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Re: The Loch Tablae Monster

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The Loch Tablae Monster
April 12, 2015 08:58PM
Unfortunately a work commitment prevented me from leaving the Bay Area until noonish, so JKW and I were not on the trail until 4:00pm. Our first night's destination: someplace past Rancheria Falls; the next day we'd hopefully catch up with a few other forum regulars.

The stroll along the north shore of Hetch Hetchy was pleasant, with mild temperatures and softer evening light.



Wapama Falls had a decent amount of water--worrying us a bit that the next day's crossing of Piute Creek might be a challenge.



We stopped for a dinner snack (chicken nuggets!) at or usual "lunch" spot.



There was a cool breeze all evening, but nothing too chilly. The sun was about to set as we neared the Rancheria Falls area. We heard from the others via radio that they were near the top of Rancheria Mountain, and they provided a water update for us.



We filled up on water at the main camping area, where several groups were enjoying the mild evening. We wanted to take a bit out of the next day's climb, so we continued across the bridge and up towards LeConte Point as the sun sat below the horizon.



We found a small, cozy campsite around 9:00 or so and quickly set up camp via headlamp, Luci light, and eventually the full moon.





After breakfast and packing, we were on the trail the next morning, working our way up Rancheria Mountain. The trail is mostly well-graded as it slowly climbs through open forest and meadows, with a reasonable number of views south.



In one burnt out section was a dead tree with the dangling remains of an old bear hang still clinging to a branch.



We crossed a small flowing creek around 7700'--the first decent water since Rancheria Creek. Just past this creek we started to see the first snow patches we had seen in quite awhile.



The trail leveled out as we neared the top; although it was generally open, there were fewer views.



Near the high point we checked out the views from a volcanic formation--not unlike a "devil's postpile"--that we'd been told to visit.



The views were worth the short climb to the top, offering glimpses of landmarks both familiar and not:


Glen Aulin


Mt. Conness


????


"Colby Valley"


Sawtooth Ridge


Above Pleasant Valley, with Saddle Horse Lake and Table Lake visible


Double Rock

After lunch on the summit, we began the drop into Pleasant Valley; we had learned on radio that our to-be-hiking companions were hanging out at Saddle Horse Lake. The trail descended open, volcanic terrain--the remains of an ancient riverbed that had filled with lava, if I recall.



After a steep descent, the trail eventually entered a nice aspen grove.



We had been told to wait at the campsite near the cascade; we didn't wait more than a half hour or so.



We immediately learned a few things about the area: the fish weren't biting, inflated boats can fly with sufficient wind, and packs sink in water. Also, inexpensive radios can handle water damage better than more expensive cameras. Oh, we also learned that Piute Creek could be crossed on a log.



Once on the east side of the creek, we proceeded to our day's destination: the famed and fabled jewel of the Sierra, the heart of Yosemite: Loch Tablae (printed as "Table Lake" on some maps...). Along the way Piute Creek descended via a series of cascades and falls towards Pate Valley.



We reached the lake with plenty of daylight left to set up camp and hang around a bit--after of course posing for some pictures with our spiffy Chick-On Special Edition "Lowzee Shirts".



[Note: Due to aforementioned camera-into-water fiasco, I lent the "B" camera to the Pink Wanderer; some of the pictures from this point on are from the "second unit"...]

Anyway, yes, Loch Tablae is nice--both the journey and the destination.





I am no fan of a full moon while sleeping in the backcountry--it's hard (for me) to sleep when a bright light is shining in my eyes. So, I was quite happy that at 5:00am the next morning, a lunar eclipse provided darkness, if only for a few minutes.



The original plan had been to figure out a way from Loch Tablae to Benson Lake, where we'd float across to the beach side. However, the weather forecast had advanced the storm system a bit faster than originally planned. The concern wasn't as much getting across to the beach--the Benson trade winds would make that easy--but rather getting back the next day, given the forecast for windy gusts.

