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95 Days in the Sierra

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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby hikerdmb » Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:18 pm

Thanks again for taking the time to post your amazing trip and photos.



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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:51 pm

I forgot to add the rest of the photos that go along with this part of the report are here:

Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby Mike M. » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:25 pm

Some great photos there, Rogue!

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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby whrdafamI? » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:07 pm

vandman wrote:Great hiking Rogue. I envy your freedom. Keep it up! Go for it!

I saw that dead horse at Hutchinson Meadow in late August 2010, except it had just been killed. I thought it looked like a mountain lion had taken it down. Would a bear kill a horse? I wonder. Could also have been some hungry backpackers. Anyway its rear haunches were torn away by something very big and powerful, and it stank big time.


We went by that dead horse right after it died and according to the wrangler it had eaten a poison plant. This was right towards the beginning of August while they were having a Native American Pow Wow there in Hutchison Meadow. It was still laying pretty much next to the trail and was still intact. They had covered it with a tarp but it didn't do much for the stench.
Better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it!

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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby oldranger » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:31 pm

Re: Dead horses and mules.

The NPS used to (may still) blow up carcasses if they were near the trail. A little patience and a bear will find it. Usually the smell is gone within a week of the bear finding the carcass. If you find a partially eaten carcass assume that there is a bear or mountain lion near by and you might want to consider moving on. All of the dead horses/mules I have encountered died due to medical reasons, none due to bear or cougar encounters. Did hear of one horse that got attacked by a mountain lion somewhere near the Kern s. of SEKI in the late 80's but it did survive after some doctoring.

My first encounter with a dead horse was in the early 60s. It was in the stream about 1/2 mile above where we had been getting our drinking water (bf-before filtering). It was a three day weekend trip. All 3 of us got sick after we got home.

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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:28 am

The mule that was dead in camp made me more concerned because it was covered in mosquitoes and I couldn't help but think about them biting that dead mule then coming and biting me transferring some nasty crap.
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby quentinc » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:25 pm

There was a frozen dead horse thawing out by the switchbacks up to Bishop Pass, maybe 10 - 15 years ago. It was quite a dramatic sight.
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby Cross Country » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:45 pm

oldranger wrote:
My first encounter with a dead horse was in the early 60s. It was in the stream about 1/2 mile above where we had been getting our drinking water (bf-before filtering). It was a three day weekend trip. All 3 of us got sick after we got home.

Once on this forum I posted (TR) that Phil Ivie and I discovered a dead dear (by bear) half in and half out of the water while hiking down the Lyle Fork of the Merced River. The dear escaped (sort of) and ran away from the bear. None of it was eaten but apparently bled to death. It was near the trail intersection with the river. We filled up our water bottles above the dear, hiked down the river (it's really a creek) drinking only from our bottles. After emptying the bottles we continued down the river until we camped and cautiously filled out bottles. This was bf for me too. By then we were very thirsty and drank. Although we were hiking downhill, the weather that day was quite warm. I write this to second what oldranger wrote.

PS: that kind of sick is one crappy experience and can last for a week or more.
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:07 am

Part 4/5

Day 61 A-1683 D-1726 August 31

After a chilled morning I continued on my way up the Red Peak Pass trail. The area offered all it's wonderful views and as I got closer to the pass it was apparent that the area had nearly as much snow as it did on July 25th 2010 when I had last hiked it. I had already noticed more people on the trail then I had the year before which many attributed to the article that Backpacker Magazine had put out on the area. Winding up the red and orange trail I soon was crossing stretches of snow fields but over all had a better time following what little trail there was than I had before. The hard packed snow theme was nice this time around as I was post holing thigh deep the year before. Without much trouble I found myself on the top enjoying the views once again. After encouraging a couple that they should quit their jobs and hike the Sierra like me I was on my way down the other side. I made quick work on down and ran into my first trail crew member that I was hoping to see. Further down I ran into more members that had remembered me having dinner and breakfast with them the year before. They again invited me for dinner and told me to let the chef know. Once at Lower Ottoway Lake it was only about 2PM so I set out to do some laundry and bathe which turned out to be very enjoyable with the warm water near the outlet. I considered myself lucky to enjoy the great company of the trail crew once again and have a good meal since after 6 years in a row at this location they were relocating to North Eastern Yosemite.

