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Emigrant Wilderness May 2012 Crabtree to Buck Lake Loop
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chris Nelson

Locale: San Francisco
Emigrant Wilderness May 2012 Crabtree to Buck Lake Loop on 05/29/2012 22:23:11 MDT Print View

Emigrant Wilderness Stanislaus National Forest
Dates: May 26-29
Appx 30 Mile loop
Tom Harrison Trail Map
Temp: Night 28-35F Day 50-60F
Crabtree trail head to Upper Buck loop

Check in at ranger station around noon on Saturday as it started to drizzle. Since no hikers had been out and back, they had little information about the condition of the trails. We did get an updated weather report and were told snow until evening. It had snowed 5 inches a few days before, so there was snow on ground at the trailhead. As we were packing up to move out, the rain turned into snow.

Crabtree Trail Head-Snow it staring to come down! Crabtree Trailhead - Snow...It started to come down.

Starting our climb twards camp lake Starting our climb toward Camp Lake

We ran into 2 rangers. They confirmed that the snow should be stopping before dark.

Camp Lake Camp Lake

After seeing Camp Lake, we came across 2 groups of hikers. The first was heading back to trailhead to get out of snow. The second, heading back to trailhead after a long cold night and said they were not prepared for the cold and snow. We were pretty confident with the warm rain gear we had.

Snow really coming down Snow really coming down

Looking down towards Puite Meadows Looking down toward Piute Meadows

Besides snow on the ground, the trails to Piute Meadow, where we camped the first night, were ok. Crossing the creek east of Camp Lake was a little wide, but we were able to cross. We set up camp and Piute Meadow, the snow stopped and we had a nice evening.

Day 2 AM Piute MeadowDay 2 AM Piute Meadow

Day 2: We headed towards Buck Lake where we planned to camp

Snow for 3 days prior and night before was melting very quckly Snow for 3 days prior and the night before...was melting very quickly

Gem Lake. Ran in to a few hikers hereGem Lake. Saw a few hikers here.

Deer lakeDeer Lake

decending down to Upper Buck lakeDescending down to Upper Buck Lake

Buck Lake day 3 AM. No mosquitos.Day 3 morning: Buck Lake

Crossing between Upper and Lower Buck not easy and water moving fastCrossing between Upper and Lower Buck not easy and the water is moving fast.

We were moving fast until we hit Wood Lake. There is a cove that we had to cross, but was impassable because the water level was so high. We were forced to go around. It was very hard and took a long time to figure out how to get up and around. Then we had a hard time finding trial due to snow.

Climbing to get aournd impassable Wood Lake Cove.Climbing to get around the impassable Wood Lake cove

The trail from Wood Lake to the point where you cross Buck Meadow Creek is very hard to follow due to snow pack. Snow was melting fast but covered 50%+ trail.

Snow covered trail South of Wood lakeSnow covered the trail sounth of Wood Lake

Buck Meadow Creek Running fastBuck Meadow Creek running really fast

Once Trail Crossed Meadow Creek to the north, no snow to be seen. thank god!Once we crossed Meadow Creek to the north, there was no snow to be seen. Thank God!

More Heavey water flowMore heavy water flow.

Groundhog Meadows-The mosquitos begin!Groundhog Meadows - The mosquitos begin!

One of the places we thought to camp was Groundhog Meadow. We decided to keep moving onto Grouse Lake because of the millions of hungry mosquitos breeding in the meadow that was now all swamp. We then planned to camp at Grouse Lake, but there were signs everywhere that said no camping within 100 feet, which was kind of strange since the ranger at the ranger station didn't mention this as when we were telling her our destinations for our permit. No big deal. We just continued down the creek to find a spot. Nothing great, but we made it work.

Night 3 campNight 3 camp

Still lots of fire damage but staring to come back"Deathly Hollows" Still a lot of fire damage, but slowly starting to come back

Heading back to Crabtree. Same trail as first pics. Didn't see a bit of snowHeading back to Crabtree. Same trail as the first pics

Great trip all around. We definitely had problems following the trail south of Wood lake and some water crossings were moving fast and wide.

