Sugar Lake (Russian Wilderness) 01-Oct-2019

A cold storm rolled through our area last weekend. It brought with it the first, fleeting snows of the coming winter. Elevations above 6,000 feet were nicely dusted with powdery white stuff. The storm passed. It left behind the cool, cloud-flecked, sunny weather that warms the soles of Fall hikers in our area. We decided to celebrate with a short (6.2 mile round-trip; 1,200 feet of gain) hike to Sugar Lake in Northern California’s Russian Wilderness.

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Little & Big Duck Lakes (Russian Wilderness) 19-Aug-2019

We capitalized on a rare break in The LovedOne’s busy library volunteering schedule to hike (10 miles round-trip; 2,200 feet of gain) to the Duck Lakes (Little & Big) beneath Eaton Peak in the center of California’s Russian Wilderness. Although these beautiful little lakes are in the heart of the wilderness, they don’t get nearly the attention as do Big Blue and Paynes Lakes to the north or Bingham and Russian Lakes to the south. A good description of this hike can be found at Northern California Hiking Trails.

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The Seven Summits of NorCal (July 2018)

Seven Summits Northern California

In 2015, I came across a small book (The 7 Summits of the Siskiyou Trail) by Aria Zoner – an Ashland-based ultra hiker~backpacker~peakbagger – that described a 448-mile long hiking loop through seven wilderness areas in Northern California (NorCal), with scramble climbs (Class 3 or less) of the high points in each wilderness.  While 448 miles seemed a bit much, these seven hikes/scrambles looked like fun, so we added them to our never-diminishing list of hikes to do just in case the couch started to look too inviting (assuming, of course, the cat ever lets us sit on it…).

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Russian Lake via the PCT (Russian Wilderness) 07-Jun-2018

Russian Lake Russian Wilderness Northern California

In 2016, we did a short hike to beautiful Bingham Lake in the Russian Wilderness, along with a scramble to the highest point – Russian Peak – in that wilderness.  But where was the wilderness’s namesake lake? Well, southwest across the valley formed by South Russian Creek (a tributary of the Klamath River). Our plan to hike to this lake in 2017 along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was thwarted when wildfires blew-up all over Northern California, closing roads and trails and filling the air with choking smoke. So I (The LovedOne’s knee wasn’t up for this one) took advantage of the early trail openings afforded by our minimally snowy winter to do this hike before any wildfires (of which we sincerely hope there are none this season) had a chance to enter the picture.

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Big Blue Lake Loop (Russian Wilderness) 13-Jul-2017

Big Blue Lake Russian Wilderness California

Big Blue Lake is situated at the northern end of California’s Russian Wilderness. I came across it in Lautner’s Day & Section Hikes, Pacific Crest Trail, Northern California (2010), where reaching it is portrayed as an off-trail adventure hike.  And so it was. Going cross-country to Big Blue is a lot of work but, once you’re there, it’s an exquisite turquoise blue gem of an alpine lake, set in a rugged granite bowl.  On reflection, it would have been better to have hiked to it on a cooler day and on one where the scenery wasn’t faintly obscured by smoke from a wildfire smoldering some 10 miles to the northwest in the Marble Mountain Wilderness (Island Fire). Ah, hindsight.

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Bingham Lake (Russian Wilderness) 29-Jun-2016

Russian Wilderness Northern California

As noted in a previous post (Red Butte), we’re hiking/scrambling the highpoints in seven of Northern California’s wilderness areas as further protection from the ravages of sloth. To that end, we decided on a short hike and scramble at the southern end of the Russian Wilderness (details).  This small (12,521 acre) wilderness is wedged between the much larger Marble Mountain Wilderness (225,114 acres) to the north and the Trinity Alps Wilderness (537,360 acres) to the south.  It sits astride a major ridge dividing the Scott River and Salmon River drainages with steep slopes and broad, U-shaped glacial valleys surrounded by granite peaks. It has 22 named lakes, most of them set like jewels in cirques high in the valleys and drained by streams. We opted to approach its highest point, Russian Peak (8,190 feet), via a short trail to one of those named lakes – Bingham Lake, a true emerald jewel of a lake.

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