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Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

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Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby Take-a-Hike » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:23 pm

First, U guys r all great in the TRs, and creative seasonal recaps, etc. I luv reading about past trips and experiences mostly cause it helps me plan for our upcoming events. At our age, something has to give so I try to get the maximum milage out of our bodies now b 4 it's 2 late, therefore, I try to plan trips w/max sierra magic yet relative in effort to our abilities. As one seasoned vet so aptly puts it, "Who can do what he used to, it just takes a little longer" (OR). In our case a little longer is a lot longer....
So, in part inspired by the accounts of Doyle Donehoo, Old Ranger and the "Tres Amigos", Mav, and private messages back 'n forth w/Giant Brookie, this summer I'm dragging the wife into the SE corner of Yosemite via Isberg Pass. The intent is to get into the Park then do some sort of a loop that includes Red Devil Lake, (I thought was drop dead wonderful based upon OR's photos, and our ideal image of a Sierra lake), and then gets us into the Lyell fork of the Merced, inspired by Doyle's accounts. Reading the various accounts of all who've mentioned the area, cross country there seems to be a little easier than the trek we did in the past to Lake Basin, and even up to Lake Italy and over into Mills creek area....technically off trail, but not really.
I ordered a MYTopo.com map of the area and got the Wilderness Press version as well, so am equipped in that regard, but still have some questions:
1. Trailheads: Seems to be more than one that is shortest to Isberg Pass. But are they close enough together that if we came back out via Blue Lake Pass and Bench Canyon, it wouldn't require a shuttle?
2. Opinions please on a "Park Loop": My original thought is to get to Red Devil spend some time there then head over to the Lyell fork of the Merced, then up 'n out somehow to Blue Lake and Bench Canyon. Overall we can spend 8-9 days on this trek comfortably. So that allows us multiple layover days in areas we find most inspiring. I'm ever mindful of fact that other trips were PLANNED w/multiple layover days, but due to one thing or another, mostly my trip planning inabilities, we had to blow through them. (Then I had to suffer the verbal consequences!) This loop should be short enough in milage to include a few days here 'n there to relax and still see some nice places.

Our last summer of "day hikes" (2004), prior to getting into this death march version of our lives we did 5 days in Yosemite and had our fill of dusty, horse poop laddened, over tromped foot paths. Consequently, we're coming in from the national forest trailhead. So, please, don't try and talk me into a NP start. If we ever do that again, we'll be in our 80's and then I'll suffer w/the horses; riding, not walking behind. Then I'll be P & M'n about being that high off the ground.
Perry, TAH!

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Re: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby oldranger » Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:04 pm

The country you are heading into is great. For your proposed loop the Isberg Pass Trailhead is the best place to start. Not at Granite Creek Campground. Remember this is a relatively low trailhead so you will have 3,500 feet to the pass. This area also has commercial and private stock travel, so unless you go early it will not be horsepoop free up to Sadler lake or the last half of your last day. Because I'm kind of a wimp I decided to get packed up to Sadler Lake the first day. This got me a couple of miles past Detachment Meadow that would have been my goal had I hiked with the 50 plus pounds I was carrying for 14 nights. Even with that boost the next day I hiked only a little ways to Upper Isberg Lake. I could have gone over the pass and hiked to the lakes just below Isberg but decided to take it easy. The next day to the little lake below Edna was my first tough trail (and off trail) day and it was made that way because I took an intentional 2 mi. rt detour. If I had about 40 lbs I might be able to make Red Devil in 2 days but I bet I would be beat by the time I started going up the ridge between Merced Peak Fork and Red Devil. Since I haven't gone down either Red peak fork or Merced Peak fork I can't recommend either route to get to Triple Peak Fork. I heard that Red Peak Fork is prettty easy to go down but that is more rumor than anything. In addition you will have to find a log or a ford to cross the Merced which is likely to be fairly substantial this year. If you go x-country then the slabs that parallel Forester are fun and easy to walk up til they give way to forest. Getting to Harriet is pretty easy after that. Then heading diagonally up to the lake below Blue Lake Pass is easy and then you can figure out how you want to get up to the pass and down the other side and over to long creek. The hardest part after that is finding the beginning of the user trail that leads out of Long Creek. Once on that it is a dusty hike out to the trailhead unless you hit a rainy spell. If I had to I would feel comfortable hiking all the way out from Blue Lake with, of course, a much lighter pack than I would start the hike with. In some ways doing the reverse of this loop might be a reasonable choice, especially since the trail into Long creek is much more obvious. But then you would have a much heavier pack going over Blue Lake Pass which is 1,000 feet higher than Isberg. Choices, choices!

Have fun!