Edited by Nel250 on 05/30/2012 00:05:05 MDT.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
nice TR on 05/30/2012 02:00:22 MDT Print View

Nice trip report, thanks. The snow added a little texture to your trip!

In general, there is no camping within 100 feet of water (lakes, rivers, etc.). They must've put those signs up because those areas were being over-camped and the rangers felt it necessary to discourage camping there.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: nice TR on 05/30/2012 08:25:14 MDT Print View

Great report! I have done that loop a few times. I consider it one of the prettier ones in Emmigrant

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: nice TR on 05/30/2012 08:39:59 MDT Print View

Very cool, Chris. (pun intended)

The snow adds an interesting element. I had to double check the date, then remembered my wife telling me it had snowed at upper elevations in the Sierra last weekend. Sounds like it didn't slow the bugs down too much?

chris Nelson

Locale: San Francisco
Re: nice TR on 05/30/2012 11:04:52 MDT Print View

Hey Charles

Yeah, I'm aware about the 100 ft rule on camping. Some places around Grouse lake were well over 100 off the lake and the signs where still there. Maybe they are discouraging people from camping around there because of the fire? and to let things grow back? not sure, but we just hiked down the trail and found a spot.

bob netzly
(packfish1) - F
Re: nice TR on 07/09/2012 11:29:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for the great photos along the way and the water crossing info for Wood lake !!last time i was in there there definitely was a few knarley crossings but thats why we go isnt it ?? also reminds me why i dont go back in there in may anymore!!gettin old and like to stay warm now !! haha LOL sounds like you all had it handled nicely though ; anyways getting ready to do a similar loop back in there this next week with my son; been a while since i have been back in to Buck and looking forward to it; Havent seen or read much current info about Jewel lake on any of these w-sites; anybody out there have anything on Jewel for me ?? or trail info on the crossovers at Wood ; Gem ; Piute or Pine valley ?? We are gonna head out from crabtree and havent decided yet where to crossover on the way back; last time i was back in there the fishing was outstanding !! anything on the fishing side for Buck ;Emigrant ; Long ; Deer Lake ect..How about the "Goldies up at Wire ; whatever you got click it out for me thanks

chris Nelson

Locale: San Francisco
Re: Re: nice TR on 07/09/2012 20:40:37 MDT Print View

This late in the season the crossing should be less intense. Jewel lake is very pretty didn't really put the rod in the water there. I would't worry too much about water crossings right not. They have not gotten much rain and all the now is pretty much gone. Especially in the lower elevations.

We saw some guys fishing at Deer, not sure how they did. At Upper buck on North West side there is some marsh that extended in the lake. All night we watched fish jump for the bugs.
Marsh a t Buck

Have fun out there. It is a great Hike!

David Hankins
(hankinsohl) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Just got back from the Emigrant on 07/14/2012 22:49:12 MDT Print View

Nice trip report - I especially liked the snow at the outset :-).

I just got back from a planned 8-day trip in the Emigrant which I had to cut down to just 3 days due to blisters. Perhaps it was just as well - the weather was very hot and the biting flies and mosquitos were ferocious. On the bright side, the wildflowers were in bloom making it one of the most spectacular of my visits to the mountains.

I'm planning on a return trip to the area later in the year - this time with (hopefully) better fitting shoes, less heat and fewer bugs.

Edited by hankinsohl on 07/14/2012 22:51:30 MDT.

Jonathan Foley
wood lake crossing in high water on 07/16/2012 15:08:50 MDT Print View

The crossing at Wood Lake is indeed very high in early season. I've had it as high as mid chest. The good thing is that is completely still so you can hold your pack above your head. The trail along the south side of the lake is a real bear because the snow bank is typically steep and if you slip you are going right into the lake.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Emigrant Wilderness May 2012 Crabtree to Buck Lake Loop on 09/20/2012 11:51:20 MDT Print View

Now that looks like fun! A little weather, but no postholing or real misery, gushing water, great views, some blue kind of stuff.