“Alpine” is typically used synonymously with at and above treeline. Or, where the trees begin to thin out due to the shortened growing season. “Subalpine” refers to that ecosystem just below where trees still rule.The Necklace Valley holds several lakes, many of which are subalpine. The lower elevation melts out earlier, a perfect option for early season wilderness overnighting. The trail begins with 5 miles of gentle up and down (only 600 feet gain) through old growth forest with a deliciously biodiverse understory. Then, the climb begins in earnest with as rooty and rocky a tread as you will find anywhere. Here is yet another root staircase.
The up seemed interminable with our 34 pounds of food and gear each. (Ursula the young dog nimbly and graciously carried 4 pounds of kibble including Dusky the old dog’s share). But, finally we made it to the first gem appropriately called Jade Lake.
The clouds were low for the majority of the three days. So low and thick in fact, Gwen coined the phrase: to be clouded upon. Not unlike the rolling fog that saturates the Redwoods of Northern California, it dampened our tent and outer layer from time to time, but also kept hungry bugs at bay.This low visibility made route finding very tricky by hiding ridges and summits. Made worse by a lack of signage and our two unmatching maps. It was like one of them was painted in an impressionist manner; someone’s interpretation of how this area felt.
Detoured by an authoritative trail voice and disoriented, we headed up valley and finally figured out we were not where we had planned to be. Fortuitous then, that we ended up with the perfect campsite and a brief parting of the ceiling.
Still socked in, we opted for the more forested route toward Al (really?), Locket, and Jewel (that’s more like it!). Half way around Locket the trail petered out at some unclimbable walls and wet, clouded on brush kept us from going any further. Returning to camp for hot food and rest, the opening skies energized us to explore up valley. The way began with much boulder hopping across fields of granite; extremely fun with “approach shoes” that must have the stickiest rubber known to mankind. If you look close, you will see my liberating hot-tea-only packing method. Up and up we went until views were not going to improve anytime soon. Atop the waterfall below, is more of the Necklace that will have to be explored at a later date.
This area is bound to shine when the sun is out, but has the potential for crowds later in the year. Now, that’s my idea of jewelry!!!