Day 62 A-1103 D-4077 September 1

The grind down towards Glacier Point was a very long and boring slog becoming progressively hotter the further down I went. The whole way I was in a bad mood until finally I was closing in on the cutoff area with Glacier Point. My goal had been to camp as close as possible to it but as I closed in the camping options became slim. I followed what could have been game trails up and over hills without luck. Finally I decided to sleep on a rock outcrop that was about 20 feet above the river and probably only 20 feet from the trail. It was less than ideal in a legality sense but it would have to due. Illiloutte Creek was low and had a number of pools which offered good fishing. I spent allot of time and managed to catch 4 fish that were worth keeping. Finally I thought! I can cook over a fire this time! Since my camp was not even close to legal I decided a low key fire in a hole that could be covered up was the key. I had lemon juice packets, olive oil and a half a dozen types of seasoning so the fish were delicious! All it took was 62 days of fishing the Sierra to enjoy this simple pleasure. This would turn out to be the only location this was possible.

Day 63 A-1205 D-3331 September 2

Once I had reached the Panorama Trail I was on familiar trails again. To my surprise even though the trail was dry I found a good number of Thimble Berries which were still good for eating. After the last push up I was on Glacier Point again. I had that strange feeling walking out among a crowd of tourists feeling like an alien. All these people that drove up here and were all clean and smelled nice while I had hiked for 63 days across hundreds of miles and tens of thousands of feet of altitude gain and loss. Could they even know the struggle? Nah, in most of their eyes I was just another haggard, filthy, smelly freak. I ate a crappy pita from their fridge for an early lunch and enjoyed the view from Glacier Point. This was the first time I had ever been up here alone. That is alone from any company pushing me to go. This time I could enjoy it all I wanted. But time came to go and down the Four Mile Trail I went. The same beautiful views where still here and the hike down was mostly enjoyable although the number of day hikers was high and a small group of foreign hikers had no interest in allowing me to pass so I was hiking behind them almost all the way down. Once I had dropped down to around 5000 feet the gnats became almost intolerable. They swarmed in massive numbers straight up in your face making the rest of the way miserable. Once at the road and in major heat I set out for Sentinel bridge where a young boy perhaps 5 asked "why do you need those poles" referring to my trekking poles. "Well when you have hiked hundreds of miles for 63 days they really help your knees" I said. I don't think the poor kid could quite put that into prospective though. Crossing the bridge I was amazed how low the river was since I had last been here on June 10th. At that time the river was nearly touching the bridge and was running across the foot path into Leidig Meadow. So after some chat with a Ranger about where the hell I was going I made my way into the backpacking camp and got set up then hit up house keeping camp for a shower and laundry. Once again chatting it up with the local employees was the key as I asked the workers at the desk where I could charge things in the valley safely. They did not know any place that I would not have to monitor it but offered to allow me to use their office. Once I was back at camp for the night the Ranger checking backpacking permits came around and I had to sweet talk her a bit after explaining my situation about doing a layover day here so she agreed to let me stay an extra night since your only allowed to stay for one night while coming and then while going.

Day 64 layover September 3

After a crappy lunch of cheap but extremely expensive Mexican food I hit up the Post Office to send home The Last Season that I had enjoyed too much to burn on a fire. After that I hiked over and spent a while at Lower Yosemite Falls. The place was easily more crowded then I had ever seen it! I certainly would not want to drink the water down stream! The rest of the day was spent doing chores of resupply and recuperating. The chaos of the valley had me looking forward to getting back on the trail.

Day 65 A-5409 D-1801 September 4

Picking up the trail directly out of the backpacker camp I began out the Mirror Lake Trail in a still peaceful and quite morning setting compared to what it would be in a couple hours. Before long I was on my way up the Snow Creek Trail grind. A girl jogging down the trail had to "give me props because this one is a **** with a pack". The heat was increasing and I had to go easy on my water because there would be no refill until the top. Nearing it and while I was talking to another hiker the girl came jogging back up. Apparently she had been camped at the top and decided she just wanted the exercise so ran to the bottom and back up. Some people are just WAY more fit then I ever will be! I took a great lunch under the Snow Creek bridge since I was packing some luxury food items. I only had two days before my next resupply at Tuolumne Meadows so along with good food I also packed a can of soda, a 20oz soda and a 16oz energy drink. This whole day was hot, slow and offered little in the way of views. While tromping along I met a young Douglas Squirrel that was very interested in me and I had a fun time playing games with the little guy before I had to keep slogging on. Finally after 5000 feet of climbing I found myself below Olmsted Point once again surrounded by tourists. A few asked where I had come from and were amazed I had climbed 5000 feet to get there. Yeah why hike when you can drive? Continuing on I made my way down the hill past lovely meadows for Tenaya Lake. On my way here I was a bit confused because for some reason my GPS had a marker saying Tenaya Lake Campground on the furthest South Western shore. As I neared the lake a couple came hiking up which I recognized. It turned out to be a couple I ran into one week before leaving for this hike when I did an over night trip into Paradise Valley. I had told them about me leaving for this hike in one week and I guess they had been thinking about me so it was strange meeting them again so randomly. Small world... Once at the lake it was clear there was no campground but I looked around a bit and found a camp site with a fire pit and decided this was a good place to camp. Or so I thought...