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: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:19 pm

oldranger wrote: If I had to I would feel comfortable hiking all the way out from Blue Lake with, of course, a much lighter pack than I would start the hike with. In some ways doing the reverse of this loop might be a reasonable choice, especially since the trail into Long creek is much more obvious. But then you would have a much heavier pack going over Blue Lake Pass which is 1,000 feet higher than Isberg.

I think the one disadvantage to doing the loop eastward first like this is that if you like lakes to camp at it is a very long haul before you reach your first lake (Rockbound) if headed to the Rockbound/Blue Lakes area out of the Isberg trailhead area. My wife and I and a friend hit Rockbound on day 1 out of the trailhead in 1994 and it was a pretty long haul (my wife had a cold which probably didn't help) and there wasn't much in the way of nice places to camp before reaching Rockbound. By the way, if you are doing your loop in your planned direction ("clockwise", rather than "anticlockwise") one thing you may consider is to hike further up the Lyell Fork Merced before crossing over. You can actually go right over the top of Electra Peak to the other side. With good route finding you can keep this to class 2 (I think). We didn't (some 3rd just below summit) in 1994, but we were on a big dayhike loop (without full packs I wasn't overly concerned with class 3 avoidance) that did Foerster then crossed over into the Lyell Fork then came back to the San Joaquin side by climbing over Electra. This is one of the most memorable and scenic dayhikes I've ever done. All of the hiking was done with a left hand that was only partially functional (having broken two fingers--fortunately just hairline fractures to both-- on it the day before at Harriet). One thing is for sure, even if you take your backpack over Blue Lake pass instead of further upstream (ie Electra) be sure to dayhike higher up into the Lyell Fork before crossing back to the San Joaquin side. The upper Lyell Fork Lakes and surroundings are seriously beautiful, and I'm not easily impressed when lakes are fishless.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:12 pm

Let me introduce myself -- some of you know me as "wandering daisy" on the light backpacking forum. I think I actually posted a trip report of my yosemite trip a few years back.

I believe it was 2006 that I went up Red Devil Creek. I camped at the confluence with the Merced and crossed in the morning (knee-deep wade) and the first few hundred feet was a friction slab that was not too bad - just some tricky route finding. Definitely some exposure - not a place to fall. Could be a bit harder to find a good route if going down. The slope eased and it was easy beautiful walking until I reached a headwall with a fork in the creek. I took the right hand fork. This involved one small section of class 2 scrambling up a 20 foot-high cliff. After that it was pretty easy but complicated terrain to Red Devil Lake. For all I know the left-hand fork may be the easier route. The complication was that all the rock fractures were going one way and I was trying to cross perpendicularly! I did this as part of a 12-day trip.-early in the trip so my pack was fairly heavy. I ate lunch at Red Devil Lake and continued to camp on a bench, north of the trail, about half a mile up the main stream from the creek to Edna Lake. I cannot remember exact time I set up camp, but did have time to wash clothes and dry them. I day-hiked to Edna Lake the next morning - not too much in way of campsites at Edna Lake- plus a bit more difficult to get there. That day I continued on to Harriet Lake, mostly off-trail. It is all very beautiful country and I did not see anyone.

I have photos, but have yet to figure out how to post them here.
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Re: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby ERIC » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:18 pm

npallister wrote:I have photos, but have yet to figure out how to post them here.

Have a look here and let me know if you need any help. Also in the High Sierra Photography forum, there's a Photo Post Test Thread where you can experiment with posting photos prior to doing so in a real thread.

Oh, and PM me if you didn't get my response email the other day. I can help you with the username/login question you had.

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Re: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby Cloudy » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:53 pm

I did a long, long loop (this is from faulty memory so please allow for that) starting at the Mammoth Trailhead which I think was a couple of miles further along the road from the Isberg Trailhead and ending by coming back over Isberg Pass from the West and back down to the road and up to the Mammoth trailhead where I had left my car. I found the approach to Isberg Pass more impressive from the West side for being starkly beautiful. I was also guessing as to just where the trail actually went over the top... My impression coming down the Isberg Pass Trail was that it was really, really long and would be a long uphill pull from the Trailhead. As I also recall, the roads to the various trailheads were a maze but I had a Forest Service map with the road numbers on it which helped (no GPS).

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Re: Our 2KX Trek, Inspired By U

Postby dworton » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:44 pm

I have hiked down the Red Peak Fork from top to bottom (two separate hikes) entering the lower half from the upper Grey Peak Fork and leaving the upper half into the middle Grey Peak fork (en route to Obelisk Creek). I've also hiked the Lyell Fork (of the Merced) from the River up to the 2nd highest lake and exited into the North Fork San Joaquin over Electra Peak. I'd be glad to share any information about those routes. I'm curious to know if anyone has been in the Merced Peak Fork between the River trail and the Red Peak Trail.
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