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Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys

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Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 10, 2015 07:58PM
After a wonderful Thanksgiving week in the valley, hanging out with friends and family and enjoying the first snow in the valley in recent memory, we were ready to resume our more primitive ways of enjoying Yosemite.

JKW and the Pink One had spent Friday checking out "trails" in the Crane Flat area. I met them near Camp 4 on Saturday, ready to attack the Yosemite Falls switchbacks and check off another "Trail Quest" segment for JKW.

The day was overcast but not too cold--perfect, in fact, for a 3700' climb. The previous week's snows had melted quite a bit, but the views were still worthwhile.



We stopped for lunch just past where the lower gate had been (only later did we realize this gate, as well as the upper one, had been removed recently), watching ice fall from the face of the falls as the sun warmed the surrounding rock.



After a nice lunch of leftover sandwich and pizza, we resumed our climb. Our expert trail guide had mentioned that in a bit the rip-rap would end--sometime before the large switchbacks. Still well in rip-rap-land, we stopped to enjoy a rainbow and the snow cone below the falls.



Of course, the rip-rap didn't really end until the switchbacks did, but the climb was still nice.



There had been only a few icy patches until we reached the junction at the top of the switchbacks; from there, we were in 100% snow coverage.



We put on our micro-spikes, but didn't need our new-ish, unused 3 year old snowshoes (never used since the drought began) due to others having broken trail all the way towards Eagle Peak. As a bonus, whoever had broken trail stayed true to the course--the Trail Quest judges were impressed and could find no reason to disqualify the Yosemite Creek - Eagle Peak segment from the official "completed" list.

For the first time in way too long, there was almost a foot of snow on the ground. Despite the wonderful hiking season we managed to have due to the almost complete lack of snow, it's nice that winter seems to have finally returned to the Sierra.



We stopped for the night a few hundred feet short of the top of Eagle Peak, just as the sun was setting for the day. We had no complaints at all about the views.



Since we were so close to the official beginning of winter, we were in the tent by 5:00pm, but it took awhile to melt snow for water and prepare dinner. Still, I think we were asleep by the late hour of 8:00 or so...



The next morning started off a bit hazy but the haze slowly cleared as we enjoyed pancakes and bacon as the tent warmed. Before packing and heading back down, we would first head off to Eagle Peak--and try out our new snowshoes.



The new shoes were immediately an improvement over our other lighter, but less technical, shoes on the uneven terrain near our camp.



We didn't need the snowshoes up to Eagle Peak due to the work of others (thanks!), and soon we were at the summit.



We of course had to take a few obligatory pictures from the top of the various birds who had managed to survive Thanksgiving.



On the way back, we had no obligation under the Terms and Conditions of the Trail Quest to stay on the official trail, so after returning to our camp and packing up, we got a chance to test our snow shoes off-piste.



This return route was of course not as fast or direct, but it was fun plunging and plowing through the snow.



Eventually we had to return to the trail, but only after a steep drop of a few hundred feet that tested the grip of the new snowshoes. They passed with flying colors, despite a few doubts we had.



Once out of the snow the trail was in fact more treacherous due to ice and slippery rip-rap. Unlike most of the day hikers heading down (or up, even with only an hour or so of light left...), we had our micro-spikes to help.



Despite the relatively small number of miles, we didn't reach the trailhead until near dark. No sense wasting any wonderful daylight driving!





More Pictures



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2015 07:25AM by basilbop.
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 08:43AM
Fantastic as always. Have fun on the quest!
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 09:27AM
Quote
basilbop

There had been only a few icy patches until we reached the junction at the top of the switchbacks; from there, we were in 100% snow coverage.

We put on our micro-spikes, but didn't need our new-ish, unused 3 year old snowshoes (never used since the drought began) due to others having broken trail all the way towards Eagle Peak. As a bonus, whoever had broken trail stayed true to the course--the Trail Quest judges were impressed and could find no reason to disqualify the Yosemite Creek - Eagle Peak segment from the official "completed" list.

For the first time in way too long, there was almost a foot of snow on the ground.

So...just so I am clear...you never actually touched the trail...and that was good with the Trail Quest judge? That guy is getting soft in his old age Grinning Devil



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/2015 09:28AM by Bearproof.
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 10:21AM
Eagle Peak is spectacular, but it is the longest .3 mile I ever walked.
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 11:00AM
Quote
Bearproof
So...just so I am clear...you never actually touched the trail...and that was good with the Trail Quest judge? That guy is getting soft in his old age Grinning Devil

Rats.. We should have gotten the sign-off in writing.
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 07:15PM
A true Trail-Quest check-off requires both directions, winter, summer, daytime, nighttime, solo, with company, and with corresponding GPS tracks recorded with photos of all trail signs as I have done.



Old Dude
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 10:30AM
Thanks for taking me on another "hike" with you. So nice to see snow. Happy Holidays and may the New Year bring you what your heart desires ( and lots of new hiking adventures).
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 03:58PM
Quote
parklover
Thanks for taking me on another "hike" with you. So nice to see snow. Happy Holidays and may the New Year bring you what your heart desires ( and lots of new hiking adventures).

Thank you, parklover! What a lovely sentiment! Happy Holidays to you as well and may the New Year bring *you* what your heart desires! And we will happily share our hiking adventures with you!
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 11, 2015 01:06PM
Looks like you guys had a blast! Thanks for sharing!

-Kevin
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 12, 2015 12:00AM
Looks like a great trip. Nice to see the snow cone back at the falls. Seems like it has been mostly missing the last few years.
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 12, 2015 02:01PM
Lovely photos! In another thread JKW said that you folks have deliberately stopped writing certain trip reports, so I'm thankful for whatever we get!
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 12, 2015 02:51PM
Quote
abetterpitchfork
Lovely photos! In another thread JKW said that you folks have deliberately stopped writing certain trip reports, so I'm thankful for whatever we get!

