17 August 2012

Sierra: Crabtree Meadow

Sequoia National Park

This is part of a nine day backpacking trip that starts here.

Locate the trail head.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9

I wake up to find that my play for sunshine in the morning is ineffective. The brightening sky is covered in clouds, particularly where it is brightest. I get a little bit of sunshine, but only for a few minutes. We have our various breakfasts and head out across country to rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail using three spots where the rock juts out from the cliffs on the south as a guide to our route, dropping only a little way as we go. We are aiming first for a large lake in the next drainage over.

shallow pond
We come to the higher drainage and make our way past a few small ponds.

meadow with more shallow pond
Another meadow along the drainage that carries a deep puddle of water.

larger lake along the drainage
We arrive at the lake on the map. It is a bit larger and somewhat deeper than the others.

We relax by the lake for a time. I pull out my sketchbook because it actually is a very nice one. Also, it doesn't seem like we'll leave soon since we aren't going very far today and no one is in a hurry to rejoin the relative civilization of the Pacific Crest Trail route. It was "hello" every 15 minutes on the way up, so it can be a bit of a crowd. While I sketch, the thick and threatening clouds drop a few raindrops, but only enough to annoy me. We start off again, along the north side of the lake finding a well used campsite, then cross over the creek to continue along keeping our elevation.

another viewpoint of the lake
Trying to flush out the polliwogs on the edge of the lake.

willow choked drainage
Skirting above the willow chocked drainage for easier travel.

We reach the trail as a small group passes to the north. We have managed to miss all of the switchbacks heading to Wallace Creek, so it is just a rolling walk down to Crabtree Meadow. We find a spot with a view for lunch while the clouds drop another drop or two to try to justify themselves, then continue down and find a spot to camp.

trees near the trail
The view as we close in on the PCT.

twisted tree
One of the many twisted trees along the route.

Lower Crabtree Meadow
Crabtree Creek and Crabtree Meadow, a very common camping site.

view from our campsite
A bit of the view from nearby our campsite.

A proposal was made to take a day hike down Whitney Creek from Crabtree where there is a rumor of a secret bear box, part of an abandoned camp. I say sure, so it becomes two making the tour down the creek. We find good trail at first that decays to something we catch in segments. There are horse prints and mule prints along our route showing someone with a mount has come here recently. We follow apparent trail a little away from the creek so a large rock outcrop separates us from it, then down a steep drainage full of onions. At the bottom, we come to a horse camp with a few structures. A couple unused horse shoes and some jars of nails hint that someone has been known to shoe horses here.

Whitney Creek
Crabtree Creek meets Whitney in the meadow and we follow Whitney down from the meadow.

A few flowers by a tiny creek that flows down to the camp.

horse camp, maybe not so abandoned
An unlocked strong box, table made of planed trunk pieces nearly 2 feet wide, and something unidentifiable that was built to withstand a fire burning on top of it.

There are actually a couple blazes on the trees around the camp, one that indicates trail crosses the creek. This is dismissed as a trail that climbs up the side of the canyon, so we leave it and stay on the same side as before. After the camp, we continue down a little longer until the creek starts to drop quickly. We again follow the path away from the creek when a rock outcrop appears and find water that comes back to the creek. We stop for a bit for the view, then turn and return along the creek.

short waterfall
An overhanging rock makes a cute waterfall near our turnaround point.

another waterfall
Another waterfall, a little upstream, where large flat rocks are.

cliffs near where things get steep
Cliffs along the edge of the canyon of Whitney Creek as it gets steep below the camp.

We decide to try to go up along the creek above the camp. I thought I might have seen a bit of trail on that side of the rocks, too, so I am game. It turns out, so is the trail. It quickly becomes clear that those using the trail are not as worried about low fallen trees as humans are and probably are pretty good at jumping. A trail seems to cross the creek, but we find nothing to follow on the other side and start up the game trail. Soon, there are willows, and travel becomes particularly hard since we are too tall for the trail. We decide to take a route that goes up steeply and leave the willows behind, eventually catching our trail above again.

flowers on the steep hill
Going up the steep hill, we find some flowers. There is also some nice multicolored buckwheat.

Whitney Creek
A bit of Whitney Creek doing what it does.

We pick a few of the onions for dinner on the way up. Back at camp, we use them to make today's dinner a little special. As I pump water for dinner, out in the meadow, there are over a dozen deer feeding and romping and even just sitting.

buck and does and fauns eating
A buck, a couple of fauns, and a doe making a meal of the meadow.

itchy horns
Deer get itchy too.

I set up without a shelter for this evening as the clouds are finally dissipating at the end of the day. I tuck in for another beautiful night of crisp and numerous starts.

bird sized arrowhead
An amazingly small artifact found along the way.

Continue reading: day 8

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 27 Aug 2012

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