Sheep Lake/Sourdough Gap

I slept terribly last night. My interminably restless mind chooses the cover of darkness to tackle the most unanswerable of questions. Seriously, literally, questions with no answers. At some point it quickly turns to obsessing over that whole “things I cannot change” reality and I’m lucky if I sqeeeze a few hours of sleep out of the night. Do you ever get your feelings hurt and rather than step away, you follow it relentlessly to it’s root, like a pesky weed ? That is my mind. And there is an endless late-night commentary that goes with it. Sigh.

First time I’ve ever seen elk in Greenwater at the Elk Crossing sign !

It was “a double-shot in the morning and a cold brew on the drive” kind of day. Thankfully, nothing exceeds my curiosity and so my small obsessions will have to wait.

The fog is thick. Low clouds are hovering around 5,000 feet and it’s looking a bit grim. The trail traverses Hwy 410 for the first section in the mist. Wildflowers are everywhere. Even as the sky gets brighter the fog persists. I have to stay hopeful because I’ve heard this hike is all about the views and it’s my first time here !

When the trail heads north into the forest, there is gateway after gateway of cedar and fir. And there is silence. Heather and lupine, columbine and scarlett paintbrush, pasque flowers and Sitka valerian are blooming as you leave the highway noise behind.

The climb through the forest is so gentle you might not even notice any gain at all. I suppose the cool fog and clouds were a blessing. No bugs, fewer people (neither of which I usually endeavor to encounter) and just a quarter mile from the lake, I see blue sky. It’s up there ! As luck or fate would have it, the skies cleared right when I arrived. It’s a stunning place with lots of campsites around the perimeter.

As you make your way up the next section of woods and meadow, you’ll reach a more alpine-like trail as you climb the ridge. This is where you get the elevation, but it never feels painful. And the wildflowers are exploding ! The wild alpine daisies will fill the trail by weeks end. 

I had been told  that when you pass through a stone gateway at the top that this is NOT the gap. Keep going down until you reach a junction for the PCT (there is signage) and then head up. I pass through another gap at the park boundary but , what is that ? Rain ? Frozen mix ? It’s weird. It’s also socked almost completely in. And it’s cold. 

Welcome to Sourdough Gap. 

I find a spot on a grassy knoll to have lunch and wait out the stubborn clouds. After 45 minutes I decide to head back down. No views here today (although birds !) but I’ll be back within the week to check out Crystal Lakes and beyond. 

More people on the return and the lot is full by noon. Pit toilets are open. No signage to mark the beginning of the trail but you can find it behind the bathrooms. I passed one pretty useless sign on my way up. I rather hope they would add a few signs this summer as this feels like a busy trail. 

You can still donate if you’d like to my WTA Fundraiser. Your generosity has exceeded my expectations and I am grateful beyond measure. Thanks for adventuring with me. 

Here is the link. 

6 Comments on “Sheep Lake/Sourdough Gap

  1. Ah yes, let it go. So easy, right ? Haha ! As for the ledges, always a rush for me. And I’m always safe. I will do all I can, while I can … ♡

  2. When you show images of skimpy dirt trails, rimming an otherwise treacherous drop — (AND FOG!!!) — it immediately triggers mental vertigo for me. The views are always moody/stunning/enchanting, but I will settle for my vicarious vantage point through your clear, kaleidoscopic lens! And as for the late night monkey mind, BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE AGAIN… and then let it go…*

  3. Wow, stunning views, and photos. Nothing like fog to create an extra special landscape. Except of course when it completely socks you into invisibility. I’m wondering whether being an intrepid explorer, or questing wanderer goes hand in hand with nighttime obsessions….

    • Interesting. Sometimes my anticipation makes it hard to sleep but the obsessive stuff feels more like training a dog to drop a bone. And I will not drop the bone ! The fog gave everything a silence like snow. It was lovely.

  4. I love the first paragraph of this, laughed out loud. Yep. I realized now I have been there. And the view you couldn’t see is another lake far, far below. And now you have reason to go back!

    • If only I could laugh about it ! I went back and read the trip report you linked, there really ARE nice views to be had. Next time for sure and probably soon ! I was told by two women camping at Sheep Lake exactly where to go for the best views of Crystal Lakes, but I had zero idea where it even was. I did happily enjoy a silent lunch at the grassy knoll with the birds …perfect.

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