TR: Emerald Lake Sequoia NP 5/11 - 5/12 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Emerald Lake Sequoia NP 5/11 - 5/12

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TR: Emerald Lake Sequoia NP 5/11 - 5/12

Postby Fly2fly » Thu May 14, 2015 5:39 pm

After lurking forever and taking information without providing any, I finally figured I could do my part, albeit in a small way...

Two friends and I headed to Emerald Lake in Sequoia National Park for a one night trip on Monday, 5/11/15. The Rangers at Lodgepole said the Emerald Lake basin got about 6 inches of snow during the previous week's storm, and although optimistic about trail conditions, they did not have any first hand reports from hikers exiting the basin since. This gave us slight pause, but we figured if conditions caused us to turn back we would have a straight downhill ride back to Wolverton.

When we arrived at the Wolverton parking lot for the Lakes Trail trailhead there were only three other cars. Turns out, two belonged to a group of day hikers (all family), two of whom got engaged(!) where the Hump Trail tops out overlooking the Tokopah Valley.

The Watchtower Route is still signed as closed and was not an option. We took the requisite Hump Route. For the first backpacking trip of the season, the first 4.5 miles of this route, which seemed to be straight uphill the entire way, were a kick in the pants. The reward for this effort was the incredible view of the Tokopah Valley from the top of the "Hump". The last mile or so to Emerald Lake is all downhill and a nice relief before rolling into camp. We saw only patches of snow along the entire route, and none were on the trail proper.

We arrived at Emerald Lake about four and half hours after we set out and had the entire basin to ourselves. We set up shop at campsite number three (I think), a couple hundred yards from the lake. Side note--although there was no snow in any of the numbered Emerald Lake sites, the ground at each was very damp, obvious signs that the snow had recently melted off. The weather was overcast when we arrived, but otherwise fine.

I usually try and do a little fly fishing at times like this, but did not bring any gear this time around. Fish were rising at Emerald and one of the isolated ponds downstream from the outlet (near where the trail crosses the outlet stream before entering the "campground".

We explored around a little, but generally relaxed as the weather got colder.

The next morning we were up and on trail by 9, splitting up after we reached Wolverton for other area adventures.

A couple things worth mentioning:
-It is still pretty cold at elevation. It did not get above 50 degrees at any point and was in the low 20s overnight.
-EVERY numbered site at Emerald had a fire ring. Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, campfires are specifically prohibited (I believe a notice at the "campground" even said as much. I know this can be a touchy topic, but it's maddening to stumble across these.
-The trail is in excellent condition, especially this early in the season. There are still a couple of fallen trees blocking the trail in parts, but these are easily detoured around.
-There's a weather station and an outlet flow station at Emerald. Both appear to be maintained by a research group based at UC Riverside. Their research site is pretty interesting and has data going back to the early 1980s.

I'll try and upload a couple of pictures later, but first need to figure out how to reduce the file size.

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Re: TR: Emerald Lake Sequoia NP 5/11 - 5/12

Postby maverick » Thu May 14, 2015 5:55 pm

Hi Fly2fly,

Welcome to HST! Thank you for posting your first TR, and reporting the current conditions. :thumbsup:
Looking forward to seeing the pictures too. :nod:
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: Emerald Lake Sequoia NP 5/11 - 5/12

Postby SSSdave » Thu May 14, 2015 10:01 pm

Fly2fly wrote:...EVERY numbered site at Emerald had a fire ring. Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, campfires are specifically prohibited (I believe a notice at the "campground" even said as much. I know this can be a touchy topic, but it's maddening to stumble across these.

I share your feelings, agreed. There have always been a small minority that make campfires everywhere including where they are illegal. And it has definitely gotten worse over the last two decades. Not all of them are novices or twentysomethings and probably include some members of this board though they would never admit it. I've been breaking up illegal fire rings for many years and more. It is worse in NF areas versus NPs simply because there are almost no backcountry rangers that purpetrators would have to worry about. There needs to be both more enforcement, penalties when caught, more lecturing to visitors when they pick up permits, and more pressure from peers like us when we see others in the backcountry disregarding important policy. Instead most other backpackers tend to not get involved.
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