We planned this as a twelve day trip to Klamath National Forest, first backpacking up to Paynes Lake for a week of day hikes, then going to Grizzly Lake for 5 days. However, it got so hot that we decided to end the trip on the eighth day, skipping the backpack up to Grizzly Lake. Having said that, the week at Paynes Lake was a wonderful trip. We spent a day hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Taylor Lake and back, a day hiking the PCT to Statue Lake (and beyond), and a day hiking past Albert Lakes up to the ridge overlooking Big Blue Lake.
After a day of relaxation around Paynes Lake, we backpacked down to the car and headed to the China Gulch trailhead for Grizzly Lake. The temperature was over a hundred. We tried a couple of other trailheads, which were also quite hot, decided to stay overnight near the Trinity River at Eagle Creek campground, then headed home the next day.
Meeting so many interesting people, some backpacking on their way to Canada on the PCT, some doing 30 miles a day, one getting up at 4 am and hiking only in the morning to avoid the heat, one having come down from Oregon to California to avoid the heat (100's in Oregon, only 90's in California).
Reaching the ridge saddle overlooking Big Blue and Upper Albert Lakes.
Very intense, steep climb for two miles to reach Paynes Lake from the trailhead
Fabulous re-hydrated dinners and fruit, prepared by Reenie [Bob considers these memorable indeed!]
The quiet, private campsite near a stream at Paynes Lake, separated from all the other campsites.
So hot that we cut the trip short, returning the morning after it had been over 100 degrees at 7:30 pm the night before.
Day 1, Monday, June 21
Drove from home in Santa Rosa, California, to the Scott Mountain Campground.
Dinner: Veggie sandwiches (Reenie had made them for lunch, but we stopped at Subway and ate), mixed nuts, dried fruit.
At Shasta Lake stopped for Subway sandwiches and visited closed Ranger Station which had no kiosk to get Wilderness Permit, but met very helpful guy who told us to get one at Shasta City Ranger Station.
Lake Shasta was dismayingly low, much lower than we had ever seen in the past.
Drove to Shasta City, got wilderness permit, saw good views of Mt. Shasta (we would be seeing many views of Mt. Shasta).
As we neared Willows on Hwy 5 a low flying crop duster flew right in front of us.
Once off Hwy 5 on road to Callahan we went over valleys and mountains that were very pretty.
Temperature was in the 90's, so we decided to stay on Scott Mountain, rather than start backpacking to Paynes Lake.
After dinner we walked some on the nearby PCT and did a bit of cross country walking to climb nearby hill. Great views of mountains.
Scott Mountain campground was beautiful, with forest, meadows, carnivorous plants and we had it to ourselves.
[About the carnivorous plant - from Britannica: "Cobra plant, (Darlingtonia californica), also called cobra lily or California pitcher plant, the only species of the genus Darlingtonia of the New World pitcher plant family (Sarraceniaceae). The cobra plant is native to swamps in mountain areas of northern California and southern Oregon and uses its carnivorous pitfall traps to supplement its nutritional requirements in poor soil conditions. It thrives in redwood and red fir forests up to 2,000 metres (6,000 feet) above sea level, where temperatures remain below about 18°C (65°F).]" :
Day 2, Tuesday, June 22
We drove from Scott Mountain to the Paynes Lake trailhead (getting lost on the way), then backpacked up the very steep trail from the trailhead to the lake. We backpacked along the shore of the lake to what seemed like the last available campsite, which was quite near another. After setting up camp we discovered that if we followed the trail as it left the lake, crossed a stream, and then looked to the left, there was a perfect campsite, next to the stream, isolated from all others, shaded by trees. The next morning we moved to it.
Last part of drive was along a dirt/gravel forest road which was not bad except for a couple of potholes.
At trailhead met two women with horse and mule from the Forest Service who were going up trail to clear logs.
Started backpacking up what we thought was one of the steepest, if not the steepest, trail we had ever taken for the first mile (about 1,000' elevation rise), then it got more reasonable, then steep again for the last mile.
Last half mile was beside stream with small, pretty waterfalls.
Followed trail along lake and took 5th campsite, 4th being empty also. Then family moved into 4th. While Reenie prepared dinner, Bob went down trail as it left lake, crossed stream, and found a much nicer campsite, to which we moved the next morning.
We ate dinner and both agreed it was time to get in tents and get a good rest night.
Day 3, Wednesday, June 23
We hiked from Paynes Lake to Taylor Lake and back, about 5 miles round trip.
Lunch: Salmon, Gouda Cheese, dried apples, and Triscuits
Dinner: Chicken tikka masala with mango, spinach, mushrooms, cashews, basmati rice, pineapple
Started out the day, as usual, by toasting our friend Adele with mango slices she had provided us for the trip.
Switched camps to a shadier site by a stream that was more private at base of west wall of Paynes Lake cirque.
Hiked 5 mile roundtrip to Taylor Lake, where we saw breezes moving sparkles across the lake.
