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Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!

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Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 26, 2012 10:23PM
Two friends and I just finished a circumambulation of the Ritter Range starting at Tuolumne Meadows. We took the PCT to Reds Meadow. From there we headed west up to king Creek, Granite Stairway, Corral Meadow, Hemlock Crossing, south and west to Granite Creek, then up to Isberg Pass back into yosemite. We took the trail along the east bench above the Merced River and ran into 10 blow downs. Not bad. The trail up Lewis Creek to Vogelsang Pass has no blow downs. No snow anywhere on the 100 miles of trail. The cross-country passes seem to be clear - 12,000' ridges with no snow.

As of a couple days ago the PCT from Donohue through Reds Meadow was clear of blowdowns. The JMT still has blowdowns to navigate - not that many I was told.

From Reds Meadow up to the crossing of King Creek there were four major blow down piles. From King Creek to Granite Creek, including the trail from Corral Meadow to Hemlock Crossing and down and west to Granite Creek there are at least 500 blow downs. I am trying not to exaggerate. The Sierra National Forest people have major work to do. For about 25 miles we spent as much time walking around and over blowdowns as on the trail. Once the trail jogged left in the middle of a 100 yard blowdown and we spent a half hour looking for it. From the 7500' to 8800' level blow downed tree piles are everywhere. No rhyme or reason - north slopes, south slopes, etc. Trees in this elevation band tend to be big, and when in piles, can be awesome - a giant's hand just knocked 20 of them down willy nilly.

The trail from Earthquake Meadow to Hemlock Crossing has not been maintained in years, and in Naked Lady Meadow can be found only by stumbling onto pink ribbons hung from trees every 200' or so on the north side of the meadow. The crossing of Iron Creek involved climbing over a 10' pile of trees on the north bank. Very dispiriting.

Mosquitos were horrendous below 9600'. There really wasn't anywhere on the trip under that elevation where relaxation was possible.

We ran into about 35 PCT thru-hikers over three and a half days with the herd only a week or so behind. They should be trailing each other into Yosemite about now, taxing services and crowding the trail. From greeting them we took to saying hi and walking past. Just too many people heading south on the PCT.

We saw no one from King Creek to Isberg Pass, and only one set of footprints over 30 miles or so. From Isberg to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp we saw four people. There were 10 trees on the trail from Isberg Pass to the junction at the Lewis Creek Trail up to Vogelsang Pass. The high country is fairly empty off the main trails and a couple days from a trailhead.

The high country north of Hemlock Crossing JUST BEGS to be explored. it feels really, really empty.

Jeffrey Olson
Rapid City, SD, and Santa Rosa, CA



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2012 10:27PM by Jeffrey Olson.
avatar Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 27, 2012 07:27AM
I'm not surprised you didn't see anyone from around Granite Staircase to around The Notch area.
But from Niche to Isberg Pass... not seeing anyone there... that really surprises me.
When I did the loop I mentioned to you... I saw a number of peeps around Cora and Sadler
and then from then on only 4 people until back at The Niche ... not a person along NF from Hemlock to Twin Island.

Here's your original thread for those reading along at home:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,54301

Thanks for the Trip Report. Any pictures?



Picasa Pictures



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2012 07:27AM by chick-on.
Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 27, 2012 08:13AM
When we did this section last year we saw only one other group between Granite Creek and Isberg Pass. But when we returned past the lakes on the western part of our loop--Rutherford, Lillian, Anne, etc, --we saw lots and lots of people. I guess if you are in that area, unless you are interested in a longer hike, those lakes are going to be more attractive.



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avatar Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 27, 2012 08:28AM
Thanks for the detailed trip report. Do you have any photos of the massive blowdown piles?
.
Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 27, 2012 07:19PM
When my friend who took pictures sends me the cd, I'll post a couple.

Jeff.
Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 29, 2012 04:48AM
I was just telling my husband that I want to do a trip that starts in Tuolumne and goes "down" and around the Ritter range and comes back up over one of the passes on YNP's southern edge... then, lo and behold, I see your post. Can you tell me more about your route? Was it a lot of cross-country or did you follow a trail? I just started thinking of this idea so I have admittedly not done any map research yet. If you can point me in the direction of what maps or source you used to trip plan I would appreciate it. We are experienced backpackers and looking for a about a 100 mile loop (starting and ending in YNP). Thanks again. Cairn
avatar Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
June 29, 2012 07:07PM
Jeffrey may not be back for awhile... this post may get shoved down to be never
heard from again... so I'll say something. You can ignore it or do with it what you like.
From his post ... he took the JMT from TM to Reds Meadow. From there he took
The Mammoth Trail & Iron Creek Trail to Hemlock Crossing... and from there took the
Stevenson Trail and then prob. Chetwood Cabin to Isberg. From Isberg there's a myriad
number of ways to get back to TM. The whole route down Rafferty is about 90 miles.
West of Minarets there's not a huge number of trails.
National Geographic Maps
809-Mammoth Lakes/Mono Divide
and
309-Yosemite SE
covers the entire route. Yose SE is only missing a bit of Reds and Granite Stairway area

You can look at his route using Gmap4. (link is below)

I'll help you out some
Granite Stairway
Naked Lady Meadow
Hemlock Crossing
Chetwood Cabin
Isberg Pass

(east to west from Reds Area-ish... drag around to see route... )

If this is no use... o well..

Have fun anyway
tongue sticking out smiley



Picasa Pictures
Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
July 25, 2012 09:15PM
While it's been nearly a month since I last posted, I thought I'd share one photo of a typical large blowdown. This was between Granite Stairway and CArgyle Meadow on the Granite Stairway map in the previous post. 35 miles of this... 100s of blowdowns... Most not this big, but we were off trail probably 30 to 40% of the time...

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2196032650081823371KqwMyB

Jeff...
avatar Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
July 25, 2012 10:47PM
Wonder how long it will take the crews to clear all the main trails. Probably until next summer, I guess.
.
avatar Re: Ritter Range Circumambulation - blow downs!!!!!
July 26, 2012 10:00AM
Quote
Jeffrey Olson
While it's been nearly a month since I last posted, I thought I'd share one photo of a typical large blowdown. This was between Granite Stairway and CArgyle Meadow on the Granite Stairway map in the previous post. 35 miles of this... 100s of blowdowns... Most not this big, but we were off trail probably 30 to 40% of the time...

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2196032650081823371KqwMyB

Jeff...

That doesn't look like fun.
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