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TR: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic 7/1-9/19/16

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:19 pm

Day 24- Lake 11,742 FT (Above Helen Lake) to Middle Fork Jct.
Last night we did some Milky Way shots & saw an epic shooting star. Best I’ve ever seen… A total fireball. And the stars were just incredible in general since we were cowboy camping. Today we traveled on the Muir Trail to the Middle Fork Junction. A hot event-less day. We conjured up the most ridiculous food ideas. One of mine was sticking an entire Quiznos Sandwich on top of Nachos... yes I know this is a little crazy. We call this kind of dreaming... Food ****. And we still had 5 days till real food at Cedar Grove. We tried to stop in to see Dina the ranger in LeConte but she wasn’t home. The camp at the Middle Fork had us ford Palisade Creek which wasn’t too bad… actually quite refreshing after a long day. We even took a nice swim in the Middle Fork since it was so hot. The camp was more rugged than we thought it would be, but overall fine with plenty of firewood.

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Day 25- Middle Fork Jct. to Lake 11,616 FT (Upper Basin)
The night was warm & apparently a bear went through camp at 5 A.M. but I noticed nothing. Today we made the grueling 4000 FT+ climb over Mather Pass. What a long, hard day finally over. I had never gone over the Golden Staircase or Mather Pass. We chatted with the trail crew down by Deer Meadow & he mentioned Dina isn’t the ranger this year… Oh well maybe our note to her about the trashcan from last year would get passed on. We climbed up the Golden Staircase from there & I could see why it’s so hard & impressive in general. The unfortunate thing that happened on it was I lost one of my pole tips. The Palisade Lakes definitely had some grandeur but after that it was a horrendous exposed slog to Mather. Toward the end I was a bit delirious, but fortunately we made good time up it & the view South was awesome with lots of epic areas I’ve never seen or visited. We got down to camp quick navigating through the many impressive switchbacks on the South side of Mather. I really enjoyed Upper Basin with the expansive and open areas & of course the view of Split, Bolton Brown and Prater.

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:24 pm

Day 26- Climb Split and Prater
Today I climbed both Split & Prater. Got a nice early start & felt good all day. After a 4000 FT climb the previous day I guess my body could do another 3000 FT+. The climb up Split was relatively easy… just a long of talus, scree, & sand. I made the summit in a little over 2 hours, so by 10:45 I was on top enjoying the grand view to the South. But, to my dismay plenty of smoke was in the air. The Owens was choked with it & it was smoky to the North. The view South afforded an epic view towards Mts. Clarence King, Gardner, Whitney, & so on. I got plenty of good cell coverage so I contacted Dan (our hiking partner on the next section) about Rogue’s Pad & our desire for Pizza. Rogue's Pad developed a major issue where the closed cells were coming apart and the pad would turn into a giant pillow at the top but be completely fat in the middle. A bit of a pain no doubt. We also decided what kind of pizza we wanted since Dan could pick it up on his way to Cedar Grove. Dan was on board with getting our stuff. Talked to several people to let them know almost a month in we were going strong & got a weather report… The inevitable streak of no rain was about to end. Starting the following day a 20-30% chance of very isolated storms & then back to a drier cool patter we had been experiencing. I checked on fires & none in the Sierra but a 30,000 Acre one by Santa Clarita was blowing smoke up into the range. I descended to the saddle & quickly decided to climb Prater since it was so close and I knew the Class 3 Traverse wasn’t going to happen from Bolton Brown. But as I descended Split I got a real treat… 4-5 Bighorn Sheep with massive racks. Now that was a sight to see them so far North. Anyways the climb up Prater was easy & the summit had a nice view to the East & North. Lots of clouds had built in the South that day so I knew the weather was coming in. The descent was easy, albeit a bit long & tedious but I got back by 4:20. There were people set up by us and another guy that Rogue met earlier that went up Split that was from HST. We chatted with him after he came back & he ate dinner with us as we exchanged more stories.

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:26 pm

Day 27- Climb Bolton Brown
We set out to climb Bolton Brown. Overall an easy climb with one very annoying talus pile & some easy Class 3 to obtain the summit ridge. We enjoyed some more service & the weather definitely was coming in as lots of clouds built by the time we got there. When we left it started to rain about 20-30 min later & continued lightly for a while. There it was... the end of the 27 day streak of no precipitation. I was concerned about my tent since it’s collapsed but when we got back there were some small pools of water on it but nothing got wet. Finishing Bolton Brown means I got every peak on this section… 8 the highest since the first 2014 section. My total is 12, which is not half bad, but soon to be higher after the next 2 section especially. Back at camp there have been grumbles of thunder from behind the Lake Basin/Dumbbell Lakes Area & it sprinkled again but nothing major. Hopefully no major storms in the Muro Blanco… It will be miserable enough as it is.