Anyway, we decided to skip Benson, but not deploying the Loch Tablae fleet.





While floating around, the fourth in our party headed out--he had to be out a day earlier than the rest of us had to. We eventually had to move on as well; after floating around a bit more, we packed up, just as the winds started. After wandering around the lake's intricate shoreline a bit, we started to ascend above it.



Since we had a bit more slack in our schedule, we decided to check out several domes that towered above Piute Creek.



From these various viewpoints we could see Rancheria Mountain, more cascades on Piute Creek, and the high points along the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, such as Double Rock and "Jorge Mountain".







Just past where the trail crosses the first small spring, we looked for a campsite. On a high dome we found a decent spot with good wind protection, but some of the terrain below this looked better. After climbing down to it, that proved not to be the case, so we worked our way back up to the first decent spot via a bit of a ramp-and-ledge system.





As we set up camp, light clouds from the west passed over us--the weather was changing.





The next morning ominous clouds greeted us.



After breakfast and packing, we started our descent into Pate Valley. From the numerous switchbacks that carried us lower, we could see more waterfalls and cascades along Piute Creek--an area definitely worth exploring in the future.



Before the final drop into Pate, we had to work around a flooded section of trail along a narrow "ledge" that was quite popular with poison oak.



The stroll through lush Pate Valley was pleasant, but we knew we would have to eventually start the infamous climb up Morrison Creek.



But, before then, we paused for one final up-close look at the low Tuolumne River.



We stopped for lunch at an open section of trail with good views back into Pate Valley.



Shortly after lunch, we crossed Morrison Creek (as with Piute Creek, we crossed without getting our feet wet), then attacked the steepest section of the trail.



Just past where the trail leaves Morrison Creek, we hunted around for a campsite; the pink bird found a wonderful perch. We got the shelter set up just as small hail fell on us.



For the first few hours we were pelted with light hail, but nothing was accumulating.



However, around bedtime, honest-to-goodness snow started to accumulate. The forecast had been for 1-3 inches, which was surpassed in just a few hours. We had to clear snow off our shelter several times during the night, but fortunately, it stopped sometime early morning.



Several inches of snow greeted us the following morning, which also happened to be the Pink Wanderer's birthday. 29th or so, in fact. Within the past 12 hours winter had returned to Yosemite.



We estimated that snow line was around 5000'; almost all the high peaks and ridges displayed a wonderful fresh frosting of snow--not at all a bad birthday present!








Winter... it's been so long...

Fortunately, the snow had not fallen enough to completely obscure the trail--in most places a faint depression or the tops of cut logs indicated the way towards Harden Lake.





Harden Lake itself was partially obscured by low clouds, giving it an eerie, ethereal feel.





The trail was a bit harder to follow as it entered recently burned areas.



We lost it completely at the first descent to Smith Meadow, where we stopped for a quick lunch before our final push to the trailhead.



The final half-dozen miles or so were a sprint through burnt out forests and across various moraines.



Near the end, we could again see the stain of Tueeulala Falls which we had seen at the start of our hike and this morning.



The final bit was along an oddly well-constructed segment of trail--possibly part of the short-lived Mather Ranger Station to Hetch Hetchy trail that would be superceded by the later railroad and auto road.



Overall, another great trip. We saw only one hiker after Rancheria Falls and had a great time meeting and hanging out with a new (to us) forum member and exploring a new (also to us) part of Yosemite. We even got to see some of that white snow stuff we've been hearing about from the East Coast news stations.

And we saw the fabled Loch Tablae!



More Pictures
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 12, 2015 09:38PM
My ramblings..

