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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby MountainMinstrel » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:35 pm

Ok, I am going to try to report on the 8 day trip I took from White Wolf to Pate Valley, up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, and back to White Wolf by way of Ten Lakes Basin.
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The three of us, me, Cindy, and John, hit the trail all nice and clean after spending the night at the White Wolf camp grounds.
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Right off of the bat, we run into this bunch of Tiger Lilies. Flowers would be a main theme on this trip.
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So off we go. Hiking through beautiful meadows, filled with all kinds of flowers.

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Another thing that would be a theme on this trip was rapid change in environments. The trail would change from lush to dry in a moment.
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After about 3.7 miles, we get our first look at Pate Valley. You can see the effects of the smoke from the Telegraph Fire, but it is not as bad as it could have been.
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We reach what we think is the first of two junctions 0.5 miles apart. Our camp will be ¾ of a mile beyond the next junction.
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However, either we missed the first trail sign or the good Mr. Harrison messed us up ( I think it was the latter, and would not be the last time). At any rate, we where so busy looking for the second trail sign that we missed the campsite at the top and ended up dropping down to the shelf half way down the switchbacks. This was not at all a problem as we ended up with a great campsite with a glorious view of Hetch Hetchy
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And an equally good view of Pate Valley.
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We end day one with a gorgeous, if a bit smoky sunset, over Hetch Hetchy.
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Day two begins with a cloudless, slightly smoky sky, as we say goodbye to Hetch Hetchy
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And head out towards Pate Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne that lay beyond it.
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Finally we reach the bottom and the cool water of the Tuolumne River, where we take a break and cool off the feet.
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Reaching the footbridge in Pate Valley, we have now dropped 3500 feet in the last day and half. Our knees are still doing good with the major decent behind us, and we are looking forward to the slow rise that the next two miles will bring.
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We head out from Pate through a chest high field of ferns and flowers.
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It is not long before we reach the slides and begin looking for a campsite.
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We find one just above the slides with a great view of the river.
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Cindy and I go play in the slides until the alpine glow tells us it’s time for dinner and bed.
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It has been a great two days, and we are feeling really good, and looking foreward to the six days we have left.

You can see the rest of the photos here.http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/565428343vsyYnr
Last edited by MountainMinstrel on Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby cgundersen » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:04 am

Hi MM,
Great report (so far), but I continue to have a problem that I (and others) have reported before, namely the inability to access photos on webshots. Even if I cut/paste the address you gave, it starts to load and then stalls about halfway through and just sits there. Any chance of embedding a couple shots?
Thanks!
CG
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:46 pm

CG, Didn't the embeded images display for you? There are like 22 shots embeded in that post.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby hikerduane » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:08 pm

I lost my reply from a couple days ago. Thank you for the photos and report. The slides were fun, weren't they? Even for us starting to get up there folks.:) Last year, four of us camping at Rancheria Falls, one group I talked with, said they had lost the trail on the way from TM.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:18 pm

It is funny that my sister (55) turned into a teenager on those slides. I do not see how anyone could loose the trail from TM. Maybe they were overdoing the "medicine". :partyman:
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 3&4

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:24 pm

Day three broke with brilliant blue skies.
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Our goal for this day was to make the flats above Waterwheel Falls, but the heat and elevation really took it out of us and we ended up at Return Creek instead. Along the way we discovered this…
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It appears to be some sort of insect egg sack. Can someone identify it?

So, off we go toward Waterwheel Falls, but before we get there, we must go around Muir Gorge.
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The climb is hot and long but we get a break near Rogers? and Register Creeks.
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Unfortunately, the shots I took of the grotto at Register Creek just did not turn out and the respite from the sun was short-lived. It was not long before we found ourselves out in the sun, facing a grim reminder of what can happen if you don’t drink enough water.
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Any clue as to what poor creature this bone is from?

