TR High Sierras- South east & Yosemite

Trip reports, stories, track notes. Multiple/large photos are OK in this forum.
Forum rules
Posting large/multiple images in this forum is OK. Please start topic titles with the name of the location or track.

For topics focussed on photos rather than the trip, please consider posting in the 'Gallery' forum instead.

This forum is for posting information about trips you have done, not for requesting information about a track or area.

TR High Sierras- South east & Yosemite

Postby paradza » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 4:12 pm

Hi Bushwalkers,

Ever in the US. Sierras are worth a go. TR for those interested.

blog has pics if you like.

GPS track:

Details in Text:
Trip summary - Horseshoe Meadows Trail Head.
1 Horseshoe meadow>long lake>new army pass.
Overnight soldiers lake
2 sky blue lakes>Crabtree pass
Overnight lower Crabtree lake
3 PCT guyot pass>syberian pass
Overnight big Whitney meadow
4 Cottonwood pass> horseshoe meadow
Approx distance 80k.
Walking time: 30 hrs
Elevation gain: ~8000m
Start gear weight 13kg. 3.4 fully loaded bear canister.

The narrative:
After the long haul from Sydney and drive up to Lone Pine, and the next day onto horseshoe meadows was this bunny happy to hit the trail. Weigh in was 13 kg. Including bear box and requisite vino for evening sundowner. That wasn't without its dramas. Bought a corked bottle. No cork opener. Back to store. Buy 80cent cork opener. Attempt to open. Break cork opener. Return bottle for screw on top. Decant in you bueat platypus reserve 'bladder', we're back in business.
What an amazing drive up to the trail head. Traversing the side of the East Sierras.

There's always last minute scramble at the TH. And as i later discovered. Left my permit in the car. Nice one.
It's a wonderful feeling stepping onto the trail. Finally. All the prep. Particularly on foreign lands. Maps blogs, Google Earth, caltopo etc. Can only tell you so much. I'm constantly reminded never confuse the map with the territory. Time check 12 o'clock kick off. And a big thanks to those who gave advice particularly on High Siera Topix. Appreciated.

Off we surge with much gusto. Mmmm blowing a little harder than usual. Maybe this altitude thing is legit.
Pass my first alpine lake (long lake). Picture postcard stuff. And we press on to New Army Pass. High Lake another beauty. Obligatory photo and forge on to NAP. It kicks up, i can certainly feel the lack of air. It's a great trudge up switch backs and all. 14 i think i counted. Only getting to the top around 6. If i went down no way was i coming back to go up mtn Langley. So raced down at a rate. Needed to get to a tree or two to hang my home. Coming into soldiers lake at 7. Now this looks like a cool spot. I wasn't the only punter who thought so. Certainly enough room for all. Meet friendly Ranger Lauren. Nice chat asks for my permit. I go scratching around for it. She says don't worry. Obviously impatient with me. It was only then that i figured i actually didn't have it. Damn. So what's the punishment for not having a permit i wondered. I did give it some thought. But really i wasn't going back over that pass. If asked again I'd just fess-up and sweet talk the ranger. What a dunce though.

Took a while to find a spot. Actually elevated up the side. Two sturdy trees the right distance for Hammock hanging.
Dehydrated black bean chilli pot consumed at a rate. Should have let it hydrate longer.
An interesting side note. Customs had no issue with me bringing in the meals.

The night was colder than anticipated. And the new homemade under quilt (adapted from Aldi purchased sleeping bag) wasnt performing. Mainly cos it wasn't snug up against the underside of the Hammock. So mid night despite the reluctance to get out of bed. Made some mods. Tieing some cord to lift it up. Seemed to do better. Not that great a night with the odd chill spot. Also developed a head ache, bit of nausea. Not sure due to altitude or what. Not too serious though. Certainly on balance pleasure out weighed pain.