Day 66 September 5

While enjoying a great breakfast of some sausages and an energy drink a Ranger came hiking over to my camp. The exchange started pleasant enough and I said "this is a legal camping site isn't it?" "nope!" It isn't? I asked. "Nope!". But I thought dispersed camping is legal. Turns out Yosemite has a 1 mile from any road dispersed camping regulation I was not aware of. I began to explain that my mistake was from how in Sequoia but she wouldn't let me finish. "doesn't matter what Sequoia does!" I know but.. "Doesn't matter!" I was just trying to say my mistake was from when a Ranger told me in Sequoia you can do dispersed camping 100 yards from any road but she wasn't happy. I thought it was a bit funny when she wanted to see my permit and was going to show me exactly where it says on the permit that it's not legal but my permit was an old tattered paper that at this point had been soaked in a number of rain storms and was barely readable. I think she was starting to get the picture of being a long distance hiker and I was bound to make a few regulation mistakes but the fact that I had a pan full of fancy sausage and a heavy ass can of Monster Energy didn't help my image any. She then began to say that my permit was no longer any good because I had passed into Yosemite and that I needed to get a new one. This I knew was not true but I didn't want to argue because getting a new one was no big deal. She said that she was going to check in later with the permits office and make sure that I got a new one! She also looked at the fire pit which I had not used and didn't seem to believe me when I told her that I had not made or used it. She told me to break it up and try to make the whole camp site look like it was not here. I agreed because I was no stranger to rehabilitation work and actually enjoyed it so finally she left without giving me a ticket and I did my best to destroy the whole site. "front country Ranger" I thought as I left the area. She did give me one good bit of advice and that was that the shuttle comes to the parking lot near by and I could take it to Tuolumne Meadows. I had up until now planned to hike the 9 miles to Tuolumne but I thought the hell with it why hike 9 boring forest miles when I can catch a ride so hoping on the bus I made my way to the permits office where they informed me that I clearly did not need a new permit and that they would talk to that Ranger if she checks in on me. I then went to the store and got my resupply package which I found one of my Ritz cracker packets had broken open and every single cracker was smashed into small pieces all around in the box. I then began talking with another hiker who was as much of a Sierra enthusiast as I was and had also been out for some time. He was getting ready to head home for one week to switch out his gear for warmer stuff and then come back out. After a long talk then lunch we set out together for the backpacker camp and got set up. Later I set out across Tuolumne Meadows and sat and talked with some older ladies running the exhibit near Soda Springs. Then going to the springs I met up once again with the hiker and he was even a bigger enthusiast of the soda springs. He said he had been coming out and drinking the water for 50 years and we had some good talks about the water. He was acting as a tourist guide and talking to others as they passed through and getting them to drink the water. 3 out of 4 people we talked to we got to actually drink the water and most of them really enjoyed it. It was a nice feeling encouraging people to step outside their comfort zone and try something new and see people actually do so. After 2 hours of sitting and enjoying the peaceful place we both set out for camp. I also spent some time talking to a young guy from Australia who was out here climbing all over the Sierra. Right now he was base camping at Tuolumne for weeks and I would meet him a couple more times on this trip.

Day 67 A-2581 D-878 September 6

After saying goodbye to my new trail friends I got some breakfast at the grill and set out for the Gaylor Lakes Trail. I was a bit confused on where I was supposed to go by Ropers description so I decided to just walk along the road which was a sketchy task since there was no shoulder most of the time and large RV's went zooming by constantly. The Soda Springs enthusiast guy said he had been hit by a car on the Tioga Road himself in the past. Once there I began in and made my way up to the first of the lakes where the trail ends for lunch. From here the cross country was about as easy as it gets strolling up past Gaylor Lake and then up past Upper Gaylor. I had already planned to stay at the mine because I figured it would be too far to go for more legal spots and I also decided I didn't want to bother playing Sherlock Holmes for the legal locations near the mine so I just picked a nice spot and set up. The mine itself was fairly basic with no adits and only a hand full of shallow shaft style pits. Making my way East over a small ridge I found even more downed mine buildings and if you just keep going you finally reach a beautiful view point looking down on Tioga Lake and up at Mt. Dana. A cold wind was blowing. The storm was coming...

