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Advice for N. Yosemite trip

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Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby Silverfox » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:08 pm

Looking for some wisdom, venturing into new territory. Level 3, class 2 terrain backpacker, extensive trips in Southern Sierra. Planning five day trip from Virginia Lakes via Virginia Canyon, up Matterhorn Canyon and out at Twin Lakes. Have not been North of June Lake, coming from Socal, looking for recommendations on place to overnight near Bridgeport.
Also, looking for opinions
1. Planning route south to north from Virginia Lakes to Twin Lakes?
2. Any must see places to explore on route?
3. How about campsite recommendations along route?
4. Pre/Post meal restaurant near bridgeport? Is there a don't miss place to eat?
5. Any other tips I may not have asked?

Thanks for the advice!
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby paul » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:59 pm

Did a trip that way some years back. This is the way we went: Virginia lakes - Summit Lake - Return Lake - Soldier Lake - Spiller Lake - Spiller Creek - Matterhorn Peak side trip - down horse creek to Twin Lakes. Very nice trip, Spiller Creek valley especially. All those lakes have good campsites; we also camped up near the pass going over to Horse creek and that was nice too. Matterhorn is very easy scramble - not really any exposure and fantastic views. also when you are at Return ake it's worth a scramble to the top of Stanton Peak or at least walk up to the point that overlooks Spiller Lake, as views there are excellent.

There is a parking charge at Twin Lakes if you leave a car there.
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby balzaccom » Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:23 pm

Yeah, that's a great area. We've done trips both sides...

Starting at Virginia Lakes, we went past Summit Lake (pretty exposed in nasty weather, which we had) and camped down below on Virginia Creek.

I agree that Return and Soldier Lakes are gorgeous--particularly the view from Soldier towards Conness and SHepherd's Crest--but the camping is better at Return Lake.

Then down the canyon and either up Spiller or onto the PCt for few miles until the turn off to Matterhorn Canyon. The way that canyon opens up as you hike up it is spectacular, one of my favorite places in the SIerra. And fishing is fun for loads of tiny brookies..up to about 8 inches.

From there its easy over Mule and Burro Passes down to Twin lakes.

I wish I were there right now!

We've got photos of a lot of that on our website in the destinations sections///
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:22 pm

Maybe you could also point them back to this site. Seems like we have a LOT of intel on the area as well. If you use the search function, you'll see many TR's on the topic.
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby Silverfox » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:22 pm

Paul and Balzaccom thanks for the tip about Return Lake, going to definitely add that as a campsite.

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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby Sierra Miguel » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:03 pm

Silverfox wrote:looking for recommendations on place to overnight near Bridgeport.

Buckeye Hot Springs? Haven't been there yet myself.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/htnf/rec ... ecid=65272

Silverfox wrote:campsite recommendations along route?

There's a nice meadow (popular, on the PCT) just south of where the PCT dumps into Matterhorn Canyon. Otherwise, there are emptier spaces up the canyon.

Silverfox wrote:Pre/Post meal restaurant near bridgeport?

Twin Lakes Resort has a grocery store, coin-op showers, and (I think) a diner. I had breakfast at, I think it was, the Hays Street Cafe--it was OK.
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby balzaccom » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:31 pm

rlown wrote:Maybe you could also point them back to this site. Seems like we have a LOT of intel on the area as well. If you use the search function, you'll see many TR's on the topic.


You must be better at this search process than I am. I put in Virginia Canyon, and I get a lot of posts, but not many related to actually hiking in that area...except for the ones in the current thread.

If you have suggestions on how to use the Search process better, I would love to hear them. I am happy to try to point people to posts on these boards (I do it on our website on a regular basis) but I am not one to spend twenty minutes looking around for something that isn't right in front of me.
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby EpicSteve » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:21 pm

Two summers ago my buddy and I hiked from Tuolumne Meadows to Twin Lakes via Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Miller Lake, Matterhorn Canyon, Burro Pass & Mule Pass and out to Twin Lakes.

There is an awesome campsite on the east side of Miller Lake. You'll see an outcropping with a short cliff that drops down to the lakeshore. Right behind the summit of the outcropping is a nice flat area with a great view of the lake, only a couple of minutes from the trail. There are other interesting outcroppings further up the hill and a pretty little pond.

