TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

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TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

Postby EpicSteve » Sun May 18, 2014 11:41 pm

This was a last-minute, impromptu hike with an incredibly late start. I left my house in Oakhurst at 12:20PM and started hiking from the 7,500’ trailhead (on Hwy 120 East, aka “the Tioga Rd”) at 2:58 pm. I carried a 25 lb rucksack to get a better workout. I probably shouldn't have, considering my current lack of conditioning.

Despite a couple of small snow patches at the parking lot, I didn’t encounter much snow on the trail for the first two miles. What I did encounter was deadfalls. Within about 0.2 mile of the trailhead I came upon what turned out to be the messiest deadfall of the entire trail: 4 downed trees in one spot. I decided to count them so I could give a good detailed report to other hikers. I counted a total of 17 trees across the trail. Most were within the first 1.5 miles or so. They were only minor obstacles though. None took more than 30 seconds to get over or around.

The trail broke out of the trees after about half a mile and made an ascending traverse of granite slabs just west of the headwaters of Yosemite Creek. I was treated to views of the snow-covered northwest face of Mt. Hoffman and the rolling terrain to the south while enjoying the sunny weather and mild temperatures.

At about 1 mile or so, the trail passed through a grove of the biggest junipers I’ve ever seen. They were so amazingly huge that I had to pause for a couple of minutes just to appreciate their magnificence.

At 2.0 miles I reached the junction with the trail from White Wolf and the largest stream crossing of the entire trail. All of the crossings were easy. 1 hour and 5 minutes had passed since I started the hike. There was a dramatic increase in the amount of snow cover on the ground. From this point forward I had to stop now and then to be sure I was on the trail, although most of the time it was obvious and when it wasn’t, the boot prints of other hikers turned out to be a reliable guide (though I never assume them to be a sure thing).

The trail was mostly snow-free on south facing slopes, but almost completely covered by snow during the forested descent to Half Moon Meadow. The meadow was a charming but very wet place, as you’d expect it to be this time of year, given the current drought conditions. I had to detour through the woods at one point to avoid a particularly boggy stretch of trail, but that only lasted about 35 yards or so. Just after that, I met a nice young couple on their way back down and chatted with them for several minutes. They ended up being the only other people I saw on the trail that day. They told me there was a great view from “the pass” and that the lakes below were still frozen over.

At the northwest end of the meadow, the trail began a switchbacking 800-foot ascent, crossing a small creek from west to east about halfway up. I pushed hard, trying to make it to the pass in 3 hours from the trailhead, but in the end it took me 3 hours and 10 minutes. (I don’t mean to give the impression that I’m all about speed. I’ll often stop for photography or to chat with other hikers or just to look around and bask in the beauty of the backcountry. The time-keeping thing is just a little game I play with myself for fun.)

Upon reaching the most obvious saddle, I found nearly 100% snow coverage over the wide open flat area that was much bigger than a football field. I walked to the northern end and saw some tantalizing views, but they were largely obstructed by tree-covered ridges nearby. I saw some tracks leading up the ridge to the east and realized I’d have to ascend a few more hundred feet or so to get the really great view, but unfortunately I was already pushing it time-wise. I sat on a rock for about 10 – 15 minutes and wolfed down some trail mix, an energy bar and some Gatorade and then headed back down.

I left the saddle at exactly 7:00pm and pushed really hard to make up for my lateness, but ended up paying for it. I knew I was out of shape and I almost always have problems with cramps in my legs on the first real hike of the season. Unfortunately this was no exception.

Upon reaching the south end of Half Moon Meadow a cramp in my left calf hit me so hard that I actually cried out in surprise and pain. I tried stopping for a moment but that immediately made it worse. So I just plodded slowly onward and worked my way through it. But cramps in several other areas of my legs assailed me, so I had to work my way along quite painfully and slowly until all the cramps subsided. Fortunately this whole process only took about 10 minutes and then I was okay for the rest of the hike.

I came upon the young couple again, camped at a nice snow-free saddle with a great view to the south but no water nearby. We exchanged pleasantries and I quickly made my way back to the junction. Daylight was fading fast but a full moon was rising, so I resolved to avoid using my headlamp. I hiked the last 1.5 miles or so by moonlight, although I had to use a tiny flashlight that I keep on a cord around my neck at a few critical spots, just to be sure I was still on the trail.

I made it back to the trailhead at 9:30pm. My legs and shoulders were very sore for the next few days but as always, it was well worth it!
“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.”

- Walter Bonatti

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Re: TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

Postby maverick » Mon May 19, 2014 12:06 pm

Hi Steve,

When reading the title my first thought was that you couldn't have gotten much
further than the pass because of the snow. Thanks for the intell, any pictures
from the top of the pass? Those cramps sound painful, happy to read that they
subsided! Poor circulation to the legs, which results in inadequate oxygen to the
muscle tissue, can cause severe pain in the muscle that occurs with walking or
. The pain may be due to accumulation of lactic acid and
other chemicals in the muscle tissues. Vitamin deficiencies could also be the culprit.
You may want to see your doctor and get checked out.

Steve wrote:
The time-keeping thing is just a little game I play with myself for fun.

Your not the only one Steve. :unibrow:

PS Did you let the Yosemite wilderness office know about the conditions of the trail
and snow levels. This time of the year they can use all the up to date info they can
get from back-country travelers.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:
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Re: TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

Postby bustinwheels » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:21 pm

Hi, Stoner and I are hiking Ten Lakes, beginning on 7/3. Does anyone know if there's snow up there still and where is the best place to camp on the first night. We are starting from Yosemite Creek/120 and hiking out and back to Ten Lakes.

Thanks so much!
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Re: TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:13 am

There won't be much snow at all up there now. This warm weather has pretty much done away with it.

Best campsite, once you look over the pass down into the basin, you will see at least four lakes (there aren't really ten...maybe only eight or nine) and almost all of them have some kind of campsite. Half the fun of this trip is poking around and seeing the different lakes.

here's a link to our photos from the trip we did last year: ... akesBasin#

check out our website:
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Re: TR: Ten Lakes (Yosemite) 05/12/14

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:53 am

Yeah, there is only 7 lakes large enough to be called lakes in the basin. In the general area there are 10 lakes, like counting Grant Lakes. I visited them again in 2012.
The most interesting lake to camp at may be the lake just to the west of Grand Mountain. Takes some work to get to it in one day.
One of the best established camps in the basin is the western-most lake (WL 9021) in the basin: when you get into the basin and the trail levels out, look for a use trail that goes to the right, which leads you right to the western-most lake. See the picture below for a view from the lake. Peak 10183 overlooks the lake and basin. Be sure to click on the picture.
Lake 9021 in 10 Lakes Basin
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:" onclick=";return false;
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