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Fern on the Four Mile Trail, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (92% of Full)


Double Delight

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Double Delight
August 18, 2013 09:25PM
When we arrived at the Ten Lakes trailhead early Saturday morning, the parking lot was almost full. Most hikers, it seems, were intent on visiting the namesake lakes. Not us...

My wife, new-to-backpacking M, and I headed up the trail. The views were decent at the first open section, although the effects of the various fires resulted in a slight haze. Mt. Hoffmann, Tuolumne Peak, and other highlights from a month or so ago were visible to the east. Given how dry everything was, it was surprising that there were still a few puddles of water--the first anywhere near the trail--at the crossing near the White Wolf spur trail. More surprisingly, however, was the cool and refreshing spring just below Half Moon Meadow.

While our destination was Ten Lakes Pass and beyond, we wanted to visit lower Grant Lake along the way, so from this cool spring, we left the main trail and followed a well-worn use trail past several campsites to a decent view of the southern end of Half Moon Meadow, where perhaps a trickle of water flowed towards the south.

After straightforward cross-country with a few steep sections, we passed through an REI-branded tent city just before the trail. Maybe 100 yards past the tents was a sign that was overly optimistic about our elevation, but accurate about our being at Grant Lakes.

The water was warm, but unfortunately the breeze was cool, so no swim :-( After breaking for lunch and loading up on water (4L or so each), we followed the Grant Lakes spur trail up--steeply at times--towards Ten Lakes Pass. Along the way it passed through a beautiful open meadow with (surprise!) a few springs flowing through it. We also passed by a large car-camping REI tent (Hobitat 4?) set up with a decent view.

Near the junction with the Ten Lakes trail, we headed north towards the ridge which overlooks the Ten Lakes basin and enjoyed the views of this basin and much of northern Yosemite, including distant peaks and canyons we'll be visiting in a few short days.

We followed the ridge to its high point, where we often stop for lunch on day hikes. We paused here for a few moments, but we still had further to go.

We quickly returned to and crossed the trail, pausing for a few pictures on flat, open Ten Lakes Pass. (For those keeping tabs on water, the small tarn near this junction appeared from the distance to still have water in it...)

We continued westward, roughly along the county line and drainage divide. Another surprise was a stagnant pond near the crest. The quality of the water was such that we didn't feel bad about having hauled several liters from Grant Lake.

Travel along the ridge was mostly open and gentle, with excellent views of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne to the north.

Along the ridge, we saw only a single faint set of footprints that suggested someone else had been here, perhaps recently.

Only near our destination--maybe a quarter mile or so from it--the routefinding became just a bit more tricky, but never dangerous or exposed. We crested again and peeked down at Lake 8673--technically the closest water to where we'd camp, but being 1000 feet lower than camp, a water source only the crazy would consider. Just before camp, we saw another tell-tale indication that we were not the first ones here.

Technically, the food storage regulations only cover items that bears would consider to be food... And this can was empty and cleaned out.

While we'd been taking our time heading up from the trailhead, Party "I came up Friday and decided to come in the long way" A had arrived, napped a few times, visited 8673, filled up with water, and returned just as we were scoping out the campsites.

Although the air was dry, we used the slight breeze as an excuse to set up our new shelter.

We chatted, ate, and chatted some more, enjoying the extended sunset our near-ideal horizon provided.

Cast in red light, the granite formations of Double Rock once more appeared as if they'd be more in-place in Moab than Yosemite.

Eventually the day ran out of light, and we went to bed.

The nighttime air was cool, but clear, and we saw many "falling stars" from the Perseid meteor shower, including a few slow but very bright flashes.

The nighttime temperature was generally mild, but the next morning, we had a slight amount of frost on our sleeping bags.

We hadn't made any firm plans for our "out" day, but we eventually settled on exploring some of the area north of the divide. We followed the ridge eastward for a bit, then started to drop into the valley west of Colby Mountain. This valley ended up being classic Yosemite: polished granite, lush meadows, and waterfalls. Well, a few months ago there would have been all kinds of waterfalls and cascades.

