Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

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
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 713
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by sekihiker » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:55 pm

Here is a report for a hike through country once protected by oldranger back in the day.
http://www.sierrahiker.com/Geography195/index.html








User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Addict
Posts: 2283
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jan 16, 2021 7:44 am

I really enjoy these old reports. When were we at the Roaring River Ranger Station it was mid September...and I remember freezing one night in my plastic tube tent and Dacron II bag...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
Posts: 835
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Contact:

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by LMBSGV » Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:09 am

I am also enjoying these old reports, Bill. This one is personally pertinent since I hope to be going to Big Bird Lake and Tablelands from the Sunset Meadow trailhead this summer. I'm not sure if I would have seen this so easily on your website due to its title, "Geography 195." Thanks for posting it here.
I don’t need a goal destination. I need a destination that meets my goals.

http://laurencebrauer.com

User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 713
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by sekihiker » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:29 pm

LMBSGV wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:09 am
I'm not sure if I would have seen this so easily on your website due to its title, "Geography 195."
Thanks for the kind words. It is a lousy title. Maybe "Deadman Canyon" would be better.

User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 713
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by sekihiker » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:37 pm

balzaccom wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 7:44 am
I really enjoy these old reports. When were we at the Roaring River Ranger Station it was mid September...and I remember freezing one night in my plastic tube tent and Dacron II bag...
Thanks for the comment. My first bag was kinda insulated with kapok, which turned to powder after a few trips. My next bag, rectangular of course, was filled with Dacron and had a milium [metalized] lining. The new bag was a quantum leap above the first.

User avatar
oldranger
Topix Addict
Posts: 2795
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Bend, Oregon

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by oldranger » Sat Jan 16, 2021 3:13 pm

Wow that pic at Roaring River ranger station brings back memories! My wife Kathy is standing next to Doc Morgan and my daughter Sierra is in the red next to Kathy. Morgans classes were a regular feature of my summers at Roaring River. Once I was scheduled to meet his class at upper Ranger Meadow for my usual talk on Fire Ecology but the day before I was called out on a search at lunchtime. I had talked to the missing person and had given him instructions on how to head up Cloud Canyon and then go over Coppermine Pass and then traverse over to the Elizabeth Pass Trail and not try and drop down directly to the Kaweah drainage from Coppermine Pass. But he overdue for his return home. So I packed up my stock and headed up to Grand Palace Hotel where I left them. Then proceeded to hike up Cloud Canyon. I think this was 1986 and it was a weird snow year with almost all the snowfall over a two week period in February. It was a wet snowfall and resulted in huge avalanches all over the Sierra. Consequently the bottom of the canyon was still covered in snow, including most of the creek. I understood that if he had broken thru the snow into the creek he would be dead so I moved up canyon as far as I could until it was dark and I found a dry spot where I could camp. I had told the fellow where to pick up a trail and hoped to find his tracks there the next morning. The last few hundred feet to the top of the ridge was still covered in snow and I knew there would be no tracks there because of several melt freeze cycles. I also noted a bunch of headlamps shining on top of Lion Lake Pass. I assumed that these were an Outward Bound group and failed to anticipate that they would complicate things the next day. I also had no idea of how the search was otherwise proceeding because this part of Cloud Canyon was in a dead spot for radio traffic and I couldn't make contact until several hundred feet up the canyon walls. After breaking camp I reached the area where the old trail became visible and was relieved to find his tracks (new balance had just come up with a hiking boot and it had a very distinct pattern and that was the brand of boot he was wearing), I followed his tracks until the trail was covered by snow then just bolted up to the top of the ridge. I was able to make radio contact before toping out and notified dispatch that I had found his tracks. Once I arrived at the top I was dismayed to find that the Outward Bound patrol had obliterated all evidence of the missing person's tracks. Calling this in from near the top of Coppermine Peak I was told that our helicopter was out of service and another chopper would be arriving shortly from San Jose and I should just wait until its arrival. While waiting I noticed a pack train working its way down the snowfield below Elizabeth Pass. Well I got ancey and decided to follow the trail down the ridge to the saddle that is clearly visible when looking up Deadman Canyon. On the south side of the saddle I noticed imprints in the gravelly soil roughly the shape of a boot that headed down toward the Kaweah drainage--exactly the direction I told him not to go. i notified dispatch that I was heading down to follow the tracks. About this time Lo Lyness the Bearpaw ranger arrived at my location. We decided to leave our packs at the saddle and just take our first aid kits down with us. After dropping down a couple hundred feet I noticed some red down below me, I shouted the missing persons name and got a response! We hoofed it down to what was a smooth granite avalanche chute. Lo asked "Hang out here often?" Looking at me he responded "I did exactly what you told me not to do." Turns out he stepped on the small rivulet of water running over the smooth granite and slipped fell on his side and dislocated his shoulder. We called in our location and was notified that the chopper would be arriving shortly. While waiting we wrapped up his shoulder in a sling and swath. Soon the chopper arrived and the pilot did a nifty job of squeezing into the steep narrow space and setting the front of the skids on a rock so the park medic could disembark. He took off, the park medic checked our work then called the chopper back. As we loaded the patient into the chopper blasted us with wind and gravel and this brave ranger yelled "we're going to die, we're going to die!" I didn't really believe it but it seemed like the right thing to say under the conditions. Somehow we conviced the higher-ups to have the chopper return to get us back to our respective stations. First it had to stop to pick up our packs. Then I provided the good news that the chopper had just to take me down to upper Ranger Meadow where I had an appointment for a ranger talk. So I was flown in where I was greeted by two groups, Doc Morgan's geography class and the pack train group. The pack train was made up of burros owned by Thatcher School which is basically an elite prep school for Stanford. The people with the pack train were the headmaster, a cook, and donors to the school. Anyhow I was invited to eat with the Thatcher folks but I had previous commitment with Doc Morgan so I politely declined but accepted an invitation for the next night down by the ranger station, Doc Morgan said to me, "Mike you've hiked into my camp, ridden horseback into my camp, but this is the most spectacular arrival yet." So after or during dinner I gave my usual talk and then everyone went into their tents to sleep. I lingered outside awhile and noticed glowing objects being passed around inside tents. Well I didn't think they were cigarettes but I didn't want to make a federal case out of it so I jumped in my tent and went to sleep wondering if Doc Morgan had any inkling of what was going on. The end!
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 713
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by sekihiker » Sat Jan 16, 2021 7:20 pm

