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Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...

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Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 07:54AM
The weather forecast was for another zero-percent weekend: zero percent chance of getting wet on Saturday, and zero percent chance of staying dry on Sunday. Nonetheless, in celebration of OD's birthday, we decided on a nice easy trip to Lake Eleanor. At least, some of us did; the rest signed up for an adventure in a corner of Yosemite that probably sees few visitors per year.

JKW and OD did end up having a nice stroll to the lake; however, our starting point was far from the lake, along a spur road on the north side of North Mountain. Our journey was to be a more circuitous route to Lake Eleanor--daleing around North Mountain, bopping by several boundary markers, and approaching Lake Eleanor via the least-easy route.

Surprisingly, there was a not-very-faint trail heading up from our spur road to the ridge that divides Cherry Creek from the Tuolumne River.

We made good time to the top of the ridge, a hike that was more like climbing Mt. Diablo (poison oak included!) than a Sierra adventure, including the spring-like conditions. Signs of the Rim Fire were all around us.

We made slow but steady progress along the ridge as we climbed to the top of North Mountain.

The cross-country travel was actually quite nice--a result of the fire that will probably not last more than a few seasons.

Towards the top we could see our destination for the day: Lake Eleanor. It looked far away, and the terrain between us and the lake looked quite rugged.

It only took us a few hours to reach the fire lookout tower at the top of the mountain; there were signs of other structures in its vicinity that had been lost to fire long ago.

By this time we had good radio contact with OD and JKW.

From the top of the tower's staircase we could peek into Hetch Hetchy Valley and see several high points of Yosemite.

We played around on the summit a bit, looking for benchmarks and whatever else, but we still had a lot of terrain to cover and had to move on.

The "trail" heading east of North Mountain is (was) in fact an old road, which we followed for a bit until we broke off to search for our first target: boundary marker 46.

Back in 1905 the government conducted a survey of Yosemite's newly-adjusted boundaries and--generally--placed a metal marker every mile or so along the border. Our guide has over the years been making good progress at locating these, but was helped recently by Bearproof's unearthing of the survey notes--and a handy guide for translating chains, links, and "thence wandering randomly" to actual locations. Equipped with century-old notes and several modern GPS devices, we honed in on #46, which our guide graciously allowed us to find.

From there, we headed due north for the next marker. Along the way we found signs of the old boundary fence--parts of which can be found much farther to the north on Kibbie Ridge.

The Rim Fire had not quite cleared out all the underbrush on the way to #47, requiring some shrubbery dancing.

Our guide let us locate #47 as well, after which we paused for lunch.

Between us and #48 was a small gully we would have to drop into--and climb back out of. Fortunately, after the stiff climb, the terrain opened up, the results of a particularly intense fire quite evident.

We were allowed to find #48 as well, which was in a open grassy area.

A few nearby trees still had a few burnt "signs" indicating that they were witness or bearing trees, marking the location of the boundary marker or section corner. The fire had been particularly hot in this area.

Shortly after #48 we had to drop several hundred feet to Eleanor Creek, then find a way across it. On the radio we estimated we were three hours away--an estimate that was probably an hour or two too optimistic. Lake Eleanor did not appear much closer to us, and Eleanor Creek carved a deep, rugged chasm below us.

The drop was steep and loose--small rocks in muddy soil. Part of the way down we stumbled over an old canteen--perhaps from a survey party, or the team that had run a fence along the boundary. Being over 50 years old, we left it alone.

After a lot of slipping, sliding, and yelling "rock!", we reached a small tributary of Eleanor Creek, closer inspection of which confirmed we wouldn't be crossing it here.

We were able to work our way up the east side of Eleanor Creek until near Miguel Creek, where it was easier to cross to the other side, from which we could see a small waterfall on Miguel Creek.

We rock-hopped up Eleanor Creek to a small waterfall in a gorge that was below our final marker goal: the elusive #50. (#49 had already been re-discovered, so we didn't waste time climbing up to it...)

#50 had been the subject of several unsuccessful searches, which OD was confirming over the radio. Unlike the previous three markers we had found, #50 was not near the well-marked section corner; instead it was 7.75 chains to the north, according to the century-old notes.

Our gracious guide, wanting Bearproof and me to have a great trip, rested in the distance and let us locate this last marker, near which we enjoyed a well-earned snack before our final push to rejoin JKW and OD at camp. We were four-for-four in locating boundary markers--with no small help from the snow-free conditions, the recent fire clearing out the underbrush, and of course the survey notes that Bearproof had uncovered.

On the way to the dam, we checked out some Indian mortars.

The recent rains had made things wet enough that a few newts were out and about.

As we walked along the west shore of Lake Eleanor we could see clouds in the distance, signs that the forecast for a return of winter wasn't entirely inaccurate.

I was beat by the time we arrived in camp; fortunately, JKW had pitched the tent and inflated the air mattresses, so there weren't many more "camp chores" to be done.

The evening was warm, and after a nice dinner we celebrated OD's birthday with some cupcakes that JKW had carried in--and some wine that OD had brought in. After a long day's hike they both went down well.

