TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono Creek | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono Creek

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: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono Creek

Postby Asolthane » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:15 am

This was based on a recommendation from SSSdave here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12954

8/22/15 -

This was one of the most emotionally difficult trips I have been on. It was my first solo trip, I forgot my fishing pole, and I was dealing with pain the entire time.

Day 1: The drive from San Francisco to Vermilion campground took longer than expected, over 6 hours. I could have gotten to the trailhead on the Eastern side in about the same time (but there were not advance permits available). I missed the shuttle across what was left of Lake Thomas Edison (%12 capacity) and I didn't want to wait until the next morning, so I started out down the trail a mile and then got that funny "I think I forgot something" feeling after about 15 minutes of walking. I realized it was my tenkara rod, and walked back to the car to check. When I realized I had forgotten in in San Francisco, I was beside myself. The first day was spend walking the 6 miles along the empty reservoir. It was ugly, I don't recommend it. Better to take the water taxi in the morning.

Day 2: The following day I worked my way up Mono Creek, which I didn't enjoy. It was thickly wooded without any meadows or views of the creek. I have been battling some metatarsalgia (foot pad pain) which flared up and I only could make it about another 6 miles. I camped at the junction of Hopkins Creek and Mono Creek, and was feeling pretty discouraged. Also the air was full of smoke for the first two days due to a nearby fire.

Day 3: I worked my way up Hopkins Creek, and the forest finally started to thin out as I got above 9,500 feet. Once I got above 10,000 I was reminded why I love this, and my mood brightened. Things opened up and the smoke wasn't as bad. I stopped for lunch at Upper Hopkins Lakes, and then headed for Hopkins Pass. It was a dramatic pass, and the way down wasn't immediately apparrent, but once I found the use trail it was a pretty easy trip down to Big McGee Lake. Big McGee was gorgeous with lots of great campsites around. I didn't see anyone there, and there were large, 12-14 foot fish cruising the lake. I had a nice afternoon, would love to return here, with a fishing pole.

Day 4: I was still managing foot pain and having to stop every mile or so and take off my shoes and massage my feet. Not fun. The route to McGee pass is about 1,400 feet of climbing, much on red and white talus from Red Slate Mountain, up to almost 12,000 foot at the pass. It was beautiful and unique scenery. The lakes are emerald green against the red rock, I haven't seen anything like it in the Sierras before. Amazing place. Then, the descent is long and difficult and ends in some scree covered switchbacks before you drop into an absolutely gorgeous meadow along Fish Creek. This was stunning country, and fish creek lives up to it's name - teeming with 4-7 inch trout. At this point, I had some rapid onset, severe achilles tendon pain creep up on me, likely from the trip over McGee pass. My foot pain had finally receded and now I was dealing with this. I hiked to Tully lake which was stunning, with warm sandy shallow areas, cliffs you could dive off of, grassy areas to lie in. Many options in that basin for a campsite, but you need to work to get 100' from the water. There were also larger fish in Tully lake. Again, I would love to return with a pole. I took my boots off for a couple hours and soaked my feet, but when I put the boots back I was in for some pretty intense pain. I had planned to make a big loop through this country north of Mt Isaak Walton and out past the Graveyard Lakes and down Cold Creek, but I decided I better bail, so I hopped myself up on painkillers and headed due south, cross country over a pass and down past Bighorn and Ross Finch lakes. I camped in a beautiful meadow about 1200 feet up the creek from Mott Lake

Day 5: I planned to take a rest day and see if my foot felt any better, but by early afternoon I realized I was unhappy, I couldn't explore due to pain, and I couldn't fish. I plan to do more solo trips this year, but this first one was way more difficult than I anticipated. I decided to just take a handful of Advil and get home to my girlfriend and come back with a fishing pole and a different pair of boots next time, probably from the East side instead. That day I hiked the 10 miles back to my car in intense pain, getting to the car well after dark. I drove home to San Francisco that night, arriving at about 3am.

- Despite all the discomfort, of course what I remember a year later is the incredible beauty once I got into the alpine country, and all the big fish I saw that "got away"
- For me, on a solo trip I would either have needed to be healthy enough to go climb peaks, or have had my fishing pole. That being said, I am excited to do more solo trips this summer, and I hope to be able to stay out for the full 8-9 day period next time.
- I left a lot of interesting country on the table, I could see returning but taking the shuttle and trying to make Tully lake on the first day, going back in the way I came out. Then I could finish my planned loop. If I came in from the East, I would explore Pioneer lakes basin, and see if there was a way down from the Saddle of Mt. Crocker back over to Big McGee lake, so catch some of those big trout I saw swimming around.



