15-Jul-2001 -- This is probably one of the more difficult confluences in
California, if not the world. It's located in the middle
of the Trinity Alps Wilderness, about 40 miles NW of
Redding, CA. National forest wilderness areas are off
limits to vehicles, but frequently have well marked hiking
trails. Luckily for us, the Trinity Alps trail passes
within 0.3 mi of the confluence. However, that point is
14 miles in from the trail head with an elevation difference
of about 3000 feet. I was looking for a challenge though,
and several friends had expressed interest in a backpacking
trip, so I rounded up three of them and we set out.
We left later than we wanted to on Friday, July 13th. We'd
hoped to hit the trail head before dark and get some
hiking in during the remaining daylight, but we hit traffic
on the way up from San Francisco. It was just dark when we
got to the trail head, but we decided to pack up and hike
for a bit anyway. After a wrong turn and almost sliding
down a steep hill into the river, we camped for the night
about 2 miles in.
On Saturday, we hiked another 8 or so miles to a spot just
past Morris Meadow. The trail follows the Stuart's Fork
river the whole way, so we fortunately could filter our
water from the stream instead of carrying it with us. The
trail was fairly deserted compared to those closer to
metropolitan areas, but we did see a few other hikers both
on their way in and out. The scenery along the river is
fabulous, and kept getting more and more breathtaking as
we neared our goal.
On Sunday, we left our packs and most of our gear at the
camp site and day hiked the remaining 3 or so miles up to
Emerald Lake. The view from here is stunning (see picture
2). From this point, the confluence was about 0.3 miles
south. From looking at some topo maps, I knew that the
confluence was somewhat above the level of the lake, but
wasn't really prepared for the climb that presented itself.
After hiking the 14 miles in, we were all pretty beat, but
managed to climb up the large granite boulder rock slides
that you can see on the far side of the lake in picture 3.
From here, the confluence was another 400 or so feet away,
and the climbing got even more difficult. Steep, mostly
flat slabs of rock with few foot and hand holds. We came
within 70 feet of the confluence, and two of our party went
up a little higher. At the final point, the GPS read
N41 00.005' W123 00.000' with 5 satellites locked on and an
EPE of 25 feet. Unfortunately, our photographer discovered
that the batteries in his digital camera were empty after
snapping a shot of the confluence spot, so we were unable
to get a picture of the GPS. Drat!
We returned to our camp after climbing back down to the
lake. All of us were pretty sore and tired, and we realized
that we had 11 or so miles to hike back out the next day.
Fortunately, it was all downhill, so it was somewhat easier,
and we had the motivation of returning home.
All in all, a very worthy confluence. A good one if you're
looking for a challenge. The Trinity Alps Wilderness is
also an awesome hike even if you don't visit the confluence.