July 17-28, 2005
I've been wanting to go to Grey Meadow in the Golden Trout Wilderness for a while
now... so I planned this trip to coincide with the Wilderness Rider course that was being
put on at Grey Meadow by the Backcountry Horsemen of California in conjunction with
the US Forest Service. I hiked with mtmnslady whom I find is a great hiking partner.
She drove to my house on Sunday morning and then we carpooled to the trailhead in my
We started at the Click's Creek Trailhead. The "new" Click's Creek Trailhead. You can
start at the "old" TH, it's just right off of the North Road, 21S50. Or you can start a
mile closer on the "new" TH which is off of 20S64B. I'm not sure it's worth it to start
closer... it's a little confusing to find your way on Forest Service roads at times... and
we got a little turned around going out to 20S64B. But we made it. No other cars were
at the TH and we didn't pass a single soul hiking in or out of Grey Meadow. But we of
course saw a bunch of people camped at the meadow itself.
I've heard that the Click's Creek Trail is steep. And now I know it is! Well, most of it.
Basically you decend, sometimes on well-graded switchbacks, sometimes just straight
down, on a partially shaded trail. There are also beautiful little wildflower gardens
along the trail. In one spot there were so many leopard lilies growing that their
perfume reached us before we even saw them! I love the smell of leopard lilies :)
Anyway, down down down we went, knowing that we would have to come up up up the next
day :p The trail decended sharply to one saddle then to another then evened out for
about a mile. We ate lunch in a shady spot then resumed hiking. The trail then
switchbacks down to the creek. Click's Creek is a beautiful bubbly little creek. We
crossed it in one spot then about 1/2 mile later had to cross it again. We rested a while
at the 2nd crossing and pondered staying there for the night. But we pushed on to Grey
From the creek to the meadow the trail has a much gentler grade. Grey Meadow was a
welcome brilliant green in that warm afternoon sunshine and on one side there is a
pasture that was full of happy horses and mules. About a dozen horsemen were camped
around one edge of the meadow which is near the historic guard station. All of them
were very friendly and they let us use the spring water which is piped into the cabin -
guess I didn't have to bring my filter! We joined them for a campfire that evening. We
did a round robin where each of us shared what we like about wilderness.
Included in the round robin was a local cattleman who has been going to the wilderness
for 67 consecutive years! I loved hearing his insights on how things have changed. I
enjoyed listening to him and from all the wilderness riders in training. They do
wonderful work for us back there! They help maintain trails, educate visitors, and help
people in need.
Debra and I walked back to our tents and went to sleep around 9:30 under a fairly full
moon. I woke up once in the middle of the night to hear a cow mournfully cry out into
the night. It wasn't a moo - it was an actual loud cry followed by a more characteristic
moo. I realized that maybe is what I heard last year when backpacking out to Trout
Meadow. That first night we spent up near Jug Spring I heard a noise that I could not
explain. Maybe it was just a cow :p A cow making an uncharacteristic cow noise.
I woke up just as the first light of day was dawning and lighting up my tent. I tried to
go back to sleep but couldn't but I figured we should leave early while it was still cool
as it was going to be a long trek up!
So after breakfast, resupplying ourselves with water, and packing up we headed back.
The first leg of the trip to the creek wasn't too bad except there were some
mosquitos out and about. Then it was up the first series of switchbacks. Then the
brief flat stretch of trail. Then the last series of switchbacks. We made it back to
the truck around noon or so! Then we headed over to the Ponderosa Lodge for lunch ;)
All in all it was a great trip! Grey Meadow is a beautiful and historic spot to stay the
night. I recently met a woman who's husband had been stationed back there in the
60's. The station has been there since 1916 and it's nice to see the backcountry
horsemen still putting it to good use :)
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|Morning dawns at Grey Meadow
|Hiking down down down through the forest...
The red and white fir at 7,600' gave way to sugar pine, jeffrey
pine, and incense cedar as we decended down to 6,000'
|Emerald green meadows rimmed with willows and bursting with
wildflowers... like the leopard lily!
Apocynum androsaemifolium (now that's a mouthful!)
|Drat! Hard to get a clear picture of this tiny orchid...
Corallorhiza maculata (which means next time I need to take a tripod)
We saw tons of other flowers including:
Western Mountain Aster
|Sugar Pine with its long graceful branches and long cones
|Just in case those dizzying switchbacks make you forget where you are
|The creek was beautiful and it felt so good to get my feet wet!
|Taking a break near the 2nd creek crossing
|Sign near the Grey Meadow Guard Station
|Grey Meadow Guard Station
|This mule was on a high line all by himself for a time
and he kept calling out to his friends in the meadow.
I walked over to him and gave him part of my apple.
|My tent in the last light of day
|Debra and me, ready to hike out
|My pack's all ready, too!
|Beautiful pool along Click's Creek