Took a friend of mine from SF on his first backpacking trip and my first time out of this trailhead. We met in Manteca and after a stop at In n Out for early dinner and a stop at Target for some travel size toothpaste, we were on the road at 5:30pm. We got to the trailhead parking around 7:30, loaded our packs, and hoofed it down the road. Luckily the moon was bright and we were able to hang a bear bag and set up camp just past the wilderness sign. We enjoyed the warm evening temps, some cheez its and some whiskey before turning in.
We set off Saturday morning and it took us about 3.5hrs to get past Relief Reservoir and to Saucer Meadow for an early lunch.
I rented a backpack from REI for my friend and let him use my fiance's sleeping bag, an old REI AirCore pad, and my old REI 5lb tent... luckily he took my advice and didn't bring a bunch of extra clothes. He's a big guy, in decent shape, but I definitely underestimated the effects of the heavy load, elevation, and uphill-ness of the trail on him. I could tell it was a challenge, but he was a good sport.
My plan was to head up the creek that comes out of Lewis Lake and then hang a right up and over the saddle to the west toward Iceland Lake and then south to Ridge Lake. Well I missed the confluence of Lewis and Summit creeks. We scrambled around the south side of summit creek looking for it and then I did what I should have done in the first place and just headed for the saddle. This was probably the farthest I've headed off trail, so I was a little worried we were going to miss Ridge Lake and end up at Iceland Lake or who-knows-where. Luckily, my navigation and route finding worked out and we hit Ridge Lake right on target. It was a big relief to see the cliffs above Ridge Lake that I recognized from others' pictures!
I originally had hoped to make it to the lake with enough time and energy to take a trip up to the top of Granite Dome, but we were both totally gassed and it was already after 4. We found a great site with a great view. My friend took a nap, while I recouped with a dip. We had the whole place to ourselves and just enjoyed the views, water, and watching the fish jump.
I'm wondering if I can get a less wrinkly pitch of my Lunar Solo...
We set off early the next morning. My friend had to be back in the city before 6 and we weren't sure how long it was going to take us to get down.
We made quick work of getting off Granite Dome even with some photo ops along way.
Just as we were coming to Summit Creek, I came around a boulder to find a woman changing her pants... oops!
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, once we got back on trail my pals knee really started bothering him. He hobbled the 4 or 5 miles back to Kennedy Meadows with promises of pizza and beer at Pie in the Sky to keep him going.
I was a little worried I totally scared him out of ever going with me again, but he thanked me for taking him and seemed like he had a really good time despite the challenge and busted knee. Overall, it was a great trip and thanks to those who gave me advice on campsites at the lake.