Day 68 A-746 D-2566 September 7

When I awoke on this morning something just did not feel right about moving forward. I'm not sure what it was but I decided to turn back and plan a new route. This instinct turned out to be a good call other wise I would have spent the next few days of major cross country fighting extreme weather. So I went back down the way I came to the Tioga Road and then crossed the Dana Fork and made my way back to Tuolumne Meadows. While at camp I had to consider what my plan was now as I had intended to loop out and back in about 8 days then begin south again so I had food to burn before picking up my next package. I decided to make an attempt at Cathedral Peak then do an attempt at Cocks Comb, spend the night on Clouds Rest and then I planned what looked like a nice cross country route up Echo Creek past Nelson and Reymann Lakes. Later while getting information on the technical climbs I found out that there was a classic Nelson, Reymann hike people take so everything looked good. I spent the evening back at Soda Springs talking to tourists about the water and getting people to drink it.

Day 69 A-2782 D-2163 R-T September 8

Setting out for Cathedral Lakes I made quick work up the steep sections of this trail. I was right behind two day hikers with no packs when a man coming down commented that I looked like a sherpa for the other two. Once I got to the lake I set up camp in the same location I had 2 years before and unloaded my pack for day use. I was a bit concerned because I had quite a bit of food that was not in my bear barrel including two bags of cereal. C'est La Vie I said and set out for Cathedral Peak. I made quick work starting up the slopes and took a quick lunch. As I climbed higher and could see the summit I was greatly encouraged by how well I was doing and that the peak did not seem very far away at all. My fast pace was slowed a bit though as the boulders became heavily mixed with pine trees making for puzzle work. Making it worse they were dripping with sap. Finally reaching the ridge I began up past large boulder slabs until I came to a 12 foot high crack that looked impossible to get up. It was time to change my mindset I thought because when your only a hiker you have a completely different outlook on what can and cannot be climbed. Since I had no technical climbing experience it was time to look at rocks different so examining the rock closely I found decent enough hand and foot holds and began climbing up. The move required allot of upper body strength to maintain a stable hold on the rock but I made quick work up. The top section on the other hand offered nothing solid for hand holds. Finally in a desperate move I had to lift myself up with only my arms and use a knee to get up. Moving on I then came to an extremely narrow section of rock with a pine tree growing on it. It was too narrow for my pack so I had to take it off and drag it behind me. From here I could see two climbers in full gear making their way down ahead. After skirting a few rock faces I was below them. One of the older guys was extremely nervous at the fact that I had no experience or gear and I was doing these things. He wanted to drop me a rope but I told him I was ok. I told him my plan was simple and that was if I reach a point I am outside my comfort range I will turn back. After I found my way around a difficult rock and began up higher towards the summit he yelled up to me that maybe they should call the mental institution as it seems there is an escaped patient! A couple more climbers were making their way down ahead and I talked to them a bit before dropping my pack for the final section. Climbing up and over a mess of rocks then across a face I found myself below the final 15 foot vertical sections. Two climbers where already on the summit belaying more climbers coming up from below. As I looked up I just thought oh crap! And I did not know if I could make it or not. For a moment I thought my journey was done but then I began carefully feeling the cracks in the rock and I found solid hand and foot holds so up I went being meticulous about each move until I was at the final pitch to the summit. Once again I had to make use of a knee and I was standing on the summit. Victory! I had made the summit in about one and a half hours from my camp. I sat down and enjoyed the view while I waited for the other climbers to make their way to the summit. Not a single other person was free climbing. Having them there I actually got a photo. Once they had all made it we all agreed it was time to go because the weather looked very nasty to the North and it was coming in. One by one they made their way down until it was my turn... Yes.. now me...I admit I felt scared. Climbing up was one thing but now it was the moment of truth, climb down! Making my way over the side and back onto the cracks I yet again made my way meticulously down and did very well. Over all the double cracks provided nice holds and before I knew it I was down , back at my pack and leading the whole pack down the route I had come up. This did not last long though as no one wanted to take the ledge I had to get over here so I went the rest of the way alone. Coming back to the first technical crack I lowered myself onto it's face and began searching for hand holds and couldn't find anything. And then disaster began to strike. I slipped and began to fall...It was like a slow motion fall where I slipped and my body was going and there was nothing I could do about it. I began to turn around in preparation for where I was about to plummet down to. But then I was saved by my well placed right foot. It did not give way and I had enough strength in it to hoist myself back up onto the face and then made a quick drop onto a more stable hold and to the bottom. Wow I thought looking at my surroundings. I almost took one nasty fall! It was completely my fault as I had been moving too fast. From here I was excited as although I was not down yet I had got past all the technical areas. I had actually done it! It began to rain as I made my way quickly down avoiding the pine trees. By the time I got back to camp it was raining steady and I cooked dinner in my tent. I couldn't stay there though as an amazing sunset started to set in. I was running back and forth while it rained steady on me taking pictures of beautiful rainbows and the sunset over the lake. It over all was a magical moment ending a very good day.

