TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles 6/28- 7/15 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles 6/28- 7/15

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TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles 6/28- 7/15

Postby venturefar » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:17 pm

Day 1: Crescent Meadow to Upper Hamilton Lake

For the first six days I was joined by an old high school golf teammate with whom I reconnected over our mutual affinity for fly fishing. We got to Lodgepole right as the ranger station opened and after a couple computer crashes the ranger on duty was able to generate our reserved permit and get us on our way. The sky threatened rain all day but we got lucky and only got sprinkled on. We made it to Hamilton with plenty of time to fish before dark. We fished the lake and the outlet below. We caught several small rainbows before calling it a night.

Trailhead at Crescent Meadow
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Ominous looking clouds
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Sunset at Upper Hamilton
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Day 2 Hamilton Lake to Kern Canyon

Day 2 was pretty tough with lots of the elevation change. Up to Kaweah Gap, down to Big Arroyo, up to the Chagoopa Plateau, down into Kern canyon. We walked through some snow starting just below Precipice Lake over the Kaweah Gap. Precipice Lake was still partially frozen. As we descended into Big Arroyo we were greeted by some hungry skeeters. When we started to drop in to Kern Canyon the clouds that only threatened the day before unleashed their full fury on us. When we reached the bottom of the canyon. We were pelted by rain and marble sized hail. We made a hasty bivy off trail with one of our tent flys and took a pounding for about 45 minutes. We camped just north of Chagoopa falls.

Lower Hamilton ascending toward Kaweah Gap
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The tunnel between Hamilton and Precipice
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Looking toward Nine Lakes Basin
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Big Arroyo
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Upper Funston Meadow and Kern Canyon
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Day 3 Camp North of Chagoopa Falls to Junction Meadow

We took it easy on day three fishing our way up the Kern. The fishing was good even though the river was running a little of color from the recent storms. We managed to catch fish out of pretty much every pocket of water we stopped to fish. Sometime in the future I'd definitely like to devote a trip solely to fishing the Kern. Awesome water.

Sunrise on the Kern- Still a little off color from the previous day's storm.
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Kern bow
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Day 4 Junction Meadow to Forester Headwall

We left the JMT and headed in to Wright Lakes Basin to fish on a short side trip. Beautiful fish. We caught a few before hiking back to the JMT to stage for Forester.

Big rabbit south of the Bighorn Plateau
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Wright Lakes Goldens
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Approaching Forester
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Camp below Forester
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Day 5 Forester Headwall to Kearsarge Lakes

Breaking camp and returning to the trail we reached the top of Forester in 24 minutes. There was only a small patch of snow at the top of the south side of the pass. On the north side there was more snow but it was easy to follow the footsteps of PCTers where the trail was covered. At Bullfrog and Kearsarge Lakes we found small brookies willing to eat just about anything we put in front of them.

Forester Pass
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Descending Forester
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Bullfrog Brookie
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Fish on
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Coyote
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Kearsarge Lakes
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Day 6 Kearsarge Lakes to Onion Valley

We hiked out over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley from there we hitched in to town to the Owens Valley co-op for some grub. They have great pizza, a deli, and cold beer. While we ate we talked to a few other hikers including one guy who could have been my twin complete with a matching buff. I mailed my resupply and stayed at the Mt. Williamson Motel. It was an awesome experience. The whole place is set up for hikers. Owner Strider is a hiker herself. $175 gets you a room, they receive your resupply, THEY do you laundry, (I know crazy right?) provide you with loaner clothes, a shuttle to/from Onion Valley, and breakfast the day you leave. The rooms are clean and have their own bathroom and shower. They have a bench perfect for setting your pack on and come with an extra sheet to cover the bed so you don't get it dirty spreading out and packing your gear. I'd highly recommend the Mt Williamson Motel.

Day 7 Onion Valley to Woods Creek Bridge

Over Kearsarge and over Glen. I fished Rae Lakes on my way by and landed a couple small Brook trout. I would have liked to have gone a little further but had to stop at Woods Creek to utilize the bear locker there because the whole salami I picked up in town wouldn't fit in my can.

Switchbacks going up Glen
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Glen Pass
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Rae Lakes
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Day 8 Woods Creek Bridge to Lower Palisades

Second two pass day in a row. I went over Pinchot and Mather. Fishing in Lower Palisades Lake was fun. I caught fish displaying a spectrum of colors. Goldens, Rainbows and Hybrids. Nothing big but all beautiful.

