TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Turtleggjp » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:01 am

I got the opportunity to do a quick visit to Tehipite Valley this last weekend. Here's the basic trip info:

Day 1: Rancheria TH to Hay Meadow
Day 2: Day hike into Tehipite Valley and back to Hay Meadow
Day 3: Hay Meadow to Rancheria TH

Pretty simple weekend trip. Total mileage was about 43, according to my GPS.

Day 1: I arrived at the Dinkey Creek ranger station around 7:30 AM, before its scheduled opening time of 8 AM. I was planning to use the extra time to pack up my backpack, but the ranger was already there and we filled out my permit. Once 8 AM rolled around, he could call down on the radio to make sure there was room for me on the quota. There was room, but not much left. I might have some company on this trip. That's fine with me, it's a little freaky being out there all alone on a little used trail. By the time I got to Rancheria TH and finished packing, it was about 9:30 AM. The big question on my mind was, would there be any water in Hay Meadow where I planned to camp? Shortly after starting out, I began running across flowing streams that were not shown on my GPS data.

01 - Good Water.jpg
Yay! Water!

This was encouraging, since my GPS data did show a stream at Hay Meadow. After a few hours of walking through the forest and passing numerous trail junctions, I arrived at Johnson's Cow Camp, where I soon found the turnoff for Tehipite Valley.

02 - Boring Forest.jpg
Lots of forest

03 - Crown Rock.jpg
Crown Rock

I had encountered a few fallen trees across the trail already, but they seemed to become more numerous once on the trail to Tehipite Valley. I ran across a particularly difficult set of fallen trees in an area just before the crossing of Rodgers Creek where the Tehipite Fire of 2008 had claimed a large group of trees.

04 - Dead Trees.jpg
Dead trees

Once across Rodgers Creek, the trail began to follow the creek for a little while, staying high while the creek dropped off.

05 - Rodgers Creek.jpg
Small falls on Rodgers Creek

The creek looked quite lively, and I was happy to see that this creek would be merging with Crown Creek before it went over Silver Spray Falls. I was hoping to strike a balance between a spectacular Silver Spray Falls and a fordable Crown Creek in Tehipite Valley. Stream after stream shown on my GPS continued to have decent flow, as I crossed into Kings Canyon National Park at the Gnat Meadow entrance. As I got closer to Hay Meadow, I began to get good views of both Kettle Dome and Tehipite Dome through the trees.

06 - Kettle Dome.jpg
Kettle Dome

Upon reaching Hay Meadow, I began to wonder if I would be able to find the campsite that was supposed to be there. The trail circled above the meadow, and after going about 2/3 of the way around the meadow, I spotted the campsite.

07 - Hay Meadow.jpg
Hay Meadow from campsite

There was only a very small flat area for a tent, barely big enough for my 1-person tent. As I setup camp, I noticed a peculiar rock out in the meadow. Later, I looked again, and the rock had moved into the shade. Then the rock lifted up its head.

08 - Bear in Hay Meadow.jpg
BEAR!!

A bear! Here I was, deep in the forest all by myself, with a bear. This made me a little nervous, but the bear happily went about its business in the meadow, never getting closer than about 400 feet. For about an hour, I kept an eye on the bear as I got myself ready to cook dinner. Eventually, it disappeared from the meadow, and I never saw it again.

Day 2: After packing up my smaller daypack, I left my camp and headed for Tehipite Valley. After cresting a small hill above Hay Meadow, the trail began to descend. Though not perfectly cleared of debris, it was not too difficult to follow the trail. At one point, I spotted a massive cluster of the red Snowflowers.

09 - Snowflower Cluster.jpg
Snowflowers

I had seen them frequently on the hike in, but this was one of the largest groups I had ever seen in one place. Soon, I reached the overlook into Tehipite Valley.

10 - Overlook in the Morning.jpg
Tehipite Overlook

Arriving there early in the morning, it was not the best time for pictures, but I took some anyway, hoping I'd have a better opportunity later in the afternoon. I then began the big descent, thinking a lot about Jimr and his son getting lost on this trail. Would I suffer the same fate?

Continued... (limit 12 attachments)



User avatar
Turtleggjp
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:32 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Turtleggjp » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:21 am

11 - Upper Trail.jpg
Trail just below the overlook

Starting down the trail, I came to a couple of downed trees early on, one of which was burned pretty good.

12 - Burned Log.jpg
Burned fallen tree

Climbing over this got my hands and pants all black, but was otherwise pretty easy with just my daypack. Eventually, I entered the leaf zone, where the trail was covered by oak leaves. This caused me to slip a couple of times, but I was able to catch myself thanks to my trekking poles.

