Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016 | High Sierra Topix  

Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:30 pm

First, many thanks to Ska-T, who talked to me on the phone about the route, and then sent a detailed write-up of our discussion, which I printed out and referred to many times during the trip. His advice was invaluable, and made our trip safe and successful.

I was eager to finish this section of Roper, since my previous attempts last year and this year had been curtailed for various reasons. My husband occupies the top spot on my equipment list for X-C backpacking, so he agreed to come.

We hiked up the River Trail to crowded TI Lake, where I started to set up camp about fifty yards from the west shore, so I could watch for my husband's arrival. A man appeared from nowhere and asked if I would please move, because I was in his view of the lake. He was camped in a hammock on top of a knoll another fifty yards in back of me. I moved, but not far enough, because I still had to trespass into his view to get water, the water at my campsite being too shallow and mucky, and his view being so wide from 100 yards back. Sorry, Man! My husband showed up a couple of hours behind me.
IMG_0499.jpg
Our little mess at TI


The next morning we climbed to Glacier Lake Pass. The way is straightforward, and there are a number of use trails that narrow down to one or two near the top. We camped at Roper's "lonely tarn" below Catherine, at a campsite that Ska-T had alerted me to. It was a good campsite and a little rock barrier protected us from the cold wind. At sunset we heard, a couple of times, falling rock from Ritter and Banner, and wondered if someone was up there.

The next morning we hiked to the outlet of the tarn, looked down, and took about five minutes (and the report of Rocky Road's accident) to decide to modify the route by going over to the northernmost Ritter Lake, as Ska-T had suggested. Geezer Rule: There is no shame in going around or under any hurdle. The lake was gorgeous, and we took off our packs. So there we were, only an hour into our day's hike, already playing around and wasting time. We climbed around on the cliffs above the lake and selected a route down a ridge that took us, after a long time, directly to Roper's "conspicuous meadow." All the way down we had an excellent view of Roper's way down the waterfalls and cliffs, and speculated as to what our route would have been had we decided to take the risk.
IMG_0509.jpg
Our way down


Clouds were gathering, so after peering over the 400 foot drop-off, where we saw a group of lodgepole pines that I said JUST COULDN'T be our next destination, but husband said indeed was, we headed down toward them. Roper's way is straightforward, and I'm not sure there is another. It was on this descent that I had my only two falls of the trip--one a rolling fall (I think one complete revolution) where I had time to think about my head crashing on a rock, but luckily it didn't. The other was my foot going out from under me, landing me on the underside of my forearm which, was, as usual, ripped to shreds. Both falls were on loose talus, and both were because I was tired and getting careless. My husband had found a cute little use trail down the slope on the other side of an outcropping, so he was already down by the lodgepole pines, while I was still a ways up the hill in a mess of bandaids and talus.
IMG_0511.jpg
I wondered whose 7th birthday it had been, and how far away from this lonely place.


At the lodgepole pines there were decent campsites, and I wanted to stop, afraid of more falls. It was early for us to stop at 3:30, but starting to rain, so we pitched our tarps. It was at this little group of pines that we saw the only four people we would see on the entire X-C portion of the trip. The first two men came through the pines at about 5:00 that evening, looking dirty, tired, and grim. They had come from Minaret Lake that day. Without consulting maps or speaking much at all, they hurried off toward Twin Lakes. The second two, a young brother-sister duo, came through early the next morning in the reverse direction, full of cheer and eager to talk our ears off. The young lady must have had a brain, because she was protecting it by wearing a white climber's helmet over her ball cap. She chided her brother for not wearing his, but it was on the back of his pack, protecting some stuff that was more valuable than his brain, I guess. She said they like to hike fast, and she wanted to protect her head if she fell on talus or a steep slope. A smart girl, if you ask me, and if I ever do anything like this again, I might wear one myself, especially at my age. True to their word, they zoomed off up the hill, and were gone from sight in no time.

We headed off to Twin Lakes soon after that. There was a use trail almost all the way there. My husband took the high road and I took the low road, and he arrived at the notch leading to Northern Twin Island Lake about 15 minutes ahead of me. We went through and beheld the beautiful lake with its little garden island under a lowering sky. As we were nearing the top of our cliff climb around the lake, the storm hit, and we hunkered down in a gully, wearing insulating layers and our rain jackets, and waited out the hail, thunder, and lightning while we nibbled on lunch. The thunder consisted of loud rolls with a short delay until the flash, not claps simultaneous with a blinding light, so I wasn't too scared. Those of you who have been in severe Sierra storms will know the difference.
IMG_0518.jpg
Looking back at our route from our hidey- hole.


