Our destination for this weekend were the Wright Lakes. Upper and Lower. Lower Wright Lake was more spectacular with Boulder peak terminating its base into blue waters. These lakes can be access by two trailheads Boulder Creek Trail, and Big Meadow. Boulder Creek, once the most popular trail to Wright Lake, climbs an insane 3500 feet in 2.5 miles. This trail noted in guide books as one of, if not thee hardest trails of the entire wilderness. This trail head can be access from forest service Road 44N45. However a less physically demanding route was selected. From a trail head off of FS43N23 the Big Meadow trail head could be reached. N41deg35.528' W123deg 02.793'. This particular Forest Service road was a bit rough and should be accessed with a 4wd truck or SUV, though a skilled driver with a 2wd truck or Subi could most likely access it as well. From a brief discussion with a US Forest Service representative, the land which the trail head is on is private property. The landowners are kind enough to allow public access, so please be courtesy, travel at a conservative speed and mind your litter.
Gaining the ridge to the North of Big Meadow, a small sign was discovered stating that Wright Lake was just on the other side. N41 deg 35.409' W 123 deg 3.518'. Upper Wright was soon in sight and passed as we headed to lower Wright. At lower Wright Lake we made camp for the night. Small snow fields on the northern slope of Boulder Peak allowed for post hike cold beers; a treat rarely experienced in the back county.
The fourth of July weekend was hit with a sudden heat wave. The entire month prior was cold and rainy, rare for the West. Temperature in Redding were of 100+ degrees. However at Wrights lake temps were moderate 70's.
Fish were not plentiful in the lake, though evidence of past successful catches were discovered in the form of poorly disposed fish carcases. Although the fish and game department has recently ceased stocking many lakes, the Wrights were not on the list of non-stocked lakes. The non stocking of California Lakes is a result of a law suit to protect the frog populations of many of these lakes. Though the relationship between fish population and frog populations appear to be inversely proportional, no studies have been made to substantiate those claims. The use of lures did nothing to attract fish to their trailing treble hooks. However I did have one fish hook up after a dab of power bait was used. Unfortunately this experienced late season trout, was able to wiggle itself free, once I brought him into the shallows and let up on my line pressure, as I climbed down to the water. One possible explanation of the low fish population was the due to the creature we spotted in the water. Once thought to be the monster of Lower Wright Lake, cooler heads concluded that the creature was most likely a river otter or a weasel of some sort.
To celebrate our countries independence, we decided to climb Boulder peak, the highest point in the Marble Mountains. Though the climb was mostly a hike with a small 3rd class section at the top, it was still the highlight of the trip. I originally wanted to gain the north ridge and climb the ridge to the summit. However I was convinced that a hike around the back would give a guaranteed summit bag, as well as less of a chance of a disastrous epic.
Boulder creek is formed by the water flowing out of Lower Wright Lake. At the mouth area of the lake we found a cleverly built water wheel.
Following the Boulder Creek Trail North along Boulder Creek, the trail eventually settles on the west side of the creek and wraps over the ridge into 2nd Valley. An older couple we meet on the trail described 2nd Valley as paradise lost. Though truly beautiful, the lost part of the phrase describes the trail system more accurately. This is Second Valley with a view of the back side of Boulder Peak. From this angle the north ridge of the peak looks pretty tough. Maybe it was a good decision to do the hike around.
The summit bid consisted of several switchbacks up the SW talus slope, then a short 3rd class scramble to the top. We signed the summit registry and was off for cold beers back at camp. Rather then taking the the east ridge of back to the trail, we did some impulse mountaineering down a steep and loose drainage straight back to the lake.Though a great weekend was had, I do not foresee myself traveling back to the Marbles anytime soon. I find the lower elevation topography to be less spectacular then the Sierra Nevada's I call home. The next time I trek up to these parts I would like to explore something new. However that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend in this wild corner of the world.