TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

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TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

Postby adam » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:44 am

I recently did a loop from Ostrander to Buena Vista to Royal Arch to Grouse Lakes and back with my parents—below is a trip report, which is as much my commentary as anything else, as the route is fairly well-described, and mostly on trails. Pictures are at http://picasaweb.google.com/arsmith2/OstranderLoop#

The trail into Ostrander is hotter than you might expect because much of the forest has burned. There is water (though not much) where the trail runs along the creek at around 7750 ft, but nowhere else until the lake. We saw a lot of parties coming out (Sunday afternoon), but only one other camped at the lake. It was fun going to the ski hut with my mom, who had skiied in there as a kid years and years ago on wooden downhill skis, getting lost without a headlight, and finding the place just as a search party was going out to look for her.

Our next day was cross-country to Hart Lake, then on to Buena Vista. I’m sure that tons of people do this route, but it was not especially well-marked, although it was easy walking, and easy enough to figure it out without lots of ducks. We followed a small inlet stream east, then went SE to lake 8700+, then followed another inlet stream gully east to a pass, from which another gully proceeded east down to Hart Lake—basically keep going east and follow the routes of least resistance, and you’ll be there. Hart lake was nice—maybe my favorite of the bunch—and had good campsites. However we continued on, down the gully immediately north of the Hart outlet stream (which was not flowing). This was steeper then the ridge slightly farther north, but had a few ducks and was easy, open forest walking, so we took it. The ridge looked more rocky and brushy, despite being more gentle, although we didn’t explore it much. From here, we proceeded to re-gain all the altitude we’d lost on the Buena Vista trail, and spent the night at Buena Vista lake.

The next day was an easy, short trail walk to Royal Arch Lake. Our trail guide described Buena Vista as barren, but I actually liked the camping there better than Royal Arch, although Royal Arch does get the alpenglow on the rock arch.

The next day we proceeded on to Grouse Lake, mostly because it was the last spot we could be sure of finding water. We had lunch at Johnson lake, which was nice, and passed Crescent Lake, which is just a swamp. Grouse lake was barely more than a swamp too, but had nice campsites.

The maps show a spur trail leading to Grouse lake—it’s not there, but if you leave the trail where it makes a 90 degree bend shown on the map, it’s easy enough to go the few hundred yards to the lake.

The 10+ miles back to the car the last day were about as easy as 10 miles can be. We weren’t sure about water, but it turns out that there’s just barely water in a few pools/puddles at the Chilnauanla creek crossing, a decent stream at the crossing shown at the SE end of Turner Meadow, NO water at the crossing shown at the NE end of Turner Meadow, and water in Bridalveil creek. I expected this day to be a pretty boring hike, but it had several long stretches of lush meadows and some stands of big trees.

All in all, it’s a nice area with mellow terrain and great swimming—also few people. We saw one other party at both ostrander and Buena vista lakes, no one at Royal Arch or Grouse, and just encountered one other party on the trail between them.



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Re: TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

Postby maverick » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:54 am

Thanks Adam for posting your trip and picture's.
It must have been fun doing a family backpacking trip with the parents.
Do they still get out on backpacking trips every so often? Is this a usual outing
for the family, or a rare event?
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Re: TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

Postby markskor » Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:16 am

Adam,
Nice report on some pretty (and somwhat lower) Yosemite areas...thinking your route might also serve as a good "early season" trek, when up higher elevations are still snowed in. Does look like a fun trip though, especially with the parents along.
Quick question, no mention about anything fishing related in your report...did you happen to see any trout (of note) swimming about in the many lakes you visited along the way?
All fishless?
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

Postby adam » Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:58 pm

I saw many trout that looked big to me-- maybe 8-10 inches???-- near shore in Buena vista lake, and a dead fish about that size at Royal Arch. But really I'm pretty fishing ignorant, so I can't comment beyond that.

I'm not sure if this would make such a good early season trip, as it seems like it would be complete mosquitotown with anymore water-- maybe very early, just as the snow's melting. It certainly is not as spectacular as higher up, but there's also something to be said for mellow hiking and more time swimming and lounging.

I'm looking forward to going to ostrander on skis.
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Re: TR: Ostrander-Buena vista-Royal Arch lakes, yosemite

Postby ndwoods » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:47 pm

Nice!
I did that trip once in May and all I saw was snow and raging whitewater where on the map was intermittent seasonal streams....nice to see you can actually hike thru it instead of slog thru it...:)
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