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Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

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Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby michaelzim » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:33 am

Another "smoked out from the south" report...with Emigrant Wilderness appearing to be a decent alternative.

I was due to stay out about 8 days and lasted one night. Kind of a bust after a 6 hour drive back and forth to the trailhead from where I live...No doubt you are wondering: “Why???”

Bloody jets! The roaring of commercial airliners going directly overhead almost all the time. At ‘peak periods’ like morning and evening, there was often one leaving to the east and a new one ‘sounding in’ from the west. Then for kicks there were two north/south jetways either side but higher altitude so not quite as loud, or quite as busy, but added to the insult. At best I reckon I got 20 minutes as the longest “silence” during daylight with jets every 3 to 5 minutes being more normal. Some (older???) were really loud; some just loud…Certainly not just contrails in the sky with a little mild “whoosy” sound. This was the more the “jet roar’’ scene.

I hiked in from Crabtree around 3:00 pm Wednesday via the Camp Lake trail as it was clearly very, very, dry and I doubted (correctly) that many of the smaller rivers would have no water in them. Incidentally, this is a much prettier route than the main trail through Pine Valley, which I used on the return, which should be renamed Dead Tree Valley. Hot and uninspiring for quite a long way. It is more gentle though with less up and down than the Camp lake route.

That first night I camped up in the granite above well above 'no name' pond/lake (before Piute Meadow) as unbelievably there had been some mosquitoes trying to bite me along the trail way far from any water. No idea where they were hanging out so far from moisture??? There were some up at my camp at dusk, but none in the morning.
No rest for the weary as the jet noise that evening was so constant I couldn’t handle it and had to eventually use earplugs to sleep. There were some hours of quiet around 2:00 am when took them out, but back in again at 5:00 am...What a fiasco for the term “Wilderness”!!!

Thursday morning I broke camp early hoping for a quieter day and headed to Piute Meadow. No dice. Same near continual noise from above. I could see on the map I was not going to be able to walk myself out of the zone as sound in the sky carries a long way. When the short trail cutting to the south appeared I said: "To hell with it, this is ridiculous!" and headed out past Grouse Lake, etc. back towards Crabtree. Of course the few other campers I met were oblivious. “Oh, yeah, there are a lot of jets up there come to think of it”. Meanwhile the conversation is a little louder than “soto voce” because a darn jet is going over right then!…I tell you, I envy them. I may as well have camped in a wood a few miles from San Fran airport!

Then lastly, the smoke was slowly coming in. Two new fires. One I could see billowing up smoke Wednesday evening to the west (somewhere lower, on the route I drove in, near Sonora I guess), and a new one in Yosemite to the south. Not too bad and much thicker at 5,000 ft. on the drive back down heading west on Thursday.

I had checked posts about Emigrant here on HST before deciding to go, but no-one had mentioned this noise thing. However, in case anyone else considers the "Big Silence" and integral part of being in the wilderness like I do, you may want to avoid Emigrant. A pilot friend’s “Jetways” map shows J-84 was the main one outbound from the Bay Area, west to east, so the planes are still using thrust to gain altitude. Then the north/south ones are J-5 and J-7 from ‘Reno terminus’ to ‘LA region’…(Those “J” or “Jetway” routes are like freeways but for commercial planes in the sky, etc.). Wunderbar!

On an endnote, Emigrant Wilderness is no doubt pretty further in (than I got) but is definitely not “big mountains” stuff. Different. Lots of granite which is fine but I would need peace and quiet to have that "close and cozy feeling of out there in a pretty place" (like an isolated lake) without big views. I bet it is fantastic in green and wildflowers season, but the bugs are infamously bad…I can see why. More birds than I'm used to in the higher elevations, so they are still feeding on something even now. Oh, some gnats too attracted to the mule-horse poop on the trail and then going for the moisture in my eyes. Annoying, but no big deal v. the real bug hatch in summer. The main trail was the typical late season 'dust, sand and ground up pebbles' c/o mules/horses, though there were some impressive trail rock work places on grades to cater to them. Like cobblestone streets in Europe but with bigger rocks of all shapes! Someone put in a lot of work on those.

Hopefully next year will break this habit of California becoming a fire and smoke zone from July on and I can head back to the quieter zones in the southern Sierra.

Best, Michaelzim



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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby rlown » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:46 am

Nice report! Here's a website (flightaware) that will drive you even crazier about that lil' noise problem:

https://flightaware.com/live/
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby michaelzim » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:00 am

rlown...Hey thanks for that flight tracker map! Indeed it shows just what I was experiencing and I see there is also another regular stream of jets from west to east just a bit further north. Hells bells!
And yes, the incoming over Mono Lake and Tioga/Tuolomune is clear too. So the "north" is out for me.

Thanks much for that as had looked online and not found anything useful as my Jetways map is pretty old.

