This was our first backpack outing of the year. We usually do an easy one for our first trip of the year to dust off all the gear. This trip is perfect for that. It’s only 4.3 miles into Kibbie Lake with a mere 650 feet of climbing, and most of that climbing is in the first 1.3 miles. Of course the area is gorgeous so it’s not a waste of time.
Kibbie Lake is in the northwest quadrant of Yosemite Park. Unfortunately, that area had been ravaged by the Rim Fire back in August of 2013. This was an unbelievably huge fire. It was big news back then. But we had no idea just how huge it was until we drove through a chunk of it on our way to the Kibbie Lake trailhead near Cherry Lake. Fortunately, the Kibbie Lake area was beyond the northern reach of the fire (barely) so the fire damage we saw was from older fires.
Our trip had three parts. Day 1 was the drive to the trailhead and the hike into Kibbie Lake. Day 2 was what turned out to be a fairly aggressive day hike (15 miles with say about 10 miles being cross country). And then Day 3 was the hike out and a side trip to see the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (which neither of us had seen before).
The hike in wasn’t really notable so I won’t spend much time on it here. The terrain for the hike in is a fairly steep climb until the trail junction. As I said, you gain about 650 feet in 1.3 miles. After that it’s flattish with some ups and downs. There wasn’t really any water to speak of so bring what you need from the trail head.
Once you arrive at Kibbie Lake, you’ll immediately see some flat areas right next to the lake. These are nice of course. However they’re almost right on the trail coming into the lake and they’re closely packed together. So unless you like the company of other nearby hikers, and are okay with incoming backpackers tromping through your camp, I’d suggest moving on. That’s what we did. There are LOTS of great sites on the west side of the lake. The only difficult part (and it’s not that difficult) is to find your way across the outlet of Kibbie Lake to get over to the west side. Once you do that, just pick yer spot.
Next day we set off on what turned out to be a pretty damn awesome day hike. We had no goal really. I had a buncha boxes I wanted to check off. But since I’m such a lazy ass, I didn’t really expect to actually check off any of em.
- I wanted to hike along the Kibbie Ridge Trail to see what that was like. (Turns out that it’s not that bad. Certainly not as tough as the first 1.3 miles in.).
- I wanted to find the Sache Spring.
- I wanted to look out over the rim of the Cherry Creek Canyon.
- I wanted to go to Many Island Lake.
As it turns out… we were able to do all of these things… And they were ALL awesome.
The Kibbie Ridge Trail, while not overwhelming, got better and better as we climbed higher, and is a pretty descent trail.
And Sache Spring was simply amazing. The water was cold but not too cold. And it tasted SO good. I’ve never had water that tasted like that. I usually don’t care much for the taste of water, but I easily drank about 60 oz. while standing there. It was like a little oasis around the spring too. No sign though. So except for all the nearby greenery, you could walk right by it. It’s a little bit off the trail so be on the lookout.
Then later I got to look out over the rim of Cherry Creek Canyon. The trail doesn’t go along the edge so you have to hike say a half mile to get there. You can see the detour on the topo. I took a buncha pictures. Go to our additional pictures link to see more than you need to see. It was just that awesome.
Then we hiked a bit further along the trail and at what we thought was the appropriate time departed the trail to cut over to Many Island Lake. That lake is awesome. If I were going to design a lake, that’s pretty much the lake I would design. It’s kinda perfect. Again, check out the pictures to see what I mean. And the coolest thing is that it’s hard to get to and hardly anyone knows about it. We saw no signs of humans. We totally had the whole place to ourselves. We’re probably gonna go there again someday but this time stay the night.
Now the only part left was to get back to our camp three or four miles away and something like 1300 foot descent back to Kibbie Lake level. The first 3/4s of that distance was smooth sailing over granite. But then there was the brush. Oy! While it’s not impenetrable (we demonstrated that cuz we got through it), it’s the next closest thing to impenetrable.
At last we made it back to our campsite, made a quick dinner and collapsed into our sleeping bags.
Next day we hiked out.