  • On worrying and scheduling - I'd been trying to treat a slightly sprained left ankle for weeks with this trip in mind. Then, when I think I'm all better, I tweak my left leg the weekend before the big trip! I was in a panic. But my doc was great and told me it wasn't the ligaments, it was a tendon, and mild, and gave me clearance to go backpacking! Yay! But this was just the day before departure, so I was crazed going into the trip. But a quick PT visit, treatment and education and I was only slightly sore the first day of hiking... WHEW!
  • On well-engineered trails - Gotta love a well-engineered trail... and that was what the trail was like going UP Rancheria Mountain. Dropping into Pleasant Valley, however, it seemed they lost funding and/or interest and punted. Definitely steeper, and through lack of use, more littered and a bit more fiddly with the footing. I couldn't make my usual time down this bit of trail. But boy do the views make up for it. The particular conditions we faced made for a very pleasant walk overall. Though we could see how this could easily be a hot, buggy mess with the right conditions.
  • On log crossings - You can see I'm not wearing my pack when I crossed the log. I asked for someone to take my pack across for me. I didn't trust that should I start to lose balance with the pack, that my freshly-tweaked leg would behave properly, and didn't want to get dumped into the river. AndrewF, the other member of the party, graciously ferried my pack safely across for me! THANK YOU!!! Later, at camp, the Pink One decided to rib me about not being able to get across the log. At which point, I explained why and then suggested they try closing their eyes while standing on one leg. That didn't go too well for them! Static balance is much harder, and closing your eyes is really hard. In my favorite flexibility/coordination class, one practice we do is standing on half rollers with one leg and closing our eyes. It's really good practice!
  • On wet t-shirts - Not what you think of with wet t-shirts. I was just glad we were able to get to camp early enough and with sun and a good breeze so Chick-On could dry out gear! It was funny and sad all rolled into one. Luckily, no major harm... It was his birthday trip so i didn't have the heart to razz him... too much.
  • On what constitutes crazee - Loch Tablae had been super still all night - glass smooth. In the morning, after breakfast, it was still too tempting for the Pink One to resist, and I thought he was nuts when we went out fully decked out in down! We had wanted to swap boats to try them out, so he took our little Supai Flatwater Canyon II out. He loved the way it handled. He was zipping to and fro and having such a good time, I couldn't resist and did the minutes-ago-unthinkable. I inflated a boat and went out in down - but I wore my rain jacket over my puffs in a token attempt to stay drier. It was 31 degrees by my optimistic thermometer. But finally, Basilbop inflated the Pink One's boat and joined us. The sun hadn't hit the lake and there we were paddling around, checking out the shoreline, the plants growing in the lake, and when the sun did come up, racing to get to the direct rays... Floating on the lake was sublime. I could have done it all day...but we got out just before the gusty winds started. What a lovely way to start the day!
  • On wandering - On the day we left Loch Tablae, since we nixed Benson Lake, we had plenty of time to haul out. But if we went too far, we might spend the night in the canyon... and we all like high perches... so we opted for a short, relaxing day... It could have been as short as 3 miles... but with all the nutty wandering, we managed to stretch it to 6 miles! spinning smiley sticking its tongue out Our GPS track that day truly looks like we were going in circles!
  • On birthday snow - How perfect that Chick-On's birthday was graced with a beautiful snow! It was a different world! The snow was glorious. Fluffy (for our standards) and clean and pristine. The only breaks in the snow were the multitude of animal tracks we saw... And the bears were obviously very much about! The day was lovely as we cruised through the snow and down to the car. Could not have asked for a better day.

Happy Birthday, again, to Chick-On! He has provided mountains of information and advice to folks on this site and has shared his detailed knowledge readily. I feel we all owe him a huge THANK YOU for all he has done in helping us get to know and truly appreciate this lovely park better. Bowing to his greatness
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 06:57AM
Chick-on is looking at you!
Tanks EWE!

(no menshun da umbrella or supa snow paddle ?)

????
That one above... sigh... really? The Old Guy must
not be reading your trip reports. Makes a Chick-on sad...