Next day after forever to decamp, took me close to 2 hours, took a cross-country route over a saddle heading north east making my way up to sky blue lake. Great place for a sustenance stop, check the maps, take a few happy snaps. And start as the pass kicks up. 20 min later take a check, only to find, no glasses. unbelievable. Must have been at the last stop. So take a POI, leave the back pack & retrace my steps, they must be at the stop. Alas, not to be seen. 45min scratching around i abandon the search, kicking myself. How could i let that happen. So pressed on, some cold comfort the collapsible magnifiers as back up. So press onto the next lake one up, no name. Not much of a trail to follow, bit of pick the cairn and the obvious. Then initial part of Crabtree pass, walked with a couple of other guys who seemed to know what they were doing. Little disconcerting their ropes and all. It was the final what 700' that was most challenging. Just straight up on the loose scree with a steep gradient making the going extremely tough. Getting to the top was euphoric, if only you weren't presented with an even more suicidal gradient down. I traversed the top crest scouting for a way down. Deciding to clamber down the edge off the worst of the scree on the bigger relatively more stable rocks, relatively. This was definitely ankle rolling territory. a wrong foot purchase on an unstable rock that gives way could be adventure limiting. Could imagine the call to the CEO, sorry boss, cant make the meetings, broke an ankle, but thanks for funding the trip. Definitely career limiting. Finally, finally arrived down at upper upper Crabtree lake, elated being still in one piece. Now 6ish and this area is just a rock quarry. So definitely no hotel rooms here. So as with yesterday, much haste to get down to the tree line. I'd vowed that day 2 i'd take it a little easier. that wasnt going to happen. Slowly the wonderful cypress pines appeared in ever greater abundance. finally 7:30ish to lower Crabtree and a great flat area near the lake, trees for hanging and water for cooking. It was much warmer out of the wind. The lake water temp was also significantly warmer. Worth the pressing on. Much happiness. This time the rig would be warmer. It was.

Woke up predawn. Threw up the Tarp and had a lie-in watching the day light unfold over the lake. It was magical. Took a few shots which i think are the magnus opus photos of the trip. Just saying. A relaxing start. Even taking a swim in the lake. Just the water temp on the edge and towards the middle, was a big contrast. Sent me high tailing out in no time. Very refreshing though. Reluctantly left the Crabtree Hilton. Still with ambitions to get to Kern river.

No passes today, i vowed. Easy day. The original idea, sitting in the comfort of home was to head north on the Pacific Crest Trail and then West on Wallace Creek to Kern river. Time being what it was, decided to head south once i hit the PCT from Crabtree lakes and see if there was a passage to Kern river Hot springs through Rock Creek. Neat little camp site on PCT Rock creek river crossing. So scouted down river. But decided it was a bit of an unknown and no real path to speak of. So pressed on along the PCT. Foolishly, did not take extra water, as there'd been plenty so far and looked like a few river/creeks on the map. Alas, nothing going on the water front which left me empty by 3pm. So by 7pm could have done with a drink. The creeks and small lakes on the map dry as a bone. On reaching the junction on PCT, north leading back to Soldier Lake, South down to big Whitney Mdw, straight on to chicken lickin' lake, I had a decision to make and decided to head South. Map indicating a potential creek not too far away. Rather than going back to Soldier which had guaranteed water. Interesting the decisions you make at a critical point in time. As it turned out it was a poor call... for a comfortable finish that is.

So in search of water, headed down. The initial creek and meadow revealed nothing. Pressed on, onto Siberian Pass as darkness descended. This was no well defined, well trodden PCT trail, clear not too many headed down this way. And soon the trail all but disappeared. This was not promising. As the dark truly descended, it was interesting the head lamp beam became more focused, more intense. And just as anxiety levels started to rise i picking up the odd rock cairn. So followed them. Just as I started to wonder where the next one was, another would appear. It was the intensity of the little cairn rocks reflection that was most striking, like a guiding light-house. And for two hours this continued. Scan the horizon and there in the distance was my beacon. And as the terrain flattened out, they stopped, i looked around and right next to me was an old fire ring and a nice clump of trees, ready and waiting for a hanger. And i was it. No water though. So went to bed leaving it for tomorrow to worry about the water situation. Another relaxing day. Not really.

Next day, skirted the North of Big Whitney meadow and after an hour, came across a sweet looking creek with cool fresh, clean water. So breakfast and rehydration with much gusto. With not much options, heading on west up and over cottonwood pass. And a big contrast to the Crabtree or New Army passes. this was loverly and wooded, shaded from the midday sun. Somewhat the relaxing day, I'd promised myself a few days earlier. Eventually getting into Horseshoe meadow around 3pm. Interestingly, arrived at the lower car park, the wrong one for me. There was a guy carrying some glasses. Asked, yes they were mine. Well that flipped me. How bizarre and fortuitous. A good end to a great few days in the woods and mountains.

