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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report

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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 25, 2012 12:48PM
As discussed in my earlier RFI thread, we went in via White Wolf, down to Pate Valley, up the canyon to Glen Aulin, over the flank of Tuolumne Peak to Ten Lakes, and back to White Wolf. Six days; well over 50 miles.

On the first day, we spent 50 minutes climbing over/under/through a huge deadfall tangle that had basically obliterated about half a mile of trail on a steep slope in the Harden Garden area (the switchbacks just after Harden Lake). After we got through, we realized we could simply have gone around on the pack trail. The moderately intense effort of getting through the deadfall having just driven up from sea level depleted both time and energy. We went off-trail far enough to get good views of Hetch Hetchy, with the usual scars on our legs to prove it. We ran out of time and energy, so camped at the "Doyle Donehoo" spot about 1.7 miles before Pate Valley proper.

On the second day temperatures were in the 90’s (highest I saw was 98F), which made the steep climbs in full sun with 33lb pack very slow. Saw some interesting stuff around Pate Valley, then pressed on up river. Having lost ground the day before, we were thinking of stopping at Register Creek, but couldn't see anywhere at all, so were forced to crawl over the Muir Gorge bypass and camp at the first reasonable spot, where a creek comes down the S. side of the canyon (NOT Cathedral Creek; about a mile short).

On the third day we had planned to stop at Chick-on's recommended spot in Glen Aulin, but the mosquitos in GA were unbelievable, so the thought of the trip down to the river for water was not appealing and we pressed on the the backpackers' camp in GA HSC. Mercifully, temperatures were "only" in the 80's, so we didn't suffer so much as the previous day.

The fourth day took us from GA HSC via McGee Lake up to the tarns on the flank of Tuolumne Peak. The area round the trail junctions to Polly Dome, May Lake, and the "mystery trail" was boggy and buggy. If the Olympic selectors for speed walking had been around, we might have caught their attention... As a result, I ran out of gas big-time halfway up the long climb, and needed to take a long break, which turned out to be fortunate, because we discovered a cool camping spot with magnificent views and even a (trickling) water source. Once refreshed, we made good time up the rest of the way to the tarns, which are a fine spot. (Chick-on will be pleased to know that the fire rings had been obliterated.)

We had hoped to climb Tuolumne Peak first thing on the fifth day, but we needed to get some rest, so we lazed around and bagged a life bird which had long eluded us - Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch. We finally moved off late morning and headed over to Ten Lakes, which also proved to be buggy and boggy. We had hoped that the Cathedral Creek canyon would be interesting, but we were disappointed - it was just a dull trudge.

On the sixth and final day, we got up early and hiked back out to White Wolf in time to drive back to the Bay Area for dinner. Not much to report - mainly another long slog through forest.

We came very close to quitting a couple of times, in the first few days but somehow persuaded ourselves to keep going. To make the distances in the conditions, we had to push ourselves to the limit physically day after day. I got some nasty blisters – my new boots are fine for day hiking or even overnight backpacking, but not up to a multi-day trip with a big pack.

Lessons learned:

• I should have been less ambitious with the distances/elevation gains – if we had taken two more days to do the loop, or done a shorter route, we would have enjoyed it a lot more. In particular, I think I failed to take proper account of the heat+elevation gain factor.

• We should have worn long-sleeved shirts, because it’s better to be hot than it is to get bit.

• I should have tested my boots with a heavy pack.

• We should have carried a lot more insect repellent – we started rationing it quite early on, which doesn’t really work.

Though Pate Valley had points of interest, I would probably just go out-and-back from Tuolumne Meadows to Cathedral Creek if we ever do the GCT again. That covers most of the best scenery and eliminates a lot of dull forest.

BTW: if you are wondering why bugs were such a big problem, I cannot use DEET - it makes me very ill. DW doesn't care to use it either - partly out of (misguided) solidarity with my plight, and partly because of its nasty plastic-solvent properties. We used the new IR3535-equivalent (IR3535 is the stuff in Avon Skin-So-Soft) from Sawyer. If we had had an adequate supply (~3/4 oz per person per day), we definitely would have been in better shape.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2012 12:50PM by Royalist.
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 25, 2012 12:55PM
Quote
Royalist
I should have been less ambitious with the distances/elevation gains

I've heard that one before. winking smiley
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 25, 2012 10:08PM
Well... sorry you had a crappy time.
I've mentioned a number of times in the past about going down to Cath Creek and back
since that's what we dooz a couple of years ago.
We did the loop in question with a total noob in 6 days. Sorry. I thought it was a leisurely pace.

Thanks for coming back and saying what you did.



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2012 10:09PM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 26, 2012 08:21AM
BTW. Old Dude was on this trip that I mentioned... along with wifie and Bro-in-Law.
Here is where Old Dude should be chiming in... I guess he is AWOL
Just mentioned it to Z wifie... and she said "o... that's the green bean trip" (carried
a can-o-green beans for OD and gave them to him on day 5).
She said we had loads of leisure time. (it was around July 4th so temps would be comparable)

Anyway, my apologies if I led you astray in any way...



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 26, 2012 02:14PM
Quote
chick-on

BTW. Old Dude was on this trip that I mentioned... along with wifie and Bro-in-Law.
Here is where Old Dude should be chiming in...

So who was the “total noob” ???

Grinning Devil
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 26, 2012 09:36PM
You get 4 guesses.

(but I'll give you a hint... the person in question still lives in Wisconsin)
(and hasn't been on a backpacking trip before or after that trip)



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2012 09:38PM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 26, 2012 11:47PM
Quote
chick-on
BTW. Old Dude was on this trip that I mentioned... along with wifie and Bro-in-Law.
Here is where Old Dude should be chiming in... I guess he is AWOL
Just mentioned it to Z wifie... and she said "o... that's the green bean trip" (carried
a can-o-green beans for OD and gave them to him on day 5).
She said we had loads of leisure time. (it was around July 4th so temps would be comparable)

Anyway, my apologies if I led you astray in any way...

That was the trip where the scouts walked away from the still-going-pretty-good fire in Pate Valley that we hauled many buckets of water to put out. Yummie greenie beanies. You have a picture of that somewhere.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 26, 2012 02:44PM
Quote
Royalist

BTW: if you are wondering why bugs were such a big problem, I cannot use DEET - it makes me very ill. DW doesn't care to use it either - partly out of (misguided) solidarity with my plight, and partly because of its nasty plastic-solvent properties. We used the new IR3535-equivalent (IR3535 is the stuff in Avon Skin-So-Soft) from Sawyer. If we had had an adequate supply (~3/4 oz per person per day), we definitely would have been in better shape.


Have you tried an insect repellant containing 20% Picaridin, like Natrapel or Sawyer's Picaridin Insect Repellent? In limited testing, I've found it to be as effecitive as DEET (3M Ultrathon) for at least five hours. (I haven't had to use it for longer periods of time yet.)

(Note to Rick E.: According to Sawyer, Picaridin is more effective than DEET in regards to repelling biting flies.) smiling smiley

Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne - mini Trip Report
June 27, 2012 11:48AM
How were the falls below GA? Waterwheels or just a trickle?
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