Sensing the snowline rising rapidly from the recent warm weather I drove up to the trailhead of the Pacific Crest Trail above Gumboot Lake and walked east over to the Trinity Divide. As anyone knows who has been at this elevation in early June, this is truly the "Land of Buzzing and Biting Flies". There were only a few patches of snow along the trail but they indicated that there was a fairly good snowpack here several months ago.
Arriving at the Divide I stuck around only long enough to enjoy the views before becoming a pincushion for the mosquito hordes. Between the buzzing of the mosquitoes and the "tiny-black-flies-who-surround-your-face", there was also the buzzing of zillions of small bumblebees enjoying the patches of Phlox that lined the trail. As long as I kept moving it was a very enjoyable hike...
For the umpteenth time I jumped the gun on when the last snowdrift would have melted away from the road up to the Deadfall Lakes trailhead. This year's was impressive, and added another 10 minutes or so to the hike by having to park below it and walk in. The rest of the trail was pretty much snow free except for a few short sections. All sorts of normally dry gullys had water flowing in them, but the wildflower peak looked to be still a week or two away. Pretty breezy at the lakes but the hiking was great with shorts and t-shirt weather and not too many bugs.
Hot weather dictated that I find a shady place to hike so I chose the River Trail. I stopped by the campground long enough to check out the naturally carbonated water that was all the rage in these parts at the turn of the last century, but decided that there was nothing ailing me enough at that time to warrant taking a sip — maybe next time...
Enjoyed the shade for as long as I could then went for a swim, which cooled me off considerably. Lots of wildflowers and no bugs to speak of.
gray rock lake
With the snow gone from the higher trails I decided to go up to Gray Rock Lake. Driving up to the trailhead I was reminded why I only make this trip once or twice a year. A cloudy morning cleared up just as I got to the lake and it was clear skies everywhere and no wind. No bugs, either — they might finally be done for the season!
Kicking back on the lake shore I found myself unconsciously swatting imaginary insects off my legs — it just felt weird to be standing in tall grass next to a lake and not being besieged by mosquitoes and the "little-black-flies". I tore myself away from the lakeside tranquility and hiked over to Timber Lake, which was truly a "lake" now, and too wet to cross at my usual spot, so I walked down the outflow a bit and managed to get across on a pile of semi-solid logs. I continued around the lake and up the hill to the saddle that divides the Gray Rock Lakes drainage from the Scott Camp Creek drainage, which lies in between the Castle Lake drainage and the Middle Fork of the Sacramento River drainage. Got that?
Along the way I went through a grove of very impressive Cedars, and the routefinding wasn't too bad because the huge Cedars shaded out much of the undergrowth and what brush there was I threaded my way through easily. Compared to thrashing through (and around) manzanita this was truly a walk in the park. Including my meandering amongst the Cedars it was a little over 4 miles round trip from the trailhead.