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Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

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Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:20 am

I am considering descending Cherry Creek in early season, either going in via Gianelli (shorter) or Kennedy Meadows (more scenic), as soon as these trailheads open, and start down the creek at Cow Meadow Lake. I have devised the routes to avoid creek crossings. The Emigrant Wilderness guidebook says to go down the south side from Lord Meadow. I would stay on the north side all the way down and exit up to a dirt road above the inlet to Cherry Lake. This area was burned so you can clearly see the dirt road on Google Earth. Then I would walk out to the paved road and have my husband pick me up.

Has anyone done the Cherry Creek route? Even if you did the south side, did the north side look feasible? Between Google Earth and the topo map, I think it is, but I would have to divert around the granite slots above creek level. I would like to do this early enough to avoid mosquitoes up higher (+7000 feet elevations). The banks along Cherry Creek are mainly granite, so I would think less potential for mosquitoes once below 6000 feet.

Other option is to wait until Fall, when crossing the creek and mosquitoes are no problem. But early season would be more spectacular. Cannot do it in summer because I will be gone for most of July and all of August (probably too hot to do it mid summer anyway).



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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:55 pm

We haven't done the whole route, but we've hiked in that area a lot. Cherry Creek is a bit of gamble. Because of all that granite, it really roars in the spring melt, and I wouldn't want to try to cross it any place I can think of. But once the snow is gone, it become a tiny trickle.

If it were me, I'd vote for later in the year...or I would start at Cherry Lake or the Kibbie Ridge trail, and just explore as much as I felt safe doing...
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:25 pm

I haven't done that one either, although that is a route that has always appealed to me. Although the hike would certainly be easier in the fall with less water, I think one of the most appealing aspects of off trail canyon hikes is the booming early season water in the trunk stream. I have great memories of the raging Kendrick Creek (next drainage S of Cherry Creek) from two early season hikes (1986 and 1992). Whereas the '92 was a much more successful trip, the far greater runoff of '86 made the streams much more impressive (although two side streams were a bit difficult to cross then: Bartlett and Kibbie).
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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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:11 pm

The route I have planned specifically does not cross Cherry Creek, rather, stays on the north/northwest side all the way. In fact, both approaches I have studied avoid any major creek crossings.

The reason I do not want to do the standard route is that I want to go all the way from Cow Meadow Lake (along the North Fork of Cherry Creek) to Lord Meadow and then along Cherry Creek proper, to Cherry Lake. I would have to cross the East Fork of Cherry Creek above Lord Meadow to get to the "standard route". If this crossing is safe, I would, or course, do it. If not I would have to continue down the north side.

I will not be back from Wyoming until after Labor Day and I fear it would be too late and too dry by that time and Cherry Creek would be too low. I agree with GB- high water would be a more meaningful trip. I certainly will NOT get near the roaring stream! I will detour far above the stream when needed.
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby paul » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:01 pm

You may already be aware that the Emigrant area has more snow than anywhere south of it - significantly closer to a normal snowpack. So hitting that sweet spot between too much snow and no skeeters will be tricky timing. That said; Kennedy Meadows is almost always accessible before Gianelli is. I expect 108 will get opened to Kennedy by the end of this week, for the trout opener ( last Saturday in April), though of course there is still significant snow up high. Gianelli - being on a dirt road, will not be accessible for quite a while. Right now the Gianelli Meadow sensor shows over 38" of water content in the snow - probably around 6-7 feet of snow. If you do go in at Kennedy, let's say early June, you'll have snow going over Brown bear pass or Mosquito pass. If you went the Relief creek way you might avoid snow but that's not nearly as pretty.
There's a sensor at Horse Meadow, as you may know, so I'd keep an eye on that, as well as the one on Lower Kibbie Ridge. and you can see more locations on the manual surveys at the end of this month and the end of May (assuming you go after the end of May)
There's a good chance I will be in the Emigrant on skis in the first or second week of May. If I do go I'll post photos and report on conditions, although I won't get over by Cherry creek.
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:36 am

Thanks Paul. I have done a lot of backpacking on snow (went over Mosquito Pass two years ago when it was solid snow). Avoiding mosquitoes and dangerous river crossings are more important to me. By "early season" I mean mid-May to 4th of July. It is tricky to avoid mosquitoes at those various elevations.

