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Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos

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avatar Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 01:05PM
Kinda late getting around to this. You have already seen at least one report of this trip from a fellow hiker but here's my version.
On August 23rd five of us departed Twin Lakes in Humboldt-Toiyabe Nat'l Forest on the Robinson Creek Trail for an intended 7-day, 6-night trip looping back to Twin Lakes. The Rim Fire was in play but reports were only a few thousand acres. That, of course, changed rapidly as we progressed. Below are selected photos for this post. At the end I've posted a link to all my photos for this trip.

Not far along the trail we came upon this grouse sitting on a rock surveying its domain and it had no intention of moving.


My four companions were all familiar members of this forum who had logged lots of back country experience. Since Mike (Olde Dude) was unable to make it, I had suddenly become the designated Olde Dude for this trip. My fellow hikers were basilbop, chick-on, Catalonian Burro, and JustKeepWalking.


After lunch at Barney Lake we headed up the long climb to the Peeler Lake intersection. I had not done any high country backpacking in two years and was now 68. Starting off with an immediate 2,600' ascent the 1st day was quite a re-introduction to the rigors of the High Sierra.

This is looking southwest from Barney Lake towards the climb ahead past Cirque Mt. and Crown Pt.


Our campsite destination was Crown Lake after passing Robinson Lakes. Crown already had campers so we continue up another 200' to a tarn above Crown Lake.

This is a view of the 2nd Robinson Lake w/ Kettle Peak.


Day #2 took us up another 850' past another beautiful tarn to Mule Pass and into Yosemite.

This is the last tarn w/ Mule Pass in the background.


Close-up of Mule Pass


Secret mountaintop landing strip--sorry, I don't recall its real name.


Sawtooth Range, Matterhorn Peak, Burro Pass


We began the long descent on the east side of Mule Pass and left the trail to continue down Slide Canyon. It was at the slide where we saw first signs of the Rim Fire smoke in the distance.


Rest stop above the slide.


Circumventing the slide. Photo is deceiving; many of these rocks are SUV size or larger.


Heading down Slide Canyon, smoke getting worse.


Small water canyon on Piute Creek


On the 2nd night, having eaten smoke all afternoon, we unanimously decided to change our hiking route and instead head west to Matterhorn Canyon and Spiller Canyon. This also reduced our trip time by one day. Our original plan was to go up Camp Creek and cross country to Tallulah Lake, Sister Lake, Surprise Lake, Rodgers Lake (w/ side trip up Volunteer Peak), Benson lake, Seavy pass, Kerrick Canyon, Peeler lake, and back out Robinson Creek. At this point heading west into denser smoke did not seem very appealing health wise and the views would have been disappointing.

2nd campsite at Camp Creek


Day #3 took us up the Camp Creek drainage where we had views of the other so-called Slide Mt. Yes, there are two of them within 3.5 miles of each other!


We topped out above Camp Creek and got our 1st view of Tallulah Lake in the distance.


On the next ridge east of Tallulah we spotted the smoke coming in again from the west as it did by mid-day everyday.

Smoke close-up, 10,000' mountain in center sits between Sister Lake and Surprise Lake.


View from top of ridge looking towards Benson Pass


From there we descended to the PCT below Benson Pass and down into Matterhorn Canyon for our 3rd campsite.

Chick-on w/ two new friends "ACE" and tomdisco in Matterhorn Canyon.


Day #4 included the climb out of Matterhorn Canyon, lunch at miller Lake, and descent into Spiller Canyon where we again ventured off trail leaving the PCT behind us.

Quarry Peak view while climbing out of Matterhorn Canyon.


Whorl Mt. in center, Twin Peaks to the right.


Approaching Miller Lake


"Ace" takes a stroll beside Miller Lake


Leaving Miller Lake


Spiller Canyon just north of the PCT stream crossing.


Day #5 brought us all the way up Spiller Canyon to just below Horse Creek Pass.

This was our first view of Whorl Mt. from Spiller Creek


Spiller Canyon beginning to open up.


Virginia Peak and Stanton Peak


Approaching Twin Peaks


Looking up towards Horse Creek Pass


5th day campsite between Whorl Mt. and Twin Peaks. Yes, that's smoke again!


Day #6 ascending to Horse Creek Pass


Whorl Mt.


Another Whorl Mt. close-up, reminiscent of Matthes Crest.


