Crabtree Trail in the Emigrant Wilderness
If the past two summers were my introduction to backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, this summer has already brought me to two substantial wildernesses within the mountain range I had never previously explored: the Kaiser Wilderness and the Emigrant Wilderness. While crowds flocked to Yosemite in June, hoping to see wildflowers and waterfalls before they run dry, we drove further North to a place sometimes referred to as a mini Yosemite without the traffic. My friend Richie organized this quick weekend getaway for the four of us friends and a dog named Riley, and I was grateful for the introduction to this magical spot.
After stopping at the Summit Ranger Station in Pinecrest, we drove to the Crabtree trailhead at the end of a gravely and washboarded road. The first portion of the trail moves upwards through a forest, then flattens out to a series of meadows, small lakes, granite domes, and mosquito-infested pools covered in lily pads.
Our original plan was to hike past Cherry Creek to Chewing Gum Lake, but the ranger informed us that we would be fully submerged in water up to our chests. With only a weekend to hike, we decided that Bear Lake would make an ideal overnight, and we found a campsite there that we described as "resort-like" due to its ample flat ground and gigantic fire ring. A guidebook describes this lake as overused, but we only saw one other group of campers, perhaps because it was early enough in the season.