Photos https://goo.gl/photos/r1grcANXAMFvyfxo8



User avatar
Asolthane
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:40 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby dougieb » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:10 pm

This brings back memories for me. I went up McGee Pass from the west side and was similarly impressed by the meadows on the west side of the pass (near Tully Hole) and the color of Red Slate Peak. It was one of my first trips to the high Sierra. We went in late October and the falls colors were gorgeous. We camped at one of the Mcgee lakes, maybe Big McGee? I think it was the coldest I've ever been. Must have been 10 degrees or something and I had a 30 degree bag... Anyway, it does sound like this was a tough first trip alone. Its hard enough when things go well, let alone when you forget your gear back home or the trees are closing in on you. Its a real accomplishment though to get over that hurdle of heading out on your first trip alone. :rock:
User avatar
dougieb
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 9:10 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby balance » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:55 pm

Greetings Asolthane

Thanks for the realistic trip report. Those are really nice photos. =D>

I'm glad I'm not the only one who makes mistakes some times. The good thing is that you persevered and reached your goal, to enjoy the mountains.

My memory is a little sketchy, but I recall a four day Sierra Nevada trip with my friend Isaac, who's an avid fisherman, but was new to backpacking. I had some lightweight spin-casting gear with me. We got to a lake, I don't remember where, at about 11,000 feet. Isaac took my spare spool of line, and rigged it with a hook, weight and some bugs he found. We also used Powerbait. He just swung the line underhand and it sailed pretty well out into the lake. He caught a couple nice golden trout. More than I did. He said that's how his father from Cuba used to fish.

Vermilion Resort, or most trailhead stores, would have fishing line, hooks, and everything you'd need to do what Isaac did. In case something like that happens, there's a light weight, functional fishing rig.

Peace
User avatar
balance
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:26 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby balzaccom » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:33 pm

This is a wonderful area. Your trip made me want to go back again. But 14 foot trout? Grin
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:40 pm

Thanks for the TR and pictures! To bad about the foot issues, proper footwear is imperative, especially once you go off trail.

Pioneer Basin is very pretty, as is the Grinnell Lake and Laurel Lake areas. Crocker Col (Class 2/3) your only pass leading into the Hopkins drainage from Pioneer Basin, eastern side is steep, loose, talus, and Stanford Col (class 3) gets you into the McGree Creek drainage, it has nasty, steep, loose talus on the northern side, and puts you down to Steelhead Lake, would not recommend either of these passes without possessing solid backcountry experience.
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: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby Asolthane » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:18 am

dougieb wrote:This brings back memories for me. I went up McGee Pass from the west side and was similarly impressed by the meadows on the west side of the pass (near Tully Hole) and the color of Red Slate Peak. It was one of my first trips to the high Sierra. We went in late October and the falls colors were gorgeous. We camped at one of the Mcgee lakes, maybe Big McGee? I think it was the coldest I've ever been. Must have been 10 degrees or something and I had a 30 degree bag... Anyway, it does sound like this was a tough first trip alone. Its hard enough when things go well, let alone when you forget your gear back home or the trees are closing in on you. Its a real accomplishment though to get over that hurdle of heading out on your first trip alone. :rock:


Yes, I am glad I got over the hurdle! My foot seems to be better now, so hopefully I will not be dealing with that this season!

Thanks for the reply :)
User avatar
Asolthane
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:40 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby Asolthane » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:21 am

balance wrote:Greetings Asolthane

Thanks for the realistic trip report. Those are really nice photos. =D>

I'm glad I'm not the only one who makes mistakes some times. The good thing is that you persevered and reached your goal, to enjoy the mountains.

My memory is a little sketchy, but I recall a four day Sierra Nevada trip with my friend Isaac, who's an avid fisherman, but was new to backpacking. I had some lightweight spin-casting gear with me. We got to a lake, I don't remember where, at about 11,000 feet. Isaac took my spare spool of line, and rigged it with a hook, weight and some bugs he found. We also used Powerbait. He just swung the line underhand and it sailed pretty well out into the lake. He caught a couple nice golden trout. More than I did. He said that's how his father from Cuba used to fish.

