Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

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robertseeburger
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Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:02 pm

It seemed like there was nowhere to go backpacking in October. The fires were still blazing, and the best trailheads for my typical ventures were closed.
(Inyo, SEKI, Sierra National Forest). I had gone on an October backpack each of the last five years, with mostly good results. ( A few nights of cold).
I just monitor the weather, look for an opening of good weather, and go on a comparatively shorter trip than usual. The biggest issue I have found isn't the ability to time the weather, it is the number of hours of dark.

I noticed that Inyo National Forest had described Hoover Wilderness as closed, which I mistakenly thought meant all of Hoover was closed. It turns out that Hoover has two national forests , Toiyabe on the north and Inyo on the South. ( I realize many of you will say "duh").
I called up the Ranger station in Bridgeport, got a voicemail, but got a pretty quick call back. Yes, Toiyabe is open. No you dont need a reservation.
If you want to go out of Leavitt Meadows, there is a self service form at the trailhead. Have fun. It is nice when people are both responsive and helpful.

I couldn't get away until 10/14, which is later than I usually do and planned to go until Sunday 10/18. And if I could just get back by 5:00pm on Sunday, I could actually have a glass of wine and watch the 49er game. My pal Gary and I monitored the weather report in the week prior and the smoke reports.
The smoke looked "ok"...some risk. The weather on the other hand, looked warm..perhaps even strangely warm. Temperatures in the 60's in the afternoon and low of 40 at night..with no end ( either cold temperatures or precipitation in sight). We finally decided to extend the trip one more day (6 total instead of 5) to take advantage of the fine weather.

So, we decided on the following itinerary. Leavitt Meadow, Piute Meadow, Tower Lake, Tower Pass, Mary Lake, Tilden Lake, and climb Tower Peak.
Off we went. The 4 hour drive from San Mateo went easy. The self service permit went as advertised. We were hiking by 10:30 AM.
It was hot. I was wearing shorts in the Sierras in October.

The Creek by the trailhead.
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And ..a view toward Tower Peak over Leavitt Meadow. A long way to get there. Skies were pretty clear, which was good!
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We made it near Piute Cabin that afternoon. Pretty nicely maintained cabin.. Probably about 9 miles. Not too much uphill.
Biggest challenge was the trail was very sandy in places. The slowdown in the real sandy spots is in my judgement 1MPH, even if flat.
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And a view of Hawksbeak Peak and Ehrnbeck Peak over Piute Meadow.
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The second day we made it up to Tower Lake. Nice view up to Tower Pass.
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We found Tower Pass quite easy.. easy talus on the east side (small, stable) and easy ramp on the west side.
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A view from the pass
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And finally Mary Lake came into view. There was a nice campsite in the trees to the right. But someone was camped there.
We camped among the rocks in a flat spot to the left. Note there is some haze from fires, but not too bad. Certainly no issues breathing.
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A ptarmigan around the lake. Got very close. Appeared to hold his/her ground like protecting a nest. But didnt expect chicklets in October.
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Mary Lake at sunset from camp. Some haze in the distance.
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We did some fishing.. but one of the interesting things we found was some huge caddis larvae. Never seen them this size before. These were spent cases but thought it was unusual how big they were.
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robertseeburger
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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:15 pm

Fishing was in general quite slow.

A shot of me fishing Tilden Lake a day later.
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'

And Gary with a rainbow..
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A view of Mary Lake from the outlet..
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We decided to climb Tower Peak. I try to climb one or two peaks per year. So far this year on different trips I hadn't been able to climb Mount Tyndall (trip dynamics changed) or Mount Ritter (weather) as planned. We did get to the top of Volcanic Ridge which was great. But now we wanted to climb Tower Peak. Supposed to have a good view..