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:28 pm

Day 28- Lake 11,616 FT (Upper Basin) to Middle of Muro Blanco
The night of the 27th was especially epic since we thought we saw the most epic fireball shooting star of all time. Directly overhead it went & broke up into pieces & several minutes later we heard a boom thinking it landed. We were hollering up a storm with our excitement but as we have come to find out it was a Chinese missile that broke up in space… What a bummer. Anyways the next day on the 28th we began our descent into the Muro Blanco. We travelled down toward the trail junction amid beautiful views towards Pinchot Pass & the Striped Mtn. area. Clouds were forming fast & it was hot so storms were definitely in our future. We hit the junction early & had lunch quite a ways down canyon past Cartridge Pass. Following the use trail through that area was very nice & the view down canyon was definitely pretty along w/ Arrow Peak standing guard. But it wasn’t long after that, that we found ourselves crossing a talus pile & then crossing the river to what looked like more promising terrain. And of course it wasn’t… Immediately it turned super swampy & bogy with a full on mosquito attack. ****!! How I hated them by now… Never any rest from their vile nature. Eventually we crossed the river back & stayed on that side for the descent. Where we crossed was deep but slow. Inevitably it was very soon when some hardcore bushwhacking began… Full on Aspen forest… Practically impenetrable with massive branches that were very hard to push. Thing continued until a beautiful talus field emerged & we enjoyed that for a while. It was around this time that the first drops started to fall. Since it was so hot & the brush thick, we decided to leave our shells off. The rain fell steadily as we clambered by the river only to be forced back into a **** up mess of trees & brush on talus. Jesus, it was horrendous. But, fortunately, this year I was mentally & physically prepared for this misery, so I seemed to handle it with a quiet & somewhat whatever mentality. I knew, at some point the misery would end. It would of course get much worse before it got better. So, after much more clawing & cursing through mostly Aspens the rain let up a bit & we started thinking about a place to camp. We passed one decent area in a grove that had very little firewood & we figured we should head further so we pressed on. Not far after a massive boulder filed lay ahead of us & a small grove of trees at the bottom. It was in the boulder field that heavens let loose w/ a massive thunderstorm that dumped water on us. Instantly we were soaked & sloshing in our wet boots. Now, the grove of trees better have as area to set up or we could really be ****. At the far end of the canyon we could see Kid Peak signifying that had made decent progress. The rain slowly abated & we did some annoying technical moves to get around some **** but by 5is or so we were walking down towards the grove praying for a place to set up. We got there & found nothing established & found no real good camping but made due right in the center. We built a fire pit & covered dry wood of which there was a decent amount. And just as we tried to start the fire it started **** raining again! Looking out you could see it was blue sky & everything clearing but of course for us it was raining. Needless to say the frustration was crippling, but eventually we got our fire going & had an epic dinner knowing the following day could be just as ****. By the time we got there it had grown cool & since I was wet I had grown cold, so the fire very much was necessary for me & my gear. I attempted to dry my socks but instead managed to burn one naturally. Now… I only had 1 pair of socks that when I’d put on tomorrow would be wet... since my shoes weren’t drying that night.

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:32 pm

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So there you are... Week 4. Epic and awful all at the same time! The next day we'd come out of the Muro Blanco... or would we?!
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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby The Other Tom » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:51 am

"This is us drying out our gear since it was completely drenched. Pretty sure this was after I burned one of my socks to a crisp... that was lovely."

Yep, been there done that.
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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby robertseeburger » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:32 pm

Well, that was me who you met at lake below Split Mtn... (I posted a trip report "trip report kings canyon 7/19-7/28" last august, and reference that I met both of you. ) Looks like I just beat the weather coming in...It was good to meet you guys and I had fun jabbering about all sorts of stuff. A couple of things...

While I have never been down Muro Blanco... I remember smiling at you guys and saying.... "good luck", having heard some war stories.

I had read your summaries of going down Disappearing Creek and Goddard Creek to Simpson Meadow, but I still had it in my brain to do it some day.
But the dialogue we had, in addition to the writeup...talked me out of it.. I think Muro Blanco is also off the list of to do's....

And lastly, one of things I remember was that we talked about taking alcohol backpacking...and I mentioned that it was desirable but it was one of the things
that gets eliminated due to weight when I go solo. So, you offered me some of your bourbon. I looked at your pouch and could see maybe an ounce left..so I didn't have the heart to accept! Out for 80 days with only an ounce. But thanks for offering!

I enjoy reading your posts...thanks!!
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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:20 pm

Week 5

Alright Week 5... Let's finish up the Muro Blanco and head into the wild and remote Monarch Wilderness.

