After consulting the maps and aerials, if I go back I'll try ascending farther west, because my route was not safe. Later that fall a backpacker died trying to descend from Iceland while caught in a storm, and I'll wager it was on those same slabs.



p.s. Imagine Emigrant Wilderness without commercial packers. It would be a wholly different experience.

Edited by halfturbo on 08/13/2010 10:30:53 MDT.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Lewis lakes on 08/19/2010 19:11:10 MDT Print View


On Saturday I ran into two guys near Saucer Meadow who told me they were hiking down from Lewis Lake. I asked about the conditions but I dont recall anything about the conversation that was especially memorable or unique to verify our encounter.

Maybe BPL needs a missed connections thread like Craigslist. Not for dating of course but for when you see someone with a frameless pack or a bivy and don't get around to asking if they post on BPL.


It looked to me like traveling further west in Relief Valley may be the best route. I considered walking west along the Ridge to see if I could find a way down but I was worried about running out of energy and daylight to make it out. Thanks for the picture that illustrates the slope of the climb. I dont think I will be coming up to Iceland Lake from Relief Valley again. I didn't realize this was the area where the hiker died a few years ago. I cant imagine being on the sloped granite when it is wet.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 08/19/2010 19:52:02 MDT.

danny chough
(puffdc) - F

Locale: Republic of Boulder
Lewis lakes on 08/19/2010 19:35:30 MDT Print View must've been us? I was with my buddy...were you wearing gaiters? we only talked to several people on Sat and only met one guy(you?) going up there...we also, met two girls also going up. anywho, it was an awesome trip!

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Lewis lakes on 08/19/2010 19:56:31 MDT Print View


Yeah, I was wearing gaiters, a green shirt and a camo colored hat. I recall one of the guys I ran into had a black hat.

Were the spots to camp at Lewis Lakes? I only went to one of the lakes and the spots seemed limited.