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Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...

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TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 30, 2011 07:37PM
We're just back from a memorable trip over Memorial Day weekend, from Lake Eleanor into the northwest corner of Yosemite. The trip was a real multi-purpose adventure.

It was a kind of shake down cruise for a good friend who is planning on a big adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail this summer--and wanted to see what worked for us, and how his new stuff worked for him. It was also an attempt to explore this part of the park, which in summer can be pretty hot and dry. We also had some new toys to play with---more on those in a later post. And it was a great excuse to get out and into the wilderness again.

Happily, we achieved all these goals!

The weather was predicted to be unpredictable, and it lived up to its promise. After a cool, cloudy, and windy Friday, we were blessed with rain, sleet, hail and snow on Saturday...and woke up to a winter wonderland Sunday morning. That made for a beautiful, if icy, hike back out!

The trail from Lake Eleanor to Miguel Meadows and beyond was originally built as a road to Hetch-hetchy when they were building the dam. That means the gradients are relatively mild, and it's pretty hard to get lost. Once we got past Miguel Meadows things got a bit boggy, as the spring conditions had water levels very high. We camped the first night about two miles past Miguel Meadows, in a strange area that had been cleared as part of the dam project 100 years ago. Lots of very nice flat places to pitch a tent...but this area does not have the kind of vistas that make other parts of the park so amazing.

And the creeks this weekend were really booming. In fact, once we got to Laurel Creek (off the Beehive trail), we decided NOT to try and cross it. Yes. there was a huge log across it--or at least 3/4 of the way across. After that we would have to get down off the log, (a big jump) and then wade through the rest of the creek--which was roaring. It still looked possible, until M pointed out that if it rained that night, our trip back would force us to cross a slick wet log. She was adamant, and we agreed.

Case closed. We saved that for another day. And when we got to the Beehive, the meadow was a bog, and the forest surrounding it was under 2-4 feet of snow. We met some men on snowshoes who had tried the second trail to Laurel Lake, and also been turned back by the rushing creek. We thought about pushing on to Lake Vernon...but then looked at the worsening weather, and decided that we would head towards lower elevations.

So we ended up back at our first night's campsite...and happy to be there. The weather worsened all afternoon, and by the time we made camp, it had started to really hail hard. We took a nap in the tent, and then took advantage of a brief respite in the hail to cook dinner. Cozy in our bags, we heard the hail turn to rain, and then sleet. Late in the night P began to hear odd sliding noises--snow building up on the sides of the tent and then slipping down.

Morning was quite snowy, but by 7 o'clock the sun actually came out for a few moments. We cooked breakfast, packed up, and hiked out through light snow and hail...and into first sunshine, then more clouds and a biting wind back at Lake Eleanor.

In the end, some of the mission was accomplished. We did get to test a bunch of equipment, and we had a great time. And we will have to come back to this part of the park to explore it more fully, when the creeks are better behaved!

Here's a link to photos, more of the story, and our blog:

https://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home/our-blog



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/30/2011 07:39PM by balzaccom.
Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 30, 2011 08:25PM
In the good old days as a twentysomething, Memorial Day weekend weather was often unpleasant. We got caught up at Laural Lake one year before I knew better. And without tents just tents haha. Saturday night parked in Sierra NF about 4k in a legal dispersed camping zone. Was really glad I was sleeping comfortably warm and dry inside my Forester while about 2 hours of heavy downpours pounded the roof about midnight. In the morning twas only 37F degrees so snow level had to be about 5k. Driving backroads down south in Madera County mountains saw lots car campers above 4k shivering around smoky campfires.
avatar Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 31, 2011 12:47PM
By the way, you crossed over the Alien Landing Strip Which runs between Gravel Pit Lake and to a point just west of Mt Condon. Check it out on google sat. It becomes visible a few clicks less than full zoom.



Old Dude
avatar Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 31, 2011 01:00PM
Quote
mrcondron
By the way, you crossed over the Alien Landing Strip Which runs between Gravel Pit Lake and to a point just west of Mt Condon.

Is that where Chick-on came down to earth?
avatar Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 31, 2011 01:06PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
mrcondron
By the way, you crossed over the Alien Landing Strip Which runs between Gravel Pit Lake and to a point just west of Mt Condon.

Is that where Chick-on came down to earth?

Chick-on?? Down to earth??



Old Dude
avatar Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 31, 2011 06:58PM
Quote
mrcondron
Quote
plawrence
Quote
mrcondron
By the way, you crossed over the Alien Landing Strip Which runs between Gravel Pit Lake and to a point just west of Mt Condon.

Is that where Chick-on came down to earth?

Chick-on?? Down to earth??


There is another ALS exactly like it just outside Wasilla, AK.
(KeepingTabsOnThisStuffily Yours)
The Marmots



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2011 07:00PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
May 31, 2011 03:04PM
Here's a link that some may find interesting w/r to Alien Landing Strip:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,10240,10240#msg-10240

Trails cross Frog Creek 4 times. I presume you meant Frog Creek, not Laurel... (there is no Laurel Creek)
(I guess you could call the outlet that though...)
I presume you peeked at location #2 as you head upstream as you mention
you went to Beehive afterwards. Only been on that trail once ever... and wonder why it still exists...
The safest location to cross imo is further north of all four trails. There are logjams up that-a-way.
Anyway, glad you had fun (go up Condon nxt time)



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: TR: Lake Eleanor and Beyond...
June 01, 2011 05:55AM
Yep--you are right. Frog Creek (Frog Creak? :^)) drains Laurel Lake into Lake Eleanor...

And by the Beehive, amid the snowbanks, we heard lovesick frogs creaking all day!



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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