That's Volunteer Peak. (me only mention it nine zillion times)
(it on ur possible routes) smiling smiley
(take a looky next time you drive to Cha-Cha-Cha Cherry Lake...
right before the descent... when really nice view avail...
and it has a sign saying peas no be a piggy)

Anywho. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 08:12AM
I read them all but I guess I don't say much.



Old Dude
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 05:42PM
Quote
chick-on

(no menshun da umbrella or supa snow paddle ?)

Chick-On, in his infinite birdie-wisdom, packed a boat. And two paddles. And an umbrella. Now, Basilbop and I had each packed a boat and paddles too. But Chick-On's paddles had longer handles, and curved plastic blades...

When we were faced with having to remove the snow load from the shelter the first time... we used one of his paddles and it worked beautifully as a snow shovel. Lightweight Philosophy says use the lightest piece of equipment that will do the job. And if it can do multiple jobs, even better! Well, who woulda thunk: paddles for boating and snow shoveling!

What was almost even better, was the umbrella - it kept the snow from loading on our jackets while we were clearing the shelter. This was key whenever we moved back into the shelter, so we wouldn't bring too much wet stuff in and onto our stuff. Anyway, gotta say I've always wondered about the true utility of the umbrella, but it was VERY handy while working in the snow. Gotta give the pink bird brain credit for hauling that piece of equipment around in fowl weather!

And they both got a lot of use because the snow did not stop falling til around 3:30am. We took shifts based on bio-breaks. Guess who got a lot of shifts? We'd long since gotten to the point of wishing it would stop so our 14+ mile day out wouldn't be made any more difficult. Anyone who actually said this wish out loud was smacked roundly. But it was still a great night and a gorgeous morning!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 08:47PM
How was the Trailstar with three people in the snow? Did you have it pitched the same way at Table Lake? The handful of times I've had mine in the snow the space inside went way down and I had to pitch the door low to keep the white stuff from blowing in...
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 16, 2015 07:31AM
Quote
AndrewF
How was the Trailstar with three people in the snow? Did you have it pitched the same way at Table Lake? The handful of times I've had mine in the snow the space inside went way down and I had to pitch the door low to keep the white stuff from blowing in...

My take on it was it worked very well... but we really searched around for a spot that was
a) entirely out of the wind
b) had one sa-weeeet view...

Hope they don't mind... but it was cozy in there. (we watched another movie) smiling smiley


Everyone had UL Bivy to keep any possible spindrift from causing issues.
And the poles were lowered a couple of times when the wind said hello.
But all in all... no issues and a lot of fun out there...

Here is one for you ... you should recognize... (I LOOOOVE the 30x Zoom!)




Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 16, 2015 01:07PM
Quote
chick-on

Here is one for you ... you should recognize... (I LOOOOVE the 30x Zoom!)

Looks easy from here!
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 13, 2015 08:47AM
Thanks for the great trip report! Sad hearing about the loss of one's camera due to it taking a "swim". That's always a bummer.

Seeing the backcountry of Yosemite all dusted with snow must have been extra special though, especially after our dry winter.
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 13, 2015 09:03AM
That was pretty awesome. Thanks for the report and photos!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 13, 2015 10:06AM
Very enjoyable trip report. Thank you
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 13, 2015 02:29PM
Wow! The snow looks amazing! On the one hand, I'm sad I missed the snowy views, on the other hand I'm glad I walked out with dry feet smiling smiley

Thanks for letting me crash your trip! And looking forward to the next one! Still chuckling about our t-shirts.
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 13, 2015 10:01PM
You weren't crashing! Just wish you could have seen the snow! But yes, no matter if you had waterproof shoes as a Chick-On did, or non-waterproof as Basilbop and I did, your feet would have gotten wet, unless you had some amazing gaiter that worked miracles... Chick-on changed socks at Smith Meadow. I'd thought I might because I was getting a wee bit cold by then, but when we stopped, I just warmed right back up and was ready for more. I figured wet and warm is ok. Cold and wet not so fun. Since I knew I would attain only a temporary dryness with a change of socks (and though I had my other two pair* dry and ready), I opted to leave the wet ones on. And it worked out fine!