After about an hour and a half the storm abated, and we continued our climb around wet cliffs. The ford of the Northern Lake was a rock hop, due to low water.

The Southern Lake was the "twin" of the Northern Lake, and just as beautiful. But it was still early in the day, and we were already behind schedule, so we hiked on.
IMG_0520.jpg
One of the twins after the storm.


We came to the canyon that Roper says to "ascend diagonally," but we decided to stick high on the east wall. Soon we came to a grassy and rocky rise, over which we found the "wild and beautiful lake." Looking down, I could see that the lake was low, and there appeared to be green algae all around the shore. Upon closer inspection, the green turned out to be little blades of duckweed poking up out of the water, and there wasn't any algae. The water was clear and delicious, so we decided to camp at the north end, as Ska-T advised. BTW, we didn't take any water purification on this trip, and didn't regret it. It was cold that night, but we were cozy in our 10 degree bags. In our pleasure at being at this little lake, we completely ignored Roper's last sentence in his paragraph: "Continue west across a pleasant basin distinguished by its easy walking." We were camped right in this pleasant basin.
IMG_0522.jpg
The "wild and beautiful" lake


The next morning we set out to find the "grassy gap north of Peak 10,280." Rather than take another look at Roper, where we might have seen the referenced sentence, we left the pleasant basin and started down cliffs, high ledges, talus, and Class III terrain toward Peak 10,280 in an effort to find the grassy gap. There was high wind, and our paper map blew away while being transferred from one pocket to another, so now all we had was my phone. Great. Everything started to look like a gap of some kind to us, and I found myself muttering, "This is supposed to be the High Route, not the Hard Route," as I pulled myself along ledges during this complete route-finding SNAFU.
IMG_0525.jpg
During our search
At 3:00 p.m., after hours of this ridiculous search, we decided that although we weren't lost, the grassy gap north of Peak 10,280 certainly was, and we would climb all the way back up to the lake and find our own way over, the bloody blank with Roper. As we climbed back up the cliffs we had descended at such risk, we took a slightly different route, and I suddenly spied what I knew had to be the grassy gap. Of course, it was right across the pleasant basin where we had camped, and we would have gone through it hours ago, had we paid attention to Roper. We went to it, and were at the Oasis in Bench Canyon in what seemed like no time at all.

Bench Canyon is every bit of what it’s cracked up to be, so we declared a rest day there, since the forecast was for precip all the next day. We pitched our tarps, battened everything down, and awaited the storm.
IMG_0531.jpg
Okay, we're ready!
The next day dawned partly cloudy and cold. We could see storms all around behind the nearby peaks with a little hole of sunshine right above us at the Oasis. For some reason, that little hole of sunshine lasted all morning, and we really enjoyed it. At 2:30 it started to hail, and got up to pea size before it turned to moderate snow. It hailed and snowed until 4:30, but there was no thunder or lightning. We were cozy in our tarps and bags and enjoyed the storm.
IMG_0544.jpg
Whee! It's snowing!
The hail and snow stuck to the grassy areas, but melted immediately off the slabs, which had picked up some warmth from the morning sun.

The next morning we set off for Blue Lake, and reveled in the easy walking and beauty of Bench Canyon. We got to the upper Blue Lake, where we camped and began to scope out the way up the pass.
IMG_0552.jpg
Suds in lower Blue Lake--sickening.
I went on a little day hike up to scout out two routes, which would have been far too steep for us with packs. We had a feeling that the route was to the right as you face the pass, but despite that we headed up the center the next morning. It was all right, and got us to where we were going—the top—fairly quickly, but as we went up we could soon see that the easier walking would have been to the right.
IMG_0557.jpg
On the way up Blue Lake Pass.


Coming down the other side, we went right and hugged the cliffs on top for a bit, then dropped down talus and scree to bypass the cliffs below. Husband wanted to go down the center, where we had seen some tracks, but I said those had to be fast and skilled young people, who can just hurl themselves down passes without a second thought, and that we were too old for that. Our way was tedious and long, but I would do it again.

We rested and rinsed out clothes at the little tarn below the lake, then set off for the forested benches below Peak 11,210. I loved this open country and felt like I should be riding a cow pony with a lasso and six shooter on my hip. We got to the forested benches and headed down to around 10,000 ft., as Ska-T advised, trying to aim for what we could see of the saddle through the trees. We did not go all the way to the drop-off as he had suggested, and we regretted not doing so, because we couldn’t find the @$#^% trail. We investigated every little game trail and water rivulet in those woods for at least an hour, before we decided to keep going down (below the recommended elevation), and then came across the trail plain as day. Clearly my altimeter was off, although I had set it on top of the pass.