Tarn & snow field south side of Horse Creek Pass


The north side of Horse Creek Pass begins with a challenge for intermediate level backpackers, a very steep and delicate 150' descent over loose footing and rocks that can easily be dislodged. There are 2-3 different avenues one can attempt but the one to the far left is recommended. This descent drops into a hole at the foot of a talus pile and a large dirty snow field.


Foot of snow field


From that point onward the use trail fractures across seemingly endless talus fields down to Horse Creek. Horse Creek Pass to Twin Lakes is approximately a 3,600' descent.


Continuing talus field descent.


Horse Creek


Continuing the way down, smoke returning.


Junction of Horse Creek and Cattle Creek trails 1,500' above Twin Lakes


Horsetail Falls in smoke


Although I had planned to do a subsequent day hike and then a 4-day hike south of Tuolumne Meadows, my 68-year old body was screaming "no". Also, the reports on daily smoke invasion and poor visibility did not appear inviting. I did not realize it at the time but the 3,600' descent from Horse Creek Pass did a number on my lower legs and ankles. After a day trip to Bodie park and a rescheduled earlier flight home both legs and ankles swelled up. I even visited a foot specialist to see if there might be a hairline fracture. That proved negative but the right ankle still needed a brace for a couple weeks.

As rigorous a trip as this was for me after a 2-year absence, I would not trade it for anything. My hiking companions, all acquaintances as a result of this website, truly made this trip an absolute joy. One can not say enough in that respect. Thank you guys and gal. You're the best.

To view all my photos for this trip go to my Yosemite 2013 Album at http://yosemitephotos.net/main.php/v/tomdisco/Yosemite+2013/?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2013 07:17PM by tomdisco.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 01:48PM
Great pics. Thanks for posting
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 05:34PM
Tomdisco, great trip report and pictures. Regarding your first picture of a bird, and I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but isn't that a Grouse? Need some help here from some of you bird watchers...
avatar Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 07:16PM
I think all five of us called it a quail but we're all probably wrong. There were three of them together on the trail going down the east side of Mule Pass the next day so they can be found at 10,000' as well.

O.K., I just checked the internet and it's definitely a grouse. Western quail are a much smaller and skinnier bird. I just corrected the note above the photo.
Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2013 07:17PM by tomdisco.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 07:43PM
Quote
tomdisco
I think all five of us called it a quail but we're all probably wrong. There were three of them together on the trail going down the east side of Mule Pass the next day so they can be found at 10,000' as well.

O.K., I just checked the internet and it's definitely a grouse. Western quail are a much smaller and skinnier bird. I just corrected the note above the photo.
Jim

That was a great picture of a grouse. They are usually pretty shy and hard to get a picture of so good job on capturing that one.. I'm surprised you found one that high up.. They usually are found at lower elevations.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 08:55AM
I recall discussing whether it was a pheasant or a grouse.... I'm pretty clear on quail, we have families of them around our house, and they are noticeably different. I must've forgotten the quail talk. I'm used to calling birds in the picture "grouse", but I'm not an expert in recognizing wild birds. I am, however, pretty good at psittacines in aviculture, or at least, once was...
avatar Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 04:41PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
I recall discussing whether it was a pheasant or a grouse.... I'm pretty clear on quail, we have families of them around our house, and they are noticeably different. I must've forgotten the quail talk. I'm used to calling birds in the picture "grouse", but I'm not an expert in recognizing wild birds. I am, however, pretty good at psittacines in aviculture, or at least, once was...

psittacines in aviculture? You're going to make me look that up, aren't you?
avatar Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 05:35PM
Quote
tomdisco

psittacines in aviculture?


psittacines = parrots

aviculture = bird breeding

psittacines in aviculture = parrot breeder.

smiling smiley
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 07:22PM
Fabulous trip! Thanks for the report.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 10, 2013 08:37PM
Thanks, really enjoyed the pics. I hope I'm still backpacking when I'm 68. If it makes you feel any better, my 28 year old ankles and knees were sore after going down Horse Creek Pass!

By the way, I can't tell 100% for sure from the pics but it looks like you guys missed the easy way down at the top of Horse Creek Pass. I went left the first time I went over it and ended up on some loose crap that looks a lot like your photo. Last time I went over I just went straight towards the snowfield and there is a much easier use trail through a small notch that goes over stable medium-sized talus and drops you out right next to the snowfield.