13 - Middle Trail with Leaves.jpg
Leaf litter

Despite the covering of leaves, I never had trouble following the trail. Lower down, the leaves diminished and the poison oak started to appear. Grasses also were growing more in the middle of the trail, and it began to get warm.

14 - Lower Trail.jpg
Lower part of the trail

The trail was still easy enough to follow, with an evident path beaten down through the grass. Suddenly, I could hear voices, and soon came across a group of 6 guys with full backpacks resting on their way up the trail. They had come in the day before, all the way from Rancheria TH. Suddenly, the beaten down grass made more sense. They warned me that the trail seemed to disappear at the bottom, and that there was really tall poison oak to watch out for. They did say though that I could eventually make it through and get out to “the beach.” I asked them about crossing Crown Creek, but they said it looked too deep and swift to risk crossing it.

15 - Almost There.jpg
Almost there!

Not long after leaving them, I came to a stack of rocks marking the bottom of the descent. Sure enough, the trail just seemed to disappear into the bushes to my left. I headed in, noticing quickly that it was stinging nettles to watch out for now instead of the poison oak. The going was tough through here, and I hoped that all of Tehipite Valley would not be like this. I got a brief view of the river as it rounded a bend, but then I encountered the bog.

16 - Hello Middle Fork.jpg
Hello Middle Fork!

I had to move slowly through this tall green vegetation, being careful not to touch any nettles. Somewhere in here, I began to question what I was doing down here, but then I suddenly emerged into the clear. I moved more out into the open, and was welcomed to the valley by the massive Tehipite Dome towering above me.

17 - Tehipite Dome.jpg
Tehipite Dome

I headed over to the river (a fork of it) and took a nice long break where I filled up on water and salty snacks. I even went for a quick rinse off in the river. I then set out to find a good place to view Silver Spray Falls. Unfortunately, I was unable to see it before coming upon the crossing of Crown Creek. However, it didn't look terribly deep or swift as the guys had told me earlier.

18 - Crown Creek Crossing.jpg
Crown Creek crossing

I changed into my sandals which I had brought with me for exactly this purpose, and found that I could get across without much difficulty. The water got up to my knees at one point, but was very slow moving at that point. It was a bit faster in other places, but only about ankle deep there. I got everything across in 3 trips (packing my cameras in ziplock bags inside my daypack for one of the trips), and then went in search of Silver Spray Falls. I could hear it off to my left, but it looked to be a pretty bad bushwhack to try and get closer. Instead, I moved out towards the river again, and into another clearing. As I got further away from the trees, I gradually got a better view and could eventually see most of Silver Spray Falls.

19 - Silver Spray Falls.jpg
Silver Spray Falls

I could also see a waterfall high up in the Gorge of Despair, which I dubbed the “Falls of Despair.”

20 - Falls of Despair.jpg
"Falls of Despair"

I then realized that I had spent a lot of time by the river earlier figuring I wouldn't be able to get much further upstream. Now that I was across Crown Creek, I had a shot at seeing Blue Canyon Falls as well. I hustled up the trail, finding out just how much the trail had to go up and down to avoid unseen obstacles closer to the river. I eventually could look up the canyon drained by Crystal Creek, and noted serveral more waterfalls coming down the rock faces.

21 - Crystal Creek.jpg
Crystal Creek waterfalls

I was making decent time, but I kept calculating my return time, and it seemed less and less likely I'd be able to leave the valley by 4PM. As I got closer to Blue Canyon Falls, I could hear it through the trees, much like Silver Spray Falls. Suddenly, I came to an unexpected stream crossing that looked to be less than trivial.

22 - Turnaround Point.jpg
Time to turn around

I tried briefly to see if I could see an easy way across, but couldn't really see the trail on the other side. I took this as a sign, that it was time to turn around. Blue Canyon Falls would have to wait.

Continued...
User avatar
Turtleggjp
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:32 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Turtleggjp » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:34 am

Just before I had turned around, I had seen a very inviting little pool along a smaller side stream, and I decided to take another quick dip in here.

23 - Mosquito Trap.jpg
Inviting pool

This turned out to be a well laid trap set by the mosquitoes, which until now had not been much of a bother. The came out to get me, just as I'd taken off all my clothes and was about to get in. This didn't deter me, but it was a much quicker dip than I'd hoped, followed by a frantic re-dressing afterwards. I headed back downstream, stopping for lunch where the trail got closer to the main river again. No mosquitoes to bother me here. After lunch, I hurried back down to Tehipite Valley, trying to enjoy the sights along the river as much as I could.