We awoke to something of an oddity--precipitation falling on our tent. What started as rain became honest-to-goodness snow as we were packing--the first sign of winter we had seen this year.

Clouds closed in on the lake as wet flakes fell from the sky.

We had only 3.5 miles to get back to the car, but despite the snow, travel was comfortable and not at all cold. Unfortunately this snow would not be around long at all.

The snow concealed most of the effects of the Rim Fire, covering black, burnt trees and branches with fresh white snow.

There were a few inches of snow on our cars when we arrived at the parking lot.

Overall, a successful trip--with perhaps a hint that winter may finally hit the Sierra.

More Pictures
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 12:44PM
Yes, a very successful trip...here are few additional pictures:

Trying to keep up with those birds heading up to the North Mt ridge...as Basilbop said "slow and steady". I was the "slow", there were lots of views like this, the rapidly advancing backsides of the boys far up hill receding into the distance. Fortunately for me they had lots of "camera stops" that allowed me to catch up.

The boys on the old Miguel to North Mt Rd:

The climb out of the small gully...yeah...

One of the plants that seems to have been quickest to recover is the brambles...blackberries, probably. We won't be able to walk though this stuff for too much longer

By the end of the day I think we looked like we had just returned from our chimney sweeping jobs, with all of the charcoal that we had bumped up against. But the OD birthday cupcakes, and the wine, helped the mood dramatically

The snow the next day was a bonus...we had been expecting rain, and it was much more enjoyable to be hiking out with the white stuff falling all around. The manzanita were probably a bit confused, though, as they had already started blossoming:

We also briefly saw the couple of bald eagles that seem to be cruising around the Cherry Lake vicinity. All pretty cool!

More pictures here.
Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 01:14PM
Cool trip, thanks for the trail report.
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 03:45PM
For the record...

My MO for finding Boundary Markers is mainly... walk by them about 3 times...
And then find some unsuspecting turkeys to follow me around on the 4th time on some
crazy nutjob adventure... and let them "find" them.
smiling smiley

Here is #47 pre Rim Fire:

Seriously though... I kinda suck at finding them... on 6 trips this year... If it wuz bez-a-ball I'd be crushing it...
but ... it's not... and sadly I'm 13/30 ...

Case in point:

Pretty much... if I could a) remember to look and b) open my eyes... sigh... (o well)

It was a blast. Thanks so much!

About 1/2 thru the adventure... Bearbaslibop were saying "where is all the shrubbery?" ..
You both ROCK!

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 04:04PM
Very cool. Thanks for the report, I always enjoy reading them.
Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 09:54PM
So.. the original plan that had been bandied about briefly was to do something a bit... steeper... as a group... We will probably attempt it later this year... and you can read about it then...

However, after hearing that Bearproof might be joining us, I proceeded to "lightly stretch" some ligaments in my left ankle in a very odd maneuver trying to get out of my own house Thursday morning before President's Day weekend, some may recall. Some may also recall that last summer, we were supposed to meet Bearproof for the first time when the guys were going to go down Tenaya Canyon. I was out because of some injury.. but Basilbop - he pulled something in his calf the day before the big hike in the Raley's parking lot... Now.. I started to wonder... coincidence? Or is there some special Bearproof phenomena that causes us to tweak a body part before a hike with him. I have not noticed this pattern with the others I've met through this forum... If either of us pulls something before the next trip with Bearproof.. I'm gonna blame him! no, stop, enough!

Anyway, it meant a very sedate Prez Day weekend for me, with at most 5 miles in a day. I told Chick-On I'd have to pass on the steep option, but he was gracious enough to come up with this other crazy notion that would give those who needed it a good workout (and help him find his markers), and still allow me and Old Dood to participate. OD took care of me and came up with a route that had great footing and was short enough I could manage... especially with the extra weight. Both OD and I were carrying extra gear and food for the weekend, trying to keep the nutjobs' pack weights down to a minimum. With my ankle securely strapped into its brace, our side of the trip went smoothly, though slowly.

Though at first we were concerned about time for the crazy ones, when we heard them say they were already on North Mountain, we figured the crazy plan would actually work. We knew the going would get tough later in the day, but they had made really good time on the first bit... very helpful. We also decided that since I was gimpy and they were ahead of schedule, that we would camp as soon as we found a decent spot, and if the guys had to walk a bit more at the end of the day to meet up, so be it. Heck, we had the cupcakes and the tents. We knew they'd come!

OD and I took our time trying to find a spot that wasn't too burnt, not too charcoaly and was flat. Then we had lunch! smiling smiley Then we wandered and cooled my feet in the lake. OMG, as I looked at Kibbie Creek running into the lake, I thought back to our earlier trip when I walked through the creek. Maybe because I walked through it and was out in relatively short order, it didn't feel so bad.. but the lake... I'd originally thought I might soak in it more fully... but YEEEEOWP it took much longer than the usual two minutes before my feet stopped feeling like they were being skinned with razor blades or burnt with a torch or something like that. The imagery that comes to my mind.. it's not good. But it finally stopped and I managed to soak my 10 minutes... and was happy to get back out and head back to camp.

