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TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

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TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby cslaght » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:42 pm

Greetings HST!

This trip is about the evolution of an idea and the practicality of its implementation. To begin with, my dad and I have had the luxury of doing a 3 day trip for the last three years. After a pretty successful challenge in Moose Lake last year, we (more accurately, I) wanted to keep the ambition high and interesting. With that in mind, I've always been interested in going into the Ansel Adams wilderness into Yosemite on the west side for some pretty killer scenery. Greg Aiello from Motion did an episode into this area a few years ago that only continued to fuel interest. As the infancy of planning commenced, with hours on Caltopo, here with trip reports, and Google Earth; I really wanted to get into the Lyell Fork of the Merced river. For that, we would have to go at least 4 days, that ended up being the easiest part. As the planning for the 2016 HST meetup coincidentally met with our original destination, the excitement continued further. By the time I had my "dream trip" planned, we were to go on the Isberg Pass trail and crest the pass, then down to the Lyell Fork, up into the headwaters, crest Electra Peak, down to Twin Island Lakes, then down North Fork San Joaquin River back to the trailhead for an amazing loop.

Then.... life happened. It sounds so dramatic, I apologize. As the new year started, I was offered a teaching position at the college I am staff at a week before the semester. This would be my first class at this particular institution and had to prepare quite quickly. On top of that, my full-time job at the college is at the bookstore, so the beginning of the semester is always rough. Coupled with that, my other teaching job has given me a total of 5 classes this year already, so the time evaporated quickly. To make sure I had zero free time, my wife and I embarked on purchasing our first home.

All this relates back to the trip, as it went from a loop, to an out and back into the basin, hopefully getting to the highest lake, to end up just getting over Isberg Pass by the time we started hiking. Obviously, this is a quarter of the original plan, but the point of all this rambling is, even with these grandiose expectations not even close being met, we still had a wonderful time and a killer trip.

Day 1: Teaching until 10:00 PM the night before and knowing I had to be ready out the door around 5:00 AM, I didn't sleep much (though also the excitement of the trip helps with that too). So off we go, breakfast in Fresno and after the beautiful drive up Minarets byway, we arrive at Clover Meadow a little after 10, and start walking from Isberg a little after 11. So obviously a late start, and it was hot, and I was 10 pounds heavier, and this is the first hike of the year. Isberg Pass seemed another range away.

In any event, this was a great time. We passed Cora Lakes and they were stunning. We ended up camping a bit short of Sadler Lake that night, just enjoying the beauty that Granite Creek has to offer.

Day 2: After hitching up camp and preparing for the climb to the pass, this day felt we were back on track. The goal was to make it over the pass and set up camp at Lake 10005 and see what we can do from there. Getting to Sadler lake was a breeze and the lake itself was stunning

ImageDSC_1303 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr

We continued our hike and stopped at the lower Isberg Lake and take in the view and coolish (compared to the Valley) weather. After coming to the top of the basin, it was the final slog up the pass, with the Ritter Range opening up behind us. This was a great hike and must say the trail is in great shape here. Once we reached the pass, the views were quite stunning.

ImageDSC_1330 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr

ImageDSC_1333 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
Yosemite side still had quite a bit of snow for July 1st.

ImageDSC_1337 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1338 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1345 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr

ImageDSC_1359 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
Again, Ritter and Banner look amazing just sticking over the ridgeline here.

After a pretty good break, we finally make our way down the Yosemite side. The snow on this side wasn't bad, but was enough to make us lose the trail a bit and get stuck in the talus. After some quick moves, it wasn't long to find the trail and wrap around the headwall of the canyon. We found our partner and headed to the north shore of lake 10005. Arriving around 3 gave us plenty of time to soldier on to say Harriet Lake or deeper into Yosemite, but we decided this was a pretty awesome spot and kind of dipped in the lake and had a little snack before setting up camp.

ImageDSC_1365 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
The view isn't too bad either.

One reason for stopping here is that it gave us a great view of the southern sky, as I love taking night shots.

ImageDSC_1399 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1427 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1428 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1429 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1430 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1439 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr

One thing about taking night shots in July is that you're usually too tired to stay up after crossing a pass, though once I woke up after a short dosing off, the motivation was there. It was a beautiful area here at the shores of Lake 10005, something that will be burned into my memory.

Day 3: This started the "back" part of our out and back trip now as we decided to head back to the TH. My dad was hosting his annual party on the 3rd and we wanted to get back to town by day 4's afternoon, so to get a chuck back to the truck was in order. After retracing much of our steps, the views again were incredible. Coming back over the pass and into the Granite Creek drainage is definitely something special.

ImageDSC_1441 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1449 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1459 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
ImageDSC_1461 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr

We set up camp at an established area off of Knoblock Meadow and enjoyed the night
ImageDSC_1471 by Charles Slaght, on Flickr
Feeble attempt, but still fun.

Day 4: With an early start we were able to zip back to the truck in about 2.5 hours and make it to North Fork for a burger and back to reality in time for the party.

This trip had a lot of ambition and still was amazing even though we only completed a fraction of it. The reason I say this as we were heading back, my dad asked me on a scale of 1-10, what would you rate this trip? I gave it a solid 8. We didn't get to see everything, or climb peaks, or do much of any cross country this trip, but with all things considered, especially as a "warm up" hike though I don't seem to have the time to do more than one a year now, this trip was still very good. I mean, how can you complain about being in the Sierras?



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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby wildhiker » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:34 pm

Thanks for the report and the photos. The upper Merced watershed is one of my favorite parts of the Sierra. Haven't been there, however, since 2010. Your photos remind me that I need to plan another trip there!
-Phil
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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:49 pm

Nice work! We did this trip a few years ago, but returned via Post Peak Pass and Lillian/Vandenburg Lakes. The trail along the crest near Post Peak Pass is one of my all-time favorites in the Sierra.

Did you fish at lake 10005? We caught a lot of 8-10 inch brookies there.

Ahhhh memories.
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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:00 pm

Thanks for sharing your enjoyable TR and pictures. Minarets/Ritter/Banner are such an awesome view from the west or east, one of my favorites.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby kpeter » Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:26 pm

Thank you for this! I will probably camp at 10005 one night on my planned circuit in a couple of weeks. It is great to see what it looks like--and the views of the Ritter range from the west, which I have never seen before! You have further whetted my appetite for my coming adventure.
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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby cslaght » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:43 pm

Thank you all for the kind words! Yes this is truly a magical place. I spend so much time in SEKI and Sequoia National Forest (convenience and of course its grandeur) that we don't go much north of Fresno. Living in Visalia pretty much my entire life has kind of trained me for that. The upper Merced is truly awesome, I was hoping to get far back enough to see the top of Half Dome, alas we didn't get as far, yet no regrets. We didn't fish, but man, I can imagine just flinging them to shore one after another. It looked like skipping rocks as the fish would continue to jump in the dusk hours. It looks like the meetup promises to be pretty awesome, I just with the timing worked out a little better for us to partake.
One of the motivations of this trip was to view the Ritter range from the west side (hence the epic loop from the beginning). Even though we only get to see the peaks from the ascent from the pass, they are still incredible. It truly was a pleasant hike.
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Re: TR: Isberg Pass June 30-July 3

Postby Jimr » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:37 am

Great report. Timely for me too. I'm doing the exact same route on a fast pack. Gonna hike in, meet a couple of friends for the night, then hike out together.
What?!
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