TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,Isbe | High Sierra Topix  

TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,Isbe

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TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,Isbe

Postby oldranger » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:08 pm

little context: Prior to this trip markskor and I did a 6 day trip in Woodchuck country after that trip we were supposed to pick up my son Matt at FAT and then the 3 of us were to do the trip described below. But markskor fried his ankles fishing from his raft at Woodchuck lake so after picking up Matt, we abandoned Markskor along highway 41 at the Bass Lake cutoff to fend for himself (being the caring person I am I recall we actually stopped to let him out!) and continued toward the Beasore road and eventually all the way in to the Isberg TH.

We ended up spending the night at the Minarets Pack Station where we renewed acquaintances with the staff. (For those of you new to my posts,at my advanced age I have found it works best for me to get packed in the first day of double digit day trips--this enables me to cover many more miles and many more vertical feet than I could otherwise manage--it is kind of like giving myself an extra day in my target area. After making some adjustments to our food supply due to Mark’s painful need to excuse himself from this trip we prepared our gear for the next mornings departure.

Day 1

After picking up our permit and stashing excess food in the Bear Boxes at the Clover Meadow Guard Station we drove to the trailhead and waited about 1/2 hour for our packers to arrive.

Less than an hour up the trail we passed The Niche then shortly after that left the Isberg trail and forded Granite Creek heading e for a short while before taking the next fork to the left, then another fork to the left and finally a right turn at the remains of the Chetwood cabin and up the old unmaintained trail to Long Creek. As it was the first trip of the year there was a little snow and lots of trees down that made going a little complex for 6 horses an mules. I’m pretty sure that this trail was established by cowboys way back when cattle grazing started in the area. In September of ‘69 when my ex and I hiked into the area on the way to Yosemite Valley we encountered lots of cattle in the area and the next day encountered an old cowboy and his dog rounding up cattle up the canyon walls of Long Creek. Just before dropping into Long Creek the Ritter Range comes into view and for some reason the west side view always seems more impressive to me than from the east.
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First View of Minarets
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Intrepid Mule Men


At Long Creek our lady wranglers unloaded our packs and left Matt and I to carry our own packs for the next 11 days.
Lady wranglers.jpg
Mother and daughter wranglers, daughter led the way until we got to unmaintained trail
Before setting up camp we had about 1 1/2 miles to our planned campsite at the two tarns just to the west of Long Creek. I by passed them in 2009 when unsuccessfully trying to outrun a thunderstorm on the last day of a two week trip. In 69 when camped by them I managed to catch some nice brookies, which was strange since there are goldens in the nearby creek. It was quite cool during these first few days of the trip. So cold that I wore long pants during the day for the first 4 days. Though my plan was to avoid carrying alcohol during my trips this summer, Matt insisted, “but dad, its tradition!” So we had backcountry daiquiris with our summer sausage and cheese before roasting our brats over the fire.

On day 2 we headed up to Rockbound Lake where the fishing was slow because most of the fish were in the inlet and outlet streams in spawning mode.
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Looking Across Rockbound, amazing amount of gold in the bushes in the foreground!
We did manage just enough for dinner and Matt caught his first Golden.
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First Golden!
It was cold and blustery all day and after cooking dinner we did not linger around the campfire but dove into the shelter of our tent and the warmth of our sleeping bags.
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Foil Wrapped Trout!

Day 3 turned out to be the highlight of trip due to a special incident that would occur later in the day. But first we had to negotiate the only part of the trip I had never done--going directly ,or actually not so as it turned out, from Rockbound Lake to the Harriets. We stayed north of Long Creek where it comes w from Rockbound lake and rather than going to Rockbound traveled to the first tarn to the nw then to the next tarn to the sw then turning nw before the 3rd tarn above Rockbound and then going up the ridge that drops to the s. then rounding the head of the little valley going ssw toward the twin tarns then heading west to the gap just nnw of Long Mountain, a circuitous route, yes but easy class 1-2 and avoided most of the remaining snow. At the top we were greeted with a new view--the Clark Range and an old view the Ritter Range.
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Clark Range
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Ritter Range
Interestingly there was also a benchmark dated 1906 indicating that Yosemite was to the west and a U.S. Forest Reserve on the east. First time I ever encountered one like that.
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Boundary Benchmark
The gully I had hoped to descend on the west was a little intimidating at first sight as we could not see all the way down and it appeared that it could involve a steepening snow slope that was plenty steep to begin with. Actually it was quite easy and any anxiety quite unwarranted.
Before we established our camp just below what I assume is Harriet #2 I told Matt to climb up the small ridge above camp so he could look down on Big Harriet Lake. No sooner did he disappear over the ridge than he returned to sight saying, “Dad, Dad, come up here.” He had spotted a pair of coyotes. What were they doing?Oh my they were fishing!
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Fishing Coyote!
Soon one, I assumed a female spotted us and took of in the direction of Isberg Peak, not as fast as she could but at a good speed and when she got to the steep snowclad slopes she did not slow down and climbed up over 300 vertical feet and at least 1/4 mile in less than a minute! The other coyote continued fishing and all of a sudden pounced and came up with a fish.
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Got one!
Unfortunately my camera has a limited optical zoom so the pics I took are not the best quality but does serve to renew our memories from time to time. This coyote then spotteds us and repeated the feat of its mate except taking a rockier route. Again the cold drove us to the tent early, but not before we enjoyed one of the always special Harriet sunsets.
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Warm light just before sunset


To be continued, but first I have to meet a friend for a beer!

mike
Last edited by oldranger on Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mike

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Re: TR June 15-26--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,Isberg

Postby rlown » Thu Dec 03, 2015 6:26 pm

Matt moved on from cigars to a pipe now?
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Re: TR June 15-26--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,Isberg

Postby oldranger » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:58 pm

rlown wrote:Matt moved on from cigars to a pipe now?