Going up Pinchot looking south
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Coming down Mather. Palisades lakes in the distance
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Lower Palisades Lake
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Mostly Rainbow
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Mostly Golden
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Hybrid
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Day 9 Lower Palisades to Evolution Lake

I had been hearing about the snow on the outh Side of Muir Pass for several days. With Muir Pass about eighteen miles away and no water that I was terribly interested in fishing between my camp at Lower Palisades and Evolution Lake I wasn't thrilled at the idea of doing a short day to stage for Muir and camping somwhere fishless or with a marginal fishery. I decided to go for it and put down a big day to get myself on some decent water. I got an early start and flew down the golden staircase and enjoyed the cruisey trail through Evolution Valley.

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Going up Muir pass
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Wanda and McDermand
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Sapphire Lake
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Evolution Lake
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Evolution Golden
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Day 10 Evolution Lake to Bear Creek

Evolution Meadow
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John Muir Trail Cabin
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At the MTR Junction I ran in to the hiker I met at the co-op in Independence. My twin with the matching buff. He introduced himself as Legs and we carried on a conversation as we climbed up to Sallie Keys. At some point we realized what we were doing and we took a break. Legs told me how the group he had been hiking with originally got tired of the desert and left the trail before Kennedy Meadows. Then just as he was begining to make some new friends he got sick and was laid out in Ridgecrest for about a week. He then asked me if I'd like to hike with him into Mammoth. I agreed. After all I was reupplying at Reds and my Mom was going to meet me for a night in Mammoth on her way south from visiting my brother in Tahoe. We stopped for lunch and to fish at Sallie Keyes.
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We continued up and over Selden Pass stopping to fish at the outlet of Marie Lake before heading to our camp on Bear Creek and my personal record for miles in one day. I figure it was about twenty eight.

Legs and I on Selden Pass
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Hooked up
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Brookie
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Day 11 Bear Creek to Purple Lake

Hearing different reports on VVR and with Mammoth just a couple days away we decided to skip VVR. My target for the day's angling was Virginia Lake. We made it up to the top of Silver pass and hung out with several PCTers and witnessed a kid no more than eight summit Silver Pass with his parents.
View from Silver Pass
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Tully Hole
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When we reached Lake Virginia we stopped and I fished for about an hour. After the success I had at Virginia last year I was suprised to get skunked this time. We moved on to camp at Purple Lake
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Day 12 Purple Lake to Devil's Postpile

We got up early and hit the trail. Legs was meeting trail angel friends at Red's to go and hike the Postpile and invited me to come along. When we got to Red's i found out that along with my Mom who was traveling through my wife had come over to surprise me. We all went and checked out the Postpile before heading into town.

Arriving at Red's
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Heading to the Postpile
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Little brown from the Postpile area
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Mom with a flight from Mammoth Brewery
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Day 13 Devil's Postpile to Upper Lyell Canyon

Back on my own I left the Postpile and headed to Rosalie Lake for lunch and some fishing.
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Thousand Island
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I love the wooden trail signs
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South side of Donahue Pass
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Descending Donahue
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Day 14 Upper Lyell Canyon to Townsley Lake

I hit the trail and taking my time fishing down to Tuolumne Meadows. Lots of small browns. I reached the store and grill in time for lunch. I grabed a burger and ice cream and enjoyed my lunch with the other hikers around the picnic tables in front of the store. After lunch i hit the store for some beer and an upgrade to my snack selection. I chatted with Markskor briefly as he rung up my items.

Lyell Canyon brown
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Buck
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Leaving Tuolumne I headed to the Townsley/Fletcher area by way of Vogelsang. At the Vogelsang trail junction I made a trail friend who gave me a cold IPA.
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Evelyn Lake
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Townsley Lake
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I fished the lakes in the area including one in particular hard where i was skunked. I saw fish they just wanted no part of anything i was offering.

Sunset at camp
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Day 15 Townsley Lake to Happy Isles

Seeking redemption from the prior day's skunk I decided to hit the Merced River. I found a beautiul stretch below Merced Lake where I caught some browns and a couple nice rainbows. I was enjoying myself so much that I nearly lost track of time. I hiked pretty fast down to Happy Isles to ensure I caught the 5:45 YARTS bus out of the Valley home to Merced.

Below Merced Lake
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Typical Merced Brown
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Merced bows
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Cascades and Granite
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Arriving at Happy Isles felt a little bittersweet knowing my journey was over. I was happy to have finished my hike while mostly acomplihing the goals I had set for myself. Getting skunked out of five trout species was a slight bummer but making a friend for life more than made up for it.