Day 29- Middle of Muro Blanco to Middle Paradise Valley
Anyways we slept well that night and morning dawned crisp & clear but the inevitable dread soon sank in. We were in the heart of the worst bushwhack in the Sierra & we had to get out of it today and we still had 4+ Miles to go. Well, in summary it was 4 miles of pure hell on Earth. It took over 9 hours to do it & when we finished we were f***ing wasted. I swear at one point I thought Rogue was going to kill himself with any means possible. So, after climbing through **** jungles of aspens and fields of prickly ball bush and thickets of willows we made it to Kid Creek. We had enjoyed plenty of delicious currants & even some raspberries & a nice soak in the river, but unfortunately nothing could prepare us for the agony that lay ahead. After entering into a decent forest and passing by the only real camping area since ours, we figured we were almost home free…cruising into Paradise Valley via this forest. Of course, that didn’t happen and we entered a massive brush filled area only to enter into another forest. Now, we thought we were in the clear.. Oh no. Of course not... how could it be that easy? The fun was only just beginning. At that point we had no more than a 1.5 miles of the canyon left but not an inch was won without miles of effort. The willows, the scrub oak, the aspens, the heat… It was destroying every inch of our body & every scrap of our souls. The heat was seriously unbearable. I honestly wished it was raining at that point since fighting through brush is never easy but when it's hot and there's a swarm of blood sucking vampires attacking you from every side it's downright agonizing. Nothing was worse than the last .5 mile or so. We were out of water, dehydrated, barely could go on when we finally accessed the river. I thoroughly and very clearly to this day remember the moaning and groaning as we fought our way to get to the river. Every manner of growl, yelp, moan, scream, and cruse word echoed out of our parched mouths. Arghhhhhh how I rued the day I read about the Muro Blanco and wanted to go explore it. That wretched canyon could burn for all I cared at this point. From the river it finally got easier but still difficult & not until the last quarter mile did it let up. We rolled straight into Upper Paradise Valley into a campsite warning the people never to travel through the hell that is that canyon. I could write so much more about how horrendous it was but why; knowing I’ll never be back and I’ll never bushwhack again is enough for me. Rogue said it was by far the worst route & that he’s done with bushwhacking…The gavel had fallen. We decided Middle Paradise was far enough & **** me, I was totally delirious walking through there. My body was wrecked, even though I had never really gotten too cut up, but I had plenty of small cuts. My mind was wrecked from having to focus so much on not **** losing it in the bushes. Andy my feet were crippled, totally raw & wet, since I managed to step into water at the end of the day after spending all day drying them out. It never rained that day, so naturally it was miserably hot, since the shade never could make it over us, even though plenty of clouds built. By the time we got into camp it was late & I couldn’t walk another inch. But of course water access was far as hell away so I crawled my way down & up there amid some of the worst mosquitoes we had seen. Seriously, what the f***… 6600 FT at the end of July… why the hell were there still mosquitoes there. It made dinner seriously non-enjoyable & it was hot as hell down there but no matter what it was better than being in the **** up Muro Blanco. Can you tell I was pretty over this day?

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:24 pm

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Re: 81 Days in the Sierra w/Rogue Photonic July 1st-Septembe

Postby alpinemike » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:29 pm

Day 30- Middle Paradise Valley to Cedar Grove
Today we booked it down to Road’s End & were there by 10:40 A.M. Gear wise, the Muro Blanco took out my socks & the front part of my shoe sole on my right foot is gone but I’m sure it will survive, although barely to my truck. But, my pack got a large rip in the mesh, which I will attempt to fix. We passed several rangers & saw a rattlesnake. I finally got to see Mist Falls which was pretty cool, although the flow was low since it was later in the season. Overall, we had a nice view of the canyon which was good since last year was so bad because of the smoke. We passed by 2 backpackers that would eventually come out a little after us & we fortunately immediately got a ride from them in the back of their truck. The shitty sandy trail was unpleasant but food was close at hand so we didn't care anymore. Soon, we were rolling into Cedar Grove Lodge… 3rd year in a row for me & likely the last for a while. After getting some chips, a drink, and saying hello to the lady that let us drop off our packages we secured our Wi-Fi Password we enjoyed our snack. We had to wait for lunch since we were early. We quickly found out only Facebook worked, which was a real bummer (I wanted to check the weather, among a few other things), but we made do. We messaged Dan & asked him to get me my socks. He was cool with it & he said the pizzas were on their way! What glorious news that was. Soon, we were eating delicious burgers with a salad for a very satisfying lunch. We then chilled for a while, messaged some people & found out that the meteor was a Chinese Missile. We did half of our laundry & took a shower which was quite heavenly albeit it ran a bit short. Feet were doing better & the shoes were finally dry, which was a real treat. By 4 Dan found us & we soon went to look for a campsite at Sentinel. So after not finding a campsite at Sentinel we went down the road a ways till we got one at Moraine. We set up and then went back to the store & Dan bought a 6 pack of assorted beers. We then chowed down on our ridiculously good pizza that was ordered perfectly. Although it was $20 it was very worth it. Dan got me a lighter cushion version of socks, but all is good & he even picked up my pole tips. Rogue got his pad, so we got our gear & were very satisfied. After helping Dan sort through his gear & food we chatted a while about a bunch of random stuff including his 3 mustangs & 11 cars total we went to sleep.

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