Matterhorn Canyon is gorgeous! We camped at the very head of the canyon, near the most prominent (and very small) group of trees. A couple of small and reasonably flat spots there with a small creek nearby. If the weather is bad you might want to camp a couple of miles before that, while there's still substantial tree cover.

There seemed to be a lot of people searching (in the pouring rain) for a campsite near Robinson Lakes. We were lucky enough to have been given a tip from another hiker: As the trail approaches the upper lake, just before crossing the inlet stream, look for a faint use trail on your right (downhill) that traverses back to the right, just below the part of the trail that you were just hiking on. Go about 50' and then look to your left. There is an open corridor through the trees with some nice flat campsites. It's so heavily wooded that you may not realize at first how close you are to the lake. A nice sheltered and shady spot.

Pre-hike: We paid the fee to leave my car at the boat launch parking area at Twin Lakes and then drove several miles back toward Bridgeport. Found a practically deserted campground (don't remember the name) with little privacy from the few campers who were there, but nice level sand/gravel tent pads. Just after turning south on Hwy 395 the next morning, found a great little family-owned cafe on the right side of the hwy. Don't remember the name of that either, but it had a spectacular view of the Matterhorn Peak area and possibly the world's largest cinnamon rolls!

Post-Hike: Had reservations at Annett’s Mono Village. Hotel room was nothing to write home about - pretty run down, really. But we didn't care. A hot shower and a real bed was awesome! Got toiletries and snacks at the little store there. Had dinner at their restaurant and we were amazed at how good it was! I had steak and some kind of seafood (scallops? lobster? Sorry my memory is so bad) and it was awesome! Even the veggies were cooked perfectly, which is rare in my experience, especially at a tiny rural resort.

BTW, upper Virginia Canyon is beautiful and a viewpoint above Soldier Lake is well worth the side trip. :nod:
“I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”

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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby EpicSteve » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:59 pm

Here's some info on Annett's Mono Village: http://www.monovillage.com/ When dropping off your car, try to get there during daylight, if possible. The place is very confusing at night if you've never been there before. We had to wait for a guy cruising around in a little maintenance vehicle to come and open up the campground entrance gate after hours to get our parking permit.

There's some good detailed info on parking/fees/red tape on the Summitpost website, on the page for "The Incredible Hulk" (a formation popular with rock climbers), under the "Getting There" and "Red Tape" headings. I'd post the link, but I'm not sure if it's against the rules on this forum to post a link to another forum. Guess I'd better re-read the rules. It's been a while. Hopefully I'm not being a bad boy for referencing another forum here at all! [-X
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby markskor » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:23 pm

Sierra Miguel wrote:
Silverfox wrote:Pre/Post meal restaurant near bridgeport?

Twin Lakes Resort has a grocery store, coin-op showers, and (I think) a diner. I had breakfast at, I think it was, the Hays Street Cafe--it was OK.

Too many years ago, I worked one summer at that Twin Lakes, Mono Village complex - as a waiter at the famous "Cafe Cocktail", Upper Twin. Full bar, home-style cooking (nothing special but, a great hot turkey sand.) and homemade pies baked daily - (BTW, any leftover pies were given to the bears at night after closing.)
Before the Cafe Cocktail, I was working at the Bridgeport Inn - great dining, superb Prime Rib but the bar area was the local hangout of the local police and the Clampers...both drunks. Nuff said...(got happily fired!)
The Sportsman, next to the Bridgeport Inn, was the seediest bar in town.
Hays good enough for breakfast and the Burger Barn makes a decent lunch stop...better than the Jolly Kone.

IMHO, Bridgeport is a racist town, best to drive through carefully, slowly, and then avoid.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby balzaccom » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:28 pm

"
IMHO, Bridgeport is a racist town, best to drive through carefully, slowly, and then avoid."

ouch. A topic that would be interesting to pursue....albeit not by hijacking this thread.

It is true that these rural communities in California can be pretty stifling on a number of levels...
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Advice for N. Yosemite trip

Postby J ney » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:06 pm

One of my favorite camp sites is at the small tarn near Horse Creek Pass... And I think Jack Keruoac would agree with that :)
Spiller canyon is absolutely gorgeous! The view of Whorl is phenomenal!
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