Camp... normally Basilbop is with me. This time, I knew we'd be lucky to have the guys hit camp with daylight, so I had planned on setting up and had all the gear with me. On solo trips in the past, I have taken a bivy sack, maybe our DuoMid. Easy enough to set up... This time, we had the BA Slater UL2+ we have fallen in love with this winter (that movie-theater thing we do is so fabulous!).. Anyway, Basilbop has ALWAYS set this tent up on his own, with minimal assistance from me. So... I took my time, read the instructions and set it up. Easy peasy. I had found a good level spot, and if I do say so myself, made a nice tight pitch. Which I figured would be important, since it was obvious (to me, at least) that we were going to have weather sooner, rather than later.

Once camp was set up the best we could manage, OD and I settled down and chatted and chatted and chatted! Time flew! I NEVER get tired of talking with OD. So much fun to spend time with him! And the guys were able to keep us pretty well informed through the day. Not too many details, but we knew their general progress. And success rate.

I had packed in 6 cupcakes. Originally one for each of us, plus an extra. As the tally for the benchmarker finds came in, we joked that Basilbop should each get two - one for each benchmark they had found. OD should get one for his birthday, and I should get one for procuring and schlepping them in. That meant Chick-On would just have to watch us eat... But, of course, we capitulated, and everyone got one, except for OD who got two because it was his birthday! smiling smiley I gotta remember those guys LOVE chocolate! I was partial to the pineapple and lemon ones.. but the Mud Pie was a huge winner!

And in order to carry the tent, two Xtherms and the cupcakes, I'd rearranged my pack.. and left my down jacket behind! Luckily, I have the handy-dandy Jacks-R-Better High Sierra Sniveler, so I just wore my quilt. But in the pictures - which shall not be published - I do look like some weird green Michelin gremlin. I looked silly, but at least I was warm! And the cupcakes were transported without damage, which was the really important thing!

Backtracking a bit... When the guys came into camp, the sun was still up... and they really did look like they had been playing with fire (remnants). Charcoal marks everywhere! They were as sweaty and dusty and messy as I ever recall seeing them! Did I mention Basilbop and I were sharing the Slater? Sigh...

Smiling... the guys did not smile in the pics that much! Bearproof had an awesome grin in one shot, and I will cherish it. They were like our birds, acting all silly and laughing and all, but once the camera came out... All still and solemn.

As for the snow in the morning.. it was GLORIOUS! Somehow, I was the first one completely packed and ready to go! NEVER HAPPENS! Anyway, I was dancing about camp trying to catch snowflakes in my mouth. First snow I've been in in over two winters, I think! It was SO DARNED BEAUTIFUL walking out... LOVED it!

It was great meeting Bearproof in person this weekend. We carpooled, which really added to the chat time! Hope I didn't talk his ear off!

Sorry this has been jumbled. I've been distracted and fighting a cold since returning home. Sadly, I warned the others on Monday that what I thought had been allergies probably wasn't. Normally I'm big on self-quarantining. Oops.

And finally. Best way to celebrate a birthday, in my book! A hike with friends into the mountains we love! PERFECT!

Happy Birthday again, OD! (And I'll bring the card I so carefully picked out, but left at home, next time! I hope!)

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2015 09:58PM by JustKeepWalking.
Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 25, 2015 10:19PM
Fantastic trip report. You all have so much fun, I wish I could join you. Thanks for posting it.
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 26, 2015 07:10AM
Really wanted to show you guys the old trail too...

But we didn't have enough time for that and the waterfall on Eleanor...

And you missed this too:

Guess you'll have to go back.
tongue sticking out smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 26, 2015 08:29PM

And you missed this too:

Guess you'll have to go back.
tongue sticking out smiley

OK Chick-on is looking at you!...so now your holding out on us? Anything else we were looking for that you decided not to point out?
Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 26, 2015 09:44PM
At least it wasn't hidden in your pack!!
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 27, 2015 06:35AM
OK Chick-on is looking at you!...so now your holding out on us? Anything else we were looking for that you decided not to point out?


Wutt ewe think eye wuz dewing when u guyz clowing around on some Towa?

Me. A "ringer"? Nope Grinning Devil
Just too tired to walk you over and show you the stuff. My MO is actually to show everything
along a hike and continually say "let's go over there and check that erratic out" and
"I wanna go over there" and "check that out" and "take a picture of that" or
"we need to come back and go THERE" and "THANK YOU" and "It doesn't get any better than this"
and "turn around and check that view out" and "lather me in butter ... "

Chick-on is looking at you!

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 27, 2015 09:44AM
and "lather me in butter ... "

Please pardon me for intruding, but this is how I've always envisioned you'd look lathered in butter:

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2015 06:40PM by PineCone.
avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 27, 2015 03:32PM
I am a bit concerned that he got the "lather me in butter..." comment from this cookbook...

avatar Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
March 02, 2015 09:50AM
The wife just about spit her tea across the live-on room floor when I showed her this.

I guess I should use "Well, bound me in Bacon... " phrase next time summit feva hits me.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Thence I Ran North on a Random Line...
February 27, 2015 09:54AM
... and "lather me in butter ... "

Chick-on is looking at you!

You just had to bring that up...?
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