My heart was sad, but my knees were glad to be back on the trail. We camped up on some rocks above Lyell Fork, and husband thought he heard gunshots the next morning. We packed up and got out fast. They probably were falling rocks (into the thick trees?), but we couldn’t be sure.

On the way to Lewis Creek we met a couple doing the route in reverse. The young lady had obviously read everything she could get her hands on, had done all the route planning, and she had some very specific questions about her maps that husband tried to answer. The young man had just as obviously not put in quite the time she did on the maps. When I offered to show them pictures of certain landmarks, she said, “Show the pictures to Walter.” I had to stop from laughing out loud. So Walter and I looked at pictures, while she and my husband continued the topographical interrogation. As we left them, I had no doubt she would make it, on sheer will alone, and that Walter would make it too, if he knew what was good for him.

Further up Lewis Creek that afternoon we met the third member of their party, a very fit and sociable young man, who might have been the girl’s brother. He had given them a 24-hour head start, and was pleased to hear they were now only 4 of our (slow) hours ahead of him. He asked where we had been and when husband told him we were finishing our last segment of SHR out of order, he loudly exclaimed, “No way!” We laughed, thinking we must look far more pathetic than we realized.
IMG_0589.jpg
Where I want to go next. Gallison Lake.


Vogelsang Lake was pretty and the night was cold and clear. The next morning we started down Rafferty Creek with 2 liters of water each, thanks to Ska-T’s advice that the creek was dry. I greedily gulped all mine down because it was hot, and so had none to give a woman, about my age, who we met coming up and who was running out of water. She only had half a liter to go five miles uphill in the heat. At the creek crossing just before Tuolumne Meadows, we stopped and had a modest bath, and then got into the car at the Dog Lake lot and headed down to Mammoth to pick up the other car.
My ears had not popped yet, and they didn’t, from Vogelsand Lake all the way down to sea level. By the time I got home, I was practically deaf. My husband said that maybe I had caught his cold. HIS COLD?? I didn’t know he had a cold on the trip, even though he coughed a bit at night. He had said he had “something in his lungs” when I asked, so I thought it was allergies. Yup, it was a cold and a doozy. The doc told me I had two bulging ear infections, plus an eye infection, plus a fever. Sure glad that didn’t hit until the last day!



User avatar
Shhsgirl
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:44 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:58 pm

Thanks for the trip report. I did that route north-to-south and it was interesting to see what it was like the other direction. Weather seems to be turning into fall, even with some snow. Do you have UL gear? Are your tarps/tents cuben fiber?

A baloon we found this summer in Wyoming had a tag attached. It apparently was an experiment and those who let it go wanted to know where it was found. My buddy is handling the reply so I do not know yet who sent it up. I thought that was really cool. Once I found an inflated baloon and used it for a pillow for two days, before it finally deflated.

Soap in Blue Lake! How sad. Some suds are natural, but I suspect these suds are caused by human activity, now that the High Route has become so popular.

I fall flat on my face about once or twice every trip. So far, so good-only minor injuries. I wear garden gloves to keep my hands from getting worn raw from trekking poles and each time I fell this summer, the golves really saved my hands. I am glad you did OK with your falls too.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:36 pm

That section from Catherine Lake down to Twin Lakes must be cursed, glad to read your injuries were only minor. :nod:
Was looking forward to reading about your experience with the storm that blew thru during the weekend, is seems like it was a short lived, but a thrilling ride. :)
Really hope that was just naturally occurring foam due to the windy conditions that you experienced during the storm, that whole area was pristine, Bench Canyon was rarely used 15-20 years ago. :\
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8049
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:44 pm

Thanks for the response, Daisy. Our tarp-tents are cuben fiber and made by ZPacks. The blue one is four years old and the green one is three. I've been in some terrible rain and hail storms in them and they've never failed. Rips, which happen mainly from pitching it too tightly, are easily repairable with cuben fiber tape. They provide a wind break, and bug protection, but no real warmth, as a tent would. They are not as durable as a tent, but we sure like that they weigh only 12 oz. or so. They are horribly expensive, so once these wear out and I retire, we will have to watch your posts, so we can copy your tent.

Your balloon was like a message in a bottle--a reply was requested! That would be exciting. Ours just set me to thinking about the little one who had a birthday.

