Day 1, Day 2
Permit - A permit is required for all overnight stays in Emigrant Wilderness. Permits can be obtained in person at the Summit Ranger Station at 1 Pinecrest Road in Pinecrest off Highway 108. There are currently no trailhead quotas or fees for the permit.
Mileage/Terrain - Day 1 was Kennedy Meadows Trailhead to Relief Reservoir, approximately 4.25 miles (your mileage will vary based on site selection). There is a net elevation gain of approximately 1,100'. Terrain varies from nice tree cover to exposed dusty sections. The trail has some steep sections with steps. Day 2 was a 5.75 mile day hike to Grouse Creek and Summit Creek. See map/profiles below.
Camps/Water - There is a bathroom and trash cans at Kennedy Meadows Trailhead, no water. The first part of the hike takes you past the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station (has store and restaurant). You an likely get water from the river (depending how high it is running) or one of the campsites/cabins.
Hazards - Black Bears, creek crossings, snow, mice/squirrels, and mosquitoes. Nearest Ranger # 209-965-3434 (always check with ranger ahead of time for current water/trail conditions - this season it is simply a must because of the long wet winter and massive spring runoff).
Tyler and I woke
up and had a good breakfast and then packed up our ten essentials (and
lunch) to head out for a day hike further south along the trail. Here
is the map and profile of the trip in and the day hike
the next day. It was already warming up fast with it forecast to be close
to 90 degrees again today. The trail continues to head up with some great
views (at the expense of no real cover). We were able to find a couple
patches of snow right along the trail. Here is Tyler with his snow smile
You eventually reach the high
point on the trail and then head down now. The trail remains open with
great views. You are headed down now to a good river crossing (good meaning
you will have to get your feet wet).
I forgot to take a picture
showing the extent of this creek crossing. I honestly was more concerned
with safely crossing the creek and forgot. The creek is wide through here
but still fast moving. Luckily the highest spots were still below your
knee. We took our time and put on sandals and slowly crossed Grouse Creek.
The water was seriously freezing. It only hurt for a little while though
as it quickly numbed your feet. I would say there were 4 sections like
the one you see below that had to be crossed in succession.
This shot shows the next junction
with Upper Relief Valley. We stayed right and went toward Lower Relief
Valley. We were curious what the next creek crossing might be like (Relief
Creek after it combines with Summit Creek) so we continued on.
It was a little hard to take
a picture that showed you the amount of water in this creek. The section
in front of Tyler is moving, but it is backed up some as the white water
through the trees is the main part of the creek and not letting much of
this water in. We heard this creek ripping through here much sooner than
we could see it. We didn't try to wander further upstream to see if there
is any way to continue on the trail that is on the other side of the white
We only saw one other group
on the trail that day and they were headed out to the point past Grouse
Creek. This section has some nice tree cover and likely has some nice
camping spots. None of that area would have as nice a view as our site
did, but the water access looked good. Here is Tyler on the way back to
our site, pretty close now.
We still had time to head down
the to the water. I thought about going in, briefly, but the clouds were
picking up again so I decided against it.
I did have some time to grab some cool shots on the way back up to camp.
I like this one with the piled rocks in the foreground.
Here is the creek we usually
filtered our water from. No trick photography here, it was really flowing
that fast. I actually took this on the way out.
The view to the west from camp.
The wildflowers are not out
here in force yet, but I am sure they will be soon enough.