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TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

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TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:57 pm

Well I finally made it out after being tied up for over a year, I still cannot
believe it has been a year.
Anyways I had two trips on the table one was to visit Pleasant Valley, Irwin Bright
Lake to be more precise.
The other was to Waterwheel Falls and Matte Lake(Wildcat Point).
I had planned to drive by White Wolf to see if Mikes, aka "Old Ranger" our HST
members car was parked at the entrance, if his car would not have been
there than it would have been off to Tuolumne Meadows.
I had caught a cold Tue and was thinking about not going, but knowing that
unforeseen complications in ones life can ruin a season I decided to go anyways.
I made it to the wilderness/permit office 10 min's before they opened.
After getting my permit it was off to White Wolf to see if Mike's car was there.
It was kind of fun not knowing which trip I was going to end up doing, kinda
like the lottery.
When I got to the blocked off White Wolf road I saw Mike's Oregon plates and
parked the car, it was about 9:30.
This was a usual long day for me that started at 4 am from the Bay Area and ended
at around 8 pm in Pleasant Valley.
The weather started off fine but started to cloud up by Harden Lake, and really
go nasty by the time I started my descent into Pate Valley.
Pate Valley
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v6/p178266668-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p936024383-5.jpg
With thunderheads overhead and lightening bolts right above I descended quickly
down the rocky steps into the safety of the trees in Pate.
Moonlight Thunderheads
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p485087478-5.jpg
For those of you who have descended from White Wolf know it is an almost 4000 ft
drop down to Pate which should not really be done in the summer, especially
into the reverse.
Morrison Creek had a pleasant surprise waiting, a large blooming Dogwood which
was quite beautiful though situated in an area which was not the most conducive
for my photographic purposes.
I zoomed through Pate with it steadily raining all the way to the Pleasant Valley
Muir Gorge trail junction.
From here it was up another plus 3000 ft which consisted of over 100 switch-backs
counted by Mike.
This is a long haul up and I would not recommend doing this in the summer season
because of the heat, and lack of occasional seasonal creeks, which will be dried up
in a few weeks, or anyone with a nasty cold!
I was running out of light by the time I had descended down another 600 ft to the
basin containing Table, Irwin Bright, and Saddle Horse Lake.
Irwin Bright Lake-Sunset-Rainbow
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p339362201-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p327376273-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p116498539-5.jpg
I set up camp at an old trail crew camp, ate and hit the sack.
The next morning it was in to Irwin Bright Lake and find Old Ranger.
The route I took into the lake was as I remember, lost of bush and slow going.
I found OR's campsite and set up near him.
He had gone to Saddle Horse Lake to fish for the day so I got to meet him later
in the day.
I had a good time with Mike, the first HST member I have met, we talked for a few
hours and I went to bed.
My original plans were to go up towards Benson Lake, but my cold changed my
plans into more of r&r kind of trip, which is definitely out of the norm for me.
I was just glad to be out and soak up the beauty of nature, I really needed it.
On Sunday we hiked back down to Pate Valley and spent the night there.
Thunderstorms were the norm of the day, but they did not produce much in the
way of rain as they do when they are tropical(monsoon) in nature like during Aug.
Flowers were abundant in Pate but were not much to talk about in Pleasant
Valley.
Lupine-Snow Flower-Busy Bee-Flowers
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v6/p591699930-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v6/p518325932-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p759403255-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p1005787678-5.jpg
Piute Creek was booming and very impressive in Pleasant Valley with a large
cascade, and a series of falls and cascades that rivals the LeConte-Waterwheel
Falls area.
Tuloumne River-Waves
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p232357411-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v1/p1001105578-5.jpg
Piute Creek/ "Old Ranger"
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p263040370-5.jpg
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p845024791-5.jpg
Saw 2 bears on with was crossing the first Tuolumne River bridge, also saw a
deer swim across Irwin Bright Lake which was a first for me.
Bear
http://maverick.zenfolio.com/img/v6/p930295817-5.jpg
There was a lot of bear scat all over the place, near the lakes, rivers, and
even on the trails.
Skeetrz were active maybe a #2 in numbers but were not biting me, but liked MIke.
In a few weeks I am sure that will change big time and Pate, and Pleasant
Valley will become anything but pleasant.



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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby oldranger » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:20 pm

Gee Mav

Thanks for the TR now I can abbreviate mine. Everyone--I'm much better looking than the shot Maverick took! :D That bear photo looked like the same bear that was just s. of the Tioga Pass road that had traffic stopped all over the place when I went out the next day. What a great trip.

Mike
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:28 pm

That is probably the same one.
Wish I had my 100-400 lens with me at the time.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby rlown » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:39 pm

Any shots of Lower Mattie? Or fishing results? OR, maybe that's where you come in.

Russ
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:48 pm

Matte Lake was the alternative trip if OR would not have been parked
at White Wolf.
I will leave it up to OR's discretion to comment about the fishing, if he want's
to.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby markskor » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:06 pm

Nice report...envious.
I would say something about Mike's (OldRanger's) ensemble, but that would be too easy...like shooting fish in a barrel.
Where did you get those orange shorts? =D>
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:05 pm

Hi Marksor

I am sure you'll get a first hand look at them in July.
Last edited by maverick on Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby hikerduane » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:27 pm

Thank you for the photos, on my to do list.
Piece of cake.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:31 pm

Your welcome HD.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby copeg » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:47 pm

Thanks for Sharing Maverick! An area I have yet to explore that is added onto the end of a long 'to do' list. I especially like the second of the "Tuloumne River-Waves" photos.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:06 pm

Thanks TB, I also like that one.
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Re: TR to Pleasant & Pate Valley

Postby oldranger » Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:42 am

Here is my version of the trip.

