Trinity Alps Canyon Creek Day 1 It was a rainy Friday afternoon as Henry and I packed up the last of our gear. I had been backpacking in the rain before, but not of this caliber. As we drove towards the mountains we slowly shifted our conversations from the misery of schoolwork towards the awesome weekend ahead of us. It was dark when we stopped at the Weaverville ranger station to pick up the necessary permits. A wilderness and a campfire permit were all we needed for this adventure. Free of charge! We continued to drive along the windy roads through the raging rainstorm. We arrived at Ripstein Campground at around 8 pm during the worst of the weather. We set up our tent and got inside as quickly as possible, making sure to stay dry during the process.
Day 2 After making it through a sleepless night, we were relieved to see the rain had stopped. We packed up and got ready to hit the trail. We had an 8-mile, 3000 foot gain endeavor on our hands. Our destination was the two majestic Canyon Creek Lakes. Within five minutes of starting, we hit our first river crossing. Assessing the situation, the only safe way to cross was over a fallen tree.
Unfortunately, I tore my rain pants during the treacherous crossing. Little did I realize, this would come back to bite me later on in our journey. As we started our slow climb through the forest, we were struck by the beauty all around us. Around every corner was a new view better than the last.
We stopped to have some lunch and recharge for a bit. For a brief moment the sun smiled around the clouds and lifted our spirits. With our sun-infused energy, we continued on our way. Up and up we climbed. Most of the trail was flooded from the rain and we took great caution to keep our boots dry. At times, the trail was absorbed by the swampy collection of rain. As we gained elevation, the trees slowly started to disappear. This exposed the strong granite mountains on either side and emphasized the overflowing river to our side. With all the rain, we came close to some very powerful waterfalls.
After what felt like hours of hiking, we realized how close we were to the lakes. We could see the ridge the lakes were waiting behind. WHAM! Out of nowhere, the trail mysteriously walks itself into the rushing river! Looking around, there were no fallen trees to aid us. We were so close but there was no way were we going to swim across. We were forced to find a new way to the lakes. We decided we’d make our own trail by following the water runoff that was at our feet. By this point we were so used to walking upstream, it was easy to create a trail. We had to push aside bushes which blocked our way. Every bush was booby trapped to shower us with chilling water. My torn rain pants allowed the water to soak into my boots. My waterproof boots did a fantastic job of keeping the water in. After our disastrous attempt to fight nature, we were forced to head back. With daylight slowly disappearing, we needed to set up tent and get into dry clothes quick.
We set up our tent just off trail, right next to the flowing river. Henry collected water from the river while I set up the stove. For dinner, we had couscous with broccoli and salmon. Warm food, dry clothes, and hot chocolate were essential before we decided to call it a day. With the rushing river beside us and the soft pitter-patter of the rain approaching, we tried our best to get some sleep for tomorrow’s hike out. Day 3 We awoke abruptly to a massive wave demolishing our tent! The damn at the lakes had broken and started carrying us away. Not really, but the rain sure felt like it. It was unrelenting. We hurriedly ate some oatmeal and threw everything we had into our packs. We both looked at each other and said “Let’s go!” There was no time to stop and chat; we kept a brisk pace the whole way down. We only had enough time to take quick glances at the surrounding beauty as we tried to get out of the rain. Once we reached the forest, we had a little cover from the constant barrage of water.
By this point, everything we owned was thoroughly drenched and we didn’t have the need to keep our stuff dry. We slowed down the pace to soak in nature around us. CRACK! CRASH! The sound of a massive tree collapsing from the might of the river echoed through the canyon. Myth confirmed: If a tree falls in the forest, Henry and I can hear it. We continued on our grind and all I could think of was how nice it would be to climb inside the car and blast the heater. We finally arrived at the fallen tree we had crossed the day before. We both knew the car was just on the other side. We prepared to cross the river and tried not to think of the danger of falling in. I went first, slowly inching my way across the log. The spray of the river stung my face, the tree was slippery and rotting away beneath me, and my pack felt heavier than ever. We both made it across completely and skipped our way to the car.
As we head back to Chico, we talked about the experience we shared. The rain, river, and rocks all combined to make for a fascinating weekend. All in all, it was a hugely successful trip and I could not ask for a better experience.