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Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

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Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby copeg » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:29 pm

Having gone all winter without backpacking, I was dying to get out at any moment and Tioga Pass opening up over the weekend lit a fire in me. It was supposed to be a 3 day trip to Young Lakes, looking forward to some nice winter like conditions and much needed down time. The snow started immediate along the trail, with solid snow cover just below Dog Lake. A beautiful hike through the woods, I found myself standing alongside Delaney Creek as it raged by. Hiking for almost a mile along its banks looking for a hint of encouragement, I finally decided against hiking far up valley to find any sort of feasible crossing, and turned back. Count this as my second trip I've bailed on due to raging waters. I was met with indifference from a ranger when I described the conditions, a typical response I seem to get when trying to report on conditions - no matter how obvious or obscure (of course, they hear know-it-alls like me spew all the time so I don't blame them).
As tempting as other trailheads were, I left a strict itinerary back home and had to report in, so I took the drive to cell phone service land and suddenly found myself hiking up towards Little Lakes Valley. For some reason I packed for winter-like conditions, but I enjoyed it: the weight of my backpack pressing down reminded me how long its been and how much I missed the beautiful, mind-numbing, and exhaustive tempo of hiking through the wilderness. After a bit of searching, I found a nice snow free camp above Box Lake just as the sun vanished over the mountains. No mosquitos, and lots of birds who didn't miss a chance to let me know they're there, be it by song or by swinging past my ears at frightening speeds. It was a short trip, and like always too short. A soak in long valley, a visit to Whoa Nellie, and a quick visit to Yosemite Valley ended the trip: the raging falls and mother bear teaching its cubs to forage in the forest topped it all off.

Sunrise at the outlet of Box Lake
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Ice patterns along the lakes edge, with the alpenglow lighting up the surface
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I never tire of this view
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby hikerduane » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:09 pm

Nice, I want to do an early season trip sometime, just need to avoid creek crossings.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:27 pm

Lovely photos! Thanks.

We were out this weekend as well---see the report on Carson-Iceberg...
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:52 pm

Kind of funny that there have been almost no reports on Memorial Day or this last weekend activities by others on a few boards I use or lurk on. And the couple I read are like yours, snow fests. I know alot of people likely drove up to their usual places thinking they could cope with whatever despite all the warnings and were surprised so turned back. Too embarrassed to admit they wasted alot of time of course.

I had a productive holiday weekend spending Saturday morning on the Sonoma County coast where wildflowers were spectacular, then drove east to the Hetch Hetchy area where Sunday morning I worked an obscure granite bedrock zone that was nicely green, buzzing with bees, and full of spring flowers. There are actually some productive spots a photographer might hike to below 6k elevation but its all obscure stuff mostly off trail. Good example is all the no name ponds in the Miguel Meadows and Swamp Lake area where vegetation and critters are at their usual late spring peak. Probably been totally devoid of anyone this year as it always is.

Then this last weekend was tired of all the driving I'd been doing for weeks so just did a Saturday day trip down to the Monterey Coast where I did the Rocky Ridge/Soberanes trail loop at Garrapata again full of wildflowers though a week or two past a greener peak. Then Sunday took a rest at home dealing with weeks of piled up domestic duties. This Friday after my m-f 8-5 workweek will drive back east to the HH zone. The rest of higher elevations will have their day. Its just not going to be for a month plus before it gets green and pleasant. For the 4th we may do something low and pleasant below 7k like Penner or Kibbie.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby copeg » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:11 am

Thanks!

SSSdave wrote: And the couple I read are like yours, snow fests. I know alot of people likely drove up to their usual places thinking they could cope with whatever despite all the warnings and were surprised so turned back. Too embarrassed to admit they wasted alot of time of course.


I love snow-fests...in fact look forward to this time of year when conditions are just like this. No mosquitos, no people, long days, warm weather, and lots of snow. Just have to be prepared to turn around every so often if I take a chance on a route (like I did)...never a waste of time, embarrassment, or disappointment. There's always something to do in the high country. The only thing I wished I had brought were my skis because there were some nice spring conditions up there.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby Sierra Maclure » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:25 am

Great trip report. Lovely pix. Glad you got to get out and stretch a little. I start my REI trips down Yos. Creek tomorrow, June 9. It's gonna be interesting with all the snow and water.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby Mike M. » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:00 am

Kind of funny that there have been almost no reports on Memorial Day or this last weekend activities by others on a few boards I use or lurk on.


