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TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

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TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby schmalz » Tue Aug 11, 2015 12:56 pm

Hey HST,

We recently returned from a great trip to the Emigrant Wilderness, and it's going to be a few weeks until I post a full trip report on our website, so I figured I'd give you all a sneak peak while the conditions are still relevant. You were extremely helpful in my planning for this trip, so thank you for that and all of other help I've received over the years.

Route:

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Quick Notes: Mosquitoes were not a problem, although they weren't completely vacant. Most streams are dry already.

Day One: Crabtree Trailhead to Cherry Creek

We didn't hit the trail until about 3:30 for the first day. We had to drive all the way up from LA that day, and when we arrived at the ranger station we noticed a screw sticking out of our car tire, which set us back another couple of hours. With that late start, it was going to be a push to make it to our campsite before dark. We didn't linger much on this day.

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We barely accomplished our goal, with the last light of the day hitting the top of nearby peaks as we reached camp at Cherry Creek in Louse Canyon.

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Day 2: Cherry Creek to Hyatt Lake

I had actually been worried about finding good water in Cherry Creek. While it wasn't running much, there was still plenty of good water to be found near camp.

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The next couple of days were more or less all off-trail, and our approach to Rosasco Lake was our first real taste of what we should expect in the area.

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All in all, pretty easy going.

Rosasco Lake:
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Pingree Lake:
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After visiting Pingree Lake, we began to heard towards Hyatt Lake and accessed the large bowl of granite between Hyatt and Big Lakes for our traverse. This was the highlight of the trip. I've never seen anything like this anywhere else in the world.

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We had originally wanted to stay at "the Regency", but were unable to find an easy way to get over to the other side of the lake. We didn't care to spend much time route finding just to find a campsite, so we settled on camping on the east side of the lake. Callie enjoyed the beach the most of anyone I think.

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Sunset was nice that night, although an appetizer for what we'd be getting the next two nights.

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Day 3: Hyatt Lake to Yellow Hammer Lake

We started the day in good spirits since we had the great granite bowl to look forward to. I dubbed it the Devil's slip and slide since everything is named after the devil up here.
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Big Lake lived up to its name. IT'S HUGE! I'd say 50 different groups could be at this lake and all enjoy some privacy.
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Getting to the other side of Big Lake with Callie proved to be difficult. We ended up having to wade through a pond at a certain point as we tried to bushwack around the lake shore. The one thing we didn't anticipate about the area was how difficult bushwacking could be in the wetter areas with lots of growth.
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We decided to stay at Yellowhammer for the night. The lake was gorgeous, and we had it all to ourselves. This was our ninth wedding anniversary, and there was nowhere else we'd rather spend it. Fourteen years ago we did our first Sierra backpacking trip together. This was our best one yet.
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Sunset was sublime that night.
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Day 4: Yellowhammer Lake to Deer Lake

We began our day heading up to 5 acre lake. Again routefinding/off trail travel was easy until we neared the lake and began to have to find a path through the brush.
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The same applied to our route between 5 acre and red can.
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The traverse from Red Can to Leighton and Karl Lakes is very easy, and we arrived only after about 10 minutes after leaving. We had planned on possibly staying the night here, but the gray skies, cold temperatures, and dead trees that greeted us didn't inspire us to linger. We decided to move ahead to Deer Lake with a detour to Buck Lakes.
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One the way we passed Wood Lake which surprised us with its lush beauty right alongside the trail.
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The view from between lower and upper Buck Lakes was one of the best that we saw on our trip, but it was unfortunately muted by the boring overcast light that had plagued us all day. I guess it gives us a reason to return.
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I should note that we began seeing flowers along the trail pretty regularly, which I was not expecting for August in this record breaking drought year.
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Deer Lake was a pretty incredible sight. There was no wind, so the lake reflected a sky which had now broken up to feature some fantastic looking clouds. Things were looking up for sunset.
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and as it turns out, it was magnificent.
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Day 5: Deer Lake to Crabtree Trailhead

It rained on us off and on throughout the night, and our tent would occasionally flash bright from distant lightning. In the morning, we awoke to blue skies with a beautiful but threatening bank of puffy white clouds.
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It was a beautiful day for photography. We walked back to our car the long way to make the trip into more of a loop and see some different areas.
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Callie had to adjust to being back on trail after a few days of off trail freedom.
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The meadows in the middle of Emigrant are pretty spectacular and quite different from the terrain we had experienced on the rest of the hike. We really enjoyed the variety of ecosystems around here.
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Our last stop was at Chewing Gum lake, which despite it's proximity to two nearby trailheads, was empty and still remarkably beautiful.
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We arrived back at our car a little after 5 and began the LONG trek back to Los Angeles. Despite the fact that this area is quite far away from us, we can't wait to get back. It scratched an itch that the High Sierra doesn't quite hit, and it brought back a lot of nostalgia for two people who grew up in northern California and were introduced to the Sierra via its west side.

