Editor's note: This article was taken from Kira Rubenthaler's dailytidings.com blog Ecologue.
There is nothing quite like backpacking — even when it's 100-plus degrees, sweat is pouring down your grimy face and your shoe is rubbing against that blister on your little toe. Through the pain and the dirt, nothing beats that feeling of well-worked muscles and the exhilaration that comes with conquering seven miles of rocky inclines. Then a slight breeze kicks up, and you hit that perfect stride, where the weight of your pack slips away, your feet stop hurting and you eat up the miles like they're nothing.
Those were some of my thoughts as we hiked back up to the trailhead, after an overnight at Raspberry Lake, located in the Siskiyou Wilderness in Northern California, a bit south of the border. Since we had the hike planned for awhile, we didn't let the heat stop us. Despite the sizzling temps, we were rewarded with some beautiful views and an assortment of wildflowers.
The trail starts at about 5,200 feet and follows an old road bed, first going up and then dropping down for about 2 miles to Youngs Valley, where several tents were set up at the edge of a large meadow.
We stopped to cool off and fuel up on water and food before hitting the trail again, which wound through a shady (but still hot) forest and then uphill to a ridge above the lake. (Just before the ridge is an old chrome mine.) The trail scrambles over some rocks before switchbacking down to Raspberry Lake, nestled at the foot of Preston Peak.
Several campsites ring the lake, and a giant rock outcropping offers a nice spot for sunbathing or, if you're really crazy, jumping from great heights into the water. We settled for wading into the lake and shallow diving off the numerous logs that float along the shore.
Of course there's water at the lake, and a refreshing spring burbles just below the trail on the switchbacks on the way down to the lake. Otherwise, we found several creeks, both running and dry, along the route, but I wouldn't necessarily count on them for water, especially if the heat keeps up.
To see a photo gallery of our trip, go to dailytidings.com/ecologue.