Trinity Alps: Caribou Lakes

Last weekend we went up into the Trinities for a hike into Caribou Lakes with our friend Dave and his dog Boomer.  Boomer is way in the back of the photo with red packs.   
I could give you all the details on how to get to this trailhead and the details of the trail, but it has already been done brilliantly over at the Hike Mount Shasta page, so just mosey on over there if you are planning the hike yourself. 
We started up the 8.5 mile trail to Caribou Lake at 11:30 and it's hot, probably in the 90's.   We're thankful for the off and on tree cover. 
I'm gloriously happy to be hiking with everything I need (which isn't much) on my back.  It is so liberating to be out on the trail and challenged by the heat and the mostly uphill climb.  Adrenaline  kicks in and we  kick it up the trail.  Alleluia. 
Sweats dripping down my bare legs and I don't care.  Yea.  It's great to be back on a trail after a few months break. Open trail ahead with granite to the left and open vistas to the right and Mount Shasta at our back.
Gorgeous.  In Brown's meadow we stop for  lunch and water and this buck hangs out with us.  Seriously. I think he's waiting for a handout.  Or something.  Not more than 30 feet away from us he just stares.  Busily eating I don't think to grab my camera and take a photo.
It hasn't cooled down any as we head out.  The landscape is varied and the trail ahead is all 'downhill'.  "We are going downhill," we say, as the trail steepens after the meadow.  It's an ongoing joke because some people don't remember the map right.  We enter a burned out area, the trees all black and white skeletons.  Then the view opens up and we meet a group of teenagers jogging down the trail. 
Some people have a lot of energy.  They look like a cross country team or something.  All kids though, then later some adults at the tail end.  They are all outfitted in running gear and carrying those water bottle things that fit over your hands.  One adult has a day pack on.  I guess he had the emergency gear and food for the day.  They tell us we are almost to the lake.  It is a good thing too as I am kind of hitting a wall.  I am not in the same shape I was in on my last hike.  No, not at all. 
The Mr. Mark keeps on going.  He is having no problems. See him in the photo.  He is way ahead and my head is pounding.  It is so darn hot and there is no longer any shade.  Just glorious views. 
I want to sit down, but decide against it.  I better just keep plugging along on my shaking legs.  Dave is a bit behind me at this point and he looks like he is hurting too. 
Trees beckon and I see Mark stopping.  Relief from the heat.  We sit in the shade on the trail and I drink water, while my heart pounds in my head.  It slows its rhythm as Boomer flops in. Poor old dear looks a little worn out.  Dave hikes in and we talk about the heat and our easy 'downhill' hike. 
The lakes pull like a magnet and before you know it we are off hiking again.  Just a little bit more to go and I can swim.  Which lake shall get the pleasure of our company?  Will it be Snowslide on the left, or the lovely Lower Caribou on the right, or perhaps we will just hike straight through to the largest, Caribou Lake.
Not Snowslide.  But doesn't that rock look like a good spot to swim out to and enjoy the view?
Ugh.  We hiked right past Lower Caribou too as someone was already camped down there.
One more big push up to Caribou Lake. I'm bringing up the tail.  Sweating like a horse and dreaming about a swim.  As soon as we get to Caribou I strip down to my underwear and bra and dive in.  The guys look around for a campsite and I just marvel in the silky, cool, clean water.    It's not too cold.  I stay out a while.  It's great.  Nobody takes a photo, but Boomer does check on me.
Here is a selfie I take of the two of us later.  Love this dog.  A real sweetheart.  I do basically nothing while Mark sets up our tent.  We have this big joke that my only job is to fluff up our down sleeping bags and blow up our air mattresses and it is basically  true.  Mark waits on me hand and foot and I eat it up. 
See.  Here he is sterilizing our water with the steripen.  Later he  cooks our dinner.  All I gots to do us make our bed.   That's my job and I'm sticking to it. 
We get blessed with some beautiful alpenglow. 
Great weather in the morning and we head up the trail to go to yonder ridge to see what we can see.
Emerald and Sapphire lakes to the south west. 
Grizzly meadows to the south.  This trail goes down there rapidly.  I think it is like 2500 feet in a mile and half.  Check out the Shasta page, they have the info.  We meet a guy with his dog Claire (who tries to pick a fight with Boomer) who hiked up from Grizzly.  He's young and strong and did it while it was early.  I still can hardly imagine.  Down, I can imagine. 
Behind us and to the north is Caribou Lake from whence we came and shall return after exploring along the ridge for awhile. 
Are you bored yet?  I'm starting to get bored.  I just took too many photos.  I randomly point and shoot because I can't see the screen of my camera with my polarizing glasses on.  I am always so surprised at how many kind of turn out.  Too many.  Time to head back down the ridge to the lake.
Ah.  A 72 acre lake to float on with my ex-ped sleeping mat.    Snatches of conversation drift across the water from the various groups enjoying the day.  We laze around all afternoon like teenagers at a lake and then boon dock down to Lower Caribou.
Lower Caribou is my dream of a perfect swimming lake.  Love swimming here and it is warmer water than Caribou.  At least I think so.   I swim way out and float on my back and gaze at the granite on 3 sides of the lake.  Nary a ripple.  Dave and Mark get in too.  It's perfect.
Like a spoiled teenager I kind of demand that we go to Snowslide Lake so I can try her waters as well and go to that tempting rock I saw yesterday. They humor me.  They don't swim.  Not even Boomer.  I get it and make it short. 
Back in camp at Caribou Lake, Mark fishes and catches 2.  First one was catch and release, second one was a brook with a big mouth and it swallowed the whole spinner and had to lose its life.  Poor thing. 
Bloody fish goes to the teens camping next to us as we were already full from our dinner.  There were a lot of them.  I think the 'teen' thing that inhabited my body today might have been from watching them.  It brought back lots of memories of my own youth. 
Another alpenglow, but different.  There are these crazy looking green shadows behind the trees.  At first I think  my eyes are messed up, but they show up in the photo too. They just aren't as bright.
 Morning comes too soon and we head back down the trail tired, sore and a bit sunburned.  "Teens" like us often forget to reapply sunscreen.  Oops. 
Under a covering of clouds everything looks different.
 We had planned on hiking back on the old caribou trail that goes straight over the mountain.  We decided that poor, old Boomer was just too tired to go that way so we retraced our path around the mountain and through the burned out forest.  Yea.  It wasn't just old Boomer who was tired.  It was all of us oldies. 
 Another deer at Brown's meadow.  This time a doe. 
Almost back now.  We are booking it down the trail.  I realize that we had hiked up fast on Friday as it really was all downhill today. 
All done. 
And still smiling.  Alleluia.