2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:00 pm

Day 24- Dayhike Mono Pass
I had been to Little Lakes Valley many years ago with my parents. It was the site of my dad's first backpacking trip in the Sierra in the late 60's. I had gone back once before and hiked all the way to the Treasure Lakes. This time though we hiked up to Mono Pass, which I had never been on. The views were spectacular and we had a great dayhike. My finger was definitely a pain and using a trekking pole was definitely impossible in that hand. At least not properly. Using my hand was also challenging since my bandage got in the way of a lot of things. Stuffing things was very challenging, so I could tell that backpacking would be very difficult. It was that day we decided to give me a few more days before we ended up going anywhere.
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Day 25- In Mammoth
Can't say I remember much about what happened this day. I know we left Mosquito Flat and drove up to Mammoth. Probably cleaned up somewhere and just relaxed. We hit up hot springs in the 395 area as well. We found a cool campspot off of 395 and 203 that we stayed in the next few days.

Day 26- In Mammoth
We explored more hot springs and checked out the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Janine said she may have been there years ago but it felt new to her. it was pretty hilarious to check out some hot springs and a whole herd of cows was around it and drinking water out of it. We passed on dipping into that one. I believe we enjoyed an evening/night soak in the hot springs.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:05 pm

Day 27- In Mammoth
I came up with an idea for a quick section that we would be able to utilize both our cars and shuttle. I had never hiked out of Convict Lake and had seen photos that definitely gave me reason to check it out. We would go from there and head to the JMT across a cross country pass and head back to Mammoth via the Sierra High Route and drop down to George Lake where we would park Janine's car. We basically got ready for this section today and tomorrow.
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Day 28- In Mammoth
We finalized our food for the next section. Plans had changed drastically during the summer because Janine planned on hiking with me all the way to the end. My plans to go into Yosemite were basically changed as soon as Rogue decided it wasn't the year to try and do that hike. So I talked with my buddy Dan who I mentioned a plan to hike a section in Southern Yosemite mostly on trails since I had never been in the area. Unfortunately due to the South Fork Fire that had started that idea was also shut down! Remember how I said nothing went to plan this summer.. haha. Once I scraped that idea Dan said it would be best for him and I to just do something in September. So now I had to come up with another section. I really liked the idea of it and Janine said she was into it. We would mostly take the Sierra High Route through Ansel Adams Wilderness and try and head to Tuolumne Meadows via Koip Peak Pass and Mono Pass. Now that I had figured out our next 2 sections it was time to start backpacking again! My finger was doing a lot better and I was little less useless when it came to putting things away. We got dinner at Nik n Willies Pizza in Mammoth and headed to Black Doubt Brewing. It was incredible. The pizza was a Thai Chicken that was heavenly and the beer was the perfect pairing to it. We dropped off Janine's car at the George Lake TH in Mammoth and then drove in my truck to the Convict Lake TH.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by ecat » Tue Jul 31, 2018 8:04 am

Hello Mike. Loved your pics of Miter Basin. I just returned from there and have a quick question for you. You mention the “Secret Chute”- was that just above lower Soldier Lake? As we I stood near the outlet looking across the lake there was no obvious chute in view (hence the “secret”) I contoured across just below the lake which ended up being pretty neat as I really enjoyed the mid basin streams, as I made my way Upwards but I’d love to become familiar with the entry you used. Again, loved your pics. Thanks! Steve

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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:23 pm

Hello Steve. Sorry for getting back to you so late on this. I have not be on here in quite a while hence my absence. You definitely need to go to the far end of the lake and just look up a series of rock ledges and grassy benches. It's not really a chute perse. The climbing there is fairly tame and may require a class 3 move once or twice but honestly I do believe if you stay more in the trees it can be avoided. I would go around the East side of Soldier lake and then follow the drainage stream up the "chute" to the Three Tree Tarn. If you keep heading East up the other stream you will arrive at the higher lake below the Major General, so avoid that. Hope that helps.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:49 pm

Well I'd say it's time to finish up the last couple weeks of 2017's adventure! School and work as usual get in the way. Also did quite a few backpacking and hiking trips throughout the summer. Now I'm out of ability to do anything since I'm healing from shoulder surgery... 6 month recovery and I'm a month in so I have plenty of down time for finishing up these reports.

