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TR Yosemite...#1

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TR Yosemite...#1

Postby markskor » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:01 pm

After posting here for a possible hiking partner, (The wife not wanting me to go solo)…and having received two solid contacts that satisfied her worries, last month, I packed up and headed to Yosemite for a 30 days. BTW, it turned out that both "contacts" were unable to go…last minute dilemmas… (You know how that story goes), but I did not say a word to the wife until I got home. Here is the first trip report…of two.

I arrived in the Valley and easily snagged a next day, solo, 15-day permit out of Tuolumne. Staying that night in the Valley backpacker campground, I ran across Sierra McClure (a member here) who has a fascinating REI business…thriving. It seems that novice backpackers each pay her $500 a week to go backpacking… only they have no idea where they are going until they arrive. She provides food and expertise, as well as some equipment. Sharing some good red wine with her, we laughed…this week, it seems, 10 intrepid souls were doing a 4-day Yosemite Falls trip, led by her, with side trips for map-finding classes added. She said that she had 14 weeks of trips in a row scheduled…all summer long, she would make some big bucks backpacking.

Anyway, the next day I took one of the free Yosemite watercolor classes offered there in the Valley… (World famous artists too)…before grabbing the 5 PM YARTS bus up ($11.00) to Tuolumne. The damn mosquitoes, absent down in the Valley, were everywhere up high…no matter, I was going fishing. Before proceeding with this report, I should also mention something about the ubiquitous fires and smoke – ghastly…daily, grey skies and a red sun.

6 am the next morning found me heading up the Lyell, bearing for Ireland Lake. I saw nobody that day, arriving at Ireland late afternoon; unfortunately, I started coughing up chunks from the combination of the “first day” hiking blues and the prevalent pollution. Setting up camp quickly, I readily pulled out the fishing paraphernalia, just in time for the evening rise…killer fishing. Maybe 15 fish taken, all C&R, Rainbows and Brooks…nothing big but heaven nonetheless. FYI, I recall the sunset that night was showing a dull, burnt red.

Next, X-country, down to Boothe Lake where again, fishing was the order of the day…still small, maybe 20 fish taken…only one other party across the lake seen. I started coughing more and now experiencing clogged sinuses… decided to do a free day there, resting and fishing again with multitudes of fish caught…maybe 50 all day… all C&R again. Next morning, still congested, I decided minimal hiking day, visiting Tuolumne Lake…just a few miles away, having often passed there by but never stopping, overnight here just to see…no one else visible all day but the bugs were so thick, they forced me to eat in my tent. At one point, I counted 200 “mossys” on one square foot outside the tent wall. Unfortunately, even with all the free food, I did not see one fish here…nary a rise.

Bernice Lake was next...great fishing - 2 days; again, nobody else on the lake but me…caught many Brooks and “Bows again…one good one kept…the first eater, maybe 15 inches - I saved it for dinner…tasty. (BTW, Mosquitoes when inadvertently eaten make a snapping, crunchy sound.) Eager to visit as many lakes as possible this trip, next, I headed down canyon (losing my water bottle somewhere in the process…found by snusmumriken later, who posted it here earlier)…the first person I had seen in 3 days. Taking the High Trail cut-off, I headed up to visit the Harriet Lakes...a long day hiking, arriving too tired to fish that night, but gladly, the wind shifted and there were blue skies…finally.

Again, nobody on the lake but me, but here were some big fish here… (Unfortunately, I am not telling which Harriet Lake exactly). All told, the next day maybe 10 fish landed…mostly 13 – 18 inches with a few major strikes that broke me off abruptly. I did see some lunkers too…easily 24 inches breaking the surface…paradise. I stayed an extra day or two here and did manage to land one decent ‘Bow on a Z-Ray (Thanks GiantBrookie for the tip), which was an easy 3-pounds…along with the many 15 – 20 inch trout that seemed all, healthy and plentiful. Again, I kept one fatty for dinner each night. Later that night, the wind shifted back again and the skies were again thick as mud; it was actually starting to get hard to breathe our usually clear Sierra air. (This pollution crapola gets old fast.) Down to Washburn (my favourite lake) the next day where seemingly, every cast produced…mostly small but some respectable 15 – 19 inchers…the Browns fought the hardest here…again nobody on the lake but me...fish dinner again.