Except for a stray Mylar balloon, we saw virtually no signs of others' presence...almost...for we did stumble upon a strange--and very well constructed--metal box-like thing:

Despite its considerable weight, we hauled it out. (If anyone knows what this is, please let me know... it appears to be almost hand-made of a high grade stainless steel. Some kind of scientific experiment apparatus? It seemed much too heavy to be some homemade backpacking gear...)

We continued down the valley, following a dry creek along open granite, among the best in the area, if not the entire park.

One particular section would have been, and will be again, a wonderful cascade, perhaps with a waterwheel or two.

Despite this ample evidence of water, there were but a few small pools--and one stagnant pond--where any water remained.

Soon, our wonderful hanging valley came to an abrupt end, 3500' above the floor of the GCT. We stopped here for lunch while enjoying the views across the canyon: Pleasant Valley, Rodgers Canyon, and Rancheria Mountain, plus a few other peaks that we may be visiting in a few days.

We took a different route back, which had a few "delicious" sections.

In the final meadow before our climb out of the valley, we filled up on water in a deep, mostly clear pool before attacking the ridge ahead of us.

Progress up the ridge was slow and steady, and the rocks were mostly solid.

Soon the gradient eased and we followed another nice meadow to the summit we had crossed transversely the previous afternoon.

On the way down the other (south) side, we crossed onto an open ridge which had nice views of Half Moon Meadow and the ridge behind Grant Lakes.

After descending a bit further, we were back on the Ten Lakes trail, just above the cool spring where we had left the trail the previous day. Within minutes of hitting the trail we encountered the first hikers we had seen (other than Party A) since leaving the trail the previous day. After another fill-up, we flew down the trail back towards the trailhead, pausing occasionally for a picture or two.

Party A chose an off-trail route for the final mile or so, but we met up in the parking lot at about the same time.

We returned the Friday party to his car at May Lake, then headed to the valley to help my wife set up camp with her father. She got to enjoy another nice evening in Yosemite while M and I returned to the Bay Area.

Still, other than the newly-constructed balanced-rock-tower eyesores, no complaints. Except I don't know what the metal box was for...

More Pictures
Re: Double Delight
August 18, 2013 10:06PM
Hi All!

My ramblings... M and I met at a company I have contracted with over the years. She runs marathons and just recently did the Death Ride. (Which I always knew as the Markleeville Death Ride.). Anyway, she loves long-distance endurance activities. We've done some local hiking together. She's been expressing interest in backpacking recently, and I was patient and finally, she was ready and we did it! Her first backpacking trip (with stuff she's bought from us over the years, plus a loan of a backpack) and boom! Off we went. Party B (since we started Saturday, instead of Sunday) got up early and drove in and started hiking at 10:15.

Not long after the start, we caught up to a family with a few members sprawled around the trail. We were a bit concerned for a few of them, and they didn't seem to be the happiest bunch, but we figured they had all day. In contrast, you couldn't wipe the grins off our faces! We met one young couple who stopped us to ask about our gear. Radio antennae do seem to catch people's eyes. I should say the guy was totally jazzed, but his girl wasn't so thrilled. He wanted to learn about all kinds of things and she looked like she just wanted to be home already. His obvious enthusiasm was engaging, though, so we spent many minutes answering his questions. Then we continued ever upward. A good bit further up, below Half Moon Meadow, a family was hiking out, but the last boy in the group asked us if we were heading to Ten Lakes. I said sort of, we were going to go to the ridge above them and look down, but would camp elsewhere. And then he started gushing about *how beautiful* the lakes were and how it was the most amazing place he'd ever seen, and how he loved it here... He was from Texas and was answering M and me with "yes, ma'am"! How well-mannered and charming! Anyway, he let us know he was bummed they weren't going to be able to do Half Dome, how he really wanted to do it.. Oh, *he* definitely caught the bug... the rest of the group didn't seem too thrilled, but Yosemite put its hooks into this young man, for sure! We kept talking about him for some time! I've always said if only a handful of young people truly fall in love with Yosemite/the outdoors, then maybe there will be hope for the future. We need people to fall in love with the place like that to help protect its future.

