Tag Archives: metamorphic

Down in the Rubicon

ridge south of Little Needle Peak

Had another wonderful five day backpack in the Granite Chief last week. A lot of the trip was just re-visiting places I’d been before, some of them not in several years though.

As a new trip I went to Little Needle Lake which I’d heard other people mention but not been to. It is a shallow, alder and willow bordered lake in the volcanic rock below Little Needle Peak. It is a pretty setting, with soggy wet meadows surrounding the lake and a spectacular cliff above. The route is is a vague trail, and there are some seldom used campsites at the lake. To avoid the thick mosquitos at the lake, I camped to the north on a granite bench, where there were some really cool trees and a great view of the end of the day down the Middle Fork American River canyon. The next day I headed up onto the ridge and south, following the divide between Picayune Valley and Five Lake Creek, eventually reconnecting to the Picayune Valley trail a little east of where it climbs out of Picayune Valley. The ridge does not have a trail, but the going was pretty easy, with great views and a different perspective than I’ve gotten elsewhere.

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Picayune Valley

Dried Wooley Mules Ears at head of Picayune Valley

I finally got to Picayune Valley, which rounds out my effort to see all the trails of Granite Chief. I came in from Alpine Meadows trailhead, which is the fastest way into the wilderness, went through Whiskey Creek Camp, and camped at the saddle above Picayune Valley.

Late in the day as it was getting dark, the shadows beneath the red firs were deep but the meadows still light.

Approaching dark
Trail through red firs
Darkness between the trunks
Thick and soft

Then out into the meadow
Wooley mules ears
Radiate the warm yellow sunlight
They’ve captured during the day

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