We finally reach the top of Muir Gorge and are greeted with wonderful views. We also had the rare experience of beating three youngsters to the top.
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With not a cloud to be seen and the many exposed switchbacks coming around Muir Gorge, this has been the hottest day I have ever spent on the trail.
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But the thought of lunch by the river drives us on.
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Lunch was great (it never ceases to amaze me how good peanut butter and honey on a tortilla tastes). But it was the cold water on the feet and the views that made it perfect.
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Whether looking down canyon
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or up…
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This was truly a lunchroom with a view!

Heading off again we come across what appeared to be a Bulldog on a tree.
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Before we knew it we were at the footbridge where Return Creek comes in, and knowing that we were in no shape to climb up Waterwheel, we made camp just above the footbridge. I went to a spot just below the footbridge for a refreshing swim.
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With the sun already setting…
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We pump our water and have a late dinner, after spending the longest day on trail we have ever had.
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Day four promises to be a much cooler day. There is both some cloud cover…
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…and tree cover to help keep us cool.
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But before we could enjoy any of that, we first needed to break camp. For some reason, this was hard to do this morning.
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We will climb about 2000ft. today, but the payoff will be in great views…
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…lots of tumbling water…
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…and even more views.
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There were also many flowers thrown in for good measure.
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As we climb towards Waterwheel Falls…
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…we get the opportunity to look back at where we came from.
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Finally reaching Waterwheel I was a little disappointed because the flat light (overcast) kept me from getting a good picture. Even with the low water flow, these falls were pretty cool.
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Next year we are going to try to get out here on an overnight with the nephews, but for now, we are way happy with what we saw.
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Passing the pool above Waterwheel…
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…we head on towards Le Conte Falls.

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Along the way we pass a whale on the trail.
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And what appeared to be a bear print made of stone (I did move the little toe an inch to keep it from looking like a huge mountain lion print and scaring my wife).
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We stop for a long lunch and a swim at the top of Le Conte. The water was great but with a bit of a wind blowing getting out of the water was breathtaking.
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After lunch, we begin to say goodbye the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, but it will end up being a bit of a long goodbye (not that I am complaining).
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I usually pack out trash I come across, but this was just a bit to much (as was the two man inflatable raft we found at Ten Lakes).
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Reaching the top of California Falls, we cruise on into Glen Aulin on the most peaceful stretch of trail ever.
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Through nearly chest high Lupine
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With one last shot down canyon we say a final goodbye to the GC of the Tuolumne.
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And say hello to Glen Aulin. We stayed here just long enough to use the facilities and check to see if the store had any ibuprofen (they didn’t), but with as few people as we had seen in the last 4 days, there were just too many people here for us to be comfortable. We said good bye to Glen Aulin, heading towards McGee Lake or somewhere beyond there. Despite the people the pool at Glen Aulin is right out of a movie.
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McGee was closed to camping (restoration going on) so we headed off to Cathedral creek where we found a great site on the edge of a meadow.
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There we ended day four, half way through our adventure.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:06 pm

Hi MM,
Wow, definitely something's not working for me, as there are only empty spots where the photos should be. Looks like a task for the codemasters!
CG
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby Tom » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:17 pm

It has been almost 30 years since I packed in that area...and I think, after looking at your photos and reading your report, I need to plan another trip there. Fishing? Fish?

It also appears that the right companions will make the trip perfect. Thanks for the report.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:30 pm

Tom we did not fish, but we saw many fish. Not big fish but big enough to enjoy catching and possibly eating. The amazing thing to me was how few people we saw on the trip. We actuall passed more people going into Ten Lakes on Friday then we saw the whole rest of the week combined, and that was only about twenty.
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Re: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne/Ten Lakes Basin TR Days 1&2

Postby hikerduane » Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:50 pm

Thank you for the nice photos, different from other reports I have seen the last year, really enjoyed them. I'm off in early Oct. to see if I can finish the Sierra High Camp loop without snow this time.
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