24 - Rock Obstruction.jpg
Rock getting pounded

I got back across Crown Creek, making one less trip this time, opting to carry my boots in one hand, and a single trekking pole in the other. Back by the river in Tehipite Valley, I filled one of my 1.5l nalgene bottles with filtered water, and the other with unfiltered water to use for dinner and dishes later at camp. I bid farewell to Tehipite Dome, and fought my way back through the bog, soon finding the marker for the start of the climb.

25 - Tehipite Dome Afternoon.jpg
Tehipite Dome in the afternoon

26 - The Bog.jpg
The bog

27 - Climbing Out.jpg
Marker at the bottom

It was now 5:45 PM, and I was hoping to get back to the overlook before needing my headlamp. I was figuring I should be able to make the 3,000 foot climb in less than 3 hours. As I climbed up the steep trail, I was happy to be in the shade (the valley itself was in the shade when I left it) and made steady progress. I removed my hat and sunglasses shortly after starting, which made me more comfortable, but probably gave the mosquitoes and flies more surface area to attack. Luckily, they were only a minor annoyance. I got out a new treat to enjoy on this uphill grind, some Honey Stinger Energy Chews (Fruit Smoothie flavor). I don't know how much of an energy boost they gave me, but it was nice to have something to suck on while toiling uphill. When I finally reached the overlook, my GPS had just gone into night mode, but there was still some sunlight on the Monarch Divide.

28 - Overlook at Sunset.jpg
Sunset at the overlook

I checked the time: 8:13 PM, just under 2.5 hours. I was happy, and declared victory on the dreaded Tehipite climb. I knew I still had a little ways to go to get back to camp, so I didn't celebrate very long. With the light fading, I managed to make it to the highpoint above Hay Meadow without my headlamp, but then started to lose the trail on the other side, so out it came. I was at camp only a few minutes later where I cooked dinner, while carefully watching for that bear to come out of the darkness (he never did).

Day 3: Nothing much to do today, except pack up and grind it out through the forest again.

29 - Hay Meadow Water.jpg
Tiny trickle above Hay Meadow

Since there was so little water flowing at Hay Meadow, I decided to hike out to the first larger stream before filling my water bottles and taking a nice re-hydration break. I eventually found the group of 6 I had seen the day before, and they were soon on their way a short distance behind me. As I took breaks at creek crossings, they would catch up to me and take similar breaks. They would eventually pass me when I took an extended break away from the trail for... you know... other business. ;) It seemed to take forever to get back to the cow camp, due to the lesser maintained status of the trail. Then began the biggest uphill climb of the day, made worse by the rising temperatures. I finally made it back to the trailhead, and began the long drive home, stopping first at the Wishon resort to grab some Mountain Dew and a Payday bar. All together, a great trip, and I'm already planning for a return trip, involving a more thourough visit to the Middle Fork of the Kings River's course.

30 - Farewell Tehipite.jpg
Farewell Tehipite!


Matt
User avatar
Turtleggjp
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:32 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby gabe&mel » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:46 am

Nice trip report! We went out there in September 2012 and I hope to go back soon. I forgot about those damn nettles! I also recall a bunch of down trees, one of which had a surprise beehive that we disturbed when stepping over ( didn't think we could skidaddle so quickly with heavy packs!) Quite a lot of elevation gain/loss in one day must of been a bit taxing on the legs. A pity you didn't have some more time to explore. If you get out there again you should try and find the cave paintings.

I often daydream about swimming in the deep pool under silver spray falls, Mel printed out a huge canvas photo of it she liked it so much. I didn't fish back then but I sure wish I did.

How warm was it in the valley? Were the Mosquitos bad?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
User avatar
gabe&mel
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:00 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby fourputt » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:01 am

Thanks for the report and pix. Mucho effort!

Good light for the Tehipite lookout (don’t much like the name “Poopout Point”) is pretty much possible only during a clearing storm, not high summer when it’s always hazy, and not midday or too early/late. Only caught it once.

Spending time in the Valley is worth it if just for the fishing.
User avatar
fourputt
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:25 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:09 pm

Thanks Turtle for the TR and pictures, your time spent in TV was way to short, so much to see/explore, but some trip is better then no trip at all. :)
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8037
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Jimr » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:15 pm

Nice report. I have intentions of returning there. Maybe next year. Loosing the trail was no big deal for me. All the other factors became the big issue.

