TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

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TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby Granite » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:55 pm

My 14-year-old son and I flew into Reno from Phoenix, stopped by REI to pick up some stove fuel (though we have always used white gas in the Sierra, we decided to try canister fuel with an MSR Pocket Rocket stove this time), then headed south towards Sonora Pass. We were headed to the trailhead at Kennedy Meadows. We had not hiked out of there before, but had car camped at Baker Campground years earlier when the kids were young, so knew the general area.

Once we arrived at Kennedy Meadows resort, we stopped by the store to pick up some trash bags and see if we could get any G2 from returning hikers. Since it was late in the day (around 4:00 PM) we met a few guys that had just exited. One guy and his son had evacuated from Emigrant Lake having been chased away by extreme mosquitos. He said it takes a lot for him to come out early from a trip, but the bugs were so bad he caved. He did not look like a happy camper!

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We parked the car back at the trailhead parking lot and headed back through the resort area on the way to the trail. We noticed the historical sign just before heading up the dirt road that eventually takes you to the trail. I was looking forward to hiking this terrain and imagining how those settlers came through it!

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After a mile or so of walking on the road and watching the fishermen angle the river, we came to the first bridge and started to get excited about the terrain we we’re headed towards.

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Farther up the trail we came to the second bridge. Really spectacular views from here!

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After ascending from the second bridge we came across the old equipment, reportedly abandoned after the construction of the dam that creates Relief Reservoir.

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Then, a few minutes later, we spotted the man made water feature itself. It presented a great view, but we could also see the clouds headed our way. Based on the weather forecast, we knew we were in for a wet night.

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We camped the first night just beyond the reservoir near where the stream crosses the trail. We knew we were in for some rain over the next 48 hours, so pitched the tent taught and settled in for the night.

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The next day was pretty soggy. The rain was not heavy, but it was constant and cold. After doing a little fishing and exploring in the morning, we went a few more miles up the trail to explore the creek past Sherphard’s Camp. Still pretty wet out, and not knowing exactly when we would pass the last sheltered spot, we decided to camp the second night just at the tree line and shortly before the trail forks off the Emigrant Lake. We were luck to have a beautiful view of a little waterfall coming down the south slope and a good source of water in the stream below.

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With no signs of a break in the weather, we headed out mid morning towards Brown Bear pass, with Emigrant Meadows Lake out destination for that evening. Brown Bear pass was cloaked in clouds as we came through it.

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-- continued --



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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby Granite » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:01 pm

-- continuing --

We made our way down the pass and around the lake, then made camp at the southern end and tried to catch our dinner. No luck on the fishing though, so dug into another dehydrated meal.

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After another night of rain, the weather finally broke. We enjoyed a fabulous morning, with some more fishing and a chance to dry out our gear.

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So far lots of rain, but no mosquitos. While our original plan was to loop down south, passing through Emigrant Lake and Deer Lake, then head back North to return to Kennedy Meadows via Upper Relief Valley – with lots of fishing along the way, we considered staying at Emigrant Meadows Lake as a basecamp and taking day hikes from here so we could avoid the mosquitos that were almost certain to plague us as we headed south. We really wanted to do the loop, so headed out regardless of the mosquitos but armed with DEET, hats, and nets.

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When we got to our first stream crossing they came at us in force. Sitting down to take off / put on our boots, the little buggers descended on us for a feast! After the second stream crossing, we decided it was less painful to cross in our boots and hike with wet feet than it was to endure the buggers as we took off our boots on one side and put them on at the other.

Still, it was great to see the views and have the sun out for a change!

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We got down to Emigrant Lake and saw a bald eagle just as we were coming down the trail from the south side. Unfortunately I was not fast enough with the camera to catch a picture. After a short rest and wait, hoping to see the bird again, the mosquitos became too much, so we charged across the inlet and headed west around the lake. What spectacular scenery. We would have loved to take some time to enjoy it, but were hoping that if we could make it back up to a higher altitude we would find fewer bugs.

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-- continued --
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby Granite » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:05 pm

-- continuing --

After passing Buck Lake and Deer Lake, we headed north, again hoping to escape the bugs that were out in full force. We were headed for Upper Relief Valley but had already put in quite a few miles and had run out of water, so decided to call it a night near the stream that drains into Deer Lake from the North.

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The next day started beautifully again, though once again heavy on the mosquitos. With our water resupplied and a good night’s rest we once again headed up the trail but had to deal with the mosquitos the second we set foot outside the tent. We covered lots of beautiful terrain over the next hours, but fought the bugs all along.

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We finally made it to Upper Relief Valley and started taking in the spectacular views of the volcanic rock and granite meeting each other. Unfortunately, we had no relief from the bugs as we walked through the meadow. While we were walking, they tended to keep away, but whenever we stopped they we on us within seconds. Without much in the way of a breeze, we pushed forward.

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-- continued --
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby Granite » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:09 pm

-- continuing --

Relief Creek got more and more amazing as we descended. Unfortunately, most of the time it was far below the trail and so difficult to access. I am looking forward to exploring these pools on a future trip!

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Before we knew it we had descended to the spot where we camped the first night, where the trail crosses Relief Creek. The creek was running pretty fast and hard. When we camped here on the first night, we watched a party of eight, with varying hiking and stream crossing abilities, struggle to cross it. In the past few days, someone had put up a very taught hand line that made it easier to cross, though still a bit sketchy.

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With the mosquitos chasing us we had not gotten in nearly the amount of fishing we had hoped for. Since we had two more days on our trip, we decided to make the push out to the car so we could try our luck in some of the other streams, so made it a 14 mile day pushing past Relief Reservoir and the river running into Kennedy Meadows and back to our starting point.

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All in all we had a great and memorable trip, despite the bugs. Before this, all of my Sierra trips had been farther south, mainly SEKI. I loved the relatively “flat” topography of the Emigrant Wilderness that makes it easy to see a lot and explore what you can see. I am really looking forward to getting back here for another trip!

-- end --
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:24 pm

Great TR and pictures Granite. Great way to start a trip seeing folk cutting their
trip short because of the skeeterz. :(
That rain and cold weather was a good start to keeping them away, but come
sunny and dry weather those blood sucking mini-vampires our out in force, no
matter the elevation, only wind conditions can bring relief.
Did not see any wildflowers in your photo's, Emigrant should be peaking right
now in some areas.
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: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness June 23-29, 2013

Postby JWreno » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:59 pm

I always bring long sleeve wind shirt, long light pants and bug net for the bugs. I mostly use the Deet on my hands because I hate having it all over my body at the end of the day before getting in my sleeping bag. We didn't have any problem with bugs last year in Emigrant Wilderness in August. I just did a 2 day trip in Hoover Wilderness. We had one buggy afternoon and mostly bug free otherwise. Just depends on the topology and wind conditions.

I prefer taking my major trips in mid-August or later because I rather deal with looking a bit further for drinking water vs. having the bugs drink my blood. My worst bug trip every was a 10 Lakes Yosemite trip in June. It was day and night attacks.

Your trip report was great. I have only seen a small portion of Emigrant Wilderness under smokey conditions from the big fire last August. I plan to return sometime in the future. It was a lot of fun walking up all the granite ramps.
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