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12" no show snow Yosemite trip

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12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby hikerduane » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:08 pm

After I got back to my car this morning, I was about to leave the parking lot and noticed this flyer was on my windshield. The Tioga Road is Closed. I had left Friday morning heading up the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, in Yosemite before the weather hit.

My solo trip thru most of the Siera High Camp loop last Friday, started out with nice weather, with a predicted 4" of snow Friday night and another 8" Saturday. What can I say, my biggest mile day ever. Since I was solo, I kept changing my plan as the day went along. Due to my vision and balance, I came close to bailing before and even when I hit Vogelsang camp. Lyell Fork was pretty low, saw one fishy. Dry, brown. I only stopped for a snack in Lyell Fork at the junction, before heading up Lyell Canyon. I went the long route the first two days since I had never been on these trails last time I went the shortest routes. I ended up hiking until 6:00 PM, Friday night, what with having to stop every hour in the afternoon to let my dizziness pass. I still managaed 18 miles before dinner by the junction where Lewis Creek hits the trail coming down from Tuolumne Pass, about 1.8 miles from Merced HS Camp. I took the little bit longer route down Lewis Creek, accessed by going out of Vogelsang Lake to get there. If I wasn't so tired I would have loved to go up to Bernice Lake. No snow Friday night, just medium to light rain, which caused condensation/seepage to get spritzed on me all night when those large drops from trees hit my Black Diamond Hilight. The rain started about 20 minutes after I went to bed.

Day two. I could see snow higher up. I think I met some of a group I belong to, but didn't know these individuals if they ended up going to Yosemite. After I left them at the HS Camp at Merced Lake, I thought, that may have been some of the bunch from our little group. I saw a doe and older fawn just after I left Merced Lake. After I left Echo Valley, I took the trail that takes you further west before it hits the JMT by Sunrise Creek, I hadn't been this way last time. Along this trail, you have great views of the Merced River canyon, east of LYV, very nice. Along here too, I saw two bucks, both three points, the older had a much higher rack, very nice one. Took a lunch break at the junction before heading up towards the Sunrise Lakes. Hadn't given it much thought, but after an hour or less I started running into snow, then a little bit further, the ground was white. Not liking this, also thinking, why do I do this? I know, I didn't thouroughly think about, what if? Since I had driven the distance to get there, I didn't want to go back without something to show for it. That was my reason I guess. Anyway, I was feeling pretty tired, I hadn't recovered from the day before. As I climbed, I ran through the different climate zones, Jeffery and Ponderosa pine down lower, then Lodgepole, Hemlock, Red Fir higher up, then the most predominate species, Lodgepole. This trail had some steepness to it, I had to stop every 100' to rest, still thinking, why am I here? I plodded along, thinking about those young chaps back at Merced Lake and they were going to have to come this way too, wondering if they would bypass this section and go back the way they came if they hit snow. As the snow got deeper, I kept plodding along, then lost the trail. By now, the snow was only 4" deep, but as you know, the trail can be hard to follow when it is dry. I only swung left and right once, then decided on a direction I would go, then after five minutes picked up the trail again. I made it to Sunrise HS Camp, took a brief breather, then headed to my revised earlier destination of little Sunrise Lake. Seems last time the only climbing was for a short distance out of Sunrise Camp. Wrong, about a mile of climbing, more huffing and puffing and breaks, but by now the end was in sight. As I passed by the upper lake, I happened to look across to the other side at the time a group camped there I guess waved, I waved back and kept moving. I found a snow free spot to pitch my tent at the little Sunrise Lake, set up camp, got water, nature call, fixed dinner, still in my shorts and wet boots then got in my tent for dinner and rest. I should say at this point, that I usually hike in my shorts, shirt and if it is cool/cold a Polartec 100 top. That was my clothing most of the day, if the rain kicked in, I put my 4 oz. Gramwienie rain poncho on. After I got in my tent, it started to snow a little, but quit after a bit. I could see the stars later that night.