Next, I stopped by the HSC at Merced and asked what was on the menu...anything but trout and pasta would be Ok with me. For those not familiar with the HSCs, they do put on a grand feedbag. In addition, they are receptive to anyone passing by asking to join in if there is room that night. I was fortunate to be at Merced HSC when they opened and did just that. I stopped by, (after 12 days backpacking now) and asked what was on the menu (chicken - 1st night) and did they have room. Sarah, the manager, formerly many years at Glen Aulin, handled the seating arrangements and the dinner crew expertly. The cost for one was $24.00.

The second night, (Yes, I stayed there two), they served up a nice steak, Rosemary potatoes, fresh green beans with almonds, and fresh made rolls. Preceding this was a fresh salad (choice of dressings), and some sort of Minestrone soup...dessert was a chocolate cake with a berry compote. Many guests had brought bottles of wine...no, they do not provide any alcohol, but encourage you to bring your own. They served family style...6 to a table...and the conversation was enlightened...just a great time. They do not hurry you to leave...we sat for a while enjoying the coffee afterwards. After dinner, they introduced the chef and took questions. Sure beat those freeze-dried meals.

While at Merced Lake, my plan there was to visit Obelisk Lake the layover day, (as I had talked about earlier here) …It was only 3 miles away but ~2,000 feet higher. Taking the slab route up and across from the HSC, I gained about 1800 ft …bushwhacking all the way…but somehow, I must have taken the wrong canyon somewhere. Solo, I found myself stymied at some class 4 situation, having to lose 500 ft now in order to gain the correct drainage. Caution prevailed, and I backtracked - only to be stopped again by a thick Manzanita wall…seemingly impassible. Beaten this time, I turned around and went back to Merced Lake. If I was not solo…maybe, but…I was not foolish to do this particular route alone this time. There will be other chances.

The last trail night found me at Moraine Dome…then down via the Mist. Thus ended my first adventure…another followed two days later. I will post that one soon enough. BTW, my ears are still plugged from breathing all the bad air.

Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout



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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby gary c. » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:35 pm

Mark, I've been waiting and starting to wonder if you were going to post a report of your trek. I was starting to think that maybe you were going to just post one of your great solo adventures at a later date. With the exception of having to deal with the smoke it sounds like trip. I hope that the ears clear up soon. It must have bees sweet getting into some of those bigger fish from the remote lakes. Even though I like fishing alone quite often when I catch a really nice fish I wish there was someone there to share the moment with. I"m looking forward to reading about trip #2 :nod:
Gary C.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby Buck Forester » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:00 pm

Right arm! I'm lovin' these great reports!

GIVE ME PHOTOS OR GIVE ME DEATH!
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby windknot » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:25 pm

Excellent report, thanks for helping keep the cabin fever at bay!

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby hikerduane » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:11 pm

Thank you for the heads up. Unfortunately, I will be thru that area again in Oct. but with some other folks so will likely not be fishing much.
Piece of cake.
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:29 am

Wow, what an trip. Great report. I may have to return to Harriets, someday. Judy and I didn't do nearly as well there on our one visit there in 1994--perhaps we didn't fish the right lakes. We dayhiked over from Blue Lake on the other side of the divide. Our top end was 15" and most of our fish were in the 9-11" range. My enduring memory of the lake is both painful and comical. Big Harriet is an exceedingly easy lake to walk around, yet I stumbled while getting ready to make a cast, reached out with my left hand to try to regain my balance, and ending up breaking two fingers as they sheared against a boulder. They made my class 3 moves I did the next day rather difficult (one-handed class 3). Anyhow, I too can't wait to see some photos!
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby markskor » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:43 am

The Harriets -
'Brookie...skip the larger lake and head higher...that's all I am gonna say about location here...
LoL!
I found that the somewhat larger Z-Ray. (thanks to you)..white and pink dots...encourages the more larger fish.
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:56 am

markskor wrote:The Harriets -
'Brookie...skip the larger lake and head higher...that's all I am gonna say about location here...
LoL!
Mark
Thanks--why I passed that one up in '94, I don't know. I am considering a big shuttle trip through that area someday: Probably something like Tuolumne-Johnson Pk L.-Nelson L.-Vogelsang-Bernice-Florence Lakes- (climb Florence, which has been on my hit list since the early 70's)-Harriet-Edna-Breeze-Chains-Qtz Mtn or something like that. This is a bit hard with my 5 day limit, though.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR Yosemite...#1

Postby maverick » Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:43 am

Hi Markskor

Sounds like you had a fun time, really roughing it at Merced HSC.
From your TR it sounds like you may have gone to far east to the east and got
stranded on the slabs I was warned about.
Manzanita is a problem no matter which route you take, even the one with
the old calvary trail has a nasty manzanita barrier you have to get through.
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