Me at the top of the easy way, happy to have finished Roper's High Route.


Looking back up the easy way.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 08:00AM
Thank you for the TR! Awesome grouse shot as well... my last sighting up at Grant Lakes wasn't nearly so cool... it just wouldn't pose smiling smiley





Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/11/2013 08:01AM by HikingMano.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 09:15AM
Yah, usually the grouse are more skittish... but I recall two instances on that trip where they were asking for pics. One on the first day, where the bird was just hanging around, posing. The light wasn't the best, but it wasn't going anywhere And then after Mule, the grouse on the trail didn't seem afraid, weren't fluttering off in a loud thunder of feather flapping. At least they usually sound loud and usually scare me when I haven't seen them and they just do that flutter thing.
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 10:32AM
Yeah, their flapping can indeed be quite startling. Have experienced more of that, or hearing them from a little ways off, than them giving good photo ops like you folks scored.

Great stuff, makes me wish I was out there right now. Alas...bills to be paid...
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 09:08AM
I've been sick for a week now, missing being out there in the mountains, so reading this now is just such a fabulous treat! I really, really, really enjoyed the trip! I'm sorry we didn't know/find the "easy" way down Horse! Maybe I can look at our pics, see where it was. We probably looked down on it? I think only one chute was full of snow/ice.

After some of the stuff we've done after that trip, even the way we did Horse doesn't seem as bad in comparison. What gets tiresome after a point is the feeling that the talus never seems to end and there is so much down. I just have to tune it out, look around and find something to enjoy (usually not too hard to do), but yes, the feet won't forget! I ended up sticking my feet/calves in a cooler filled with ice and water in the hotel room that night... Sigh. I think I'm always going to carry that in the car for after-hike therapy! smiling smiley

But boy, love thinking back on the trip. Really love the contrast between clear blue sky just before lunch, and then just after we were in the thick of it. Yick. But the best part was the camaraderie.

THANK YOU so much for posting this and for having us along on the trip! Hugs to both you and ACE!
avatar Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 04:48PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
I've been sick for a week now, missing being out there in the mountains, so reading this now is just such a fabulous treat! I really, really, really enjoyed the trip! I'm sorry we didn't know/find the "easy" way down Horse! Maybe I can look at our pics, see where it was. We probably looked down on it? I think only one chute was full of snow/ice.

After some of the stuff we've done after that trip, even the way we did Horse doesn't seem as bad in comparison. What gets tiresome after a point is the feeling that the talus never seems to end and there is so much down. I just have to tune it out, look around and find something to enjoy (usually not too hard to do), but yes, the feet won't forget! I ended up sticking my feet/calves in a cooler filled with ice and water in the hotel room that night... Sigh. I think I'm always going to carry that in the car for after-hike therapy! smiling smiley

But boy, love thinking back on the trip. Really love the contrast between clear blue sky just before lunch, and then just after we were in the thick of it. Yick. But the best part was the camaraderie.

THANK YOU so much for posting this and for having us along on the trip! Hugs to both you and ACE!

I think my biggest mistake was that instead of cool water, I soaked that evening in hot water. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! But it felt so good at the time. I realized it the next day limping around Bodie Park.
As for the easy way down from Horse Creek Pass, I suspect that might have been the way you and hubby went down previously, or least checked out from the top and maybe dismissed it because it was so rocky.
Jim
Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 05:13PM
With all my soft tissue injuries..I've been warned off of hot baths (and even hot showers) by my PTs over the years.Inflammation is my enemy... Our house came with an awesome hot tub with a boiler sized for a pool which could get the water super hot, if desired, but I always came out feeling worse even though we got it pretty cool by "tub" standards. Finally ripped it all out, working on making a "backyard" now.. slowly.. Frankly, I only soak in cool to ice-cold water now. And feel much better for it. It's coming up on 10 years since my last warm/hot bath! Sigh...
avatar Re: Northern Yosemite Trip Report.Long Version w/ Photos
October 11, 2013 05:41PM
Quote
tomdisco

I think my biggest mistake was that instead of cool water, I soaked that evening in hot water. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!


If you're a sports fan, it's easy to remember to soak your limbs in ice water, not hot water. Just remember that athletes like baseball pitchers will get their limbs iced after a grueling workout.

Generally speaking, ice water baths are best for sore muscles.

.
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