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Yosemite High Country TR

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Yosemite High Country TR

Postby maverick » Wed May 21, 2008 12:51 pm

Well I have gone to the western part of Yosemite for the last 2 years as my warm up
trips, so it was time to go back to the valley again.
First let me say for those of you who write off this time of the year because of the
snow or that it is the so called in-between season don't know what there missing!
First of all it is true that there is a lot of snow in some areas especially above 8500 ft
but the creeks are flowing, raging in some cases, unlike in the winter months.
Also the days are much longer and warmer, though can get cold (upper 20's)in the morning
at higher elevations before sunrise due some what to the refrigeration effect of the snow.
Anyways I took off Thursday morning from the Bay Area and made it to the trailhead around
10:30 am.
Spent the first nIght at Merced Lake.
In Echo Valley I had my usual rattler siting, the usual flooding was reduce to a few puddles
that did not warrant removal of my boots as my previous hikes thru here had.
Even the trail at the western end of Merced Lake which is flooded this time of the year
was dry.
Bunnell Cascade was very unimpressive because of the low water of the Merced, with the
Toulumne being even lower this will probably not be a good year for checking out
Waterwheel or LeConte Falls.
I do not care much for Merced Lake, its not a pretty lake or area, Washburn Lake is much
better if you want a lake as a destination.
There were more people at Merced Lake than I have ever see this time of the year, not a
crowd buy an means, just more than usual(this was the last day with human contact, not even
a footprint till the last night in LYL).
The next day it was up to Bernice Lake.
The trail was pretty snow free up to the Babcock Lake junction from where the snow
cover was a little heavier and got more consistent near the creek coming from Florence Lake.
Bernice Lake and Gallison Lake were frozen but most above 9000 ft were, which gives
the landscape a whole new look which I very much appreciated as a backpacker and as a
photographer.
The next day it was over Vogelsang Pass which was the only place I needed crampons
and my ice axe.
It was cool to see the High Sierra Camp devoid of people and snowed in.
Then I headed down toward Emeric Lake where I jumped the ridge into the Echo Creek
drainage.
There was total snow coverage from Vogelsang Passes northern side all the way to Nelson Lake
where I spent the next night.
The views of the Cockscomb, Unicorn and especially Matthes Crest from the top of the
ridges were awe inspiring and very unique with the snowy terrain!
I followed Echo Creek down a ways and climbed the ridge and down into the Cathedral Drainage
the next day.
This is the only place where I had a short 5.2-5.3 pitch, which was made easier by the
little nubs on the rocks in this area, but still with a pack it was a little unnerving.
Cathedral Creek was booming and no snow until I got near where the trail turned west
towards the JMT were it was covered again by 4-5 feet of snow again.
I stayed at Sunrise High Sierra Camp the next night which was fun.
The meadow was completely snowed in with 5-6 feet of snow but behind the Rangers Station
there was a dry spot big enough for my tent.
The view east, south and north(from the middle of the meadow) were outstanding, especially
the easterly views where the peaks reflected in the parts of the thawed out creek that runs
through the meadow, wow!
I left this place with a heavy heart vowing I'll be back next May, it was the highlight of the
trip (including Gallison Lake area).
Funny, you would not catch me near a High Sierra Camp when there open, but with snow all
around it turned this place into some magical Shangri-la that will stay etched into my mind
for quite some time.
Then it was down the JMT which had snow on it till it turns toward Half Dome where it was
dry and hot.
I stayed at LYV the last night hoping to end my trip with a bear sighting but all I got was dear.
Pic's will be on the way if Flickr and Yahoo get there act together.
Last edited by maverick on Wed May 21, 2008 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby markskor » Wed May 21, 2008 3:42 pm

Mav,
Very impressive report...envious here.
You must be a goat if your 1st night in, all the way to Merced Lake...That would be two days for me from the Valley.
Couple of questions: Where did you exit Emeric? and how was the trail over to Nelson...always wanted to do that section.
How was the trail... (postholing?) going over Bernice to Voglesang?

Anyway, nice to see there are more fools like me who appreciate Yosemite in May. I remember being up at Washburn where I had to chip into the lake each morning for water... after the nightly freeze. Great work!
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby maverick » Wed May 21, 2008 3:55 pm

Hi Markskor

At the south-western end of Emeric I climbed over the ridge and stayed at around
9600 ft to the no name lake with the island in it, then continued on staying
high until I got to one of the branches that feed Echo Creek, which I then followed
down to Nelson Lake.
No trails from Emeric all x-country, the Vogelsang Pass trail was easy to follow
from above Gallison once over the snow field, but once over the pass down to
Emeric the trail was covered with 5-6 feet of snow so I just followed the river down.
Oh yeah the snow was still pretty solid everywhere no major postholing to talk about yet,
but some great plunge stepping on some steep terrain!
Last edited by maverick on Wed May 21, 2008 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby Hikin Mike » Wed May 21, 2008 4:15 pm

Thanks for the TR! Before my knees went south, my friend and I loved to go around May/June to the eastern part of Yosemite. I miss that!
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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby hikerduane » Wed May 21, 2008 6:22 pm

Thanks. I have given some thought to early season hikes, but I love the warmer weather after having to shovel snow all winter. Maybe a three day weekend. Any extra gear, like waterproof boots, extra boots, mattress? You listed crampons and ice axe.

Not to mention, if xc hiking, no brush.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby copeg » Wed May 21, 2008 6:38 pm

Thanks for the trip report Mav! I enjoyed reading it and looking forward to the pics. Sounds like it was a great time. I was hoping to make use of the Tioga Pass opening and head up in that direction this weekend, just not sure where to go yet.
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Re: Yosemite High Country TR

Postby maverick » Wed May 21, 2008 7:17 pm

Hi Hikerduane

No special equipment. Regular boots, close cell mattress cut to 3/4 length, the usual.
The ice axe and crampons were for morning hikes were the snow would be solid ice
as it was at Vogelsang but otherwise it could have also been avoided by going a little
later in the day.
Most of the brush is covered and there by avoided by the 4-6 feet of snow.
Also some dry spots can always be found especially on the southern side of lakes or
valleys, it may take a little looking around, but they can be found.
Even a good piece of flat granite makes for a good night.
Temps during the day were in the mid to upper 70's sometimes higher so it really only
got cold at night.
Thanks TB and HM, I hope I'll have some pic's tomorrow.
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