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Re: Lost Deer Meadow

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Lost Deer Meadow
October 31, 2016 08:40PM
I arrived at the trailhead just as the sun was setting. The Advance Party was too far in for me to catch up with this this evening, so my plan was to hike in 5 or so miles to Deer Camp and camp there for the night.



I reached Westfall Meadow just as I had to turn on my headlamp. There were two use paths across the meadow; fortunately, I picked the one that was the trail. A few posts in the meadow were the only real indication that I was on the correct path.



I was able to reach the Advance Party on radio at the top of the drop to Alder Creek. They were a few miles--but several hundred feet--above Deer Camp. I briefly considered pushing on to where they were camped, but I still had a bit of night hiking to go to reach Deer Camp. Based on some advance beta of the water availability at Deer Camp, I filled up with water at Alder Creek.



The "trail" to Deer Camp was a road--a continuation of one we had hiked with OD early this season. Compared to the steep drop to Alder Creek the gentle climb to Deer Camp was quite nice and made for easy night hiking.

I was able to reach the Advance Party one more time on radio just before the camp. They gave me some information on where I should camp. Once I reached Deer Camp I found the area they recommended and set up my tarp. The evening had been still, warm, and even a bit humid due to low clouds or fog.

There wasn't a hint of wind, and I could hear every branch or creature's footsteps near me. Despite these distractions I was soon comfortably asleep.



After a quick breakfast of granola and coffee I packed my simple camp and was on my way up toward Turner Meadow. I had briefly considered finishing up the short section from Deer Camp down to Alder Creek, but it was clear that the sign's indicated mileage was incorrect, and the Advance Party confirmed this. So instead I started heading up about 1000'. I was glad I hadn't pushed on--the trail up to where the Advance Party was camped was both steep and brushy and would have been tricky to follow in a few places at night.


Yes, my "new" PocketMid, for when you let the Advance Party haul in the heavy tent...

In a few places the trail emerged onto open granite, providing views of the Alder Creek basin and the high ridges around it.



Just a bit before I reached the Advance Party the trail passed by a nice meadow with several mis-placed deer in it. A small spring flowed from this meadow, but I had ample water. I would later learn that the water from this spring was especially good and I should have filled up.



I missed the turn to where they were camping, so I stopped near a meadow and waited for them to finish packing.



Once we were all together, we followed the trail as it meandered towards Turner Meadow.



As we descended to the Chilnualna Lakes junction, we entered a smoky area due to the fire burning near these lakes.



Unfortunately our original plan was to return via this still-closed trail (there had been some indications it would open "any time now"...); we would have until the next day to figure out an alternative itinerary.



We followed the trail towards Grouse Lake, and we started to see more Yosemite-like granite features.



The topo map indicates a short spur trail to Grouse Lake, but it is not signed nor is it at all obvious. We had lunch at a small campsite near the lake's shore. The water from the lake was tea-colored due to tannins, but I filled up anyway since many of the streams we had crossed were now dry.



Our next destination was signed Crescent Lake. Despite the large meadow that was slowly filling in, this lake still had a descent size.



After we returned to the main trail, we continued to Johnson Lake and followed the spur trail around its west shore.



We climbed up the granite ridge near its outlet and checked out the views south into the South Fork of the Merced.



We returned to the main trail and continued to the Buck Camp/Royal Arch Lake junction where we had been a few months ago. We followed the familiar route up to Royal Arch Lake. We stopped to load up on water at the place where we had put in our boats the last time we were here; our plan was to dry camp tonight. The water level was the same--if not a bit higher--than it had been then.



Since we had already followed the trail to Buena Vista Pass, we opted for a more scenic route to the ridge top.



The off-trail travel was mostly straightforward, with just a few places where it was necessary to navigate through some large talus blocks.



In some ways it's a shame that so many of the cavalry-era Yosemite trails (or actually the horses that once traveled them) prefer the deep woods instead of open granite, but then again, there's nothing that says you have to stay on the trail--other than the Official TrailQuest rules.



The wonderful granite all around us distracted us from the rather steep climb we were undertaking.