Our tents and our stoves (Fancy Feast alcohol) are our only real UL equipment. We carry normal packs because the UL ones are too uncomfortable. I started out with about 33 pounds on this trip. In midseason I carry a quilt, which I like better than a bag, because it doesn't slip off my NeoAir mattress. On this trip we both carried mummy bags, and were slipping and sliding all over the place, but we were warm.

I wore fingerless leather-palmed Glacier Gloves, and loved them. They did protect my hands well. I need the fingerless gloves because I have "moved up" (have I really?) in the world and now use a phone to do stuff. Husband loves the white cotton gardening gloves, but in the last year or so, we've been unable to find them anywhere. What are your gardening gloves made out of?

I am sick at home these past three days, and do nothing but read HST and write too much.
User avatar
Shhsgirl
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:44 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby rlown » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:16 pm

leather palmed glacier gloves? hmm. And the phone stuff.. hmm. I bought a pair of the thin neoprene GG's, They weren't fingerless, but they are now because you need that for fishing sometimes.

"Suds" look like normal wave action rather than human caused.

Nice TR... Good luck with the balloon quest.. Those are fun sometimes.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5352
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Ska-T » Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:24 am

Shhsgirl, what a great time you've had on your two recent trips! And thanks for the acknowledgement, although the detour down from the northernmost Ritter Lake should be credited to Wandering Daisy, as I mentioned to you in our private conversation.

Clouds were gathering, so after peering over the 400 foot drop-off, where we saw a group of lodgepole pines that I said JUST COULDN'T be our next destination, but husband said indeed was, we headed down toward them. Roper's way is straightforward, and I'm not sure there is another.


Just for clarification for any literal future reader of this thread, you didn't go straight down from the drop-off did you? I mean, you did traverse 350 yards or so northwest to the "reddish cliffs" (as Roper writes) before going down, right?

As you say, there are good camping sites on the north end of the small lake west of Twin Island Lakes, but I prefer the grassy benches about 150 yards west of the lake. An advantage of the west side camp sites is that another 150 yards to the west is a creek with good water. This creek parallels the one that runs into the lake and is within the "grassy gap north of Peak 10,280", or at least within spitting distance of it. But getting temporarily off course is part of the High Route fun, no?

I want to thank you, Shhsgirl, for the beta on the 5th section of the High Route, Tuolumne Meadows to Twin Lake. I recently hiked that solo, Sept 15-18, during the last few days of your hike. [Note: You were right. Sky Pilot Col sucks!] I may write up a TR, although you just did a TR for that section and I don't have the patience to edit my P&S photos. I would post them as is. Actually, I didn't go all the way to Twin Lakes. I tagged Horse Creek Pass and then returned to Tuolumne via Spiller Canyon (very nice) and the PCT (zzzzz).
User avatar
Ska-T
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:05 am

Ska-T, we certainly didn't go straight down from the 400 foot drop-off! We did go up the grassy ramp to the reddish cliffs, as Roper directed.

I believe we must have camped on the northwest side of the "wild and beautiful" lake, having been too lazy to activate our compasses and make sure. We did find the creek west of the lake with good water that you mentioned, but not until we found the grassy gap the next day. We found one dry creek coming into the lake from the west the night we camped, and figured that was the one you meant, but that it had dried up.

Thanks again to you and Daisy for the route intel. I would like to see your trip report, even with unedited pics.
User avatar
Shhsgirl
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:44 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Moonwalker » Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:28 pm

Thanks for the report! Great photos, esp. "wild and beautiful" lake, surreal.
User avatar
Moonwalker
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 5:58 pm
Location: San Luis Obispo CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby Rockyroad » Sun Sep 25, 2016 4:36 pm

Shhsgirl, I’m glad you and your husband were able to complete this section of the SHR and for allowing me to vicariously follow along, since my trip along that section was also interrupted. You provide many useful photos and descriptions if I decide to attempt this trip again in the future.

“...we decided that although we weren't lost, the grassy gap north of Peak 10,280 certainly was…" Funny!
User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 159
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Modified Roper's Route Chapter 5: 9/8-18/2016

Postby wildhiker » Mon Sep 26, 2016 11:15 pm

Thanks for the trip report. A great read and full of useful information.

You caption the photo of Gallison Lake with "Where I want to go next". Well, it's easy to get there. Take the trail to Bernice Lake, then easy cross-country around the west side of Bernice Lake and up the inlet creek from the north to the big meadows around Gallison Lake. The whole drainage up from Gallison is easy walking on meadows and slabs up to the high lake. You can then go over the cross-country pass to Ireland Lake, but it does have some nasty talus - I would say harder than Blue Lake Pass.
-Phil
User avatar
wildhiker
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:44 pm
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 11 guests

cron