Sunday, July 14, 2013

Green Creek

In lieu of a bucket list there are a bunch of random ideas floating around in my head.  One that has been surfacing regularly for a couple years is hiking at Green Creek on the East side of the Sierra near Bridgeport.  Recently Adventure Pal P and I hatched a plan to meet at the trailhead to hike to Green Lake and maybe more.

The Green Creek road takes off to the west a couple miles south of Bridgeport on 395.  It's 8 miles of rough road back to the campground and trailhead into the Hoover Wilderness.  I didn't take any pics on bright and sunny Saturday morning when I drove in, but this one from Monday morning coming out is pretty with the clouds.

The campground has ten sites; three were available when I arrived and one of those was across from camp hosts Ed and Jeannie from Colorado.  They lived many years in Sonora so we hit it off immediately; so fun to meet new friends!  (BTW, camping is first come, first serve, no reservations).

The nights are chilly at this elevation but the days were warm!  It was good we were heading out at 9 on Sunday morning.  The trail follows an old road a half mile or so to a couple FS lease cabins before starting up the mountain.  (Green Creek is at 8000 feet;  our first goal was Green Lake at 9000, a climb of 1000 feet in 2 miles).  

The Green Creek drainage is literally choked with Aspen Trees.  It's next to impossible to get off the trail.  In a good water year the wildflowers must be amazing because there is a nice display even this year.  On the flip side in a wet year the mosquitoes would be horrible and I'm doubtful I could get across the creeks if the water was any higher than today (as you will see in pics to follow).

Here are a handful of wild flowers along the trail.  Both in wet areas and on the dry sections.

Puff balls.....

Tiger lily.....


Indian paint brush.....

Just shy of two hours we came to the fork in the trail to West Lake.  In the center is Green Lake; to the right (and a bit northwest) is West Lake; and to the left (southeast) of Green is East Lake.  (no kudos to who ever named these lakes, it's really confusing as neither East or West are very far off to the east or west of Green!)

From the trail intersection it's not far from Green Lake and we stopped for an hour or so to soak in the beauty of the mountains.  Green Lake is shallow and the color of jade; tucked in a bowl of mountain peaks it is so worth the climb.

The south (more or less) shore.....

The north shore.......

(yes, that blue spot on the rock is my shirt, how embarrassing!)

And straight across the lake to the west......

After a nice rest we started up the trail to East Lake.  It's another 500 feet elevation gain and about 1 1/2 miles to the lower end of the lake.  Wow, that was a hard climb!   Lucky for us that the water flows were low because the crossings are really scary.  The creek drops off into a water fall directly below this one that P waded and I foolishly rock hopped across.

We left the heavy vegetation behind at Green Creek.  Hiking among big trees in open forest is lovely but still hard.   Then we saw East Lake and ALL memory of dragging up that mountain was gone in an instant!

It's big and deep and very, very remote.  We had seen father and son backpackers at Green, but they were so far ahead of us by this time that we had the lake entirely to ourselves.

The north (more or less) shore......

And looking southwest, this is the intriguing view!  We are on the upper 1/2 or so of the lake,  the rest of it is around that spit of land barely visible on the left of the pic.

(is there a way to fix this crooked water surface?)

After a leisurely lunch we reluctantly started back down the trail.  There are only a couple views of the Green Creek drainage, this is not the best one, but if you look closely, that tiny triangle of green in the middle of the pic is Bridgeport Valley.

It was a fast hike back to the trail head arriving at 4 pm.  P headed off to Lee Vining and I crashed in my camp at Green Creek.  Next time,  fall color on the Aspens and West Lake!

1 comment:

  1. Seems so funny to hear it's chilly at night right now. Looks like a great place. We have been out camping since Wednesday so I am really far behind reading posts. If you use Picasa, they have a tool for straightening pictures.


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