A couple of days after returning home I went to Tahoe and met up with Legs. We day-hiked from Echo Summit to Glen Alpine past PCT mile 1100 where Legs is finished his trek on the PCT. We hung out a couple more days in San Fransico, did touristy stuff and watched a Giant's game. Legs is off to Japan to do a thousand mile trail there. You sure meet some aweome people on trail.
Last edited by maverick on Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: subject matter



venturefar
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby justm » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:43 pm

I really enjoyed that TR, what a great trip !!! You certainly covered a lot of ground and fished some great spots !! Really nice pics, thanks for sharing !!
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby chulavista » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:00 am

Cool trip. I'm curious, do you avoiding carrying food for dinner in anticipation that you will eat fish along the way?
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby sekihiker » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:45 am

Just the right number of photos and text for your great trip report. I really enjoyed it. It brought back lots of memories. Thanks.
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby venturefar » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:15 am

chulavista wrote: I'm curious, do you avoiding carrying food for dinner in anticipation that you will eat fish along the way?

On an extended trip like this I don't cook fish. I don't want to deal with dirty dishes. On trips where I'm not breaking camp and moving everyday I definitely enjoy eating a few fish. Fillets breaded in corn meal fried in peanut oil are awesome!!!
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby toejam » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:49 am

Great trip & report. I'm exhausted after reading it - can't believe you have time & energy to fish during those huge days! =D>
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:01 am

Very cool! You certainly covered a lot of real estate. Some good memories of some of the lakes you hit that I fished years ago. Those trout out of the Merced were impressive, nice job! Great TR, thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:41 pm

Wow, great trip. You timed the descent down from Chagoopa right, an early morning descent affords great views down the Kern, especially with some sweet morning sunlight. Quite a few of you at Muir Hut. :)
What were the dates of this trip?
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles

Postby venturefar » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:39 pm

maverick wrote:What were the dates of this trip?


6/28- 7/15
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles 6/28- 7/15

Postby yosehiker » Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:51 pm

I must say that I am conflicted about the leaving the wilderness for 24 hours part . It seems to have changed from ‘I can leave the wilderness to get a sorely needed resupply and get back to the trail asap, but have 24 hrs if I need it’ to ‘I can leave the trail anytime I want for 24 hours to relax, have fun and maybe get a resupply’. This seems like it is a general trend. On some other forums there is even talk of stay off of the trail for 2 nights or you have people ‘resupplying’ 4 times over a two week period.

On one hand I think to each his own. It doesn’t really effect my wilderness experience or my trip so why should I care. On the other hand I think we have to think of it from a larger perspective. Just like you can’t think of each drop of rain as inconsequential and disregard their effect, you can’t ignore the flood and the part each drop of rain plays in it. Therefore I don’t think you can put this on one person or the experience of an individual. If we allow an exception for one person, we have to allow it for everyone.

So what are some of the impacts? I think as people take advantage and push the boundaries of the rules the land management agencies will be forced to change the rules. The pushing the boundaries of existing rules seems to be a general trend in wilderness as well. If you can get away with it, or it is ‘legal’ via a loophole you should do it. This only creates more rules or restrictions and makes it harder for everyone. Some of the freedoms and benefits that we enjoy now may not longer exist in the future.

Having all these breaks makes it easier (physically, emotionally, psychologically) to have a wilderness hike, particularly a longer one. Make something easier means that there will be more people doing it. While have more people in wilderness has benefits, more people also means more impact. Also, the people who are currently more likely to do more difficult hikes tend to be more experienced hikers who tend to have less impact. The additional people on the trail will tend to be less experienced hikers who have in general greater impact.
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Re: TR: Crescent Meadow to Happy Isles 6/28- 7/15

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:33 pm

This is a non-issue if you just get a new permit. I have never had trouble getting a first-come permit particularly for the next day. Larger groups would be a different case. Even if you do not get the new permit, no more backpackers are on the trails (to impact the trails). You get a permit for x number of days- staying out 24 hours still puts you on the trail x number of days- just not the exact same days as it would be if you did not go out. the "impact" is that without a new permit, you may, for the first day, cause more people on the trail than the quota allows. I see it as a pretty minor issue. I get new permits when I go out and stay overnight. Never had any problem getting these. Better yet is if you plan to do this, reserve new permits and then just pick them up. Obviously large groups should do this.
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