I walked Kibby Ridge to Lord Meadow in the past, early season (with some snow), the year following a previous big fire. It was really miserable, so I am reluctant to do that again. I have been studying the Google Earth images in more detail and the north side of Cherry Creek below the confluence with the stream from Hyatt Lake looks really difficult- probable bushwhacking too. I may have to rethink this route if I want to do it early season.
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby BillyBobBurro » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:56 pm

Keep in mind that if your are looking for solitude in the lower section of upper cherry creek, it might not happen during the early season. From Kibbie ridge down to the lake it is a popular 'experts only' kayak run during the spring run-off. Considering that this is the first decent Emigrant snowpack in several years I suspect the upper cherry creek kayak scene to be fairly busy.

The hike from the where cherry creek enters the lake to the Kibbie trailhead can be very brushy.
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:15 pm

WD,

If your looking for some serious water shows, I'm planning on going to Waterwheel & LeConte Falls, during full moon cycle (5/19-5/24), to do some photography, via Hetchy, before Tioga opens, the next full moon will be at 6/20, which would miss the height of the run-off.
If your interested PM me.
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:34 pm

Seeing the kayakers would actually be amazing! I am not doing this for "solitude". Cherry Creek has been on my "to-do" list for nearly 10 years and I have yet to do it. I would like to do it "pure" - from the headwaters to Cherry Lake. I am not necessarily looking for peak flows, but enough water so that it is not a trickle in a wide swath of water polished brown dry rock. Even with the snow this year, I suspect by Labor Day there will be little water left flowing. I am just pretty limited this year with time slots, due to other unchangeable plans.

Thanks Mav. I did the GCT White Wolf to Tuolumne at peak flow several years ago and yes, it was amazing! We actually had to wade nearly waist deep in flooded areas, above Waterwheel Falls. Could not cross one of the other side creeks (Rodgers, I think) so went upstream and crawled across on a big wet log. :eek: And slogged through snow to get back to Tuolumne Meadows. Also did the GCT two other times, early in a drought year, and in the early fall (great swimming holes!). Cheery Creek is something new, so if I can do that, I prefer it.
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby paul » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:04 pm

Right now there is essentially no snow at the Lower Kibbie Ridge sensor, while there is about 40" of water content at the Horse Meadow sensor which is not far from Cow Meadow Lake, though about 600 feet higher. And 108 is now open to Kennedy Meadows, FYI.
Having been into around High Emigrant Lake and over Brown Bear pass in early May a lower snow year than this (2007), when there was still plenty of snow to get around on skis, I'd expect there will be enough snow to give you plenty of stream flow well into June this year, unless it really heats up. If I were in your shoes I'd probably be thinking late May in hopes of avoiding the skeeter hordes. I haven't been south of Leighton and Pingree so I don't know how different it is in terms of skeeters down that way compared to the area between Buck Meadow creek and Granite dome, but it seems like there are enough meadowy bits along the upper parts of your route down Cherry Creek to harbor some of the little devils .
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby paul » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:13 pm

Oh, and I don't know if you are familiar with this map from the water resources website:

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecstation/?sta

It shows all the data sites, so you can find the ones closest to your route that are snow survey sites, and check them when the May 1 numbers come in at the end of this week/beginning of next.

And this shows which sites are scheduled to be measured when. In the column labeled dates to be measured, the numbers mean that course will be measured the first day (or close to it) of the month indicated.

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/SNOWTAB2
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Re: Cherry Creek, Emigrant Wilderness, advise?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:28 pm

A few years ago a couple of us did a June backpack from the dirt roads northwest of Hells Mountain to Bear Meadown and then down to the West Fork of Cherry Creek. Some nice fishing for pan sized rainbows. Was not something I would want to cross and in May on a year like this is going to be bigger water. So yeah you could follow the north side of the main Cherry branch all the way past Cherry Bomb Gorge but that is not really the crux. About 3 miles below you would need to cross the West Fork. Of course the main fork will be out of the question.

One can predict there is going to be zoo in that area early season because since about a decade ago that has become for kayaking what Yosemite Valley is for the rest of us except the kayakers have been frustrated by the drought flows and having watched various youtube videos for the last 4 years so there will be a lot of pent up enthusiasts carrying their boats up there. And one can expect not a few will not have wilderness permits or have a clue about policies or care.

I will predict this year mosquitoes will be so numerous about Cow Meadow Lake by late June that any human unlucky to be thereabouts will end up looking like a shriveled prune.
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