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Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

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Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

Postby robertseeburger » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:54 am

I wanted to get out as soon as I figured some decently high lakes were thawed. After a lot of thought, I chose 6/15 as a start date to get to some of the high lakes around Whitney. I was there in 2013 ( dry year) about this time and all lakes were open except Tulainyo.
So, I left on 6/15 with the itinerary of Cottonwood Pass/Funston Lake/Crabtree MDW/Whitney Region/Crabtree Lake and Crabtree Pass/Sky Blue Lake/New Army Pass and out. Two weeks to go slow through this wonderful region.

6/15..over Cottonwood Pass. Just a little patch of snow. I have been over Cottonwood Pass several times ( easiest Sierra crossing ?). I have definitely seen more snow later in the year. I started thinking.....this is a normal year? It seemed dryer.

I camped in the Siberian Plateau, about halfway between the PCT and Funston Lake. It felt like...well.. Siberia. View toward Langley and Leconte.

I made it over to Funston Lake next day. There was some snow but not much on the route. I had always wanted to see Funston. I didn't know whether it had fish. I know since fish were removed from Rocky Basin Lakes, not many people go to Funston. It is an easy 5 mile hike from the PCT to Funston. That is easy, but 5 miles is 5 miles. The inlet "stream" was dry. I didn't see any evidence of spawning there, but there was a good fishery, with fish ranging from 10-14 inches. I don't think we have to worry about lots of people visiting this lake. I am stumped at how this fishery is maintained without planting and from my (inexpert ) view, no real spawning areas.

6/17...I left Funston Lake and went cross country to meet the PCT a mile or two east of the Rock Creek Crossing. It was a delightful ramble through ridgetops, and forests. All class 1. I am sure not many people do this hike. Then... my trip changed. I eventually camped at Crabtree Meadows, but I have to talk a little about the PCT hikers. They called themselves the "wave". When I decided to do this trip, I had no thought about the popularity of the PCT hike. Clearly the book and movie, "Wild" has changed things. I heard different numbers of people doing the entire hike. 3000, 3500, 4000, 4500 an 5000. All starting in Mexico and all hitting the area of the PCT where I was about the same time I did. Hundreds of hikers. Crabtree Meadows was jam packed, like a popular car camp on the fourth of July. And I was the only one who was NOT a PCT thru hiker. I had a jolly chat with the ranger there, and I think he appreciated that there was a least one person who was there to see the area rather than putting on miles. Some interesting comments about the PCTers. There is a bimodal distribution on age... first people in their twenties, then people in their 50's. Not much younger, in between, or older. Then it is essentially 100% caucasion.
I saw one Japanese, but it is primarily white. But it is getting very diverse on culture, if not on race. I talked to people from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, UK, France, South Africa and I am sure several more. And the US folks were from all over...Illinois, Iowa, Maine..etc. Not just a California/Oregon/Washington thing. Oh well. I am sure additional regulation/permit process are in store in the future. Perhaps allocating the "thru hike" to just a few, and forcing others
to "section hike" (I think a better way to do this anyway). A lot of them had their solar battery charger, charging their iPhones where they tracked progress.
Progress was defined as milage and elevation only. I talked to perhaps five of them, and I tried suggesting a few side trips along the way. I suggested
if you want to see a beautiful lake, just a few easy miles off the trail, try seeing Bench Lake or Lake Ediza. I don't think anyone of them will do this..conflicts with the goal. Overall though, while I was surprised with the sheer quantity of folks I saw, I found them considerate, thoughtful, caring of the environment, and most of all..happy. I sensed that as a group, they enjoyed what they were doing....more power too them.

Back to the trip. I spent several days in the Whitney Region, exploring lakes and I made a failed attempt to climb Mount Muir. I am generally good at class 3
but I could not find a route up that I had good confidence I could get down. So I turned around 100 feet from the summit. Hitchcock Lakes were partially frozen when I arrived and most clear when I left.

I went over to Crabtree Lake. Had my 60th birthday there.

