No Forest Service information

Tahoe National Forest, USDA Forest Service, has removed almost all information about the Granite Chief Wilderness from their website. There is one paragraph on their Special Places page, and that is all. Even that paragraph is incorrect. The wilderness includes the headwaters of the Middle Fork American River, not the North Fork. The map, description, and trailhead information is all gone. I suppose I should take it as a compliment that apparently they think my website is all you need to know, but still, it is a disappointment to see a public agency removing information rather than adding it.

brushing and strange weather 2014-06

I spent two days last week brushing part of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through Granite Chief Wilderness. This section, north of the PCT-Tahoe Rim Trail junction by Twin Peaks, is one that I started working on in 2006, when I discovered that that trail was brushed closed and people were getting lost. The part I just did was nearly but not quite brushed closed again. Brushing by myself goes very slowly, particularly when I come to an area that has a lot of small stems instead of a few big ones. I finished about 200 feet of trail. There is about a half mile of trail remaining to do. Some plants get bushy when trimmed back, others grow again in the same pattern of a few large stems that can be pretty easily cut. I realized last year that unless I spent much more of my summers brushing than I wanted, I was not going to keep up with this brushy section. Nevertheless, I like doing the work and will continue to do some every summer.

PCT before brushing

PCT after brushing PCT before and after brushing

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walking the ridges 2014-06

Last week I walked the ridges to the north and south of the Middle Fork American River. I’d looked at these ridges for years, thinking the scenery would be pretty cool, but had never gotten in a trip.

Lyon Peak Ridge, looking west from Granite Chief

Lyon Peak Ridge, looking west from Granite Chief

I went in at the Granite Chief TH in Squaw Valley, and walked the Granite Chief Trail and Pacific Crest Trail to the saddle beside Granite Chief. I walked up over the peak and continued west, past Needle Peak, over Lyon Peak, and on out the ridge to the saddle between Talbot Creek and Soda Springs. Though the ridge is not called Foresthill Divide in this section, it is a topographic extension of that feature that separates the North Fork American River from the Middle Fork. There is a clear use trail from Granite Chief to the saddle above Needle Lake, so I assume the destination for many is the lake. Again, there is a prominent use trail, part on old logging roads, from the Foresthill Divide saddle east on the ridge. But in between, the trail is vague, indicating that not many people walk the entire length. Though it is somewhat rough, there is nothing too challenging. I skipped going up Needle Peak due to the wind. The wind was blowing at least 30 mph the entire day, with gusts to 50 mph, and one gust that knocked me to the ground and prevented me from getting back up was at least 60 mph. The south wind, and the cold that came with it, was not in the forecast. It was an intense day, with the constant roar of wind in my ears and the need to re-balance with every step to keep from falling. And it was exhilarating!

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Greyhorse Valley report

head of Greyhorse Valley

head of Greyhorse Valley

A trip report and photos from Keith Wootton on the Greyhorse TH and trail.

Like your website, and love granite chief wilderness. Here is the latest on Greyhorse Creek.  Rode motorcycle in, 10 miles of dirt road, no road markers and it is possible to take some wrong turns.  Seven miles of the road have water bars about every 100 yards, and some trees and large rocks on road. Lots of rock up to baby head size, and the water bars are high, not something to take a car on.  High clearance vehicle, bike, horse, or motorcycle are good. It took me about an hour to get to the trailhead, from French Meadows, which has a Granite Chief map but no other designation. Road beyond trailhead gets worse, and steeper, and I decided I really didn’t need to go to roads-end and another trailhead, although i could have made it, just slow going. Any other method of travel would take more time than motorcycle (i rode up from Foresthill).

Shanks Cove and towards Five Lake Creek

Shanks Cove and towards Five Lake Creek

Trail starts out faint for the first 100 yards, then runs into a sprawling mass of large uprooted  trees that make the trail hard to follow, as you cross a melt water creek and push your way thru a willow thicket. Trees are recently blown over and all from the north, some have root balls 15 feet tall!  I dont think there is any way a horse is going to make it thru. After that trail becomes much better as it switchbacks up between two meltwater creeks. About 2/3 way up hill, trail gets faint, then lost. Working up and to north towards bare rock outcrop with out crossing creek until you get close to rock will reward you with an easy to follow trail tread to the trail fork at the saddle. I continued north, and trail was easy to follow as it climbs, then drops down into Picayune Valley, though there were many more blown down trees.  All with drying needles, and all from the north.

I gave up before reaching the valley, I got a late start, travel time was more than I thought, and it took some time to find my way thru all the down trees. I did do some exploring around, and think next time I will cross the saddle at the top of Greyhorse Valley, get a better look at the Johnson monument, and continue towards Mildred Peak and lakes.

report from Daniel Nasaw

Daniel Nasaw sent this brief post-trip update back in July:

Our trip was really fantastic, despite some early trouble.  We lost the Powderhorn trail almost right away and ended up bushwhacking down the west-facing slope almost a quarter mile to the west of the Powderhorn Creek.  When we got to the bottom of the ravine we whacked north-eastward and eventually found the trail right where it comes down out of the woods and into that small meadow before it crosses the creek.

We now think what happened is we followed the logging road, just as you warned not to, instead of the trail.  We think this happened right toward the beginning where there’s that large clearing with a huge stump right in the middle and the old sawn logs off to the right of the trail.  The logging road continues up to the left, while the trail continues directly ahead.  So we probably lost about an hour and missed out on a lot of beautiful views — and I got plenty spooked that first night.

But after that, we had no trouble at all, and followed the trails all the way north to Whiskey Creek and back the following day, and took the Powderhorn trail back up to the trailhead and our vehicle the day after that.

An amazing trip!  Thanks so much for your help!

Granite Chief Wilderness Campaign

The American River Conservancy has started the Granite Chief Wilderness Campaign to protect 10,000 acres of land on the west and north sides of the Granite Chief Wilderness.

The lands are currently privately owned, mostly by a logging company. The parcels include headwaters of the North Fork American River and Middle Fork American River. Since some of the parcels are immediately adjacent to the existing wilderness, they could be automatically added to the wilderness.

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back to Flickr

I’ve moved my photos back to Flickr. Google made PicasaWeb progressively harder to use and less useful, as it removed capabilities and pushed people onto Google+, the social service. I have fixed all the photo links on blog posts.

My Granite Chief Wilderness collection is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157637640215275/. In addition to the sets in this collection, two additional trips include a portion in the Granite Chief: Pacific Crest 2008-07 and Western States Trail 2012-07.