Ideally, I would have had my better gaiters and rain pants on to cut the cold a bit more against my legs, but since we were all capable of almost continuous movement through the day, I was fine. If we'd stopped more or I had gone slower, I would have popped the pants on.

* I have two pair of hiking socks I alternate daily. And one pair of "sacred/sleeping" socks I won't get wet unless I *know* I'm getting out the same day. It may sound excessive, but it works for any length trip for me until they disintegrate.
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 02:53PM
I do have amazing gaiters... smiling smiley



But for cold wet snow I usually bring neoprene socks. I had 'em in the car but the glorious forecast on Thursday morning made me decide to leave them there. Would have been nice to have in my lightweight non-waterproof trail runners if I did hike out with you guys in the snow.

Quote
JustKeepWalking
You weren't crashing! Just wish you could have seen the snow! But yes, no matter if you had waterproof shoes as a Chick-On did, or non-waterproof as Basilbop and I did, your feet would have gotten wet, unless you had some amazing gaiter that worked miracles... Chick-on changed socks at Smith Meadow. I'd thought I might because I was getting a wee bit cold by then, but when we stopped, I just warmed right back up and was ready for more. I figured wet and warm is ok. Cold and wet not so fun. Since I knew I would attain only a temporary dryness with a change of socks (and though I had my other two pair* dry and ready), I opted to leave the wet ones on. And it worked out fine!

Ideally, I would have had my better gaiters and rain pants on to cut the cold a bit more against my legs, but since we were all capable of almost continuous movement through the day, I was fine. If we'd stopped more or I had gone slower, I would have popped the pants on.

* I have two pair of hiking socks I alternate daily. And one pair of "sacred/sleeping" socks I won't get wet unless I *know* I'm getting out the same day. It may sound excessive, but it works for any length trip for me until they disintegrate.
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 02:58PM
Oooh, which neoprene socks do you use??? I've worried about getting too hot in them and blistering... Do u use with liners or regular hiking socks underneath? Or against skin? I haven't played enough with them...
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 03:09PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
Oooh, which neoprene socks do you use??? I've worried about getting too hot in them and blistering... Do u use with liners or regular hiking socks underneath? Or against skin? I haven't played enough with them...

I've got NRS Hydroskins. They are quite warm so I only wear them in the spring when walking through lots of cold water / creek crossings / ankle-deep slush. But they keep your feet from freezing if they are immersed in cold stuff most of the day. They are also pretty good for keeping your feet warm when post-holing through consolidated snow. I just them over my normal (pretty thin) hiking socks... I wear my shoes pretty loose so there is plenty of room... if they get tight I take out the shoe insoles and walk without them (also helps your shoes dry faster.)
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 04:09PM
Ur wifey called ... and she wants her gaitors back.
I shoulda found a pink pair of those for you.

tongue sticking out smiley

I actually brought a pair o neoprene scuba booties on a couple of trips when was
planning to ford creek with the white floaty stuff still in it.
Usually always take neoprene socks in spring... but not this year... just ridic. dry...
Still is really.

Good call on not bringing the neoprene socks... it woulda blew up your pack weight limit.
At least you stayed tru to da Chick-on mantra of "not getting outta my sleepy bag til the sun hits my flippas"





Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 05:22PM
"Chick-on mantra" my a**! Not once. Not once, I say, have I seen u manage to stay quiet and sleep in until the sun hits the perch! I was duped by you early on... Now I know better!

Dawn breaks and best be ready to start moving!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 08:44PM
Quote
chick-on
Good call on not bringing the neoprene socks... it woulda blew up your pack weight limit.
At least you stayed tru to da Chick-on mantra of "not getting outta my sleepy bag til the sun hits my flippas"


At that campsite... Timeline approximate...