Anyway, not long after, we took M on her first off-trail adventure... And she was GREAT. I was very cautious and was continually evaluating how she was faring as we hiked. She is incredibly strong, has hiked a lot at lower elevations, but has been going higher of late, and did Whitney in October, but still not a lot of experience at alititude, and certainly not with a pack. On the steep uphills, she showed good foot control and placement and easily passed yet another unannounced "test". Once at Lower Grant Lake, we were on trail for a while heading up to the pass... and the XC from there was really easy open terrain for a good bit. She was LOVING the scenery and gushing! On the final XC up to Double Rock, the going got a bit steeper again, but she was a trooper and no matter how much up or down or whatever, never a complaint. She was singing "Baby Steps, baby steps" to herself (as I was), and we just kept at it.

We had loaned her our lovely yellow Six Moon Designs Europa, which she subsequently decided to buy, and showed her how to pitch it. I think we needed to tighten up a bit on the pole angle, as it sagged a bit with the condensation overnight, but she enjoyed it.

And that night... OMG, we were all having a blast chatting away and watching the skies. I think I stayed up too late... got a bit chilled, and had drunk too much water too close to going to sleep, so... I got to see a lot of meteors! smiling smiley

I'll shortcut and say Day 2 was great XC fun (based on all we had witnessed with M the day before we gave her the option of a more aggressive XC way out - which she wanted to try) and on the haul out of the little hanging valley we explored, I was seriously impressed with M! She kicked patootie! Good pacing, good judgement, good physical control. Party A was saying how awesome she was, too! I mean, seriously, her first backpacking trip EVER. I know all that marathon and endurance training helped - I knew it would! Wow. It was hard at times, she admitted, but she loved it.

At any rate, the four of us had a really fun time together, and I'll remember it fondly always.
avatar Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 07:23AM
As usual:
Bowing to his greatness

I'll say this.... doz laydeez can hike. And wutt great attitudes.

Loved it

Still haven't gone thru many of the photos... but here's two Synths to Whet your appetite for next adventure.
I Think it was all pretty awesome. You Think? wink

Tanks for Sharon Aaron
A couple of Synths:
(a fun way up Hoffmann... and the answers are yes, yes, and without question)

(absolute LOVE Falls Ridge... and the answers are yes, yes, why did you even have to ask... and You Twink?)

Lyell Fork will have to wait til nxt year... perhaps... smiling smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 09:12AM
What a fantastic weekend. Thanks for such a great TR and pictures, it was fun to follow along on my topo map.

I've had this crazy idea in my head for awhile about going from Ten Lakes x/c to GCT and then out to GA. I have been looking at the topo and trying to convince myself that it might be possible, I even did a little peeking downstream when I was there in June. I have never heard of anyone doing it.... maybe there is a reason?

Maybe that box started it's life on top of Colby Mountain as a guest register?
Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 10:04AM
And wutt great attitudes.

Thanks, Chick-on!

The only place my attitude suffered was when we were in those bushes at my head level, where I couldn't see my feet well and was walking on branches when Basilbop called to me to look up and smile. And when I tried to do so before I stabilized myself, I immediately slipped and cursed and was again very fixated on my feet (trying to prevent re-injury to my ankle). I believe I hollered at him: "Get me out of this FAST." But of course I slowed down to make sure every step was safe.. with 1000+ steep feet of climb and miles to go to the trailhead, couldn't afford to screw up by rushing through brush.

But once we were free of the brush, the grin was back on my face... I mean... how can you not be happy walking over lovely granite like that??? Dancing GIrl
avatar Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 02:21PM
Pretty cool trip, thanks for posting the pictures and report.

More surprisingly, however, was the cool and refreshing spring just below Half Moon Meadow.

That spring was flowing nicely when I was there last year, in the last weekend of August.
avatar Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 05:11PM

Technically, the food storage regulations only cover items that bears would consider to be food... And this can was empty and cleaned out.

We took a different route back, which had a few "delicious" sections.

You had your descriptions all mixed up...that first picture had nothing to do with what any normal person would think of as food...and as for your "delicious" sections...well, I guess maybe your description is right...I would rather eat willows than that canned pink bird food!
avatar Re: Double Delight
August 19, 2013 09:18PM
Wants some?

(yes, this was on this trip... and I thought to self... "self... dat Bearpoof guy would really like this trip... toooo.... tooo bad he never around" )
tongue sticking out smiley

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Double Delight
August 20, 2013 08:09AM
The willows have more fiber... but that pizza looks like it had more flavah! Feed ME!
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