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Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on

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avatar Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 09:48AM
Chick-on and I had planned to spend some time together over the Labor Day holiday, with the plan being to get to some of the WL lakes he had yet to touch (i.e. those nameless lakes on USGS topo maps that have a “WL”, or water level, elevation shown…the Bird has already touched all of the named lakes in the park), to bag a few boundary markers if possible, and to swing by so-called (by me) Whirlpool Lake that I had visited with a friend and our 5 boys back in 2004. And generally, within the above parameters, to go wherever the heck we felt like going as each day progressed.

Leaving the Bay Area very early on Thursday morning, we were at the Quartz Mt. trailhead just outside the southeast boundary of Yosemite ready to start hiking at about 10:30.
There were about a half-dozen cars at the trailhead, but not a soul in site. Avoiding the local wildlife (cows) we surmounted (by walking generally downhill from the parking area) one of the least impressive of Yosemite’s Passes, Chiquito Pass,

and continued on through the forest to the middle of the Chain Lakes,

where we had lunch. Leaving the trail system behind, we headed north, skirting the base of the ridge west of Breeze Lake

and then generally up the South Fork of the Merced River into HorseThief Canyon, the goal being the pass between Triple Divide and Merced Peaks.
The early start (and my poor previous night’s sleep) had me in a zombie–like state after lunch, and I didn’t want to think about the possibility that the Bird might want to actually get over the pass. Fortunately, by the time we got to the first major meadow in HorseThief Canyon, the Bird admitted that he, too, was pretty zonked. We decided to keep going to the next meadow

…and then to continue on even further. I was concerned about a lack of water the close we got to the pass, but we did find both a trickle flowing in the stream as well as a couple of small unnamed lakes, and camped Thursday night a hundred feet or so higher than the couple of lakes, at an elevation of about 10,400 feet. This is from above the campsite looking back down the way we came:

We hadn't seen another person all day.

After a great night’s sleep, we set off to continue over the pass. The hike up was pretty easy, and the views were amazing and only diminished by the high clouds that were starting to appear. The Clark Range was immediately to our west.

Edna Lake was right down below us, and beyond it we could see all the way across Yosemite to the north-northwest, with Tower Peak clearly visible.

Ritter, Banner and the Minarets were just to our east

and looking south-southwest along the Sierra Crest to perhaps Mt Goddard and the Black Giant near Muir Pass

The Bird said that Roper indicates that this pass is not doable without climbing gear. I haven’t found any Roper reference to that statement one way or the other, and we found a couple of class 2-3 ways to get down the north side, which is certainly the trickier side. We both agreed that we were fortunate to have no snow to deal with. I imagine that the lingering snowfield of a normal snow year would have made the descent a whole different story.

We worked our way down to the lake just north of Triple Divide Peak and then followed the Merced Peak fork of the Merced River, stepping over the Red Peak Pass Trail and continuing downstream

to Whirlpool Lake. I had stumbled upon this lake in 2004 while on an annual backpack trip with my buddy and his 3 boys and my 2, and we had a great time swimming there, but most memorable at the time was the outlet…what looked like a giant bathtub whirlpool as the water was sucked down through the sand and through a crack in the granite somewhere, to emerge down below. Back then it looked like this


Sadly, no whirlpool this time, Certainly the water was lower in the lake and there was not as much water flowing in as there was back in 2004. Maybe we were just lucky back then to see the whirlpool, or maybe just unlucky in having no whirlpool this time. So we had lunch, rested, and the Bird studied the map....first destination dreamland:

Carrying on, with the clouds starting to look a bit more threatening despite the weather reports promise of “mostly cloudy”, we decided to cruise along the ridge between the Merced Peak Fork and the Triple Peak Fork of the Merced River towards its northerly terminus. While looking pretty easy from afar (“looks easy from here”) the ridge ended up having numerous gullies to drop into and climb out of

which earned the ridge the name “Gullible Ridge” in our books. Stopping to top of our water supplies late in the afternoon at some pond-like lakes just west of the crest of the ridge, the Bird, being an expert in all things avain, correctly identified this bird

As the American Robin. The fact that this is also the State Bird of Wisconsin probably assisted with the ID.

Heading back up the ridge (and down into gullies and back up and down and up) we finally got to a good camp spot

and enjoyed a Technicolor sunset courtesy of the clouds that we hade worried about earlier in the day

And btw we did not see one other person that day.

Saturday morning was mostly cloudless as we dropped down to the south-southeast from our ridge, hitting the trail along the Triple Peak Fork in short order. We followed the trail for a bit and then decided to walk up the creek, which was a mere trickle over big granite slabs

Shortly after the trail junction, we returned to the trail up towards Isberg and Post Peak Passes, encountering a group of 3 heading down the trail. After the intersection with the High Trail we again headed cross country east to the unnamed lakes just below Isberg Peak. Circling along the High Sierra beach of the largest of the two on the north

we watered up, as we were planning to spend most of the rest of the day up high. Heading up to Isberg Pass, we enjoyed the site of a Golden Eagle high overhead.

