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tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:41 pm

As backpackers we are very lucky to have such a beautiful valley that offers
such beautiful granite sculptures, gorgeous water falls, meadows, and wild
river, all only lightly visited by humans, and because of its location that is the
way it will continue to be, which is great.



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tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report (part ii)

Postby lostcoyote » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:33 pm

sept 9'th and 10'th

getting up to a damp ground and tent, i spent an hour waiting for the rainfly to dry before moving on. the temps had dropped overnite and i later found out that it had snowed an inch or two up in the high country. but where i was, just some light rain and the snow quickly melted away.

i arrived to an empty crown valley station. can anyone here tell me what it is used for? it looks like it has a big mess hall for mealtime. does it get packed in the summertime like the high sierra camp does at bearpaw meadow? there are signs that say "no camping" but i suppose that rule can be broken when nobody is there to enforce the private property ban on backpackers hanging out.

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i spent an hour here just looking around at some of the old relics such as the multi use plow/combine and the water scooper:

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but soon enough, i felt the need to go and i discovered a his and hers bathroom right next to each other in the outhouse. there was even some toilet paper so i didn't have to use any of my own:

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my original plan was to move north from crown valley and then go east towards mountain meadow but before getting there, cut north and go cross country up crown creek to hummingbird lake. after looking at the maps, i saw that i could also stay on the trail and go by crown lake, skirt past half moon lake, and then head east into lower blackcap basin before turning south to get to hummingbird lake. the latter had much more appeal to me because 1) i had never seen crown lake and 2) half moon lake was the very first place i had ever backpacked to with my high school buddy back in 1975. that was very appealing to me, to visit a place i had been to 35 years ago so i went on a sentimental journey so to speak. here's some pictures of crown lake and half moon lake:

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from half moon lake, i took the trail eastward and ended up camping just below portal lake in an old established horse camp, complete with a huge firepit and fish barbeque grate. the sunset here was nice with a peak reflected in the stream as fish were jumping:

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sept 11'th

the next morning, i began my cross country travel by turning south into crown basin and then heading east over mantle pass. i didn't bother to go up the valley containing hummingbird lake cuz i was able to climb the eastward slope before getting to the hummingbird valley and gain direct access to mantle pass. just below the pass, there is a pretty alpine lake and a great view across upper blue canyon basin.

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cross country travel across blue canyon basin was easy. heck, mantle pass was easy as well. anyway, i ended up camping at lake 10401' which turned out to be a much prettier lake than lake 10364' (second lake in the picture above.) on the way up to this lake, i spooked a whole bunch of grouse. i couldn't believe how many there were in the brush just north of lake 10401' (around a dozen perhaps) and there was great camping spots just north of the lake along the "moraine" ridgeline. the view at sunset was spectacular as was the alpenglow showing off the crescent moon and venus in close proximity:

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sept 12'th

the day to tunemah... yahoo!!... another goal of this trip - to visit one of the lonliest lakes in the sierras.

i headed east from lake 10401' up the dike towrds dykeman pass. i stayed on the white granite for awhile but made a point to skirt to the northside of the "hilltop" instead of the more obvious low point on the pass. this gives much less altitude drop on the other side into alpine creek. the pass was pretty easy with some minor rock scrambling near the top on both east and west sides. nothing more than class 2 tho.

headed down into alpine creek, there were some lush mossy sections like this:

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after getting to the bottom of the creek, i headed north to get over the crest of the pass which involved more easy class2 rock scrambling and then there it was, tunemah!

i camped here very near the outlet, breaking all of the rules like no camping 100 feet within water - oh well... with very few visitors and no signs of any visitation except for a cairn stacked at the outlet creek - who cares?... well, except for the rabgers who are paid to enforce black & white rules with no gray zones.... opps, maybe i shouldn't have said that... so slap me upside the head!

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the view looking down the creek looked like an interesting dayhike but i didn't bother. peak 11987' made for a nice photograph as well as some of the rocks:

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sept 13'th

sunrise at tunemah was early. the lake never really got completely still for that glass reflection photograph but i managed to pop off a few nice frames of the lake at various stages of sunlight:

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moving on, i retraced my steps back over dykeman pass and had a nice view of an inlet of lake 10401 in the morning - one can clearly see how meadows get formed:

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then i headed north up blue canyon basin to the top of finger pass - just east of finger peak. the south side was easy. the north side took me awhile to get down because i kept running into dead ends along the bench system of ramps leading down into what i call finger peak basin. i ended up just going down the boulders on the eastward side.

