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Part 2 of the Lyell loop

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Part 2 of the Lyell loop

Postby cgundersen » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:47 am

OK, part 1 made it, so here's the rest:
In addition to the great long range views of Halfdome, the upper reaches of Lewis Creek basin held a remarkable surprise. There is a stunningly blue pothole lake that we encountered on our way over to Hutchings Creek basin. The first photo is of the last large lake in upper Lewis Creek basin (the pothole lake is hidden in the area at the upper right of the first photo below the most-distant snowfield). Then, there are a shots of the pothole lake…

Uppermost large lake in Lewis Creek basin:
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Pothole Lake(1):


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Pothole Lake (2)
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Pothole Lake from the Hutchings Creek ridge (3):
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The Hutchings Creek basin is gorgeous, and I wish we’d spent more time there, but after a jump into the upper part of the basin above Florence Lake (views from the Hutchings/Florence ridge captured Halfdome again), we needed to keep moving if we were ever going to get to Blue Lake.
Parked in Hutchings basin:
Image
Upper Florence Lake basin with Halfdome on the horizon:
Image
Hutchings Creek basin with the Clark Range in the distance:
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From Hutchings Creek basin, we took the saddle northeast of peak 12,113 to get into the basin of the Lyell fork of the Merced. Both this basin and Hutchings could keep me happy for many more days than the 3 nights we spent in that area. Both basins are a definite must for a return trip! Although we did not camp there, the west side of the long lake directly below Mt. Ansel Adams is splendid (see photo). A few shots of the area give a flavor:

View into the basin of the Lyell fork of the Merced from the ridge leaving Hutchings creek basin:
Image
Uppermost large lake (11,311) in the Lyell fork of the Merced (the peak is Rodgers):


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A “down-canyonâ€



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Postby maverick » Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:31 am

CG

Great pic's, this is why Adams loved this area, Lyell Fork and
Hutchings Creek are some of the prettiest areas in Yosemite
and combined with the Blue Lake area, in the Sierra.
The quick access from either side, especially from the western
makes it a prime destination spot luckly not frequented by the masses
who can have the eastern portion of Ansel Adams Wilderness.
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Postby The Other Tom » Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:24 pm

Love the pics of the pothole lake. Thanks for posting
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Postby hikerduane » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:44 pm

Very nice photos, thank you.
Piece of cake.
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Postby quentinc » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:16 pm

Great photo story!

It's really peculiar that Roper says he takes the High Route down to the pedestrian Isberg Pass trail because the Hutchings Basin area is so uninteresting. Makes one wonder if he ever even visited it.

How was the climb from the Lyell fork basin up to the Harriet Lake basin? It looked pretty loose from my vantage point on Peak 11200. I'll try to "embed" some photos from my trip, but that will of course require me to figure out how to do it!
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Postby BSquared » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:06 am

Wow! Amazing country! I keep hearing about the "beautiful but seldom visited" southeastern part of Yosemite -- can't remember where the quote is from -- and from your pictures it's breathtaking! Thanks!
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Postby cgundersen » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:12 am

Just another comment (to extend some of the preceding observations)because most of the basins on this loop drain out to areas that have established trails (especially to the northwest; after all, the Lewis Creek basin is not that far from Vogelsang), we had expected to see more signs of human activity.....and the absence of those signs(very few fire rings, a relative dearth of cairns, etc) either means that there really are relatively few folks who make it up into that area, or they are very fastidious. Either way, it was a pleasant surprise! Also, as I think should be obvious from several of the photos, there are plenty of ridges in that area that one could design alternative routes that could be done with a pack on (for instance, now that I know what the backside of Rodgers Peak looks like, it's not a stretch to think that one could make the hop from Marie Lakes basin directly into the upper reaches of the Lyell Fork of the Merced).