Looking down on Mary Lake.
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Looking all the way to Tilden Lake.. toward Hetch Hetchy.
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Summit area
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Looking south from the summit. You can see Banner Ritter and Lyell. You can also see haze from the Creek Fire surrounding these peaks.
But you can also tell there really isn't much haze elsewhere in Yosemite.
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Old codger 1 on top of peak
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Old codger 2 on top of peak
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A view north from the summit of Tower Peak. Over the top of the high ridge is Anna lake. I would like to go there some day.
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What it looks like in the chute immediately below the peak.. Class 3, but not too hard.
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And on the ridge below the chute.
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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:23 pm

Another Mary Lake shot..
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A view back toward Tower Peak and the final chute to the top.
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A waterfall on the creek below...
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And a trail sign. The trail signs on this route were quite old. And this one was on the ground. We actually missed it on the way in, and caught it on the way out..
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Overall, we had a good trip. Weather was fantastic. Bagged a nice peak. One of the advantages of October is no mosquitoes.
I slept under the stars every night... no tent. I didnt even know there was no moon. So, the skies were pretty clear ( minimal smoke), no moon, no tent, plus there were a ton of meteors to watch. And it only got below freezing the last night. So it was unusually warm for this time of year.

Great finish to a great backpacking year. I got 51 days of backpacking in this year. The extra day caused me to miss the 49ers trounce the Rams. (Oh well--it was worth it!)
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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by kpeter » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:49 pm

How great that you got out there, the weather cooperated, and you found a nice trip in the midst of smoke and darkness! I've never been in that area and have it on my list. Out of curiosity, why did you opt for Tower/Mary/Tilden cluster rather than going to the Dorothy/Stella/Ruth/Helen/Cora/Harriet/Bonnie cluster? I've never been to either--wondering which should be higher on my list.

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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by Dwwd » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:46 pm

Without a tent, did you see any meteors? The Orionid shower was supposed to peak on Oct 20,2020 and without a moon some of them ought to have been visible. Just Curious.

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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by Harlen » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:31 pm

Yay Robert and Gary-- you guys got out again, as you've done a lot all year (51 days!) Nice trip, nice climb, cowboy camping under meteoric skys, a few big fish... You two always seem to get it right. We are still keeping pretty well in sinc, with similar trips, similar times, and completing TRs on the same day. Cheers, Ian.

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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:43 pm

Your reports always have some sort of gross biology. Fish guts, caddis larvae. Always something that makes my skin crawl, I'm like "Oh yeah, that guy". Everyone's gotta have their thing.

Tower is a good lookin' piece of stone, from far off and up close. Nice pics. :)
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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by balzaccom » Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:30 am

Great report. We've done that hike up from Leavitt Meadows a few times. Each time it seems to get longer...but there are good places to go once to you get to end of it!
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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:23 am

Until you walk that section of loose sand on the trail out of Levitte Meadow you have no idea how bad it is. Normally I am not a critic of horse use on trails, but this is a place where horse use has contributed to these conditions. That section sort of is a "payment" you simply have to make to get into the higher country from that trailhead.

There is an off-trail valley east of Tower Peak that I believe is locally called "Rainbow Valley" that is very scenic, particularly the view of Hawksbeak that you should explore on your next trip. Another great variation on you trip would be to go in Rainbow Valley and then over a pass into Stubblefield Canyon and back out your route.

When I climbed Tower Peak years ago, we ran into Marines, marching in unison, who were training carrying huge packs and weapons, I bet near 100 pounds; definitely building character as well as muscles! We were going really UL and ran past them. I really felt sorry for them as we climbed the peak and ran past them again on the way down. My husband who was a marine, says the reason they recruit 18-year old guys is that anyone older has more sense. He volunteered for "adventure" and got more than he bargained for!

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Re: Trip Report Hoover-Toiyabe/North Yosemite 10/14/20 to 10/19/20

Post by Harlen » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:47 am

I just noticed your Ptarmigan photo; did you nearly step on it? In Alaska they are also called "Stupid chickens" because you nearly step on them before they flutter madly off, scaring the shite out of you. I second Wandering Daisy's recommendation of the valley under Hawksbeak. One of the best sunset mountain sights we've ever had!

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