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looking south from finger pass

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looking north from finger pass

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and looking at the north facing east shoulder of finger peak


looking back up at the pass from below, i could easily find a route up the bench system... so this is one of those passes that's easier going from north to south instead of south to north for the first timer. anyway, i ended up camping at one of the lakes within finger peak basin at about the 10280' level. here's one parting shot looking north towards the ragged spur:

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to be continued...
Last edited by lostcoyote on Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby richlong8 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:33 pm

Amazing part 2- thanks for taking the time to put a report together, I know it is a lot of work, and I, for one, appreciate it. Great photos!
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby bheiser1 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:12 pm

Yeah, I was just thinking to myself, "that guy really put a lot of time into that report". Nice photos! and it's interesting to read the narrative :)
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:59 pm

Thanks so much for the report and photos. Those are some of my very favorite places in the Sierra. So many great places, but I guess my favorite is the basin downstream of Tunemah--and your photos do it justice.
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: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:03 am

Thanks for taking the time to do such a great report (with great pics)! It's a wonderful area, spectacular and remote...

I think the pass east of Finger Peak is the one Secor calls "Blue Canyon Pass". Finger Col, IIRC, is the one north of Finger Peak (leading to Cathedral Lake).

I loved "Finger Basin"; we camped near where you did, judging from your description and that shot of Ragged Spur, on the ridgelet between the small lake to the northwest (~10,400) and the large, lower lake to the woutheast (~10,280).
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby PatrickQuin » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:41 am

Thanks for all the great photos. Inspiring to say the least... This post is the first that has ever made me seriously consider an extended trip without my 4 legged companion. Good on ya!
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby lostcoyote » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:39 am

TehipiteTom wrote:Thanks for taking the time to do such a great report (with great pics)! It's a wonderful area, spectacular and remote...

I think the pass east of Finger Peak is the one Secor calls "Blue Canyon Pass". Finger Col, IIRC, is the one north of Finger Peak (leading to Cathedral Lake).

I loved "Finger Basin"; we camped near where you did, judging from your description and that shot of Ragged Spur, on the ridgelet between the small lake to the northwest (~10,400) and the large, lower lake to the woutheast (~10,280).


hi tom,

i'll check the elevation on the map tonite. it could have been 10280.
it was the lake shown in this picture that is the furthest to the right. i may have misread the countour 10400 vs 10200 but i will check and fix any typo to be accurate:

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btw, i have been through this area many times. goddard creek valley to the north is like heaven on earth to me. one time, camped at the lower lake at ~9700-something, i had a weird encounter with a deer. that was 30 years ago and it's as fresh in my mind today as it was back then.

one time in the early 90's we were here and had a wild electrical storm (the year the two people got killed atop whitney) and it dumped a lot of rain. all of the dry creeks coming off the ragged spur flash flooded. a day later, they were still flowing and i got this magical shot (geotagged in google earth):

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Last edited by lostcoyote on Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby lostcoyote » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:45 am

PatrickQuin wrote:Thanks for all the great photos. Inspiring to say the least... This post is the first that has ever made me seriously consider an extended trip without my 4 legged companion. Good on ya!



thanks... and i will be writing up the final part iii tonite when i get home. it covers western ionian basin pretty good.
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby quentinc » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:18 pm

Add me to the chorus of praise. These are some places I've never been but would like to. It's great to have a road map like this.
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tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report (part iii of iii

Postby lostcoyote » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:43 pm

sept 14'th

waking up early for no good reason, i lazed around lake 10280' for awhile taking pictures of finger peak reflected in this lake.

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i had all the time in the world today cuz i was only going to take a short day to get up the goddard creek valley to lake 10232' (formerly lake 10212) and take another trip down memory lane. i had been in goddard creek five times before and each time, it was if i was walking though a beautiful valley as if i were in the heavens.

gathering up my gear, it wasn't long before i passed by an area where i had made a spectacular photograph back in 1990 with my 4x5 large format camera (posted in a previous post above) but i could not find the exact location. i believe i went a little too low in elevation and gave up looking for the exact trees after 15 minutes of backtracking. i wanted to see how the trees and shrubs had changed over the course of 20 years - didn't matter tho.

soon after that, i found myself in the most beautiful meadows in which goddard creek flows through just below lake 10232'. i spent a good 45 minutes just popping off frame after frame (easy to do with a point and shoot camera.)

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satisfied i got the shot i wanted, i arrived at the lake and set up my camp. i enjoyed yet another bath in the relatively warm waters and was even greeted by trout that would come within feet of my legs if i simply stood still. fishing has always been great here and even though i did not have fishing gear this time, i'd expect fishing to be just as good this time around.

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sept 15'th to sept 16'th

the next morning, lake 10232's surface turned to glass and i did some compositions of the reflection. i remember back in the early 90's when we were here during a rather intense thunderstorm. all of the creeks coming in from ionian and off the ragged spur had flash flooded. my friends tent got waterlogged and he bailed into mine. the next morning, we hiked back up to the end of the lake where the cliff dives into the lake just to see the waterfall of godadrd creek make its plunge. it was loud up close inside that gully.

