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4 days in the emigrant wilderness
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 11:15:16 MDT Print View

Took a 4 day and 3 night trip to the Emigrant Wilderness with Morgan Rucks. It was an equal mix of off trail hiking, following old use trails, and following maintained trails. He carried a bunch of fresh food and cooked us up some mean meals.

First day we hiked into Cherry Creek Canyon.

Morgan ready for the hike in:



Dead forest, probably from beetles.


Wet trail.


Cherry Creek.




Hiking up towards Riccasso Lake. This is an old, hard to follow horse packer trail. We chatted with a guy on the trail who claimed that the packers rarely use it anymore after they lost three horses in a bad accident.



Ricasso Lake




Going down the canyon to Hyatt Lake. The trail disappeared and we had to bushwack/scramble our way down.




Heading towards Big Lake, easy walking on granite.




Big Lake, this lake could hold a hundred campers but we didn't see a single impacted campsite or fire ring.


Second night we stayed at an old run down horse packer camp called "Camp Yellowhammer". The horse packers have special permission to maintain the buildings. It was early in the season and the main cabin was locked up.


Some of the signatures on this tin were from the 30's.


Wild trout, carrots, and wild foraged fiddleheads.





Day 3, heading towards 5 acre lake.





Lunch at 5 acre lake.


Dutch oven with a canister stove.


Spicy cheesy bread with trout.


After that we hiked out of 5 acre lake and dropped some serious elevation down to the north fork of Cherry Creek, which was really flowing. The only safe way to cross would be to swim.



Does this bark make my burl look big?


We hiked to Buck Lakes, which were the best lakes of the trip.

We stopped here on night 3 we ran into a meetup group called the Bay Area Backpacking Boomers, composed of "baby boomer" aged backpackers. We socialized with them around the campfire and shared food.

We talked to a guy named Alex who spent nearly every weekend up in Emigrant or other places. He was a Russian who escaped to the United States before the collapsed. He learned his backcountry skills in the Russian wilderness. He caught several large trout and fed the group, perfectly cooked, I mean this man knew how to cook a fish.
Technically he isn't a baby boomer because "in soviet union there was no baby boom."
He boil up a huge bunch of tea on his crazy home made wood stove he called the "mark 5". Apparently he doesn't drink water at all when hiking. He only drink in the mornings and evenings when he boils up tea to drink when he absorbs all the water he needs for the next day of hiking. He claimed that drinking water while hiking makes it harder to work and increases the risk of heart failure. He learned this in Russia and it's a sharp contrast between our dehydration paranoid hiking culture in the United States..


On day 4 we hiked about 16 miles back to our car. The snow drifts obscured the trail and made for some confusing navigation.


Deer lake, here Morgan swam to the other side of the lakes and sledded down the snow banks into the water using my sleeping pad.



Paiute Lake


Lilly Pad Lake


Last creek crossing.


And that's everything.


Edited by justin_baker on 05/28/2014 14:29:29 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 12:32:37 MDT Print View

Cool trip! So many places to explore in Emigrant. Sorry I couldn't join you guys. It looks like you caught more fish than I did over on the east side. I take it you didn't have any trouble with water crossings? Did the smoke from the Mariposa fire make its way up there? Any mosquitoes yet?

Brian Mix
(Aggro) - MLife

Locale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
Re: Re: 4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 14:14:57 MDT Print View

Looks like a great trip! I should have gone with you if for no other reason all the trout! I got into a ton of snow over here.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: 4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 14:33:41 MDT Print View

Plenty of fish. The russian guy we met at Buck Lakes caught four 12 inch rainbows with little effort.

Crossing the west fork of cherry creek was no big deal. The north fork of cherry creek, which we didn't need to cross, was massive. More like a river than a creek fork. The only safe way to cross would be to find a deep/slow spot and swim. It would be a nice place for an early season pack raft.

Mosquitoes were really bad in some places and non existent in others. We were lucky and mostly arrived before they all hatched.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: 4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 14:35:42 MDT Print View

Brian, where did you end up going?

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
wow on 05/28/2014 15:29:05 MDT Print View

Dang, Justin, those are some nice lookin lakes!

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Resasco Lake on 05/28/2014 16:22:37 MDT Print View

For those of you keeping score at home...and getting lost.

Some maps also spell it Roscasco...

This is great country--and those slabs of granite around Big Lake are among my favorite places in the Sierra...

Brian Mix
(Aggro) - MLife

Locale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
Re: Re: Re: Re: 4 days in the emigrant wilderness on 05/28/2014 18:03:01 MDT Print View

Justin, I hiked from the Crystal Basin to Desolation Wilderness, TR here:

I don't know how to make a hotlink on this site.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Thanks on 05/28/2014 18:37:08 MDT Print View

Was thinking of heading out there in the next few days or so, so good timing.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
nice! on 05/30/2014 16:02:42 MDT Print View

that Russian guy sounds like a character. "In soviet union, just boom, no baby"

Is Morgan available for hire as a backpacking chef? The food looks like it was amazing!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: nice! on 06/01/2014 14:43:25 MDT Print View


Sounds like a great trip and really enjoyed your pictures. Are those slices of sweet potatoes he's frying up?


Type out the following and insert your URL and the text of your link as you want it to be seen:link

Edited by IDBLOOM on 06/01/2014 14:45:25 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: nice! on 06/04/2014 12:18:44 MDT Print View

I agree, very nice trip Justin. Sounds like you guys had a great time and met some interesting peoples.

I'm getting ready to head into that same area. I was just wondering about snow, so this was helpful to see!

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: nice! on 06/04/2014 20:50:16 MDT Print View

Yep, sweet potatoes ;)

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: nice! on 06/05/2014 09:25:14 MDT Print View

FWIW sweet potatoes make great hash browns as well if you coarsely grate them. Garlic powder, some chipotle chilli and some lemon. With the lemon you might be able to prep everything before the trip.

I know, wrong sub forum. :-)

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
trail head on 06/05/2014 09:40:14 MDT Print View

Been looking at my crappy 30 year old map, but where did you start/end that trip?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: trail head on 06/05/2014 10:46:58 MDT Print View

crabtree trailhead - rasaco lake - hyatt lake - big lake - yellowhammer lake - 5 acre lake - north fork cherry creek - buck lakes - deer lake - gem lake - jewelry lake - paiute lake - lillypad lake - camp lake - back to trailhead.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Re: trail head on 06/05/2014 12:39:24 MDT Print View

That's too bad that you weren't able to see any lakes on your trip :)

Looked like a fun time and gave me some ideas for my next trip in the area. Thanks for putting the report together.