Some of it is deliberate, but I am also several trips behind :-(
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 14, 2015 04:00PM
I don't recall any rip-rap on the Yosemite Falls trail ...

Are you sure you were on the right trail?

O... you talking about the ReallyIntelligentPerson-ReallyAwesomePerson
you werez wit. Gotz it.

Chick-on is looking at you!



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 15, 2015 08:45PM
Quote
chick-on
I don't recall any rip-rap on the Yosemite Falls trail ...

Are you sure you were on the right trail?

O... you talking about the ReallyIntelligentPerson-ReallyAwesomePerson
you werez wit. Gotz it.

Chick-on is looking at you!

Oh yah, this is rich... BEFORE the trip, I was concerned with slipperiness of the trail.. One of my friends says he always slips on the rip rap coming down... I'm not a fan myself. Chick-on immediately laid into me hard about the trail not having much rip rap at all! None below Columbia Point, None above the middle section... He was adamant. I quickly took the tack of not arguing and just waiting. When we were hiking up... I kept my mouth shut. Until somewhere past the middle section when Chick-on finally admitted there was more riprap than he'd remembered... And then we started having a LOT of fun, since there was SO MUCH rip rap in areas where he said there was none! And the gift kept giving all the way to the end, since there were sections of rip rap almost to the very beginning of the trail below Columbia Point! The bird is so strong he doesn't even realize what he's walking on! (That's the positive spin on his VERY selective memory!)

If he hadn't been so adamant... it wouldn't have been so darned funny!!! And funny is a good thing when you are either working hard to haul up gear, or working hard to safely work down a slippery trail!
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 06:55AM
Uh... when I am wrong I like to be exceptional at it!

(note: purty much JKW had dis kinda grin the entire trip)



What can I say? It was a Christmas present???

tongue sticking out smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 08:25AM
Um, what is rip rap?
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 09:03AM
Quote
chicagocwright
Um, what is rip rap?

The stones stacked tightly against each other to make trail. Think crude cobblestones. Not actual stair steps (which they do more of now), but just a ramp of rocks. They get polished and rounded over time with use, making them slipperier....

For instance, from Lewis/Fletcher junction down to Merced River floor, there is a mile or so section that is notorious.

Riprap was used a lot, and though I am not a fan, I'd prefer riprap over the loose, sharp "rolly" rocks they seem to be using in various other bits of the Sierra. (Seki seems to be doing this a LOT...Grrrrr...)

Honestly, riprap done right gives you ability to choose the size of your steps. Sometimes steps are too big/high. Rip rap lets u take baby steps on way up. It's really more of a pain, I think, going down.

Someone probably has a good picture of riprap.
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 09:04AM
Quote
chicagocwright
Um, what is rip rap?

Rocks placed next together forming an erosion proof surface on a steep trail that when sandy cause one to fear for one's life while decending. Also useful for deforming ankles.



Old Dude
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 09:07AM
Quote
mrcondron
Quote
chicagocwright
Um, what is rip rap?

Rocks placed next together forming an erosion proof surface on a steep trail that when sandy cause one to fear for one's life while decending. Also useful for deforming ankles.

For me, ankle rolling isn't as much a fear on riprap as slipping and falling on my patootie going down.

The dumping of loose rocks to make a trail... That screws with my ankles!!! Again... Grrrrrrrr!
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 11:54AM
Oh yes. That stuff. I guess I knew that existed on the Yosemite Falls hike. I think Chick-On forgot what an actual trail looks like.

Isn't there a bunch of that below Nevada Falls also?
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 16, 2015 12:28PM
You will find somewhere on almost all old classic trails in park in steep sections, I think! That's what my memory keeps telling me. Maybe it's only trails built during certain era. I actually do not know that tidbit...

As for Chickon and trails... Oh he'll be reacquainted with a few trails next year, if all goes well! He's keeping an eye on us as we try to fulfill the Trail Quest.
avatar Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 14, 2015 07:12PM
Nice report, thanks.

Quote

Since we were so close to the official beginning of winter, we were in the tent by 5:00pm

Strictly speaking, the earliest sunset isn't necessarily the solstice due to the Equation of Time, a combination of the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and the tilt of the earth's orbital plane relative to the solar equator. The most rapid shift in solar noon occurs between early November and early February, as the equation of time shifts from a higher-maxima to a lower-minima.

In Yosemite this yields an earliest sunset somewhere around December 7, with sunset on the solstice occurring 3 minutes later. On the equator this earliest sunset date would be in early November (due entirely to the equation of time), on the Arctic Circle it'd be December 21 (due entirely to the solstice).
Re: Of Eagles and Turkeys
December 15, 2015 08:47PM
Quote
ttilley
Nice report, thanks.

Quote

Since we were so close to the official beginning of winter, we were in the tent by 5:00pm

Strictly speaking, the earliest sunset isn't necessarily the solstice due to the Equation of Time, a combination of the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and the tilt of the earth's orbital plane relative to the solar equator. The most rapid shift in solar noon occurs between early November and early February, as the equation of time shifts from a higher-maxima to a lower-minima.

In Yosemite this yields an earliest sunset somewhere around December 7, with sunset on the solstice occurring 3 minutes later. On the equator this earliest sunset date would be in early November (due entirely to the equation of time), on the Arctic Circle it'd be December 21 (due entirely to the solstice).

Yay!! These facts make me VERY happy! I'm always pleased when we make it past the "earliest sunset" and "shortest day" points!
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