At Isberg Pass we went south, following the ridge rather than the trail (go figure) to Post Peak Pass, and then continuing west along the ridge towards Triple Divide Peak,

with great views of the lakes we had passed by an hour or two before


until we left the Park, dropping down into Ansel Adams Wilderness, and passed Walton Lake

and Frying Pan Lake, and decided to camp at Slab Lakes. It was Saturday night of Labor Day weekend, and, to our great surprise, there was not another soul there. We watched the fish jump and the sunset's glow on the clouds above Post Peak.


Sunday morning we headed cross country due south, got around and over a short ridge south of Slab Lakes, and saw this giant granite bowl

which is north of Rutherford Lake and south of peak 11,261. We chose the relatively mellow cross country travers around this bowl, encountered the "Prince Albert in a Can Tin” (thread here) above Anne Lake somewhere, and continued high above Rutherford Lake

to the saddle just west of Alpine Lake. After a short debate as to whether we would continue west and drop back into Yosemite (which would force us to retrace our steps), we decided to head due south and up over a short but steep notch (this is looking back at it from Fernandez)

and then drop down to the Fernandez Pass Trail, which we followed, taking the cutoff to Breeze Lake

where we stopped at the west shore, lunched and I swam. And where, on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, we some nobody.
After lunch we hopped over the ridge into the Chain Lakes basin, getting to the trail just up from the lowest of the Chain Lakes, and we followed the trail back to the car. By now, there were about a dozen or so vehicles at the parking area. But again, like three of our four days out, we saw no other people but ourselves.

In total, we were out for four days and saw three other people. It was a beautiful, and uncrowded, part of the park. All the pictures here.
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 10:13AM
Too much awesomness! Thanks for the report.
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 11:26AM
Awesome. That orange (Q-core??) sleeping pad looks very luxurious.
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 01:21PM
Very nice photo set, thanks for sharing them, and I was thinking the same thing about that orange pad.
Re: the photo captioned "So we had lunch, rested, and the Bird studied the map....first destination dreamland" - that reminded me of the homeless guys I see sleeping in my local city park occasionally, except they have a newspaper over their face instead of a topo map! grinning smiley
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 03:04PM
Yup - that's a Big Agnes Q-Core SL.
Love it. I have to admit I am kind of a baby when it comes to sleep comfort.
Only issue (for others, not me) is that it can be kind of noisy when if I am tossing and turning.
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 04:39PM
Thank you so much for the trip description and the great photos. Vicarious is how we do it these days at 76 and almost 93 but we had some of the same fun when we started so many years ago. 21 seasons in a tent in the valley allowed us to do a lot of exploring and many were the trips where we spent all day out, saw many lakes, streams and peaks and often no one but us.

Dawn
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 01:00PM
Great pics, thanks for posting!
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 05, 2014 02:41PM
It was Secor. Not Roper. I can get the exact quote from the book... but it is something to the effect that
Edna is in a hanging valley and not accessible from the area between Merced Peak and Triple Divide.
This is certainly not true. I've gone from Merced Peak "easily" down to Edna on a different trip...
and there is a simple way down from the crest ... (which we did not take but I had as what we were going
to do... but ... it looked not toooo much an issue... so traverse we go... )

Anywho... fur da Chick-on lubbers:


And some great stuff out der...


n a good one of the Swedish guy on some fun stuff:


Got zillion more... njoys

N

Have fun out der



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 06, 2014 03:45PM
Thanks. Loved the next to last one of the "inlaid" rock. Very nice
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 08, 2014 05:48PM
The fowl creature seems to be standing on a rock formation of a fowl creature wearing a backpack.

Quote
Bearproof





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2014 05:49PM by Ohnivy-Drak.
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 08, 2014 07:40PM
Awesome. So awesome that I'm gonna copy your trip when I head out there in two weeks. Thanks for sharing.
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 09, 2014 06:34AM
Quote
AndrewF
Awesome. So awesome that I'm gonna copy your trip when I head out there in two weeks. Thanks for sharing.

Enjoy. So many routes to be had. Sooo many... even to get into the "good stuff" of Horse Thief ...
Will be interested to see which way you go.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 08, 2014 09:58PM
THANK YOU for sharing this!!! LOVE the trip! Great pics! We did the opposite and had a car-camping trip with my 85-year old dad and friends with 3 kids (ages 2,4,6) and the most active part of our days was swimming in cold water in the river! YUMM - but not a workout! I hope I can do this trip or some subset of it someday!
avatar Re: Empty Yosemite - Labor Day Weekend with Chick-on
September 09, 2014 06:39AM
Look forward to it... so much good stuff all around there... and a big lake that is "boatable".
(or "swimable" for you) Would like to get out to "Whale Island" and sleep at Edna. smiling smiley
Lots of great stuff... n a continuation of BV Crest which is really nice...
(posted that last yr)
N then there is one more boundary marker to be found b/t Fernandez and "TD Peak Pass"



Chick-on is looking at you!
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