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Continuation of trip report

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Continuation of trip report

Postby oldranger » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:24 pm

Last summer I continued a thread started by markskor on July 28 in this forum. It was a tr about a trip in which markskor, tehipitetom and I met up for a few days of shared backcountry experience. I ended my account as we crossed the divide between the Red and Gray Peak Forks of the Merced. So after several months I think I'll start to complete my side of the adventure.

Finally we reached the outlet stream of the lakes and tarns to the e. of Adair and refilled our empty tanks. I briefly fished the unnamed lake and Mark and Tom continued on to Adair. As the late one I barely got my tent set up before the first thunderstorm of the trip struck. During dinner we noticed and Tom and I snapped shots of a spectacular sunset on the Cathedral Range.
Sunset from Adair Outlet.JPG
Sunset from Adair Lake
Mark and I caught enough goldens for dinner for the 3 of us and Tom added an excellent pasta. (of course we had frozen daiquiris too)

Down the Gray Peak Fork we headed the next day.
Point above Gray Peak Fork.JPG
Point above Gray Peak Fork, Obelisk lake is roughly on the other side.
The going was relatively easy until we reached about 8800. Then the difficulty lay in which route to take. Head down to the slabs and Obelisk Lake outlet stream and then try and hook up with the route described on an internet site we had all reviewed or head up through some trees just N. of the last steep rock outcropping n.e. of the lake. We opted for the latter and again Mark and Tom pushed me to the top. I did feel a little insulted when trying to impose my own switchbacks and the easiest gradient possible Mark requested I take a less steep approach! Honestly I was doing my best and had just been congratulating myself on doing a good job of minimizing the effects of a steep slope, large rocks, and lots of brush. Some people!
Mark and tom.JPG
Mark and Tom after I begged for a break
We survived the trip and made our destination at a reasonable hour, a little later than we hoped but not bad. We had a great campsite, Tom graciously took a water bottle around the lake to a low laying snowfield and for the 4th night in a row Mark and I had a frozen drink for cocktail hour!
Obelisk Lake.JPG
Obelisk Lake


The next morning was kind of sad because we were breaking up. The Three Amigos, The Three Stooges, the 3 ??? Tom was off the earliest while Mark and I took our time. We would have it easy—all down hill to the Merced. Well it was all down hill but not easy for old farts.
Erratic.JPG
Erratic at top of giant slab that Obelisk outlet flows to reach Gray Peak Fork
Though generously rotund Mark is much more adept at steep rock than I am so a couple of times he had to wait as I eased myself down. Near the bottom we actually found the old cavalry trail. When we reached the river we were only slightly worse for the wear—Mark with a broken pole and me with a bloody leg from a rock that I mistakenly assumed would move aside as I walked past. At the river Mark generously offered to buy me dinner at the High Sierra Camp but the being irascible old fart that I am I was not in the mood to eat with a bunch of strangers. When we couldn’t find a satisfactory crossing of the river we said our goodbys and Mark headed down toward Merced lake and I headed up toward Washburn lake. The crossing log we both rejected a few minutes earlier looked fine and worked fine when I returned to it. Across the river looked like an old burn with logs crossed like pickup sticks of my childhood but there was lush grass and an incredible display of wild flowers (see Mavericks and Tehipite Tom’s flower photos in their TRs and they were all here). After negotiating the maze I hit the trail and proceeded to meet at least 30 people with day packs scattered along the trail, returning to the High Sierra Camp. Met 1 person, as I recall his name was Chris, from SLO who has been hiking in the Clark Range for 40 years—never goes anywhere else! Somehow I missed the campsite suggested by Mark (I think there was someone already there, anyhow) so I walked the length of Washburn lake
Washburn.jpg
Washburn Lake looking S
and camped about 5 minutes past the lake. After setting up camp I returned to the lake caught dinner, got rinsed off, and returned to the camp.

To be continued
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!