A full trip report will be on Calitrails in a few weeks if you are interested in more information.

Cheers,
Brian



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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby Cross Country » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:25 pm

Eleanor Sanches, Wendy Weiss, Lee Starke and I did a trip to these Lakes and Huckelberry and Twin and others in 1972. There was good fishing for good size fish in Red Can and Hyatt Lakes. I would guess that neither one has fish now.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby schmalz » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:32 pm

Cross Country wrote:Eleanor Sanches, Wendy Weiss, Lee Starke and I did a trip to these Lakes and Huckelberry and Twin and others in 1972. There was good fishing for good size fish in Red Can and Hyatt Lakes. I would guess that neither one has fish now.


I saw some good sized fish in some of those lakes, although I don't remember all of the details now. We weren't fishing.

Next time we probably will be.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby rlown » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:41 pm

A very nice report!

Always more fun when the TR has a dog in it. I loved the big granite shots.

Russ
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:52 pm

Those granite slabs are really fun in that area, wow, Cherry Creek is really low. :eek:
You had some great clouds, and colors to work with at sunset, beautiful shots. Yellow Hammer and Woods Lakes are some of my favorites in that region. :nod:
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby schmalz » Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:14 pm

maverick wrote:Those granite slabs are really fun in that area, wow, Cherry Creek is really low. :eek:
You had some great clouds, and colors to work with at sunset, beautiful shots. Yellow Hammer and Woods Lakes are some of my favorites in that region. :nod:


Thanks. It'd been awhile since I was blessed with conditions like that. It was a lot of fun to shoot with those clouds.

We went into this trip without many plans since it was put together at the last second, so both Yellowhammer and Deer Lake just happened to be where we ended up for those nights. I'm glad we seemed to have chosen well.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby Jimr » Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:19 pm

Alot of very nice shots, but your Deer Lake shot is mesmerizing. Great capture!
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 11, 2015 5:02 pm

Enjoyed the tour, thanks for the report, and congrats to you 2 on your anniversary. Am envious.

I was out just before that period far to the south and got stormed on too . Have been wanting to return to those areas for some years now and have various routes planned. If one goes mid July when wildflowers are peaking the mosquitoes can be the worst in the range. If one goes too early during a normal year the creeks crossing can be difficult with mosquitoes insane. Going too late is just too dry, colorless or brown, and boring for this photographer. One thing that region has is a large number of lakes and especially ponds, many of which don't even show on the topo. For instance the landscapes around Lertora Lake have dozens of ponds.

There are no tall peaks so it is an exceptional area for images with skies because lake reflections that have trees on ridges or behind lakes are at low angles. Thus if one visits as you two did during a stormy period, it is likely at least some of that time will offer interesting end of day sunset and dusk color. Early mornings however during monsoon type conditions is likely to be only partly cloudy with sunnier skies because unlike the Sierra Crest areas of the much taller Southern Sierra, the Emigrant region is relative mid-elevation country well west of a lower crest up by Sonora Pass. Generally the further west of the crest the less cumulus build-ups. Additionally if it does rain, that helps bring out the otherwise a bit too white granite color by darkening it some. Emigrant has nice forest areas as long as one keeps to camping down in the joint cracks, stream canyons, and other low areas, so even if thunderstorms are about, it doesn't have to be dangerous.

Oh yeah, nice toys for a group going to Big Lake would be some colorful inflatable balls. Some real fun rolling them down from the top of that bowl that in places would end up in the lake. Something ordered off this page would hardly weigh anything.

http://www.beachballs.com/solid-beach-balls.asp
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby alc101ma » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:00 pm

Looks like an amazing trip. Really love all that smooth granite. Great photos, especially those sunsets!
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby Hobbes » Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:30 am

Gotta love those flat ramps polished smooth from receding glaciers.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby BigMan » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:29 am

I really enjoyed your report and beautiful photos. Thanks.

Now that you've been, do you find yourself comparing Emigrant to places that have more "dramatic" alpine scenery?

I ask because, while I very much look forward to visiting Emigrant and appreciating its qualities, I still crave (or feel compelled to choose) the more dramatic scenery of SEKI, JMW, and Yosemite. I'm looking forward to letting go of that craving.

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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness 8/3 - 8/7

Postby schmalz » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:18 am

BigMan wrote:I really enjoyed your report and beautiful photos. Thanks.

Now that you've been, do you find yourself comparing Emigrant to places that have more "dramatic" alpine scenery?

I ask because, while I very much look forward to visiting Emigrant and appreciating its qualities, I still crave (or feel compelled to choose) the more dramatic scenery of SEKI, JMW, and Yosemite. I'm looking forward to letting go of that craving.

Geoff


Well, I think that the giant granite slabs around Hyatt/Big Lake are pretty dramatic. That area was as inspiring as almost any in the Sierra.

Outside of that, it doesn't quite compare, but it also provides an abundance of peaceful spots that one can have to themselves. It's definitely worth a visit, especially for people in Norcal.
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