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Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

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Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby kpeter » Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:16 am

Heading in from Crabtree to W Fork Cherry Creek, up to Pingree via Rosaco Lake, and then exploring from there.

First question: How will the stream crossings be on June 15--particularly crossing the W Fork of Cherry Creek on the way up to Rosaco Lake? I crossed W Fork of Cherry Creek on May 31 of 2013--a much drier year and further upstream. It was brutally cold and thigh deep, but safe. What should I expect on June 15 of a wetter year, further downstream? Will it be safe?

Second question: I had thought to set up camp at Pingree lake and then do some dayhikes to all the surrounding areas--Hyatt, Big, Yellowhammer, Leighton, etc. Is Pingree a decent destination lake, or ought I to consider one of the others?

Third question: I have been from Crabtree via Camp Lake to Piute meadow, where there is short connecting trail to Groundhog meadow. Would that be a preferred route as opposed to going from Crabtree via Pine Valley and Grouse Lake to Groundhog meadow? I've heard bad things about the more southerly trail (burn? mosquitoes?) but have not taken it before.

As always, I appreciate your expert advice!



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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:37 am

Pine Valley route is really buggy and boggy. I would not do it in June

I am not big on "base camp" trips. Pingree Lake is nice and centrally located. I think Big Lake is a nicer lake, but I thought the camp sites were more limited. Pingree is more open; Big Lake is quite timbered. Hyatt has the best campsites but I did not camp there when I passed by it because a CCC trail crew were camped there. I did not fish on those trips, so do not know if Pingree has good fishing. Never been to Yellowhammer. It is less than an hour from Pingree to Big Lake and the route is easy, down granite slabs. Big Lake is brushy to get around. Google Earth may be helpful to scope out the area.

I crossed West Cherry Creek early season on a complex log jam downstream from the trail crossing. It was not easy and not without its own risks. If you fell off any of those logs, you would be pulled under, but the logs were quite large. Another time I waded across immediately west of the use-trail to Rosaco Lake- farther south of the main trail crossing than the log jam. It was deep but not too swift. Hard to guess what things will be like this June 15.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:10 pm

First question: How will the stream crossings be on June 15--particularly crossing the W Fork of Cherry Creek on the way up to Rosaco Lake? I crossed W Fork of Cherry Creek on May 31 of 2013--a much drier year and further upstream. It was brutally cold and thigh deep, but safe. What should I expect on June 15 of a wetter year, further downstream? Will it be safe?


Someone who was in the area this past week reported waist high, fast moving currents at Cherry Creek NF, they also said that many of the smaller creeks were quite high and fast moving. You will have to make a judgement call when you get there KP, have an alternative location ready as a back up plan, like Camp, Bear and Granite Lake area.

Second question: I had thought to set up camp at Pingree lake and then do some dayhikes to all the surrounding areas--Hyatt, Big, Yellowhammer, Leighton, etc. Is Pingree a decent destination lake, or ought I to consider one of the others?


Hyatt has a beach front, Leighton has some nice islands, but Big would be my pick, pretty lake and centrally located.

Mosquitoes are starting to get busy, so be prepared for the worst, all those beautiful meadows and wild flowers come with a price.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:58 pm

The slabs between Pingree and Big Lake are simply stunning. Not to be missed. No fish in Karl's or Leighton Lake...but little Red Can Lake just East of them had fish.

I wouldn't count on being able to cross Cherry Creek, but you can also get to Pingree via a use trail further up the creek...and that might work. There's also a use trail by Woods Lake to Karl's...and once you get there you can explore the whole area. Very easy to navigate at that point.

And I actually prefer Pine Valley on the way in...but we usually go later in the summer.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby justm » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:39 pm

I'm planning on doing the same trip or similar , going this coming Friday the 10th and coming out on Thursday 16th. Maybe I'll run into you on the way out. I've done this trip before, early in the season just as Crabtree opens up. Plan on the whole trip being sloshy and wet ( extra socks) I usually go in through Pine valley and camp at the junction of Cherry Creek and Woods lake confluence the first night. You'll have to be really, really careful crossing Cherry creek down from there. I usually cross part of it over a log and wade through the rest. Pingree is a beautiful lake, but I'm pretty sure it's last trout was caught a few years ago. It's closer to Karls, Coyote and leighton lakes, but you'll have to drop down a ways to get to Big, Hyatt and Yellowhammer. I recommend the easy , pretty hike up to 5 acre lake ( I saw a bear up there the last time I was up there ) and on to Red Can lake. I may try and make it to Huckleberry, but it all depends on the snow !
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby dougieb » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:39 pm

I don't know if this is at all helpful but I was up at Sonora Pass this last weekend and there was a decent amount of snow still up there. The weather was very warm up there with temps around 70's at 10k feet. Because of that, the snow was melting quickly and the streams/rivers were raging.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:08 pm

The area around Hyatt, Big Lake, Pingree, Yellowhammer is mostly granite slabs with thick brush primarily around the lakes. When I went there early season previously, one could avoid camping in mosquitoes by simply moving away from the lakes and camp by the outlet streams. The slabs are amazing. Really clean with lots of glacial polish.