With that preceding comment as a preface, Quentin, I have no doubt that sans a dislocated shoulder and with better footwear than the horror show you were walking with, you'd have no problem getting into the Lyell Fork basin from where you were perched. On that photo with the Indian paintbrush, we just aimed for the lowest point on the distant ridge and although there was some loose crap, it was no worse than anything you'd encountered on your trip. If there was a "crux" ridge on our loop, it was getting over into Hutchings Creek basin from the upper Lewis Creek basin (as I mentioned earlier, the drop from the Ireland plateau into the Lewis Creek basin was easier than I expected), but aside from steady boulder hopping, even that stretch was not bad. Finally, it only took me about 10 tries, and a lot of helpful coaxing from the cognoscenti on this site to figure out how to embed photos. If Hikin Mike, Trailblazer et al can get me up to speed, they can do it for anyone....
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Postby copeg » Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:16 am

Gorgeous. Looks like an incredible trip.
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Postby maverick » Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:22 pm

CG

You are correct there are quite a few passes to access the area
but I think they intimidate the everyday backpackers, and the people
who do go thru are experience backpackers and climbers.
The one you mention from Marie Lakes to the upper part of the
Lyell Fork is Rogers Pass which is an easy class 2.
There is Old Bones Pass which comes over from the San Joaquin to the Lyell Fork, also class 2.
I have used the pass between Lyell Fork and Hutchings, but I cannot remember its name, its a class 2 west-northwest of the last lake in
upper Lyell Basin.
I havent done Lyell-Maclure Col.
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:23 pm

Wow, what a great trip. Cgundersen, I know you have seen the story all ready, but I just posted my story in Sierra Trails "A Backpack to the Remote Lyell Fork of the Merced River", and it is funny that while you were touring the upper canyons, I was touring the lower canyons. Man, you must love scree and talus, or was it not as bad as it looked in some pictures? I have thought about all thoes X-C passes, but some (like Hutchings to Lyell Fork) looked easier than I expected. (Not all passes are as crappy as Pant Pass, for example :^). Did you get a picture of Florence Lake and basin? I have been plotting ways to get there. And thank you for the picture of the lowest lake of the upper Lyell Fork basin: it is just as good looking as I expected it would be, darn it.
Yes, I have seen the Roper comment about this area being "uninteresting". Maybe he just could not see a worthwhile path on the map and wrote it off. Clearly, this is not the case and the Cgundersen trip is sure proof of that. One of the reasons I wanted to get back there was I thought Roper was wrong. With all that pure white granite, he has to be wrong.
Great trip. I want more pictures! :nod:
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Postby cgundersen » Sun Sep 30, 2007 3:39 pm

Hi Doyle,
As most of the folks who log onto this site know, there frequently are abundant rewards for putting up with a bit (even, a lot) of scree, talus, or those bouts of (seemingly) endless trail trekking. The payback on this loop far surpassed my expectations, and I hope to get back to the Hutchings creek, Lyell fork area within the next couple years. Since Maverick has criss-crossed this area, he may be able to supplement some of the shots I've posted (and, add to below).

So for more photos, I'll stick in another shot of the upper Florence basin, as well as the ridge that leads from Hutchings creek basin into the Lyell fork of the Merced, and the view from our campsite in the Lyell fork basin at sunset. It may take a while, but I'll try to get a few more shots of those basins inserted later (it's a bit of a fiddle to embed the photos, but it avoids the problems I've encountered with accessing the websites of some of the other folks who post trip reports).

We did not get down to the ridge where we could see Florence Lake itself; instead the shot here is a longer range view of the unnamed lakes in the upper reaches of that basin with Halfdome barely visible in the distance (in a line from the largest lake):
Image

The saddle leading from Hutchings basin into the Lyell fork is here:

Image

Alpenglow in the Lyell fork of the Merced:

Image

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Postby maverick » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:53 am

Sorry CG no pic's to add since I didnt own a camera when I visited
these areas.
Guess now that Im in the digital world it gives me that much more
reason to revisit all the previous areas Ive been too wthout a camera
and that list will keep me busy for years!
Yep that's the saddle between Hutching and Lyell Creeks.
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