We eventually reached the top of the Buena Vista crest and headed to where the Pink One and I had camped several years ago. We could see that the smoke from the nearby fire was quite heavy and blowing north, towards Yosemite Valley.



Despite all the nice granite on the crest, there are surprisingly few flat-granite sites, especially towards Mt. Bruce. The Pink One and I had spent over an hour searching for a perfect campsite before retracing our steps and settling for a "still very, very nice with great views and nice granite" one.



We eventually reached a spot that was flat enough and set up camp. We didn't have much sun left, but it was enough to get everything unpacked and set up before it got dark. There was also enough time to take some sunset pictures: the smoke from the fire was apparent.





After the last light of evening disappeared, we climbed into the tent for dinner and rest.



There was a bit of a breeze all night long--not a good sign since one of our plans was to head back via Horse Ridge, just downwind of the fires.



The next morning, after another nice backcountry breakfast, we packed up and headed out. The fires had died down a bit during the night and our views were crisp and clear.



We took a cross-country route to Buena Vista lake. Just past the lake was a large campsite that presumably was for the crews monitoring the nearby still-very-much-active fires.



Given the smoke, we opted to circle around the fire to the east instead of follow the ridge downwind of it. We could see a few hot spots already generating a good bit of smoke and they near the crest of the ridge. There were a few good reasons why the trail was closed. The trail headed through the perimeter of the fire, and the thick smoke could be problematic for some to walk through.


Exhibit One: Stock Photo: Yosemite National Park

Also, the fire can weaken the bottoms of trees enough that they could fall across the trail.


Exhibit Two: Stock Photo: Yosemite National Park

Our alternate route kept us safe from the fire, but also left a segment of trail on the TrailQuest "todo" list, hopefully something that can be squeezed in between the "enough rain and snow to put out the fire" and "not enough snow to require snowshoes" dates. On the other hand, we did get to see some granite and ridges that the mostly-in-forest horse-friendly conflagrant trail would have avoided.



The fire was a well-behaved ground fire--most of the trees even in its perimeter didn't seem to be burnt. It was mostly a collection of a dozen or so hot spots.



We eventually reached an open ridge with interesting metamorphic (?) geology that seemed to pop up here and there across Yosemite.



The maps indicated a tiny tarn along our route; since we were getting low on water, we were happy it actually still had some water in it, despite the fact that this water was no better than Grouse Lake's had been.


Triple No Buena: 3000 millimikes of turbidity. Should have filled up at East Fork or stopped at the Fallen Goliath...

We stopped for lunch at a large open area with views of the now-distant fires.



After lunch, we dropped down to the trail we had been on the previous day and retraced our steps. We had looked for a cabin near Turner Meadow indicated on the old maps, but after re-evaluation we determined that its location--if it ever had existed--was actually closer to where I had first met up with the Advance Party. The Pink One, probably mistaking a distant pile of rocks as a boundary marker cairn, located the cabin's former fireplace.


Unfortunately DNC trademarked "Turner Meadow Lodge", so the new name is "The Not-Quite-So-Majestic Lodge"

Shortly thereafter we reached the junction with the Deer Camp trail, then went along the high end of the meadow that had had the lost deer in it yesterday morning.


Seriously, the signs for both Deer Camp and Buck Camp were quite clear...

From here our path was a pleasant, mostly downhill stroll along a mostly wooded path with only occasional views.



Since our fire detour had consumed a fair bit of time, we skipped a few short TrailQuest segments in Lost Bear Meadow and opted instead to head directly back to our cars. For some reason, they were providing ample advance warning of the upcoming closure of Bridalveil Fall campground--and there were in fact no campers left at the campground.



The final road-walk was perhaps not the best way to end our trip, but we had had fun, and despite not being able to hike a few planned sections, we still made significant TrailQuest progress.

Re: Lost Deer Meadow
October 31, 2016 09:22PM
Oh deer.. Just had a blast reading this one... had me laughing.. reliving what a great trip it had been... smoke and all!

