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Day 1 – Our Journey Begins (Friday)
We didn’t get an early start like we wanted to. It started off as one of those days where things were delayed or just not going as planned. It didn’t stop us though from going on our over night trip to Summit Lake. We left home around 830 AM to make our way up the mountain.
Arriving in Mountain Home State Forest around 930 AM, we had a nice cool and scenic drive to the trail head in Shake Camp. The road was bumpy and rutted in places, but that wasn’t too much of a problem. Once at the trail head we took a photo and began our adventure to Summit Lake. It was approximately 10AM.
We eventually arrived at what locals call Redwood Crossing. I soon discovered why it obtained its name. Just upstream from where the trail crosses the North Fork of the Middle Fork (NFMF) Tule River a sequoia has fallen across the river. Some people crossed on it, but we took off our shoes and made our way through the river. The water was cold, but refreshing. We were now 2.3 miles into our trip!
After putting our boots back on, we proceeded onward. We stopped for a quick photo of Diana by a sequoia tree, which was only 15 feet from the trail. Within a minute or two of crossing the NFMF Tule River, we had made it to the State and Forest boundary.
About a mile or two pass the first river crossing we entered several stringer meadows. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere. Shooting Stars and Tiger Lilies were just a couple of the ones we saw regularly. The only problem was the trails were muddy and damaged from the lack of maintenance. Water was running down the trail in these areas were was creating mud. However, jumping along rocks or having to make our own trail through the meadow was our solution.
Past the second river crossing more meadows came into view. These were the only sunny stretches we encountered, which was great this time of year. It kept us from getting sunburnt and we kept cooler. From one of the meadows we could see the Maggie Fire on Maggie Mountain. It was a naturally caused fire, which the Forest Service was occasionally flying overhead to monitoring its progress.
We were now approaching the third river crossing. The NFMF Tule river had been downhill from us for awhile now, so when we arrived the amount of rock debris was amazing. Old floodplain benches could be seen from the trail. The river had shifted several times to where it was now. It always amazes me how power a river is when you see all the rocks it has moved through.
The stretch between the third river crossing to the lake was the hardest part. The trail has several switchbacks to help. However, you climb around 1,500 feet in about 2 mles. It may not seem that bad, but the trail was covered in large gravel sized rocks (3 to 6 inches). It slowed our progress as we had to carefully step on and around to avoid rolling an ankle. This stretch took us 2 hours to climb. Near the end of the trail, it becomes flatter and the view is breath taking.
We made it to the lake around 6PM. Snapping a photo at the boundary sign, we proceeded on to the lake. We were in for a surprise though as mosquitoes were everywhere. Realizing a campfire could help us from the swarms, we went about 150 yards back down the trail and onto the Forest side. The Park does not allow any camp fires. Unfortunately, the fire didn’t keep a lot of them at bay nor did our bug repellant. With camp set up and darkness approaching, it was time to get some sleep….oh and to hide from the mosquitoes.
Day 2 – The Return Home (Saturday)
After a semi good nights sleep, we awoke to no mosquitoes. It didn’t last long though as they found us within about 30 minutes of being awake. Quickly eating our breakfast and swatting mosquitoes, we packed up and hit the trail. I did go back up to the lake to grab some photos though.
We thought we could escape the mosquitoes on our way downhill. Unfortunately for us they decided to hang around until the third river crossing. A couple of bumble bees liked our bags too and thankfully didn’t sting either one of us.
The third crossing was the easiest crossing. We didn’t have to take off our shoes and nor did we on the second crossing. The second river crossing is a rock hop/jump show. Prior to the second crossing I took a few photos of the trail to show you what I was talking about when we had to make our own trail through the meadow.