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 truck.
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 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 Meadow.
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 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
My trip report with more pictures! http://www.tarol.com/greymeadow.html
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com