In June, I enjoyed an 18 mile backpacking adventure through beautiful Golden Trout Wilderness with a couple buddies. Started with a 53 lb pack. Daytime temperatures were 80-90 degrees.
We left on a Friday morning around 10 am, stopping for lunch at Panda Express. For $12, I ordered a massive plate of food with plenty of salt, fat, and sugar! Perfect pre-hike nutrition!
The drive from San Luis Obispo is through remote farmland in a seemingly depressed area. It’s interesting how micro communities like these survive. Imagine having to drive hours to pick up groceries or hardware supplies.
Once we got through the farmlands, it was a beautiful drive up the 190 getting to Golden Trout. Lots of parks to camp at with beautiful waterfalls and river swim pools.
The temperature was warm when we finally arrived around 3 pm, although we had a hard time finding the trailhead as the map was incorrect!
We started out walking through beautiful green meadows with standing water. We came upon an outcrop of rocks and decided to climb around. About 4 feet from where we were climbing, I caught site of a HUGE rattlesnake! He was a beauty-and huge! One of my friends was antagonizing him, fortunately the snake was just chilling and didn’t get aggravated.
We kept losing elevation, so I thought we were making good time. We crossed paths with a large group of Fish and Game biologists who were doing fish surveys. Nice group, one of the girls recommended we stay at a campsite down the way a bit with a beautiful river view.
We got to Gray Meadows later than I had planned, and kept hiking to the campsite that was recommended. As we approached, we fell in love with the area. There was a strong flowing river and a camp fire ring: perfect spot to stay the night!
We hiked around the river a bit taking pictures and enjoying the area. We started fishing and caught 2 fish, which we cooked up. Awesome!
We made camp, got a fire going, got water, and started dinner. It was a full moon that night so we lots of natural light, really beautiful.
The next morning we got up, ate breakfast, and went fishing. We decided to take a dip in this great spot he found. When we got over there, we saw 3 HUGE fish, so we dropped line. After 10 minutes we caught a HUGE fish, maybe 1.5 lbs – a real beauty!
We decided to head over to Jug Spring and checkout that area. We started making elevation gain, and the trail was dusty and hot (due to the horses). We lost the trail right after Fish Creek (small little creek with water). We bush whacked for about half mile, then came upon the trail.
The trail continued to rise. We stopped at Jug Spring, which was a cesspool of water, YUCK. We decided to keep going and see if we could make Lewis Camp (hoping there would be water there).
It was pure elevation gain, hot, and dusty. We made it half way, and took a breather. We had another 500 or so ft of elevation change over 1 mile. I was already pretty spent and looking forward to camping at Lewis camp.
The last few hundred feet were tough, I called upon my adrenaline stores as I was dead tired. We finally made it to the top and found a nice picnic table to sit at. I searched for water, but found nothing.
We decided the best bet would be to continue hiking to the car. Mind you, we still had another 4 miles or so, and it was already close to 6 pm. We were extremely low on water, and I was beat. As we were preparing to leave a few guys from a campsite came over and offered us water and food! Yay, we took the water, and started hiking down the dirt road.
We got lost along the way and were orientating ourselves on the road. We saw the same guys who gave us the water drive by so we asked for directions. They pointed us in the right direction and we kept going.
We finally came to Clicks Creek road. We had 2 miles to go, and made time in 25 minutes, amazing!
We got to the car, and unloaded our gear. I took the gallon jug of water and washed down a bit. The drive down was tough, I felt like I was going to puke with all the twists and turns!
We finally got onto straight road and the rest of the drive went by quickly. I got home around 1 am.
- Big beautiful trees
- Remote and plenty of fresh water
- Clean air, wildlife, fish
- Long slow drive to get into the park (lots of twists and turns)
- COLD at night (down to 35-40 degrees)
- High elevation
- Steep elevation, few switchbacks