Day 29- Convict Lake TH to Lake Genevieve
The morning dawned clear, hot, and sneezy! Something in the parking lot at the Convict Lake Trailhead was setting Janine off into a sneezing fit! She was basically immobilized for a while. It subsided but she was still very congested. After helping her pack some things away we were able to set off from that place rid ourselves of whatever nasty plant that was causing that mess. I had been to Convict Lake several times over the years but never hiked past it or up canyon. It was a rewarding experience with the multicolored rock and incredible geologic rock banding along the walls of the canyon. The further up canyon we ventured the more incredible the scenery became. We had to cross the creek once but the water was not high enough to be a concern. The old bridge remains were clearly visible and a very powerful flow of water knocked it out years ago. Red Slate Mountain and Mt. Baldwin kept growing larger and more magnificent by the mile. Eventually we reached Mildred Lake and the views were out of this world. I'm a big sucker for brightly colored rock, especially red and I was in heaven. We past it and got a nice view of Dorothy Lake, but eventually we arrived at Lake Genevieve where we camped that night. The mosquitoes weren't terrible but definitely still an annoyance. It was late in the season and they were still out to get us!
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:59 pm

Day 30- Lake Genevieve to Ram Lakes
Today was an exceptionally beautiful day. This morning we stayed around camp a little longer because we wanted to see the Solar Eclipse. We had a good clear view of it, but unfortunately clouds rolled in just before it started. I managed to pull off a few photos that barely showed it. I've already seen several and it wasn't a total anyways so we didn't miss out on much. We continued along the old trail up to Cloverleaf lake until the trail petered out. From here it was cross country over Cloverleaf Ram Pass. I had done enough research to know where it was and that it should be no problem. The weather turned cloudy and cooler which was a welcome relief. The rain started and continued for a little while but we pressed on. I just hoped there wouldn't be any electrifying displays over the pass.. as I've had that before! The approach was rocky with lots of talus but most was stable. Eventually we climbed up to the top with a snowfield in the way. We brought ice axes and used them for good measure. The view at the top though was the prize of this section. The lighting was stunning and the lakes below glimmered in the late afternoon sun. The Ram Lakes were idyllic from atop this pass and the view of the Silver Divide and beyond was bathed in afternoon storm clouds with rays of sun poking through. The view behind us was equally impressive with Baldwin and Morrison display a full regalia of colors. The descent off the pass proved easy and we were tromping through the Ram Lakes to our camp. A lack of mosquitoes there made for an extremely pleasant dinner experience and capped off an excellent day.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:06 pm

Day 31- Ram Lakes to Duck Lake
My initial plan was to go from the Ram Lakes over Pika Pass to Duck Lake. But after looking at Pika Pass I decided not only did I not want to deal with the nasty loose rock I figured Janine would be far happier if avoided it. Not to mention she had not been on the stretch of JMT in this section so either way she was seeing a new area. We quickly made our way down to Purple Lake and made our way to Duck Lake. Storm clouds built heavily at Duck Lake and we got a bit of rain but no crazy downpours. The lighting was phenomenal and our camp at Duck Lake was gorgeous. It truly was an impressive lake and luckily for us had no mosquitoes!
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:12 pm

Day 32- Duck Lake to Lake George TH
I was really excited about this day since we'd be taking the Sierra High Route through a section I've always wanted to travel. The morning views across Duck Lake were incredible and we quickly made our way up to Deer Pass. There was pretty much a use trail the entire way. A patch of snow up there, but that didn't make things any harder. Finally I'd get to see the Deer Lakes and they most certainly did not disappoint. Such an incredible display of stark rock walls with beautiful blue lakes. The crazier part was that it was just over the hill from the Mammoth Lakes Basin! We made our way back up on the Mammoth Crest and were greeted with views all around. Without a doubt my favorite part of trail/cross country we did all summer was on the Mammoth Crest. If I get a view while I'm walking for a while I'm very happy. You literally could see it all from the mountains of Northern Yosemite to the central part of the range. It wasn't long before we were at Janine's car. A really awesome section between Convict and Mammoth that had great weather and a lack of significant mosquitoes made for a favorite for the both of us. We drove back to Convict Lake to pick up my truck and decided to shower there. It was a good experience that I had never utilized there before. From there we got ready to set off on our last section the following day.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:16 pm