Met a couple who were hiking 29 miles along the PCT as part of their backpacking to Washington.
Met another young woman backpacking up to Albert Lake above Paynes Lake.
Saw beautiful panoramas including valley thousands of feet below, Mt. Shasta, surrounding mountains, white clouds with rain in the far distance, lots of flowers.
Ate lunch at side of steep trail going down to Taylor Lake (we did not go all the way down).
Changed Steripen batteries that ran out of power
At camp we listened to frogs and running stream.
Going back up top of trail to Taylor Lake
Day 4, Thursday, June 24
We hike along the PCT towards Statue Lake, miss the lake trailhead and hike on to a very nice panoramic view before turning back and eventually going cross-country to the lake. We find the actual path down from the lake, get to the PCT and return to Paynes Lake. Along the way we see a badly burnt out part of the forest where the remaining dead trees are an eerie white.
Hiked to Statue Lake and, because we missed the trail, went much further along PCT to a great view.
Came back from great view and then hiked cross country to Statue Lake. There was a family on the other side of the lake and we got view of unusual, tall, rock "statues".
Found actual trail back to PCT. At PCT / trail junction was stream we had passed much earlier with cairn on trail that we missed. Met woman who had camped there, but had also missed trail.
Met 6 backpackers who were on way to Canada.
Had dinner and just as we were finishing dinner thunderstorm hit with lightening and lots of rain. Fortunately, we had already put up rain flies so we simply put dirty dishes out to be cleaned by weather and got into our tents.
Rock statues at Statue Lake
Day 5, Friday, June 25
Day hiked from Paynes Lake up to Albert Lake, then up to Upper Albert Lake, and finally up to ridge overlooking Big Blue Lake and Upper Albert Lake.
Hard to find trail from Paynes to Albert Lake because of crossing rock/boulder field and then small dirt use path through forest. Steep climb. At Albert Lake we lost way when we crossed outlet stream. Bushwacked through heavy brush and Reenie stepped into shallow stream.
Returned path to outlet stream crossing and met group of young backpackers who knew way up to Upper Albert Lake, so we followed them.
Trail to Upper Albert was steep and through forest - enjoyable.
Backpackers continued around lake while we stopped and ate lunch at lake.
We found way to scramble up to ridge above Upper Albert Lake. High point of the trip to date!
Ridge dropped straight down on Big Blue Lake side.
We walked along ridge, texted Shirley, David and Bill.
Long, steep, difficult hike back to Paynes Lake. [We only got lost about 10 times]
Bob sets timer on camera
Bob walks ledge to pose with a second to spare
Day 6, Saturday, June 26
This was a day of rest and relaxation.
Dinner: Chicken masala with spiced garbanzo beans and quinoa pilaf.
Cleaned dirt/mud off tents left over from thunderstorms.
Walked around part of Paynes Lake
Did crosswords, Sudoku, jumbles
Napped - we were lucky to have our shady campsite
Went to bed early to get up at 5 AM, leave by 6:30 (actually left at 6:07 AM!).
Day 7, Sunday, June 27
We backpacked to car, briefly stopped in Callahan, visited several different trailheads and campgrounds, decided it was too hot to continue with backpacking, so camped at Eagle Creek campground on the Trinity River. Decided to return home tomorrow.
Dinner: Salmon, Gouda cheese, and crackers.
Backpacked down to car from Paynes Lake, met Ethel and Grant.
Drove out from Paynes Lake on a longer route than we entered.
Stopped at Trail Creek Campground (1 of 3 we visited), a cool 90 degrees around noon.
Attempted to get to East Fork trailhead, missed turn, went down towards S. Fork Trailhead before turning around, back to road/forest road junction and saw that was East Fork trailhead. Now 108 degrees.
Drove 6 miles to China Gulch trailhead (to Grizzly Lake), saw 14 cars, now 105 degrees, confirming we would not be backpacking any more.
Back to Trail Creek Campground, now 101 degrees.
Drove back to Callahan, south on Hwy 3 to Big Bear Trailhead - also 101 degrees.
Decided we might try Stoddard Lake. Drove to Eagle Creek Campground and at 7:30 pm it was 101 degrees, so decided we would camp overnight and head home.
After setting up camp we walked down to Trinity River and saw tree with many small boards attached that identified family reunions of Pineo family each year for years.
Day 8, Monday, June 28
Drove home from Eagle Creek Campground.
Dried Out Lake
Walked to Trinity River in the cool of morning.
Took photos of Eagle Creek with a nod of appreciation to Gabe's (Reenie's son) former employer.
Drove south on HW 3 along the east side of the Trinity Alps, enjoying the scenic ride in an air-conditioned car. Stunned by an almost empty Trinity Lake.
Ate lunch at Subway in Weaverville, declaring best Sub veggie sandwich ever made and eaten.
Drove south thru heat in central valley, crossing the mountain into Sonoma valley and finding cooler temps and welcoming homes.