Finishing up a little earlier than anticipated, had a quick pit stop in Lone Pine for coffee, hamberger and banana split. i never have a banana split. Man it was outstanding. And decided to head South and round up to the otherside of the Sierras. While in the area, why not check out the big trees. Stayed overnight at 3 rivers, and early start and was up at Giant Forest by 7:30. Well before 99% of most general tourists. Which was a major bonus. No traffic, no tourists. And caught a young bear hanging around General Sherman. Raced around, walked up Moro Rock for some awesome views. A general mosey round and determined, this is worthy of further inspection on the next trip. Down as most were coming up, could think of nothing worse than been stuck behind one of those RVs.

And so ended an extended weekend jaunt around the South Sierras.

As things turned out, i needed to stay an extra weekend. For work. Bummer, but the sacrifices one makes for king and country (or company) so decided to head up-to Yosemite. No permit, but figured, take a punt for a 'walk-up'. And scored a permit Tuolumne Meadows. Yosemite High Country. A lollypop curcuit is the go around Vogelsang Peak.

So after a big night after the MBL game; Giants v Padres and dueling pianos in a basement pub off Union Square, hit the trail. The going was tough.

Short section on the PCT then up a great track; Rafferty Creek. Finding a very sweet spot up on Vogelsang lake. This time didn't take the Hammock. Just the tarp. Didnt do a great job of repacking though. left the headlamp i the Hammock. So no light. No matter, was happy to crawl into bed by 6:30. Crashed till 6. definitely needed the extra sleep.

The next day, determined that I'd do the loop, if i made it down, I'd do it. If not stay an extra night. SO that was follow Lewis creek, South. then turn at the junction and follow Flecther Creek back north. Some wonderful lakes, Emeric, Boothe very special. Great overnight spots. On way down met some guys, they'd been fishing, Gone backcountry, off the beaten trail and bountiful catch. That was the thing to do. A real meal, fresh trout, non of this dehydrated pasta stuff. Next time.

Made it down by 6ish, and headed back via Tahoe. Overnight in South Tahoe City. Next day did a wake up walk once again along PCT. So had touched the great trail I'd read so much about, watch the movie. Touch it in the south east, Yosemite and Tahoe. it was good to get a feel of the Sierras, the PCT and where to comeback too should the opportunity present itself.

A truly memorable trip and success on the business front to boot. Topping and tailing a little fun stuff onto a business trip certainly makes it a far more attractive proposition.

Planning: keep the check list. even at the TH. it was difficult to gauge the distances I'd expect to travel. And the continuous conversion from Miles to Kilometres for pacing and distances added to the complexity. So next time reset all to miles and have done with it. That would have made things easier. The extensive trail network and easy with which you can go off trail made contingencies easy and part of the adventure.
Meals: With limited time 'in-country' get as much done and sorted before. Including the snacks which i picked up on route. You end up taking more than needed. The quantiies for dehydrated meals was spot on.
Bearbox fortunately was able to fit inside the backpack. then had to strap on stove setup.
The front AARN Balance pockets worked well. Gave the extra volume needed and essentials on-hand without opening up the pack.
Map sets: Apps: Viewranger for navigation worked well. Pdf maps as secondary and off-line with bought Tom Harrision Maps helped (when in range). But for phone needed extra power for the 4th day. Solar is the way to go. You can only take so may batteries. Printed maps: Caltopo not enough detail. But good overall references. next time print double sided to save weight.
Atherosperma moschatum
Atherosperma moschatum
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri 07 Jun, 2013 10:38 am
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: TR High Sierras- South east & Yosemite

Postby ofuros » Wed 30 Sep, 2015 5:24 am

I've got a aching heart after seeing your Sierra report, paradza....I'll get there myself one day, maybe. :mrgreen:
Mountains view are good for my soul...& getting to them is good for my waistline !
User avatar
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Posts: 1515
Joined: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 4:42 pm
Region: Queensland
Gender: Male

Return to International Trip Reports & Track Notes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest