Day 1: Swift Creek Trailhead to Granite Lake
Day 2: Granite Lake to Diamond Lake
Day two proved what Trinity Alps is all about, a lot of ups and downs. Even though the distance we traveled was a bit over 5 miles, it took us thru a couple of mountain passes and a very deep valley. We started hiking away from Granite Lake following still the Granite Creek for a little while. AS we gained elevation, we left the forest behind and the sun started beating on us. It got hot pretty quickly. As we hiked, we saw how the granite peaks on the left joined the red rock peaks on the right at a slot ahead of us. It was our first pass to it was pretty easy to see our route. Colors changed constantly as the sky also turned to a deeper blue with the elevation. We reached the pass in time for lunch so we made a short stop to eat and enjoy the views.
The day got long and heavy and hot when we got to a meadow that seemed to guide us to another pass or peak. Only ridge lines were visible ahead but looking at the map, we knew our destination for the day was close ahead. Not too long after that, we reached the tree and Diamond Lake. I think this lake, along with Lake Ana, are the two most scenic lakes in the area. IT’s set on shelf that drops off to the very deep Salt Creek valley. Towering peaks line up the horizon on the other side making this lake look like the end of the world. The tree I mentioned is a lone gigantic pine with two campsites right below it. There are other flat spots where a tent can be set. We were lucky to find a small group that were leaving so we got both of the sites for the night. After setting up camp, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing ion the water, walking around the lake, climbing a small mound and enjoying the views. That evening we got a very faint smoke smell and we could see a bit of haze in the distance, but that gave us also a pretty amazing sunset. The sun went down over the ridge on the other side of the canyon so I walked to the opposite side of the lake to get the entire scenery. It was one of the most peaceful scenes I’ve seen in a long time. The calm lake was reflecting the deep blue sky while oranges and red painted the sky in the horizon. There was no wind or even mosquitoes to alter the tranquility of the sunset.
Later that night, at around 2 in the morning, I got out to take some night shots of the incredible starry night above us.
Day 3: Granite Lake to Deer Lake plus exploratory loop
From there, getting back on a trail proved to be a bit of a challenge. Out of Lake Anna we saw a small saddle and what looked like a potential route down. Following that would have taken us to the trail but way far down. The problem was that, on paper it looked more doable than in person. We bushwhacked our way around some fallen trees and limbs trying to skirt around the canyon. It was slow going until we the forested area opened up and we saw a potential path without the need to climb down. We took that path around a small peak navigating thru rocks and grasses. At some point I lost my footing and landed on my knee which wasn’t a lot of fun. One the throbbing stopped, we continued and later, finally we reached the Long Canyon trail. From there it was a climb up to Bee tree Gap that again gave us a new perspective of Siligo Meadows below us. It was hard at this point to identify the trail moving forward but as we hiked along it, we saw it was skirting the granite peaks we had seen earlier in the day. After a long huffing a puffing we finally got back to Deer pass and couldn’t wait to get to camp that we almost ran down. That night I took some time to soak my knees in cold water before having dinner and going to bed for a well-deserved rest.
Day 4: Deer Lake to Sandy Gulch
Day 5: Sandy Gulch to Swift Creek trailhead
Last day was a short day by design. The idea of the long day and then the short one was to get back to the trailhead in good time for the long drive home. We didn’t want to get back home in the dark. With that in mind, we packed early and left camp for a short hike out. The forest was fresh and the hike meandered thru forested areas which was a nice change. At some point we stopped to shift layers and I noticed we had a couple of followers. Not too far behind us a deer with her two fawns were staring at us. I took my camera and took a couple of pictures as they walked around us and got on the trail ahead of us. We grabbed our gear and continued which didn’t scare or made the deer go away. Instead, the lead the way for quite a while turning eventually to check us out. There was a moment when the other actually turned around and came towards us. Don’t know if she was being protective or just checking us out as the fawns where just doing their thing around the mother.
Eventually she got tired of us and veered right and disappeared into the forest. After that we came back the view point with the incredible waterfall in the canyon which also signaled us we were almost out. WE made the trailhead early enough that it left us time to stop on the way home for lunch and relax before going back to work. In a word epic.
You can check the pictures here
To see the full map, click here