Best, Zimichael
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby balzaccom » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:26 am

It's not just Emigrant Wilderness. The whole Sierra sees this from time to time. Check out this photo from the High Country in Yosemite earlier this summer:


Image
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby astrogerly » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:53 am

If you want quiet in terms of air traffic, definitely stay away from Yosemite and north of it (you can thank the fact that that area is lined up with flight paths from the Bay Area to Denver, SLC, and most of the East Coast). We've actually never had an issue with it in Yose, but we also don't mind contrails and the such either. From south of Mammoth, we only ever see occasional general aviation aircraft or military aircraft.
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby rlown » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:39 am

michaelzim wrote:Hey thanks for that flight tracker map! Indeed it shows just what I was experiencing and I see there is also another regular stream of jets from west to east just a bit further north. Hells bells!
And yes, the incoming over Mono Lake and Tioga/Tuolomune is clear too. So the "north" is out for me.

Thanks much for that as had looked online and not found anything useful as my Jetways map is pretty old.

Best, Zimichael


I only looked for the online tracker because I wanted to know what was flying over my house in Petaluma at 3:30am and then 4am and wake me up, even though they are at 25500 feet. Turns out one of the routes goes near KSTS towards SFO. So, I know the culprits now.

But yes, It can be noisy out there on the INYOE jetway right over Evelyn Lk towards SFO..
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby justm » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:13 pm

Yes, I don't like it either. The sierras run north /south. You've got to go over them some how. The world gets more and more crowded. :(
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:50 am

The answer to jet noise bothering sleep is earplugs. Honestly, the military jets in the southern Sierra are just as noisy. Plus the military jets will scare the heck out of you if they come over a ridge at lower altitude.

Crabtree trailhead is not my favorite, particularly when it is dry- it is a dusty mess. There is a lot of horse use in Emigrant, and late season, trails are beat to death. You have to get well along the trail, and better to get off-trail and on to the granite slabs before travel is pleasant. Gianelli is a much better trailhead. But I only use these trailheads early season. Also, this year with the drought, Emigrant Wilderness is not at its best.
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby windknot » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:14 am

Thanks for the report! Hmm, I've never seriously considered the negative effect of flight paths overhead before, but as luck would have it I did notice the (seemingly) unusually large amount of plane activity overhead when I was in the mountains north of Bishop last week. Nothing bad enough to ruin the trip (the weather did a better job of that) but certainly enough to make one pause and take note that one is not, in fact, alone in the world.
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby rlown » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:09 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:The answer to jet noise bothering sleep is earplugs. Honestly, the military jets in the southern Sierra are just as noisy. Plus the military jets will scare the heck out of you if they come over a ridge at lower altitude.

Crabtree trailhead is not my favorite, particularly when it is dry- it is a dusty mess. There is a lot of horse use in Emigrant, and late season, trails are beat to death. You have to get well along the trail, and better to get off-trail and on to the granite slabs before travel is pleasant. Gianelli is a much better trailhead. But I only use these trailheads early season. Also, this year with the drought, Emigrant Wilderness is not at its best.


I actually love the military jets! I absolutely hate ear plugs and they're not healthy anyway. Agree with the Gianelli approach to Emigrant, when season is at it's best and defined by melt out (to get to the trail-head.)

This'll make you queasy. :

Don't give up on Emigrant though. It's a sweet spot early season.
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:49 pm

Earplugs are not "unhealthy". Use the disposables- one time use if you are really worried. I have used earplugs regularly for more than 30 years and never had any ear "health problems". If you had a spouse who snored loudly, you would soon get used to earplugs!

If military jets do not bother you but commercial ones do, then it is not the noise per se, but the psychological connotations of each. One brings pleasant memories; the other irritates due to its implications of civilization.

Each of us has our pet peeves with respect to "noise". Coming down the trail this morning I passed two fellows who were playing music. It was somewhat pleasant music, nevertheless, it irritated me because I really do not like my "trail peace" interrupted by a boom-box.

Just after 9/11, my workplace shut down for 3 days. I decided to loop from Levitt Meadows through Stubblefield Canyon (Emigrant Wilderness and northern Yosemite). Second day out I noticed that there were absolutely NO jets overhead. I slept in a bivy, so also noticed the lack of jets while watching the night sky. I thought it a bit strange, but did not think about it much. When I came home I found out about the temporary cessation of flights. I guess that was the only time I have been in the wilderness when absolutely no planes flew overhead.
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Re: Emigrant Wilderness – way too noisy for me! (9/9 - 9/10)

Postby rlown » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:56 pm

Yes.. Me and my spouse both snore. My "unhealthy" comment was more about the ear canal being able to breathe. I use them when waterfowl hunting as a friend once shot past me (not wearing them at the time) and my left ear hearing is now, well, strange. Everyone sounds like Mickey Mouse now if i listen from the left.

I like the Military jets because they are somewhat few and far between and exciting to see when the come over a ridge. The commercial jets are an endless stream of noise during normal flight times.

Had a C-130 fly over my friend and I when hunting in Utah in the mid 80's. Right on the deck, from behind through a slot above the canyon. Very cool.
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