I expected to start Tuesday after Memorial Day but since there was no camping along the road near my start I started on Memorial Day at 5:00 after finishing off all my car camping food, storing all my remaining food, beer, cooking stuff in the Yosemite Creek bear boxes, and too hastily finishing packing and changing into my backcountry outfit that Mark is so enamored with. I found an ok campsite e. of Harden Lake (an ugly pond that doesn't deserve a name) and after setting up camp started to cut a piece of cheese when I realized that Old Age onset Attention Deficit Disorder had struck again--I had neglected to transfer my pocket knife to my hiking shorts!

Tuesday-- 11 miles hiking 3 miles of progress! Returned to car for pocketknife and moved camp down to an old trail crew camp at about 5700 ft on the side of the Tuolumne River Canyon. Just after I got camp set up the first thunderstorm of the trip hit. The evening view down to Hetch Hetchy was pretty nice.
Hetch Hetchy Overlook.JPG
First Sunset


Next day was down to Pate and up into the lower Piute Creek Drainage, again the civilized thunderstorm waited until after camp was set up. Didn't even see a rattlesnake.

Next day I hit the trail before 7, which is a record for me. With nothing better to do I counted switchbacks up the trail. 74 to a creek crossing and another 26 to the jct with the trail from Rodgers Lake. My big mistake of the day was carrying 90 oz of water--the map indicated a dry trip but spring conditions provided regular access to water--switchbacks 45, 55, and the creek crossing after switchback 74. I don't think I would count on water after July 1. I arrived at Table lake in the early afternoon, found a good campsite but really didn't like the lake--lots of lillypads and other veg and the water was tea colored by tannins from the vegetation. Scouted around and discovered the micro topography and brush made travel difficult. Saw but did not catch any fish in Table Lake in about 10 minutes of fishing.

On Thursday moved camp to Irwin Bright. The map suggested that I need not hike all the way down to Pleasant Valley and that there appeared to be a shelf that I could take. It looked good when I got there and went well for a while but soon I was crossing a maze of 20 ft. ridges, gullies, frog ponds and numerous aspen, willow, and brush thickets. Once committed I continued on and eventually made the lake, set up my tent on a rock slab, jumped in the tent for a 5 minute thunderstorm. Caught 2 12 inch fish--one had rainbow characteristics the other appeared more like a cutthroat with larger black spots and the orange slash below the lower jaw.

Friday, I followed a ducked route out that provided very easy hiking--no brush, no thickets. I was committed to get to Saddle Horse Lake because Russ had expressed an interest in it. I was concerned that Piute Creek would block my way. Fortunately there was a nice log jam that provided a nice crossing point. There are multiple routes up the rock slabs to Saddle Horse with the only problem being avoiding brush coming out of Pleasant Valley. Saddle Horse, like Table and Irwin Bright had tannin stained water and lots of aspen. Fall must be spectacular. Fishing was pretty good I caught about 7 rainbow between 13 and 16 1/2 inches long. I kept the smallest for dinner.
Dinner.JPG
Dinner, cork handle is 11 1/4" long

I walked to the far end of the lake to check out the inlet creek and see how much spawning was available. It appeared adequate if the water lasted long enough for the fry to emerge and make their way to the lake.
Saddle Horse from Upper end.JPG
Saddle Horse Lake

Didn't leave the lake until about 5. Met 3 guys after I recrossed Piute Creek and they asked me how I got across. I replied "I walked, how else do you get across water?" One guy said they should have a bridge across the creek. I replied , "the grass is growing a foot tall in the middle of the trail there is not enough use to justify a bridge."
Trail out of Pate Valley.JPG
Trail out Pate Valley, kind of hard to see with foot tall grass growing in the middle.
For the remainder of the day see my response in "The Camp Fire," HST sticker sited.

The following day Maverick wanted to hike up to Benson. I thought I needed a rest day and Maverick decided since he had a cold that he would take it easy too,
Maverick at work.JPG
Maverick working on rest day
.

On monday we took a liesurely hike out as far as Pate Valley. Me taking snapshots and Maverick taking photos. We actually got rained on a little when coming down the switchbacks. Maverick wanted to go on to the 5700 ft overlook but I noted it was 5 and time for 151. Even though he doesn't drink he consented to stop. By now he was calling me "old man" so he was probably trying to take care of me. Minutes after arriving in camp we watched a bear cross the bridge in the opposite direction we had just crossed. Dang if we had been 20 minutes later we might have had a more interesting encounter.

Tuesday AM Maverick shook my hand good by while I was still in my tent. He had to get to the bay area and I had a liesurely walk to good old camp 5700.
another 5700+ Sunset.JPG
Another 5700 ft Sunset over Hetch Hetchy


The last day I was out by 11 and beat the cold more general storm that would hit the sierra for the next few days. What a nice "Low Sierra" trip. It was great sharing time with Maverick and hope he was not too bored with his short, slow days on the trail.

Cheers

Mike
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