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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby oldranger » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:47 am

Washburn to Harriet Lakes (day 9)

Next day I got a leisurely start but somehow hiked up the Triple Peak Fork
Fall and pool above Washburn.jpg
Merced river fall and pool above Washburn Lake
, headed up the slabs n. of Forester Creek
Slab along Forester Creek.jpg
Slab next to Forester Creek--easy going
then through a little forest until I hooked up with the high trail. After another mile I exited the trail
Tarn enroute to Harriet Lakes.jpg
Tarn enroute to Harriet Lakes
Small Lake south end of Clark Range.jpg
Looking back on another small Lake and south end of Clark Range
and before long I topped the saddle to the sw of Harriet Lake, bottled up some snow for cocktails then began the walk down to the lake. A walk interrupted when I noticed frolicking naked nymphs. Luckily they noticed me as I boldly approached before too much detail was visible. Not sure my heart could have taken it! Turned out the two young ladies were with two young men and they were from the trail crew camped near Cony Craigs.
Cavorting nymphs getting dressed.jpg
Surprise!
I told them I hadn’t expected to see anybody at Harriet let alone two naked ladies. They said they didn’t plan on seeing anyone else either. I continued around the lake, set up camp,
evening light.jpg
Evening Light at Harriet Lake Camp
had a drink, dinner and decided to go fishing. I couldn’t see a sign of a fish and was beginning to wonder if this was another fish story from Mark. None the less I put on the same Panther Martin (my only Panther Martin, purchased only because of recommendations from “The Fishing Hole”) that worked so well at Edna. In 5 minutes I had 2 14” rb then disaster struck—a snag. It was so dark I couldn’t’ see how deep the water was so I secured my rod with the hopes I could swim and retrieve the lure the next day.
Mike

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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby oldranger » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:48 am

Harriet Lakes to Blue Lakes (days 10 and 11)

Fast forward to the next day and the water was too deep—I had to break it off--the lure was lost. I opted for a 3/8 oz z-ray, nickel plated with red spots and managed to catch a 10” and two 13” rainbow (the twins kept on snow for dinner)
Dinner in 10" pan.jpg
Dinner in 10" pan
but the most memorable fish were the ones that got away. Twice, once early in the afternoon and once late in the evening I hooked large fish that I would guess were in the 15 to 17” range (but as a fisherman and knowing fishermen I don’t even believe my own guestimates) I hooked a fish that slammed the Z-ray and came flying out of the water then did it again and on the second jump the lure came flying back at me. Ah well. This afternoon I experienced the first of a series thunderstorms.
Paintbrush.jpg
Paintbrush and red rock, after storm glow
Another evening shot.jpg
Another evening shot


Next day I headed N then E across Blue Lake pass,
Starting out toward Blue Lake Pass.jpg
Heading out toward Blue Lake Pass
Looking back on Harriet Lakes basin.jpg
Looking back on Harriet Lakes basin
dang that is a lot of talus to cross on the W side of the pass
Blue Lake Pass from the w.jpg
Blue Lake Pass from w. skyline on right edge of photo. Route was up ridge to left then across talus above the larger rock band.


to be continued ...

mike
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:05 am

Thanks OR, I have been waiting for the second installment.
The tarn shot, under ideal conditions, would be a place worth visiting, like after
a thunderstorm at sunset, at a lower angle to the the water, and maybe out on one of
the rocks.
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby markskor » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:35 am

Nice report OR, and that's something coming from the "rotund" one...Oh, and bite me!

BTW,I tell you my secret places, and then you proceed to lambast me when you cannot see any sign of fish? Was I wrong? Ever considered glasses, (as you are getting up there?) If this keeps up, after another dozen or so hiking/fishing adventures together with you along, I may have to reconsider telling you anything...as if you ever listened anyway.

Good job! :thumbsup:

Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:14 pm

Excellent report, but I do have two comments:

1) My memory could be faulty, but I don't think you were the one begging for a break. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was me.

