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TR Ansel Adams Wilderness over Labor Day

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TR Ansel Adams Wilderness over Labor Day

Postby balzaccom » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:13 pm

Just back from a wonderful five day trip into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. We started at the Granite Creek trailhead and hiked up past Cora Lakes (a bit overused, for our taste) and then on to Sadler Lake the first night. While the first half of htis trail was dull (a climb up to The Niche and then more ambling through the forest to Cora Lakes) the second half of this hike was delicious--along the banks of a burbling stream, lots of flowers, butterflies. It may be September, but it felt more like spring up here.

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Caught a few nice trout in Sadler (smaller rainbows and bigger brooks) and called it an early night. There was one other group at the lake, and they were on the far side.

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The next day we hiked up past the Isberg Lakes (wonderful alpine scenery here) and then left the trail to take the more direct route up Isberg Pass. The trail makes a crazy switchback way off to the right for no reason....so we just hiked up to the pass. The views there were good, particularly of Banner, Ritter and the Minarets, but got even better once we crossed over the pass and started down towards the Merced Canyon.

The trail here, however, is a mess. Lots of jagged blocks of rock, lots of slippery sand, and no fun. It times it seemed as if it would be easier to hike outside the trail on this section as well!

As we descended, we noticed Lake 10005 at the bottom of Isberg Peak...and decided that it looked like a good campsite. We were originally going to head over to Turner Lake--but this one seemed too good to pass up.

It was. A beautiful lake that reminded us a lot of the Gaylor Lakes---but those are closed to camping because they are too close to the road. Here we had the same open vistas, another stunning mountain range (the Clark Range here, instead of the Cathedral Range at Gaylor) and no people at all.

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Even better, there is actually a sandy beach at the east end of this lake: a rarity in the High Sierra. We washed, sunbathed, and fished (tons of nice 10-12 inch brookies) and generally enjoyed the rest of the afternoon here. And the sunset was stunning, too!

The next morning we headed up Post Peak Pass to one of the great hikes in Yosemite. As you climb up the pass you can see most of the park open up to the North…and then when you get up on the ridge, you get the whole southern Sierra as well. And the trail must hike along this ridge for half a mile or more. It’s hard to keep hiking because you just want to stop and enjoy the view!

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But once again the descent was through about a mile and a half of ugly talus that had fallen off of Post Peak. Slow going, and no fun for the knees at our age. This must have been a real job to build a trail through this stuff!

It felt good to finally reach the more reasonable sections of the trail below Porphyry Lake.

From there we took Fernandez Pass trail up to within about a mile or so of THAT pass before turning off to stay at Rutherford Lake. It started to sprinkle just enough for M to ask for her rain gear out of her pack. By the time she put it on, it had stopped sprinkling. But that did give us some motivation to get up the last half-mile to the lake!

Rutherford is truly scenic, with nice-sized trout as well. Except that we were joined by a solo hiker who seemed to want company, this was a perfect day. And a perfect sunset as well.

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Day four had us taking a nice downhill run to Lillian Lake ( very busy—lots of campers here!) through Stanford Lakes (small and boggy) and then down to Vandeburg Lake. Nice easy terrain, easy trail, and we didn’t meet anyone at all until we got to the Lake.

But if Lillian was busy, Vandeburg was crammed, particularly on this busy Labor Day weekend. We expected as much, but were still disappointed with the amount of toilet paper we found in the woods. Sigh. It makes you wonder how many people are TOO many for a busy weekend...and if they all really did have permits for that day. I caught a couple of nice rainbows here on a #20 fly, but there were just too many people (including one couple who arrived about dusk and asked us what the name of the lake was!). Still, some nice views here.

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The next morning we were up early, hiked out to the trailhead, and then began the LONG and slow drive home. Total was five days, about 38 miles, more fish than I could count, and more views than fish. Mosquitoes were still around, but bearable. And I got more bites on my fly rod than on my skin.

The rest of the photos are here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/ ... rness2011#
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: TR Ansel Adams Wilderness over Labor Day

Postby RobertD » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:49 pm

Wow, thank you for the TR. We are heading that direction in a week.

Any advice? We are new at this so any tips would be appreciated. I am gathering the trip from Fernandez TH to the lakes is fairly easy then? The crowds indicate so it seems.

The biting bugs werent to bad then? And I definately plan on doing some fishing along the way. Spinners? I planned on a super light spinning rod.

Thanks for the report, it was perfectly timed.

Robert
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Wilderness over Labor Day

Postby balzaccom » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:58 pm

Hi Robert

If you can make it, I definitely would suggest the lakes up towards Yosemite vs the ones close to the trailhead. Sadler, Isberg, Rutherford and Anne Lakes were all beautiful and not crowded--only one or two camps there. And I would imagine that spinners work just fine in those lakes--as I caught some of my fish on the retrieve of my fly...very much the same kind of action.

Lillian and Vandeburg were crowd scenes, and i imagine Cora would be as well.

The trail from Fernandez Trailhead is not too steep--but then, we hiked it downhill!

Granite Creek to Sadler, once you get to Cora Lakes, is a lovely hike.

Let me know if you want more specific info on anything.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Wilderness over Labor Day

Postby windknot » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:10 pm

Lovely pictures, thanks!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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