Morris Meadow. My cousin had been here once prior and wanted to return here this summer. We've had this trip with the family setup and planned since the end of last year, so when it finally came time to set out, I was beyond stoked. We planned this for Memorial Weekend, despite the crowds we knew would be there, but we also knew it was the only time frame we would all have this amount of free time to get together. Everyone was waiting for me to get off work to set out, which turned into a 3am work shift. I got off work, ran home, grabbed a quick bite, had a cup of coffee, took a shower, grabbed my bag and headed out the door to meet up around 5am at our rendezvous (this left me without hardly any sleep, but adventures are always worth the trade off for me). We all met up, threw all our bags in one vehicle, piled in and headed out for the trailhead. I may or may not have gotten a small amount of sleep on the ride up, since I wasn't driving. The trailhead is just about an hour and a half from Redding, California, which is basically my backyard. How lucky am I right? Pretty darn fortunate.
Upon arriving at the trailhead, we were welcomed with a full parking lot, which I figured would happen, but that's fine, we got there pretty early and were pretty hopeful we would get a nice camp spot along the way. We all piled out, stretched, grabbed our packs, weighed them before we left and then we started our trek onwards. Pack weights: Mine - 18 lbs, Arron, Ben, & Ronnie all above 32 lbs. We started our hike with some fog lingering around the forest we were strolling through, which I was pretty stoked about. This also meant cooler temps to start, as we weren't in the direct sunlight. A couple miles of brief ups and downs, some longer and steeper than others, some creek crossings, we came upon a good spot to take a rest and have a small bite to eat right by the water (photo 89). Along the way to this spot there were a handful of trails made with camping spots right down the water, so if you're not in the best physical shape, there's spots to camp all along this trail. After a bite to eat, we set back out for another couple miles, but this time we were in a bit more of direct sunlight, which was okay. I was craving the sun by now. A few more miles, lots of laughs, a handful of rests we were at the beginning of the meadow. It lived up to its hype, especially the way my cousin described it. Now, to find a camp spot. We set off through the meadow, all of us exhausted by this time, most of us were on minimal to no sleep. We found a nice little grove where we planned to "rest" for a minute which turned into a power nap for my cousin and I. We woke up to the sun slowly starting to set and we knew we had to hoof it up the meadow to find a camp place. Onward we pushed. Since we were one of the last groups to come through the meadow, there were absolutely no camp spots left, so what did we do? We made our own. If you're ever on this trail, and head past the meadow up into the smaller meadow and you see a rock cairn of 3 rocks on the left hand side of the trail, you're welcome. We scoped a spot, hung 3 hammocks, and set up a tent right next to a stream, which ended up being a prime spot for us. We created a fire pit, built a fire and started to cook dinner after a long day. Dinner consisted of 5 lbs of tri tip, & 2 lbs of vegetables! :) I was super stoked on that. We finished cooking and eating just as the sun was setting behind the mountain, which, for me means bed time (I like to sync my circadian rhythm with nature when I backpack, go to sleep with the sun and wake up with the sun, or earlier in this case).
430 am came quite early the next morning. Before I fell asleep the night before, I had all my things setup for an easy departure, I was already layered for the morning, headlamp on my head, and bags packed, all I had to do was throw on my shoes, pack up my hammock and I was on my way. With a 545 am sunrise on the list I knew I had to hoof it a little bit to make it to my destination in that amount of time. By 5 am, I was able to turn off my headlamp and I got my first glimpse of the Sawtooth Ridge towering above me. From there, I hopped over some trees, strolled through another meadow, through lush forest, and made my way uphill towards Emerald Lake. I made it to the top and crested right as the sun was rising and at that moment. I was the only person awake up there with the lake all to myself. I looked around and saw 3 groups, but all still asleep. I took in the moment, snapped a handful of photos, and sat down and had my breakfast. A few minutes later, everyone started to wake up and joined me by the lake to take in the view. But, I wasn't done there, I had another lake to make it to, Sapphire Lake. So, I started the trek up the scramble towards Sapphire. It's pretty straight forward to follow, there's cairns everywhere so it's not hard to stay on trail. About 45 minutes later, I made it to the top and got my first view of Sapphire Lake. It kind of blew my mind as I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. There was a handful of groups all awake and starting to make their breakfast and coffee as I approached the lake. I can only imagine this lake on a non windy day, the groups began to tell me how beautiful sunrise was here (it's now on my list to camp here). I met a fellow backpacker by the name of Lucas whilst I was up here as well, I couldn't believe I met someone with the same name, he said the same. We've both met a lot of Luke's but never Lucas'. After some chatting, I set off back down the trail to make it back to the group, as I had the only water filter and jet boil. To my surprise, when I arrived back at camp, (around 11 am) everyone was just starting to wake up. I told my fam about my jaunt up the hill to the lakes and the night before I had told them if I found a camp spot on the way up that I would try and save it for us. So, I did find one, and I dropped my pack about a mile and a half up the hill in hopes we would all push upwards and camp near the lake. After some small talk, nobody wanted to push towards the lake. Oh well, I tried. Half the group decided to make their way back down to the large meadow and seal a camp spot, and my cousin & I made our way up the hill to grab my bag and go as far as he could. We made it to my pack, and the spot we would have camped at. I grabbed my pack, a little discouraged, and headed back down the hill. Few hours later we made it back to our group in the meadow right around 7 pm as the sun was getting close to setting. They had found a nice, cozy little camp spot only a minutes walk from the water. We dropped our bags, filled our water, setup camp, and started building a fire, all of us ready for dinner. We ate dinner, sat around the fire for awhile, and then I headed to my hammock and dozed off, exhausted from the day.
530 am the next morning came early as well, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoy waking up with the sun. I shimmied out of my sleeping bag, slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera and started to take a couple photos as the sun started to rise and hit the peaks out in the meadow. Everyone slowly started waking up shortly thereafter. We packed up, chatted for a bit, filled our waters, and made our descent back to the car.
I give this a 10/10 on a hike, it can be difficult, depending on your physical level. It is worth every step if you make it to the meadow to camp. There are a lot of prime spots here and as I mentioned earlier, and a lot of spots along the way as well if you can't make it here in one push.