Day three. Not too cold, I was warm all night. Stayed in my bag until 8:00, late for me. Got started hiking by 9:30. I lost the trail once going down to Tenaya, but I just followed a game trail for a bit, straight down, then I picked the trail up again. The night before I was debating about bailing, but decided to hang in there, but instead of going to May Lake, go to Polly Dome Lakes. Good decision, May Lake would have had snow and no way to dry boots and gear out. I made the trail up Murphy Creek by Tenaya at 11:00. I was at Polly Dome Lake in a little over an hour. What a beautiful, warm day at Polly Dome Lake, the big one. I was in my shorts and shirt all day. Some snow before I got there though. I had to go off trail to get there, almost gave up, ducks everywhere. I finally said, if I don't see anything on this next rise, that's it. What luck, I barely made out a spot and sure enough, that was the lake. All to myself. I had a fire that night, went for a quick swim, in the shallow lake that had a foot of muck on its bottom. Washed my hair. Once again, very nice day, worth the trip for this one day. A patch of snow here and there, nothing big or deep.

Day four. Down to the river below Glen Aulin, short hike, not as long as I thought by my map. Mostly nice day, found a spot next to another that wasn't seen from the trail. First people I saw since arriving at Sunrise Lakes, they were headed down stream and didn't see me. After lunch I took a short hike downstream, took a few photos. Cooling breeze in the afternoon, so I added outerwear early. Finally started reading my over 1100 page book. I set my sights a bit high here. Read about 50 pages. Overkill.

Hike out. I thought should have taken three to three and a half hours according to the mileage, only took a little over two hours. Left camp at a couple minutes before 8:00, headed upstream towards TM, was in Lee Vining about 10 after 11:00. This was a very nice route. The last couple miles into TM wasn't that great of scenery, but the view across the meadow towards Cathedral was to die for. Excellent views. Even I could take a good photo here.

I wasn't sure I was camped legally the last night, you couldn't camp upstream of Glen Aulin and had to camp a mile from the trail at that point. Not sure if I could camp at Glen Aulin or had to go down stream a mile or back up the trail to Mcgee Lake which wasn't too great. According to my watch, I was only a quarter of a mile downstream.

Highs and lows.

Highs, saw some excellent parts of Yosemite, deer, few people, although I like to visit, three nice days.

Lows, the cobbled trail in stretches, not in shape (debatible):).
Piece of cake.



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hikerduane
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Re: 12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby madeintahoe » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:36 pm

Hi Duane..I was wondering about you out there with that last storm....what a nice TR..thank you for posting it..I enjoyed reading it. Wow even got a swim in too..thats awesome!
Sounded like a really nice solo adventure....did they open Tioga? I had heard they re opened it.
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Re: 12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby The Other Tom » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:34 am

Good report, Duane. Got pics ?
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Re: 12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby hikerduane » Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:19 am

Good morning, Anita,

The flyer was left on my car Friday afternoon they told me, I had started my hike that morning. I didn't get back to the car until Tuesday AM. It threw me a curve, I had to stop at the permit office to ask, seemed ridiculous the road being closed, no snow in the parking lot. The heavier/colder part of the storm must have hit TM to Tioga Pass. Where I spent my first night, only a drop of slush on my bear canister, that was stuffed in the rocks. Around Sunrise Camp, which I just passed thru, a good 4" there and in the trail, the slop was 3" deep, you had to walk on the shoulders of the trail to keep the boots a bit drier. At least my socks weren't sopping wet, just wet. I let my boots thaw out in the sun the next morning, they didn't look too inviting to slip my feet into when I got up. Amazing, with my spare Smart Wool socks in my Crocs, my feet stayed warm walking around on the hard snow the third morning out.

The Other Tom, I have some pics, I don't have a photo hosting site, I hate Webshots, too slow to load when viewing. I'm debating using Smugmug, just hate paying anything. I know Shawn and others have asked for photos from past trips.
Piece of cake.
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Re: 12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby The Other Tom » Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:13 am

I use Webshots and agree with you about the slow loading speed and I also found it difficult to link for posting pics. Greg figured it out and posted in this thread.....viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3413

I had already switched to shutterfly before Greg's post...it seems to work well (and it's free, too).
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Re: 12" no show snow Yosemite trip

Postby maverick » Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:58 am

Hi Hikerduane

Sounds like it was a fun trip , thanks for the TR.
Hope you get some pic's up.
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