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Fred's Hiking Journal
June 2014
soapstone pond

forest detail near Soapstone Pond
forest detail near Soapstone Pond

For a change of scenery I went up to Soapstone Pond again, a place I hadn't visited since late last summer. The water level was low then, and since this year is about as dry as it's been in the last zillion years, I wanted to see if there was any water at all in the lower pond.

Finally reaching the parking spot, I remembered why I don't do this hike more often the long, bouncy road on the way in. After re-aligning my spine, I enjoyed a very nice walk up to the pond, which, to my surprise, was almost full!

Soapstone Pond
Soapstone Pond

I poked around here and there for awhile but this area is not conducive for cross-country travel, as the underbrush is quite thick and the numerous blow-downs make it seem like an endless slow-motion steeplechase. However, there were lots of wildflowers and an overwhelming silence that made for a very pleasant hike.

upper sulphur creek

narrow canyon on Upper Sulphur Creek
narrow canyon on Upper Sulphur Creek

Another trip up Sulphur Creek, but this time I stayed in the creek bottom for quite a ways above the PCT and didn't head over to the ridgetop like I usually do. Once I slowed my pace down to a crawl [literally in some places] I found a whole new part of the creek that is much different from the lower stretch. As it turns northeast and gets close to the rocks it flows in a steep-sided canyon with an almost jungle-like canopy of trees. The added shade makes it a moss-covered wonderland, and forward progress slows considerably.

At the upper end, the canyon narrows again and the moss, trees, and just about everything else is replaced by rocks. One of them, the large chockstone in the photo above, blocked any further progress of mine until I can return with a fresh set of knees next time.

creek detail on Upper Sulphur Creek
creek detail on Upper Sulphur Creek

deadfall lakes

sunrise from ridge at trailhead
sunrise from ridge at trailhead

With the snow gone from the ridgetops, I headed up to the Deadfall Lakes for the first time this season. Excited to be at a higher elevation [~6900'], I was surprised at how cold it was while watching the sunrise [above] at 6am in short pants.

Pacific Crest Trail west of Deadfall Lakes
Pacific Crest Trail west of Deadfall Lakes

You can see from the height of the moss on the trees in the photo above that there wasn't much of a snowpack here over the winter. At a similar elevation near the Trinity Divide last year the "moss line" was between 10 and 12 feet high in places.

Once I got into the trees and out of the demon north wind I had a pleasant hike up to the lakes, but I wasn't alone by any stretch of the imagination. During a little over six hours of exploring [and almost 12 miles of hiking] around the middle and lower lakes and hoofing it up to the upper lake I saw probably 40 other hikers, and it was a weekday!

Lower Deadfall Lake
Lower Deadfall Lake

toad lake

Pacific Crest Trail with Mt. Eddy and Mt. Shasta in background
Pacific Crest Trail with Mt. Eddy and Mt. Shasta in background

To escape what was supposed to be a hot day in the valley, I drove over Deadfall Summit and began hiking east up the Sisson-Callahan Trail to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Once the logging road ends and the "trail" begins the steepness increases a bit and I got to the divide at 7400' just after the sun came up.

Mt. Eddy and Mt. Shasta from the Pacific Crest Trail
Mt. Eddy and Mt. Shasta

The rocks along this section of the trail have sort of a yellowish cast to them, and since yellow and blue are "complementary" colors [opposites], if you spend some time looking down at the "yellowish" rocks as you hike, which would be prudent considering the nature of the trail, and then look up at the blue sky, it seems to be much "bluer" than normal.

Pacific Crest Trail south of the junction with the Sisson-Callahan Trail
rough section of the Pacific Crest Trail

The PCT contours along the rim of one drainage after another as it makes its way south past Toad and Porcupine Lakes until it reaches the Trinity Divide and turns east toward the Crags and Interstate 5. I turned around above Toad Lake which made for a 9 mile out-and-back on a beautiful, clear last day of June.