BOOT 'N BLISTER REUNION TRIP, September 24-26, 1999

Trip Report

The trip to Granite Lake was much more smoke-free than we thought it would be. The Big Bar Complex fires were blazing to the west and the predicted southwest winds were supposed to make us quite miserable. Well, the winds shifted and were coming out of the north. There was a fair amount of smoke settled in the still mornings but it was basically kinda clear.

Here are a few shots I took and we may add more soon; Jerry is still up there as of this writing and may be out tomorrow.

Bridge just up the trail from the cars

falls on Swift Creek


Well, on Thu, 30 Sep 1999, I got this note from Jerry that gives a much better flavor of the trip than anything I've ever written:

It was a beautiful, indeed spectacular campsite, with the cirque reflecting the first morning light and the magnificent, bare bones of Granite Peak rising gloriously to the sky. I shared my beach with a family of garter snakes, who came out when I was almost finished with my morning coffee and preparing for my day's hike, and were soaking up the last of the sun in the afternoon when I would return and take my daily bath.

Sunday, after everyone had left and I had had time to gather my wa, I set off up the trail towards the pass, carrying two liters of water, an apple and some trail mix. And, of course, one of my dozen Cliff Bars. I had no real goal. Each knob, shoulder or tree in the near distance was its own goal, and with the attainment of each, another would beckon. I finally stopped where I believe Jay must have stopped on Saturday, in a stand of Pines just below another shoulder that might or might not be the ridge. I ate and drank and rested, then made a last dash to the top. It was only a few hundred feet along the trail and there I was at the top, Deer Creek spread below. I checked my maps (thanks, Mike) and planned the next day and headed down.

Monday, up to the ridge and then along the trail on the west side of Seven Up Peak. Lunch in the swale that leads down to Long's Cabin, the Alps in the near distance. Then retrace my steps. The northwest shoulder of Seven Up affords a glorious view of Shasta. Home early to my bath and my snakes. Tuesday, I skirted the lake to opposite the camp, then climbed as high as I could before hitting heavy brush or steep granite. Not too high. I sat for a half hour and watched trout in the shallows of a granite flake that was just below the surface. When they swam past the edge, it was as though they were over the abyss and I would wait for the drumming of the bass strings and a torpedo shape out of the depths. It never came.

In the middle of the night, the stars were obscured, and when I awoke Wednesday, the air was yellow, the lake was under a pall of smoke and Granite Peak was nowhere to be seen. I packed while I brewed and drank my coffee and was off before nine. Saturday's walk had had the feel of a death march, with my too heavy pack and my poor physical condition. The last music I had played as I drove up to the trail was a tape of Puccini Heroines, and an amalgam of these, Liu's lament, the death of Butterfly, formed a dirge as I struggled, rising in minor thirds and fifths to an agonizing crescendo of inevitable doom. But Wednesday, I replaced this with an air from La Nozze de Figaro, one voice joining another in happy glory. Music for marching, not for struggle.

I hadn't really seen the trail on the way in and I saw no vistas on the way out. Sometimes the haze would be purely smoke, warm and dry. The sun was a dull orange ball blazing through the pall, lighting the autumn russets to their finest colors. There was fire in the air. Sometimes I would drop into the vapors of the valley, trapped below a layer of smoke, and the air would be cool. Down and down. At my truck by noon. Home by four.

A glorious adventure!


Chaos is the law of nature, order is the dream of man.-Henry James


Meadow just below the lake; we thought it might BE the lake as we approached it from down the hill. It likely WAS a lake sometime in its past


Granite Lake




Group shot minus Jerry who was still up there

Dancine and Sandra

Fire engines at Big Bar

fire T shirt
The fire was only 40 percent contained but they were already selling T shirts on the side of the road; I couldn't pass it up. "Blazing Into The New Millennium"

fire map
Map of the fire zone

Mike Diggles

Home: 154 Rutherford Ave., Redwood City, CA 94601-3511, (650) 369-6094

Work: U.S. Geological Survey, MS-951, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025. Phones: (800) 223-8081 x 5404 or (650) 329-5404 commercial. Fax: (650) 329-5453.

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Date created: 09/27/1999
Last modified: 9/16/2005
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