Here's a good report from the Kearsarge Pass/Rae Lakes area:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Romain.Wacz ... renceKing#

Also, it looks like the road to Mosquito Flat just opened up:

http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB2/viewto ... 10a5cc05da

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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:43 am

Looks like a fun trip Copeg, any pictures of Tuolumne Meadows/River?
I am heading up to the area on the 24th for several days.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:23 pm

copeg wrote:Thanks!
...never a waste of time, embarrassment, or disappointment. There's always something to do in the high country. The only thing I wished I had brought were my skis because there were some nice spring conditions up there.


A really good time can certainly be had especially for savvy backcountry skiers and mountaineers with usual gear like crampons, ice axe, skins etc. All that stuff going on over at the telemarktips site I've been into in the past. But for the summer hiker and backpacker types that aren't into winter sports, such late spring conditions may just be a novelty. Many may not have a pleasant experience because it can be a difficult and dangerous landscape to cope with.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:13 pm

SSSDave is correct in that there many who are unprepared to deal with the out of the
ordinary conditions that may present themselves, especially in the Spring season.
Snow, snow bridges, river/creek crossing, avalanches, and cornices are just a few hazards
one needs to be able to deal with.
I have read previous posts from you Dave in the years past, and from them I seem to get
the feeling that you do not care for the higher elevation Spring season that much
for photo purposes, though in your posts you do mention that in your younger years you
used to back country ski a lot.
I enjoy the Spring season for the solitude the snow offers.
Also there are some great photo opportunities that present them self that are just not
around any other season of the year that I am sure you are aware of, though the travel
to these places may be difficult, because of the reasons mentioned above, the effort can
be quite rewarding.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby copeg » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:23 pm

maverick wrote:Looks like a fun trip Copeg, any pictures of Tuolumne Meadows/River?
I am heading up to the area on the 24th for several days.


Sorry, no photos of the Tuolumne. It was flowing though. The falls below Glen Aulin should be going full force right about now.
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Re: Yosemite...er...Little Lakes Valley TR

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:12 pm

Have much of the winter gear however in the past I've always been a drooling funatic heavily into skiing at resorts that usually lasted till early April. Like almost every weekend while working and 3 or 4 days a week all season during years I didn't work. However increasingly over the last 15 years the end of my skiing season has been in conflict with spring wildflower work, especially down south where the best times are often from end of February on. And that has gotten to the point it is difficult for me to get in any skiing in at resorts or in the backcountry during spring.

From an aesthetic viewpoint as a photographer, I far prefer fresh snow landscapes. Sort of shots like these where snow smoothly coats everything like fine crystal. With 4x5 foregrounds can show the fine detail of snow crystal though such doesn't show in these web size pics. I am huge fresh powder skier and just love dry cold powder snow scenes because I've lived those days so much and its really magic.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/images/print_06-e3-1.html
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/06-E2-1.jpg
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/06-E1-3.jpg
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/06-E2-2.jpg

Any snow work I've done the last decade has pretty much been about being in the right spot when the right storm is forecast to hit. Although my website gallery just has a few Yosemite Valley pics, I have others at places like Carson Pass that are not too far from roadsides. Tough to bring much photo gear like I lug very far into the backcountry across snow because winter camping requires heavy warm 4-season stuff. I'll let the new generation of hardcore types over at ttips with lighter DSLRs farm all that stuff. Instead what is an easier strategy for me is to wait for the right late season storm to hit in zones pretty much melted out and easy to boot in to. Like a cold storm mid May to mid June dropping only a few inches of new snow overnight at one of the trans-Sierra highway passes where one can easily boot it out from after it passes. And much of which is likely to melt out due to ground warmth within a few days in any case. But which when fresh and while the sun is really low in altitude will look like crystaline magic. Pack out to the right landscape, tent, and wait out a storm. Then get up the next day at dawn with Sorels dressed warm and stomp out to the planned spots.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Spring_2010 ... 10_p0.html
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