Went up to Crabtree Pass. Fairly easy pass. Lakes were frozen on both sides.

I climbed Mount McAdie. I have always wanted to climb this peak since the original Climbers Guide to High Sierra came out and there was a picture of it, I believe from Ansel Adams. It just has an interesting look. I climbed from Crabtree Pass...not recommended. The chute from the prior picture was tedious and full of loose rock. It took me a long time to get to the pass between the north and middle peak and I loosened lots of rock, both going up and down. The climb from the notch between peaks to the north summit was a delightful class 3 climb. View west from the top.

Side note.. isn't it the best job in the world...flying over this area in an air force jet? They usually fly in pairs. Just like Chuck Yeager wrote up in his biography.

Always good to see Sky Blue Lake. Classic inlet stream during spawning season.

I had the intent of climbing Mount Leconte. I just looked at it from this point, and decided not to. I couldn't see the correct chute to go up and it looked too long and hard to do solo. Perhaps from the east side some day. is always good to see Iridescent Lake, one of the Sierra classics.

I went by Upper Soldier Lake on this trip. I had heard good fishing. But I saw someone who said it was fishless and spent a night there listening to frogs.
I did not fish there. I saw no live fish. I did see one dead molding fish, so there were fish there recently. It has a nice inlet stream for spawning. Not sure what the story is here.

If you enlarge this and look closely there is a bighorn sheep in this picture. I am not sure this will come out in posting. I last saw a bighorn sheep in area between Franklin Lakes and Lake Dorothy 40 years ago.

Over New Army Pass on 6/27. Still some snow at the top of the pass, which was a little scary with a large pack. But it turned out to be easy.
I could smell the smoke from the Lake Isabella fire and the view was really impacted.

And last ..some fishing information. I spent some time fishing. I had a funny one. I actually "caught " one by hand. As I was approaching a creek there were some spawners and one fish made a dash upstream...too fast. When I got there, it was flopping on the then too shallow portion. I dutifully caught him and returned him to deeper water... a really nice 14 inch golden. I caught many fish in the 15-16 inch range. Largest a 17 incher. i caught the 17 incher without a camera. When I was reeling him in, I thought he was bigger. I knew I had no camera, and I was in a catch and release mode. I decided while playing him that
if he was 17 and under, I would release him. If he was 18 or 19, I would race back to camp 200 yards, hope he stayed hooked, and race back and take a picture. If he was over 20, well, I would keep and eat. He was "just 17", so I released. Strange how the brain works in this situation. One picture of a nice one. I believe this one was 16.

One last comment. Weather perfect. First time in my life I had a two week trip and no rain whatsoever, not even a little afternoon thundershower.
And the mosquitoes were almost not present. Last year I did a trip at similar elevations in Kings Canyon, and I got killed. This time very few mosquitoes.
So, perfect weather, no mosquitoes, great scenery, one good climb, and some good fishing.....

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Re: Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:48 pm

Wow, that's a really neat report and trip. Even though this was supposed to be more or less an "average" rather than "heavy" snowfall year I am still surprised at the comparatively small amount of snow you encountered. Your trip had a really nice mix of peak climbing, fishing and hiking.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: ... ayshi.html
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Re: Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:32 pm

Sounds like a nice trip. You certainly timed it right with weather and mosquitoes! Sky Blue Lake is one of my favorite places. When I was there the lake was just beginning to melt. I recall some very aggressive marmots!
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Re: Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

Postby RiseToADry » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:42 pm

Really cool trip report. Thanks for posting the pictures.

Pretty surprised at the lack of snow and ice so early in the season for an average snow year. It looks like you timed ice out perfectly and hit the notable Golden trout fisheries at peak form. Nice fish.
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Re: Trip Report Sequoia 6/15 to 6/28

Postby canukyea » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:48 pm

Amazing trip and report. Glad to see some updates on various lakes in the region, many of them not accessible on dayhikes. Interesting that a lake without apparent spawning areas is still holding fish, but a lake with an inlet seems to have gone barren. Mysterious.
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