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Back to the Future - Martha Lake T/R 7/30 -8/3/15

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Back to the Future - Martha Lake T/R 7/30 -8/3/15

Postby slowhiker » Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:20 pm

In August of 1983 my wife and I took our first packing trip with our newly blended family. We had my 2 boys (7 and 5 yrs old) and her son (7 yrs old). We had learned that Fred Ross would rent burros to families so that they could experience the High Sierra. Fred fixed us up with 3 burros and pointed us in the direction of Goddard Canyon with Martha Lake as the final destination. Our 8 day and 7 night adventure transformed how our family life would unfold over the next 30+ years. On that trip we made it up Goddard Canyon to about 1 mile pass the Hell-for-Sure trail junction - - - we did not make it to Martha Lake. 6 years ago my wife and i attempted to get to Martha Lake via Hell-for-Sure pass, and again we did not get to Martha lake. So, this summer, we set out for Martha Lake as a training hike for a planned September "Circle of Solitude" trip (that will be a separate trail report).

We got to Florence Lake (very low water level) early enough to catch the first boat to the other side to the lake. It became apparent as soon as we walked up from the lake that much of our hike would bring up memories of our previous trips 3 burro trips in the 1980's. By about 1:00p we were at the Piute Creek bridge. It was here that we started to encounter the many JMT hikers we would meet over the next few days. While at the bridge we met 2 your women who were northbounding he JMT and they were looking for the Muir rock (which they did not find - - - we learned why a few days later). It was interesting and encouraging to see young people taking care of themselves and having a great time (it also reminded us of our sons when they were that age). As we left the bridge it started to rain and We made it as far as the next bridge before we stopped for the day. Again, we met numerous JMT hikers.

The next morning we headed south and left the JMT at the evolution bridge crossing. Immediately we left most of the crowd as we ascended Goddard Canyon. This trail is not crowded and is amazing. The river, the falls, and views are well worth the effort. One thing that is different is that the Hell for Sure trail is hard to spot. In 1983 there was a sign, 6 years ago, the sign was laying on the ground. Now there is no sign and just a couple of logs that seem to point up the trail. Anyway, this is where the GaiaGPS app was helpful (I found this app with our iphone 6 in airplane mode to be incredibly useful). We made it another couple of miles up the canyon and found a wonderful campsite and got our tent set up in time to have shelter as a big thunderstorm hit for about 2 hours and i believe this is the storm that started the lake Hume fire that would effect our Circle of Solitude trip a few weeks later.

On the third day we set out on a day hike to finally find Martha Lake, and a couple of hours later we finally walked up to the lake. My wife and i set there and reflected on our many packing trips with our sons and in the Sierra and in Wyoming. It was an opportunity to reflect on one of the significant emotional benefits of being on trail. After a while, we hiked up a little further to an unnamed lake above Martha Lake and this was an added bonus. We finally left Martha Lake and got back to our tent just in time to avoid being caught outside as another thunderstorm hit.

On day four we headed back and discovered that Muir Rock is a real thing and with the help of the GaiaGPS, we found it. Over the years I have hiked by this rock on 4 other trips and never knew it was there, so I have those 2 young JMT hikers to thank for the insight (even though I am sure that they did not hike back to see it). We camped at Piute Bridge and it was very crowded, yet we were entertained by the chipmonk that was knocking down pine cones, they were very busy and my wife has some great video she captured on her phone. Finally, the next day we left our camp and headed to Florence Lake to end our trip. the hike was relatively quick, yet still help a little more adventure. About a mile before the lake I heard a rattling sound and at first thought it was a grasshopper, then I realized that the rattling sound was a little more ominous, and sure enough about 3 feet to my left was a coiled rattle snake! In over 30 years of hiking this is the first rattler we have encountered (a picture is at the end of the images on the link below). We survived our encounter and a little later we were back at the lake and soon the boat arrived. There were too many of us to go on the boat, we chose to let the others go and we enjoyed the lake for another 1/2 hour while we waited for the boat to come back for us.

We started in 1983 use animals to get us into the backcountry, as our sons got bigger we were able to advance to backpacking and now it is mostly my wife and I (with the help of much lighter gear) that continue to spend time in the back country. Our sons are inventing their own lives, adventures and memories. I recommend this hike to anyone that wants to experience all that the trails in the Sierra offer. There are JMT & PCT thurhikers, there is solitude if you are willing to get off the main trails, there is weather, there is scenery and most of all there are memories to created that will be rewarding for decades.

Here is the link to see some of the pictures of the hike:

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Re: Back to the Future - Martha Lake T/R 7/30 -8/3/15

Postby maverick » Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:17 pm

Thank you for the TR and pictures! Cool shot of the rattlesnake. :)
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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: Back to the Future - Martha Lake T/R 7/30 -8/3/15

Postby richlong8 » Mon Oct 12, 2015 11:37 am

Interesting trip report, and nice photos. Thanks for sharing.
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