Day 33- Devils Postpile to King Creek
We first had to deal with the shuttle situation to get into Devils Postpile. It's quite interesting to think that Janine's Dad was the one who proposed the idea of a shuttle into Reds/Agnew Meadows back in the 70's. I believe it was implemented shortly thereafter. He worked as a ranger in the region around that time. Anyways, we dropped off our cars at the Mammoth Mountain parking lot and boarded the shuttle down to Devils Postpile. Our stop was a couple down the road and I had been here last when I did the JMT in 2012. We went up the JMT a ways after crossing the San Joaquin. From there it was up an unfamiliar trail to me but it was straightforward albeit a bit steep in places. We had shade most of the day which was very welcome since we were very low comparatively and it was quite hot. We had probably 9 days of food so our packs were heavy and we were tired by the time we got to King Creek. I was very excited to explore this area but alas we just didn't have the strength to push onto Ashley Lake so we made camp there. We had a great fire to ward off the damn mosquitoes yet again. The area felt quite remote.
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Day 34- King Creek to Ashley Lake
It was a short day between where we camped and Ashley Lake. I had seen photos of Ashley Lake and was incredibly impressed, but the view when we got there was even better.. funny how that works most of the time. Truly a sublime alpine lake set up against a stark dark colored Iron Mountain with a beautiful snow chute going almost all the way to the lake. Late season and it still held snow from top to bottom. That obviously gives you an idea of how wet our snow year was. We brought our crampons and ice axes for this chute since it was the most straightforward way up Iron Mountain. Going up was a piece of cake and quite fun given we didn't have to slog up loose talus or scree. The summit was reached fairly quickly but it was getting late in the day so we didn't want to linger too long. The smoke in Yosemite was definitely creating a lot of haze to the West and the North. The view of the Minarets and the Ritter Range was impressive and seen from an angle I had never ventured upon. The descent down the snow initially proved straightforward. The snow chute was already in the shade and this late in the season I could tell the snow would start to harden up. I felt it and found that I could glissade it fairly well. Janine waited higher up. I started my glissade, but soon found myself sliding a bit too fast so I attempted to self arrest but hit a bump and then started tumbling down the snow! Everything was flashing quickly before my eyes and I saw rocks go past me before I managed to get my ax out in front of me and arrest myself! I had lost my sunglasses and hat and bottle out of my pack. Fortunately they were all fairly nearby so I retrieved them. The rocks scared the **** out of me. There was an area where the snow melted out and it was basically a fairly large rocky chasm. I had tumbled just past it and was unscathed. If I had tumbled into the rocks I honestly don't know what my condition would have been like.. the thought was a bit too serious to even want to think about. Janine yelled down to me to make sure I was okay and I was yelled back saying I was fine. She elected to skip the glissade and just step down with her crampons. My slide went from being safe to very unsafe in a split second and fortunately I had my ice ax leashed to me so I was able to stop but the snow conditions proved to be too icy for it to be safe. Fortunately the snow softened up further down the chute and the grade lessened significantly so I glissaded several more sections. When we both met up at the bottom she was definitely worried about me but relieved that I was uninjured. From her vantage point it was unclear if I had gotten into the rocky abyss. Needless to say but my lesson was learned and I'm now ever more vigilant when it comes to snow. My 2 worst injuries in my life have been caused by snow. We made it back to camp for a later dinner and slept very soundly that night, but unfortunately with the unwelcome mosquito guests.
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Re: 2017 Summer Explorations July 23 - August 31

Post by alpinemike » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:19 pm

Day 35- Ashley Lake to Minaret Lake
The mileage today wasn't excessive but there was a fair amount of cross country and the heat was oppressive. Backtracking we soon were back at King Creek and we made our way to Superior Lake. Unfortunately the mosquitoes here absolutely vicious so we booked it up Nancy Pass as fast we could. There has been great debate on where exactly Nancy Pass and I don't believe we were on top of the pass proper but we still managed to get across that ridge. The route featured a decent amount of Class 3 which I'll take any day over brush, talus, or scree. From the top we had an incredibly impressive view of the Minarets. It started to sprinkle on us a bit as we descended but that only made it more pleasant. The descent off the North side was a bit loose in places but fortunately that didn't last long and we were on our way up Deadhorse Pass. There was some snow that we were able to avoid descending the Northern side and there was actually some snow on the Northern side of Deadhorse but by that time we were practically at Minaret Lake. What an incredible place that I had never been to previously. I was definitely not disappointed and we found a great camp above the lake on the Southern side. Unfortunately mosquitoes were still present but at least nothing like what they were at Superior Lake. We had a very pleasant evening amid the grandeur and history of fabled Minaret Lake.
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