Vermilion Resort, or most trailhead stores, would have fishing line, hooks, and everything you'd need to do what Isaac did. In case something like that happens, there's a light weight, functional fishing rig.

Peace


I did actually go back to the store, and they offered to rent me a little spin rig. In hindsight I should have brought it, but I was so set on fly fishing. I did have my tackle with me and managed to catch a couple fish by tying some tipped to a stick and letting the wind carry it onto the water, but it didn't work very well. When I got home my girlfriend asked why I hadn't used my tent poles...which I thought was a pretty good idea in hindsight. I can tell you I won't be forgetting my rod again any time soon.
User avatar
Asolthane
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:40 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby Asolthane » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:22 am

balzaccom wrote:This is a wonderful area. Your trip made me want to go back again. But 14 foot trout? Grin


LOL!! :eek: \:D/

I meant 14 inches :)
User avatar
Asolthane
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:40 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby Jimr » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:38 am

Dude, stick with the story! The 12 - 14 footers always seem to show up when you don't have a rod.
Give a kid a fish and he eats for the day. Teach a kid to fish and a liar is born :unibrow:
What?!
User avatar
Jimr
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1122
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby balance » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:57 am

Greetings Asolthane

Congratulations for going on your first solo trip. Some folks never take that step. Kind of different when you're making all the decisions on your own, isn't it? I get more immersed in the experience and closer to nature. Listening to the wind and the stream and the birds is better than chit-chat.

On every backpacking trip I've ever taken, there was always some gear that doesn't get used, and something that I wish I'd brought with me. That's just the way it goes.

You mentioned planning more solo trips. The best information for planning a hike in the Sierra Nevada comes from two books: "Sierra North" and "Sierra South". These books are filled with information about hiking from trail heads all over the Sierra Nevada, with information about trails you might not have considered, which can help get away from the crowds. Rating the trips Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, they provide a good idea of what you can expect on the trail, elevation, campsites, etc. Cross country routes are included. I often use these for the basic outline of a trip, then add my own variations. If you tear out the specific pages and take them on the trip, along with map and compass, the information is useful.

If you want to get further off the beaten track, "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails" goes into much more depth.

Peace
Last edited by balance on Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
balance
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:26 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:04 am

balance wrote:You mentioned planning more solo trips. The best information for planning a hike in the Sierra Nevada comes from two books: "Sierra North" and "Sierra South". These books are filled with information about hiking from trail heads all over the Sierra Nevada, with information about trails you might not have considered, which can help get away from the crowds. Rating the trips Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, they provide a good idea of what you can expect on the trail, elevation, campsites, etc. Cross country routes are included. I often use these for the basic outline of a trip, then add my own variations. If you tear out the specific pages and take them on the trip, along with map and compass, the information is useful.

If you want to get further off the beaten track, "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails" goes into much more depth.

Peace


Umm. You don't have to "tear out the specific pages." You scan the pages, and take the copies.

I agree they are good reference books!!
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5325
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Up Mono Creek, Hopkins Pass, Tully Lake, N.F. Mono C

Postby Asolthane » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:06 am

balance wrote:Greetings Asolthane

Congratulations for taking your first solo trip. Some folks never take that step. Kind of different when you're making all the decisions on your own, isn't it? I get more immersed in the experience and closer to nature. Listening to the wind and the stream and the birds is better than chit-chat.

On every backpacking trip I've ever taken, there was always some gear that doesn't get used, and something that I wish I'd brought with me. That's just the way it goes.

You mentioned planning more solo trips. The best information for planning a hike in the Sierra Nevada comes from two books: "Sierra North" and "Sierra South". These books are filled with information about hiking from trail heads all over the Sierra Nevada, with information about trails you might not have considered, which can help get away from the crowds. Rating the trips Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, they provide a good idea of what you can expect on the trail, elevation, campsites, etc. Cross country routes are included. I often use these for the basic outline of a trip, then add my own variations. If you tear out the specific pages and take them on the trip, along with map and compass, the information is useful.

If you want to get further off the beaten track, "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes and Trails" goes into much more depth.

Peace


Yes! I own those and they are invaluable. I will order the other book you recommend soon. I DO want to get further off the beaten track.

Thank you.
User avatar
Asolthane
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:40 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MSNbot Media [Bot] and 10 guests

cron