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the climb into ionian basin went rather quickly. first, you skirt around the west side of the lake (you can skirt the east side but your boots will fill up with talus) and then begin to climb up to an elevation just above the cliffs. from there, you can begin to traverse across and upward to meet back up with goddard creek where it exits southwest ionian.

(note, for reference, what i call ionian basin is more than what is called ionian basin on the maps. on the maps, ionian basin begins at the large lakes 11837' and 11592' southwest of mt solomons and ends at lake 11828' southwest of the black giant. it includes chasm lake..... but i also consider lakes 11951' and 11818' southeast of goddard, scylla, the three sirens, and charibdis to be part of ionian basin - maybe i should call the latter ionian basin west?)

anyway, i had made it into the southern part of the basin well before midday and saw a really neat pinkish colored rock vein. perhaps some of you can identify the mineral?

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skirting around the west side of lower lake 11818' (actually like a twin lake seperated in elevation just by a foot or two) i set up camp for the day and spent the rest of the day just goofing off and daydreaming. later in the day, i was surprised to see two other guys headed towards me. i had not seen anyone since i left blackcap basin and when they finally looked up and saw me, i saw the surprise in their eyes when they realized they wouldn't have the place to their own as well. as it turned out, we camped near each other between the two lakes and shared a few stories. one of the guys is a member here, john dittli, and his backpacking companion, rob, had just come over echo col. i couldn't believe that when they told me where they came from for the day... for in comparison, i travel at a snails pace when off trail. they were both headed to tunemah.

anyway, i popped off a few pictures before and at sunset as usual including the lake, lichen, and other stuff:

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sunrise was spectacular, as the lower portion of this lake has a fantastic view back towards finger peak. after sunrise, i took a short dayhike to the backend of long lake 11951' and popped off a few shots there as well:

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getting back to camp, i gathered up my backpack and continued on for another tremendously long day (~1.5 miles) to what i call "scylla lake" right at the north base of scylla. i really had to search around for a suitable place to pitch my tent, as everything around was really rocky including the grassy sections. at least i satisfied the 100 foot-away-from-water rule this time around.

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as usual, i got busy around sunset again...

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and then again at sunrise (over charybdis)

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sept 17'th

at sunrise, i once again smelled smoke. "oh just great" + a few choice words i said to myself. the smoke retrogrades during the nite and then when the sun gets things warming up, it begins it's upcanyon flow once again. during the retrograde, the smoke can easiliy access the middle fork split and ends up coming up tehipite/simpson and eventually, north through goddard creek and enchanted gorge.

by the time i hiked up and over to lake 11592' the smoke was really thick. so thick, i could barely see the face of charbydis and could not see very far down the enchanted gorge. i was originally going to head down to chasm lake and then out via black giant pass but i was really getting tired of all this smoke.... so i changed course and headed north over solomons pass once again to meet up with the muir trail on the other side. too bad, cuz i had never been over black giant pass - always came into ionian from solomons from north to south. maybe next time, i will have no smoke and storm clouds. all of these blue sky and/or smokey days make for boring photos anyway.

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coming down the pass was tricker than going up because the north side of solomons pass has some rather loose rock and talus (or snowfields) and this time around, i managed to kick off a minor rock and talus slide. anyway, i got back to the trail and then my pace began to really accelerate. it wasn't long before i arrived at the muir hut.

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the smoke even filtered over solomons pass and ended up infiltrating into the basin containing wanda lake. a half hour later, i ended up at helen lake and called it a day

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sept 18'th to sept 19'th

these days mark the end of my journey. simply follow the trail on down to the leconte ranger station and then back out over bishop pass. at this point in time, i was thinking of a nice soft bed, a great shower and some meat and fresh veggies. anyway, here are a few parting shots. thanks for reading my report. it was fun.

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one of many frogs in upper leconte canyon (lake 10820')

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sharktooth rock - a great campsite at about the 9400' level

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big pete meadow

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more rocks...

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pinemat manzanita in it's fall uniform of red

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and last but not least, dusy basin, the palisades, and more forest fire smoke.

it was a really windy last day - gusty winds up on top of bishop pass guessing to be between 50-70mph gusts.


the full set of pictures may be found here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12579619@N ... 001457536/

or if you prefer, a slideshow here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12579619@N ... 7536/show/
Last edited by lostcoyote on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: tehipite to tunemah to ionian - trip report

Postby Mike M. » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:07 pm

This is exactly the sort of hike I like -- weeks in remote areas of the backcountry. It seems today the norm is a long weekend hike, usually to "bag" a peak, and that doesn't satisfy me. Your itinerary -- Tehipite, Goddard Creek, Blackcap Basin, and Ionion Basin -- includes some of the most scenic areas in the Sierras, all hard to get to and therefore seldom visited.

Great trip report!!

Mike
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