Mike -
You sure had some BIG days on that job!
Roaring River Ranger Station is one of the coolest.
From what I remember, you were really into the history of the area.
And you certainly knew every nook and cranny of a huge part of the parks.
It must have been a high point in your life.
Bill

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Addict
Posts: 2283
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by balzaccom » Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:23 am

Great story, Mike. Thanks for sharing it. So who was the ranger we met there in 1969? Any idea?
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
robertseeburger
Topix Regular
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:53 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Mateo Ca

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by robertseeburger » Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:32 am

Great story.. Bill and Mike..
I was there at the ranger station two years ago, (empty) and it looked just the same to me...

I am really impressed by the route. It is something I have considered but not done.. going west from Big Bird Lake over Tablelands instead of veering south. Seldom visited I presume.

The one thing I remember from going from Rowell Meadows to Roaring River is you go DOWN from the trailhead. I remember getting there in one day also, with a heavy pack and feeling quite pleased with myself for getting that many miles. Usually I feel ghastly after a day one.

Enjoyed reading this..

User avatar
oldranger
Topix Addict
Posts: 2795
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Bend, Oregon

Re: Sunset Meadow Trailhead, Roaring River Ranger Station, Big Bird Lake, Tableland

Post by oldranger » Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:10 pm

robertseeburger wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:32 am
Great story.. Bill and Mike..
I was there at the ranger station two years ago, (empty) and it looked just the same to me...

I am really impressed by the route. It is something I have considered but not done.. going west from Big Bird Lake over Tablelands instead of veering south. Seldom visited I presume.

The one thing I remember from going from Rowell Meadows to Roaring River is you go DOWN from the trailhead. I remember getting there in one day also, with a heavy pack and feeling quite pleased with myself for getting that many miles. Usually I feel ghastly after a day one.

Enjoyed reading this..
Bob your memory fails you from Sunset meadow to park boundary is all uphill then downhill to Sugarloaf Crossing, then a bit of relatively level, before a short rise and then a drop down to the river with a little less than a mile of uphill to the station. My first day of my first summer at RR I hiked into RR with 2 weeks provisions. When I got there I was too tired to set up the water system so I just took a bucket to the river for water.

The route from Big Bird to the Tablelands was the only route where I didn't destroy ducks along the route as it was so precise to keep out of trouble and it was so easy to get off route without them.

As I recall Bill encountered me one other time, again unbeknownst to me.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: balzaccom, Google Adsense [Bot], Iriscaddis, TehipiteTom and 12 guests