July 31, 2020 · Emigrant Wilderness
Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.
I met Fabio and Flavia just outside of Modesto at a Tesla charging station. We continued on to Gianelli Trailhead, which I had never actually been to before. It's near Crabtree Trailhead, which has served as a starting point for several Dece Scouts trips, so I was excited to experience a new access point.
COVID-19 has restricted everyone's activities, and it seems like everyone is turning to backpacking as the seemingly last safe thing to do. For a Friday morning, the parking lot was absolutely packed. We found a parking spot for our cars past the main area, up a steep offshoot of the road. Luckily, when it comes to places like Emigrant Wilderness, a packed parking lot doesn't equal packed trail. There usually seems to be plenty of area for everyone to spread out. Though, that wasn't really the case at Chewing Gum Lake, but we'll get to that in a second.
The hike in was pleasant, and the trail is in good condition. We emerged out of the forest and onto the top of a ridge that took us up and down along this more northern route through Emigrant. The wild flowers were out, which sometimes caused us to stop and marvel at how beautiful they are.
The trail to Chewing Gum Lake is about 5 miles long with a very manageable amount of elevation gain. The ease of access makes it a top choice for a quick weekend backpacking trip. That was our rationalization when we picked it, and it must have been a similar train of thought for the ~10 other groups who made their camp on this small lake. Finding a secluded place for us to set up our tents was difficult and we decided to optimize for lake access instead of solitude.
Our spot was beautiful, but decently close to another large group (possibly two families?). The lake was bustling with activity, but we made our temporary home, got comfortable, and made the best of it. I think the lack of solitude was more of a sticking point for me than it was for Fabio and Flavia. Stani loved the action, and ran to the lake every time she heard someone jump in. There were also lots of other dogs for her to play with.
We also ran into fellow Scout Deanna, her partner, and pup who were also camped at the lake.
A chill day. We relaxed at camp and had a slow morning. Reading, chatting, hammocking. Just before noon, Stani and I set off to explore Y Meadow Lake. We went off trail and approached it directly from Chewing Gum Lake. It was pretty quick at a fast pace. Just over 30 minutes of scrambling and weaving between cliff faces got us to a much quieter lake. We took a dip, ate some cheese and crackers, then finished the our adventure by looping back on to the trail which took us back to Chewing Gum Lake.
Meanwhile, Fabio and Flavia took a long dip in Chewing Gum, and swam the length of the lake. Their dog Osso did not (he doesn't like swimming).
Satisfied by our activities for the day, we spent the rest of the time lounging and chatting.
Here is some information that comes in handy when preparing for this trip like this.
You might find the following lists helpful while packing for a trip like this.