4:45AM: Rustling sounds heard from Chick-On Campsite

5:00AM: Breakfast sounds from Chick-On Campsite

5:15AM: "Hey...Andrew...I'm just gonna go for a quick walk up the ridge to see what's up there"

6:00AM: "The ridge is really cool...here's your bear can...you should eat breakfast"

6:30AM: "Are you still sleeping in there?"

7:00AM: Loud coughing

7:30AM: Water heaved into Andrew's tent

8:00AM: Andrew wakes up when sun hits tent

Just kidding... the chick-on is quite patient in the morning. But not sure I've seen him actually still be in bed when the sun hits...
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 09:48PM
If u ever do.... Get photographic evidence... Oh, and check for a pulse... In that order...
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 16, 2015 09:56AM
Quote
chick-on

Hey, wait, is that "Jorges Mountain" in the background?
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 05:46PM
Are those Dirty Girl Gaiters? I had a pair once... but my friend fell in love with them and they were brand new, so I gave them to her. I have been meaning to get another pair, but haven't yet. And with the bushwhacking content going up, might hold off a tad more with my totally not stylish old nylon gaiters.

I really want a pair for my local hikes, though!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 11:23AM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
Are those Dirty Girl Gaiters? I had a pair once... but my friend fell in love with them and they were brand new, so I gave them to her. I have been meaning to get another pair, but haven't yet. And with the bushwhacking content going up, might hold off a tad more with my totally not stylish old nylon gaiters.

I really want a pair for my local hikes, though!

Yep, dirty girls. They are great. Mine have 3 seasons on them with copious bushwhacking and are still in good shape.
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 12:05PM
I was worried they would snag and tear on all the buckbrush, manzanita and other crappie out there... Okay.. Thinking Lime Gaiterade Hurl... Matches my pack... tongue sticking out smiley
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 06:54PM
Why are you walking thru that stuff? I always avoid that.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 15, 2015 08:39PM
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 06:59AM
Quote
AndrewF
Wow! The snow looks amazing! On the one hand, I'm sad I missed the snowy views, on the other hand I'm glad I walked out with dry feet smiling smiley

Thanks for letting me crash your trip! And looking forward to the next one! Still chuckling about our t-shirts.

You know ... I am laughing about wet feet. No way would one want to go out in the outdoors
and get wet feet at any point.. tongue sticking out smiley

Tanks Fur Z Company
Good stuffs

Sure as heck... Looks Easy From Here!!!




Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 02:51PM
Best to stay inside where it's warm and dry and the bears won't eat you. Nobody wants wet flippers.


From back when we had water (sort of)










Quote
chick-on
Quote
AndrewF
Wow! The snow looks amazing! On the one hand, I'm sad I missed the snowy views, on the other hand I'm glad I walked out with dry feet smiling smiley

Thanks for letting me crash your trip! And looking forward to the next one! Still chuckling about our t-shirts.

You know ... I am laughing about wet feet. No way would one want to go out in the outdoors
and get wet feet at any point.. tongue sticking out smiley

Tanks Fur Z Company
Good stuffs

Sure as heck... Looks Easy From Here!!!
Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 02:59PM
My kind of hiking!!! Woohoo!!!
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 14, 2015 09:25AM
fwiw...
Looked back and the "bear hanging device" has been a hanging in that tree since
at least Sept. 29 of 2006. I don't recall seeing it before then... but Rancheria Mtn. is not
something dis birdy duz every year...
If I remember I'll post a pict. of "Table Mountain" from WL 8418 area... didn't hit it at perfect
time but some of the Aspens were yellow color... looked like a big giraffe ...



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: The Loch Tablae Monster
April 16, 2015 07:20AM
Fur fun... "Table Mountain" in fall... with the Giraffalope Aspen Grove...




Chick-on is looking at you!
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