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TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

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TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby vlad1 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:55 am

This was a short trip that I've made last weekend to check out Lewis Lakes area in Emigrant Wilderness. Originally I planned it as a day hike but then decided to get a bit of a head start by leaving the day before and spending a night somewhere near Kennedy Meadows.

The weather turned bad on Friday, Saturday was the same but on Sunday it was supposed to improve and be clear at last, so that was the best day for my hike.

I couldn't manage to leave early enough on Saturday and got to Kennedy Meadows only about 7 pm. The weather was bad all the way from Bay Area, it was raining stop and go, clouds were rolling in from Northwest. Somehow camping at the trailhead didn't appeal to me, so I decided to camp at the reservoir, get early in the morning to take some pictures and then push forward to Lewis Lakes. I put rain gear on and started hiking. It was quite calm, so rain wasn't much of a problem. I managed to get more then a half way through before it became dark enough to turn on the head lamp. At some point the rain turned to snow, so when I made it to the reservoir it was starting to look like winter came early. I found a spot for a camp, set everything up and got into my sleeping bag pronto.

The night was calm but cold. The weather improved about 11pm, the moon came out and was shining all night. Cannot say I was completely warm in my sleeping bag but it was manageable.

I've got up about 7 in the morning and was blown away with the views around me. Everything had either frost or thin layer of snow on it. The sun was rising behind a mountain above Relief Reservoir and slowly lighting up surrounding scenery. I've spent an hour running around and taking pictures in all directions.

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Chilly morning

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Hard hat

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Wind over summit

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Relief Reservoir South end

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Granite Dome

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Night Cap Peak

It was time to move on if I wanted to get to my destination. Still, I couldn't resist and kept stopping and taking more pictures. This was definitely worth of yesterday's wet start and cold night.

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Frosty trail

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Relief Reservoir dam

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More frost

Finally, I made it to the place where Summit Creek joins with the creek flowing from Lewis Lakes. I left the trail, crossed to the other side and headed towards bigger Lewis Lake.

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Summit Creek valley

Hiking over those flat granite slabs was not that hard, but the elevation and increased steepness started to wear me out. When I made it to the lake I was quite tired. Still, the scenery was the reward.

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Lewis Lake

There were some people camping at the lake, I chatted with them, had my lunch, dried my gear and harassed brookies in the lake. They were not that big, 10-12" but quite cooperative and eager to take my lures; I've got about 5 or 6 in about half an hour. I didn't keep any still hoping to rest enough and push further to other lakes in the area. Alas, this didn't happen. After hour and a half I packed everything and tried to scramble up towards upper Lewis Lake, but felt tired and out of breath right away. I knew I could get up there I just didn't know how long it will take me. It was time to turn back.

The trip back was uneventful. The snow almost all melted, only tops of the mountains had some small patches left. It was warm and comfortable hike back to Kennedy Meadows trail head. Driving home was long and boring.

I'll probably return to this place again next year, hope to have more time to explore the area. It's definitely worth at least an overnighter.
Last edited by vlad1 on Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby jessegooddog » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:08 am

Some beautiful photos, especially the little bit of sun on the pines below Night Cap Peak. Nice that it cleared up for the day for you, thanks for the report!
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby FeetFirst » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:43 am

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I've done a couple of trips there, but never with the dusting of snow, which makes for a serene scene.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:32 pm

Great pics! Amazing how a little snow, even just a dusting, can transform the whole landscape.
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby Tom_H » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:15 pm

One of my favorite stomping grounds. Beautiful pics that brought back great memories. Thanks!
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby justm » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:55 pm

Some dusting of snow, and wow!! great pics !! What a great experience. You said you were cold, what sleeping bag were you using ? Thanks for the TR
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby offpump » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:50 pm

I got to experience the Lewis Lakes for the first time in August...it's a trip I can't wait to make again! We camped overnight at Middle Lewis. Fishing for my guy was so-so, but the spectacular views more than made up for it. Thank you for the report and the photos, they stirred up some wonderful memories!!
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:37 pm

Wow, the fall snow and frost really add a nice touch to the scenery. Thanks for the report. Middle Lewis is really a beautiful lake.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby vlad1 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:52 pm

justm wrote:Some dusting of snow, and wow!! great pics !! What a great experience. You said you were cold, what sleeping bag were you using ? Thanks for the TR


Thanks for the responses, really appreciated!

The sleeping bag on that trip was Western Mountaineers HighLite with MontBell sleeping bag cover. Obviously, I had additional closing on. I was quite pleased how well it worked for such weather.
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby old and slow » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:38 am

Thanks for the trip report and great photos -- looks absolutely fantastic -- and giving me another option for a future backpacking trip (as I venture beyond Yosemite). This is definitely on my must do list, especially as I will be coming from the Bay Area.
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Re: TR: Relief Reservoir and Lewis Lakes

Postby KathyW » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:23 am

The photos are beautiful. I really like the "Relief Reservoir Dam" photo. Thanks for sharing.
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