That was last year! Back to cigars!

mike
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:15 am

I really like that Long Canyon route, though I did it in August of a low-snow year and water was pretty scarce.

Fishing coyotes are very cool.
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby copeg » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:54 am

Cool route. Seeing those Coyote fish must have been a great experience (I recall watching a bear fish early season in Cloud Canyon - one of the better wildlife experiences I've ever had). Looking forward to the next installments...
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby maverick » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:38 pm

Copeg wrote:
(I recall watching a bear fish early season in Cloud Canyon - one of the better wildlife experiences I've ever had).


Yes that would have been, did you by any chance get a photo of that?
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby copeg » Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:16 pm

maverick wrote:Yes that would have been, did you by any chance get a photo of that?


Don't recall getting anything better than a tiny, blurry, black blob in the center of a 3MP image ('twas the days before descent digital quality, and I didn't have my film camera with me)
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby maverick » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:01 pm

Don't recall getting anything better than a tiny, blurry, black blob in the center of a 3MP image ('twas the days before descent digital quality, and I didn't have my film camera with me)


Darn.
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby edhyatt » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:23 am

Fantastic looking trip.

Foil wrapped trout :thumbsup:

I saw a couple of coyotes last summer - really nice to see.
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby freestone » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:49 am

Nice write up OR and looking forward to you finishing that beer so the we can read about the rest of the trip. The trip caught my eye because I've been checking it out on the map as a possible route to next year's meetup that also has fishing opportunities.
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Days 5-7

Postby oldranger » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:46 pm

Day 5, finally a little warmer. A moving day, around Harriet to the sw corner, thru the saddle down to the next lake, w over the ridge to the next lake, then sw to the High Trail , then when it starts to head up plunge off trail to intersect the Triple Peak Fork trail just s of the intersection of the Red Peak Pass trail. This route eliminates 300 feet of uphill and 2 extra miles of trail travel.
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Skirting west side of Big Harriet
A break at the ford/intersection to prepare for 2+ mile, 700 ft climb to top of the ridge before dropping down to the Merced Peak Fork and our camp. Maybe it is because I usually do it in the afternoon, maybe because the scenery is not outstanding but this 2 miles always seems almost interminable to me, I’m sure markskor will agree with me as he bitched the whole way when we did it together! The Red Peak Pass trail has been written up so much it was the one part of the trip where we met several people each time we traveled on it.

A few hundred yards below the Red Peak Pass trail along the Merced Peak Fork are several seldom used campsites. Most travelers don’t go far off the trail to camp and it seems most are also intent, in this area to go from Ottoway to the Triple Peak Fork, at least, on their trips thus missing the best of the area in my opinion. The many deep pools, the undulating granite of this little valley is magic, and if you go up the side and downstream a bit at sunset the view to the ne can be as good as it gets.
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Merced Peak Fork Campsite
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Merced Peak Fork Pool
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Sunset from the Merced Peak Fork


Day 6 Edna. A day hike. A mother dog, as always, that last few hundred feet, but what a lake.
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Almost there!
3rd place highlight of the trip! Matt always says, “Dad, you know me, it’s catchin’ not fishing that I’m interested in.” Well we both had packrafts and after each of us kept our first fish for dinner (Edna can be fickle!) then catch and release after catch and release etc for the rest of the day.
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Relaxing, but effective, way to fish
Fishing Edna from shore has always beaten me up but not having to climb over cliffs, edge along ledges, cross suspicious snowfields, and clamber over talus fields made fishing a pleasure in an incredible setting. It is always good when you can lead your son to his best fishing day ever! Upped my best fish here to 18” but the reputed 20 incher still eludes me. This turned out to be highlight #3 of the trip.
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Dinner
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A last Look! Ever?
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View on the way back to Camp


Day 7 On to Adair! Over the ridge and down to Red Devil Lake then nw to the Red Peak Fork and the route markskor and I took in 2012--Down the Red Peak Fork to where the river starts to drop off steeply then head due n up the line of trees to the top of the ridge
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Looking across the Gray Peak Fork
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Looking S, from whence we came!
then angle down the easy talus to the drainage of lake 9705, then sw over the ridge and down the gulley to Adair.
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Dropping down easy talus slope to drainage below Lake 9705


To be continued, time to watch football! (edhyatt, we're talking real football where the players don't fake injuries unless they wimpy California teams playing Oregon!)

Mike
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Re: TR June 15-26, 2014--Isberg TH, Long Creek,Upper Merced,

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:44 pm

Whoa, that is a monster rainbow! I must get back there. Neat route and what a great experience to get to see coyotes fishing. I've never seen that.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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