Evidently, I took the poison oak path instead of the stinging nettles path.
What?!
User avatar
Jimr
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby copeg » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:28 pm

Thanks for the trip report! Enjoyed the write up and photos, especially those of the conditions for which this area is known for and has kept me away for some time (RE poison oak, stinging nettles..what, no rattlesnakes?)
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:47 pm

Evidently, I took the poison oak path instead of the stinging nettles path.


Jim,

Nettles are similar to spinach, and can be eaten once they have been soaked or cooked in water. It contains numerous vitamins and minerals making very healthy. It also contains a decent amount of protein, and makes some great tea.
It is used in many Eastern and European (Eastern) cultures.
Probably would go great with some trout Jim.
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8037
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Turtleggjp » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:43 pm

@gabe&mel: I've been participating in Bob Burd's Sierra Challenge for the past few years, so the day trip wasn't all that bad for me. I figured that a 3,000 foot drop and climb wouldn't be too hard for me, especially with just my daypack (though it was still pretty darn heavy when I started). I bought a new digital clock/thermometer from Radio Shack this year, and it recorded a temperature of 87.5 at 11:11 AM next to the river in the shade. Pretty warm, but I don't remember ever feeling like it was dreadfully hot. Maybe those quick dunks in the river paid off! Perhaps if it was closer to 100 it would have been worse. The mosquitos were only a real issue near that pool on the way back, and somewhat on the climb out. I actually had several bites on the underside of my forearms when I got home, but they didn't really itch that much.

@fourputt: I'll have to keep that in mind about the lighting. I was on the summit of Tehipite Dome last year in July in about the middle of the day, and I got some pretty good photos from there. Now THAT was a brutal dayhike from the trailhead!

@maverick: I knew my time in the valley would be short, and that this would just be a "teaser" trip. I was mainly trying to get some first hand experience on the trail that climbs out of the valley, and that part was successful. I've been looking at it on my maps for years, and I finally got to see what it was like. Next time, I want to come in over Bishop Pass, and go all the way down the Middle Fork to Tehipite Valley. Of course, then I'd probably have to carry my full backpack up that trail. Just gotta make sure I get a super early start. That's an amazing thought about eating stinging nettles! I'm guessing that by cooking them, you remove whatever stings you.

@Jimr: I was thinking a lot about your report as I went down the trail. I hadn't read it for a while, so I didn't remember the details. I read it again as soon as I got out, and it looks like you never made it through "the bog" to the standard camping area in the valley, is that right? It sounds like you described stomping through there when the SAR team was leading you to the helicopter.

@copeg: Nope, didn't see any rattlesnakes. I was moving pretty quickly across the valley floor trying to reach Blue Canyon Falls, so I might have missed them if they were just off the trail.

Glad you enjoyed the report!

Matt
User avatar
Turtleggjp
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:32 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Jimr » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:32 pm

@Turtleggjp
I never saw the bog. We went downstream from the trail end and stayed in the forest section down there. A bit farther down stream from there, I noticed a more formal camping area with cut logs for sitting on, the works, but we were already camped.

On the way out, as the trail goes up stream and past the first run you see, we went upward away from the river to meet up with the helicopter. We probably went around the bog. The water was pretty low in July 2012 and the river above was down to several stringers that converged at the run, then where we camped, turned into a perfect place to hang out with a nice flowing deep section. It was hot down there, but on the river, it was very comfortable. We could not comfortably be in the tent until the sun went down, but it didn't matter because the river was where it was at.

I think about that trip often, but can't quite describe my feelings about it.
What?!
User avatar
Jimr
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Tehipite Valley - 5/29/15 - 5/31/15

Postby Turtleggjp » Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:22 pm

Yeah, I really wish I'd had more time to explore down there. I'm hoping I can plan for a layover day when I get back there again. I couldn't believe how fast the time went down there. And here I thought I might be bored for part of the day.

By the way, although I took a few pictures with my DSLR camera, all the pictures I posted here were frames from my video that I shot with my new video camera this year, a Panasonic HC-X1000. Yes, I hauled that beast all the way out there and back. I only used the DSLR camera at the really pretty spots, like the overlook and in the valley looking up at Tehipite Dome. I reduced all the pictures down to half size (Full HD), since I didn't know if there was a size limitation on posting pictures. That's also how I was able to get such close up views of the bear, and the waterfalls on the other side of the canyon (20x optical zoom). If I ever get around to setting up a Vimeo account, I'll be sure to post the video there. Meanwhile, anyone who'd like to see some clips from the video (full size, or otherwise), just PM me and I'll try to arrange to get it to you.

Matt
User avatar
Turtleggjp
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:32 am
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSNbot Media [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 13 guests