Location: Powell Lake (night 1) & Y Meadow Lake (night 2) in the Emigrant Wilderness of Stanislaus National Forest, off Highway 108 near Pinecrest Lake, CA.
Dates Hiked: July 23 – 25, 2010
Trails Hiked: Gianelli Trailhead
- Trailhead to Powell Lake: 2.3 miles.
- Powell Lake to Y Meadow Lake: 4.3 miles.
- Roundtrip: about 13 miles.
Conditions: Hot & Sunny, in the 70-80s. Tons of mosquitos!
Other Rules/Info: Dogs are allowed in wilderness areas. Powell Lake only allows 1 night stay per trip.
Trip Report: Shaun & I left work at around 4pm on a Friday in late July for my first-ever backpacking trip. We picked up the doggie and drove up into the mountains on Highway 108 towards Pinecrest Lake / Dodge Ridge. Note that a wilderness permit is required to camp overnight, and the closest ranger station is located on Highway 108 at the turn for Pinecrest Lake. We headed for the Gianelli trailhead, and found parking after a 7-mile long bumpy dirt road. We got out and strapped up. Rosco even had a pack, filled with his own food, treats, leash, bowls and water. We hit the trail in a hurry to make it to our destination before nightfall. We quickly passed Burst Rock, a popular viewing point, and made it the 2.3 miles to Powell Lake. We set up camp just in time and cooked our dinner in the dark.
In the morning we were actually able to see our surroundings at Powell Lake.
After breakfast, we packed up and hit the trail again, aiming towards Y Meadow Lake. It was a 4.3 mile hike passing through meadows of wildflowers with views of the Sierras as the backdrop.
Eventually you will come to a cross roads for Whitesides Meadow and Y Meadow Lake.
The lake is seated in granite and was heavy with mosquitos at this time of the year. We attempted to fish but caught no bites – when we met another set of hikers later they said the lake was sterile. But it was a perfect lake for swimming.
We did another hour or two of day hiking and scrambling around Y Meadow Lake, and finally caught the beautiful sunset over the lake as the day ended.
We spent the rest of the night relaxing and drinking a little too much whiskey – which I greatly regretted the next morning.
Sunday morning we awoke and lazily lounged around the lake for the first half of the day. We napped on the granite but the threat of an afternoon thunderstorm worried Shaun. We packed up and started the trek back to the trailhead.
Some other notes on the trail: when we left Y Meadow Lake, we had a difficult time finding the trail… be careful to not get lost. Also, a good portion of the trail is built-in granite stairs. These must have been made for the horses, as we saw a few groups pass us by throughout our trip. We also encountered the evidence along the trail – be wary with your dog if you aren’t sure how he will react! I learned that Rosco likes to roll in their manure. He also growled lowly at the passing horses, but nothing more.
It was a nice trip overall, though a little harsh for my first backpacking trip. But it prompted my immediate purchase of my own backpacking supplies, starting with a pack: the REI Venus 70… the start of a beautiful relationship and many more trips to come.