Chick-on and I had left earlier to tackle more trail (I am hoping to be done this year, or soon next!)... so we *did* do the 1.7 mile long (one-way) connector from Deer Camp to Alder Creek. The sign says it is 1.0 mile long! Right. Luckily, we had checked a variety of sources and the 1.7 miles we saw from Garmin Basecamp and Closed Contour and Gaia prepared us for the 3.4 mile long round trip! What a discrepancy! We aren't sure how that happened. 70% longer? Really? We've seen plenty of inaccurate signs, but 70% off? oh well..

We also saw some human-built things near the Alder Creek crossing. And about 13 fire rings around it. Seriously, you couldn't walk around without tripping over a fire ring! What the heck is going on?? Anyone know what I'm referring to? Maybe Chick-on can post a pic sometime.

So, anyway.. that spring water Basilbop referred to... oh my goodness, I swear it was the tastiest water I've had in ages! Cold and absolutely delicious! (We used a Sawyer filter on it, to be "safe"..) We have been forced to be flexible on our water choices at times, so this was a wonderful treat!

The whole trip was fabulous, as always! It was frustrating to leave those little Lost Bear connectors behind... but we took care of them on a subsequent trip...

This feeling of knowing the trails, the terrain... I'm really loving it. After this weekend, I'm now down to less than 15 miles of trail.. But I just figured out I'll be doing about 13 miles of hiking to get a 1.7 mile section done, but hey, not complaining. Not exactly a penalty to hike up there... Who knows how conditions (health, weather, scheduling, etc) will work out, but am going to enjoy whatever time I have up there!
avatar Re: Lost Deer Meadow
November 01, 2016 09:42AM
Always fun to tag along virtually with you guys. I know it takes time to post the reports, but they are always appreciated.
avatar Re: Lost Deer Meadow
November 02, 2016 04:45PM
Excellent report, thanks. Just wondering about your turbidity measurements. What's the OD of a millimike?
Re: Lost Deer Meadow
December 16, 2016 09:02PM
Great TR. Thanks for posting. Two questions:

1) What's the trick to posting pictures since the changes (earlier this year?)
2) Where is Lost Bear Meadow? I've found most all other references on the CalTopo maps online, but not Lost Bear.

Edit: Never mind, found it. Just west of Horizon Ridge. Not far from Bridalveil CG. In the area where a few trails (Bridalveil CG, Deer Camp/Turner Meadow, Ostrander Lk) come together and create a short loop around a short section of Bridalveil Ck. Odd that it's not marked (like so many other meadows) on CalTopo.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2016 09:12PM by ags.
Re: Lost Deer Meadow
December 18, 2016 08:35AM
Cool report, as always. We did a hike in to Grouse Lake two years ago in APRIL because there was no snow...quite amazing.

Had the same experience looking for the spur trail to the lake. We eventually found the lake. Then we found the trail...grin



Balzaccom

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avatar Re: Lost Deer Meadow
December 20, 2016 05:42AM
Quote
basilbop
. . . snip . . .
Since our fire detour had consumed a fair bit of time, we skipped a few short TrailQuest segments in Lost Bear Meadow and opted instead to head directly back to our cars. For some reason, they were providing ample advance warning of the upcoming closure of Bridalveil Fall campground--and there were in fact no campers left at the campground.


. . . snip . . .

double take,
HUH?
what the . . .????

Are they closing BV campground!?
Whats the story??
That's the only campground in the area. Where are people supposed to stay?
Are they finally giving up with the bathrooms/water table/leech field problems that keep delaying opening of the campground and cutting the nose off is their solution?
avatar Re: Lost Deer Meadow
December 20, 2016 06:59AM
Possible answers:

Park service was out of 6's when they made the sign.

Park service ran out of ink (thus the red marka)

Park service knew Z Donald would be Prez .. so they figured ... leave it open until 2019..
It'll help us get through it all.

Better to have BV CG open until 2019 (all the way thru) than to have Harley's
camping in Lost Bear Meadow (true story)

Spell check said everything was ok

Z Stick N Fedders made the sign

None of the above

All of the above

What was the question?

O... yeah... someone used a 9 instead of a 6. That's the answer

Have fun (and Happy Birthday)



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Lost Deer Meadow
December 20, 2016 07:15AM
OK, So it's a seasonal closing ( it'll be open next year ), not a permanent closing ( as in they're removing the campground )!

had me worried/wondering for a while there.
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