2) You need a more powerful telephoto lens.
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby oldranger » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:18 pm

Days 11-13
Near the top of Blue Lake Pass.jpg
Near the top of Blue lake Pass
Ritter Range, Blue Lakes, Bench canyon from Blue Lake Pass.jpg
Ritter Range, Blue Lakes, Bench Canyon from Blue Lake Pass

but the slabs on the e. side are easy as long as you don’t cruise into one of the steeper slots just above upper Blue.
Butt slide.jpg
Infamous oldranger 25 ft. buttslide rather than finding an easier route


I set up camp then dove for cover as the clouds scooted west from the Ritter Range and spewed forth rain, hail, thunder, and lightning. Not to long but I was being forced to read my book much too rapidly for the time remaining on my trip. I fished a little after the rain but the fish seemed too small to get a grip on my 3/8 oz. z-ray with the single #8 hook that replaced the treble. Returning to camp I found looking across the North Fork San Joaquin River canyon toward the Ritter Range—Mts. Banner, Ritter, and the Minarets— the most rewarding part of the trip.
Sunset on the Ritter Range.jpg
Sunset on the Ritter Range


While fishing near the outlet of Blue Lake I noticed some movement down below coming up Bench Canyon. Turned out to be another old fart. He asked if I was camped at the blue tent down below. Nope but that meant there were at least 3 different individuals camped in Bench Canyon last night! I walked back to my camp with him and we talked for over an hour as I packed up.

I easily worked my way down a little then up the obvious slot between Bench Canyon and Long Creek.
Route to Long Creek.jpg
Route to Long Creek--up grassy chute to patch of snow. Obvious route is to continue down more obvious slot on s. side--wrong! head w. a hundred yards or so then drop down steep mostly grassy slope.
It was sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky as I topped out and began to descend to a much more distinct slot on the Long Creek Side.
Top of ridge.jpg
Bright sun, easy chute! How quickly things change
What began as a steep but easy descent turned into a steeper somewhat hairy descent through larger and larger blocks of talus. This was accompanied by a sudden darkness as clouds poured into the valley and I heard the distant rumble of thunder over to the east. It was clear that I was in a race. First suitable place where it appeared that if I was in for a gulley washer my camp would not be washed away I set up. As I tweaked my Contrail rain began to patter and thunder was cracking not rumbling. With my pack covered, my book in the tent, and my pad pumped up I dove for cover and for the next three hours I would have needed to put in ear plugs had I wanted to sleep. Instead I finished the book and decided that I could not handle another afternoon in my cozy but confining tent.

Red sky the next morning so this hiker took warning and hit the trail. So I passed up visiting and fishing Rockbound Lake and a tarn downstream aways and headed out. It rained most of the last two hours of my hike out. Had a beer and a cheesburger at Jones Store at Beasore Meadows and my second Yosemite adventure of the season was complete!

Cast of Characters:

Old Ranger: Short, old, really irritating, feels lucky when he can find people who put up with him.

Markskor: Really big guy. Needs biggest mummy bag made by Western Mountaineering. Might be a cross between Falstaff and Santa Claus. A real renaissance Man—artist, musician, chef, scientist, incredibly tolerant of others of obviously lower class. Oh yeah—he doesn’t need anyone to look after him in the backcountry. Occasionally makes good suggestions when selecting cross country routes

Tehipite Tom: RETRO kind of guy. Uses Frame pack, wears old cotton clothes, flat top, black frame glasses. Knows what works for him. Eats and cooks well in the backcountry. Self sufficient. Tolerant of others who tend to be irritating. Good companion.

Summary: What a treat to meet and spend time with the latter two characters. I’d do it again in a minute. I learned a lot from the two of them in just a couple of days but it sure was hard to admit that sometimes Mark was rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright! But he was and I appreciated it (but don’t tell him).

ps. you may recall on my early season Yosemite trip that I had the good fortune to meet up with maverick. How lucky can an irascible old fart be to meet up with 3 fine backcountry companions (never met before) in one season? Thanks guys you made my year!

pps Response to mark's recent reply. Mark after I make you out to be supersophisticated you ruin it all with "bite me" as a comeback? I expect better of you :D

Mike
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby oldranger » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:26 pm

Tom

You are a dirty old man! :evil:

Mike
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby Mike M. » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:42 pm

Beautiful report! We old farts have to hang together . . .

Obelisk Lake looks really intriguing.

Mike M.
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Re: Continuation of trip report

Postby Ozark Flip » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:16 am

I just read this yesterday. Very entertaining! Thanks OR. :thumbsup: Mark, I too am getting more rotund with age. :D And, yes, I agree with Tom...a more powerful telephoto lens could come in handy. :cool:

Right on with the right on,

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