Last Friday I was on Cherry Creek and the outflow from Yellowhammer Lake was significant- did not look like you could easily cross it as it cascaded down the slabs. I only saw the outflow from Big Lake and Hyatt Lake at more distance, but they too looked to be quite large. You will likely have to carefully plan to avoid these streams. Not that they are deep, but wide and the rock under is polished and slick.

Have a good trip! It is a wonderful area.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby kpeter » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:50 pm

Thank you all for your excellent advice, which of course is perfectly normal around here!

The closest snow gauge in elevation and geography (Horse Meadow, 8400) finished melting out on June 3, and the Tuolumne River has been receding for a week, so I am hopeful that the worst of the peak flows will be over by June 15.

However, if I get to W Fork Cherry Creek and decide it is not inviting me to cross (and I am a notorious scared-y-cat) then I'll need a back up plan. Is there a decent cross-x route from Piute meadow up the ridge to Leopold Lake? I was thinking a Piute-Leopold-Toejam-Granite-Bear-Out circuit might be feasible.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:31 am

Route? Probably. Trail? No. All of that area is pretty navigable. Remember that you will cover less ground cross-country...

and you may have to go all the way up to the trail to ToeJam, then back down to leopold. Those cliffs to the south and west of Leopold are steep, although not completely impassable, I think. We were going to go across them to Granite from Leopold, but chose not to do so...
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby justm » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:32 am

I'm planning on going the higher trail to Piute lake for the first night and crossing Cherry creek the next morning and onto Deer Lake and loop around to Red Can Lake -Yellowhammer- Big and Rosasco and out through Pine valley. The W.Cherry creek crossing after Piute lake is usually not to bad, even this time of year. Although it's deep ( Waist deep) it's slower moving and the bottom there is fine gravel.
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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby SSSdave » Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:43 am

I've been predicting mosquitoes to be painfully numerous about Emigrant and northwest Yosemite this June. Because there are more places for shallow snow melt water to pool in those glacially smoothed granitoid areas than anywhere else in the range, it provides vast breeding pools after wet winters. Additionally during high stream flows through relatively level glaciated granitoid terrain there are slack water pools overflowing into adjacent landscape areas that squeeters breed in.

Snow melt this year of 2016 is a bit unusual in that the melt out at mid forest elevations has been near normal as snow melted due to warmer late winter/early spring higher temps. While not so for upper elevations where depths above maybe 8k or so suddenly became much deeper. Just look at the image RockyRoad took last week during his Gibbs climb. Thus there is going to be a lot of runoff coming down from higher elevations so streams will be rather higher than normal for longer than normal.

The peak hatch of mosquitoes is likely occurring right now so will likely be especially bad for at least 3 weeks until damselflies and dragonflies hatch after them and start eating. One of the most amazing sights in our back country is to be at Little Bear Lake, which is a shallow body of water with much grass poking up when the little blue fliers come out as the terrain about the lake shores becomes incredibly blue there are so many.

So to avoid mosquitoes one will be wise to avoid the lower and mid elevations probably until mid July. Although I'm a long time 100% DEET guy, at a certain point even if not biting they will simply be too annoying in a list of ways including multiple flying into a camera body each time I'd change a lens.

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Re: Planning Southern Emigrant Trip June 15

Postby kpeter » Thu Jun 09, 2016 12:17 pm

justm wrote:I'm planning on going the higher trail to Piute lake for the first night and crossing Cherry creek the next morning and onto Deer Lake and loop around to Red Can Lake -Yellowhammer- Big and Rosasco and out through Pine valley. The W.Cherry creek crossing after Piute lake is usually not to bad, even this time of year. Although it's deep ( Waist deep) it's slower moving and the bottom there is fine gravel.

I've done the Piute crossing of W Fork Cherry Creek before. I got cramps from the cold crossing it three years ago, because it was so wide and deep that I had to be in the water for a very long time. But it was slow and sandy, as you say.

So where are you planning to cross on the way out? If Pine Valley, you will be coming out at a different crossing....
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