Day 70 A-622 D-638 R-T September 9

As I moved out of the area I came across a guy camped just off the trail and two very cute female Rangers were hassling him about his camping location. Someone had told me that the only Rangers that check your permit are female Rangers and when I thought back I could not recall a single time where a male Ranger had checked my permit. Staying true they wanted to see mine. You do I asked? It's all the way at the bottom of my pack. Yep they certainly did. This has been the only time of the whole trip I had had my permit in my wallet after Tuolumne so it was now at the VERY bottom. So pulling off my bear barrel, pulling out my sleeping bag, my pot, my fuel, two bags of cereal, baggies of other crap I was finally able to dig it out. Yep here is my tattered piece of paper written by an apathetic Ranger more than two months ago. Stand in wonder!! I made the mistake of telling them I was thinking of sleeping on Clouds Rest. You can't sleep on Clouds Rest though! Yes I know... Technically an official trail runs over the summit which means you cannot get 100 feet from the trail. After both the pleasant and unpleasantness both the hiker they were hassling and I set out together. Nearing Cathedral Pass we parted ways and I began down the drainage for Echo Lake. The weather was already looking ugly and it was clear my plans were no good. I had planned to go to Matthes Lake to go for Cockscomb but the weather was not going to allow for that or for a night on Clouds Rest so now having even more days I stretched out going up Echo Creek making for easy days for now on. Something that was good due to the weather. So after easy going I arrived at Echo Lake and set up in a nice camp. I did some fishing and caught one nice trout but it was far too early so I threw it back thinking cool I can have some fish cooked on the fire but this was not to be as once I got serious about fishing the wind was blowing big time and I could not catch any more. The rain came and went for the rest of the evening.

Day 71 A-913 D-1235 R-T-S September 10

Dropping down the Cathedral Fork I was in a good mood skipping along through the forest with an up beat song playing in my headphones. I couldn't help but notice all the dead trees of the area though. This whole area and beyond was half dead forest for some reason other then fire. I made my way to the trail and down about 2.5 miles before it was time to cut over to Echo Creek. I made the mistake of going a bit too high and had to make my way down some very steep boulder faces. Once on the creek though it was a delight as the late season level of the creek had me walking along it on nice smooth granite only having to climb around the occasional tree. Making my way up a mess of beautiful granite faces filled with pools it began to sprinkle lightly. Reaching the top you enter a dense forest briefly before emerging at what I now call Echo Meadow. I had only just arrived when it began to pour on me. I had no time to look for any sort of established camp site and climbed up onto a section of hill. It had a great view of the meadow and an over all good location for a camp. The only down side is the creek was about 75 feet away in two directions. Considering the rain I called it home and got set up. I ate lunch in my tent while it continued to poor. Once it finally stopped I got to work on establishing a nice fire pit. I set out and fished almost every section of of the meadow but could not catch anything but little ones so it was no trout for dinner. I had just been getting set up to start cooking by the fire when it began raining again so it was back into the tent while it rained off and on. Later that night a few bits of snow came down but nothing major.

Day 72 A-1560 D-665 R-T September 11

Leaving the meadow was mostly easy travel but did involve allot of more dense forest travel and the occasional climbing through bushes along the creek. I took note of the rare patch of Twin Berry as I moved along the creek although I did not know it at the time. Nearing an area where two drainages come down from the East I found an even larger bog than David had fallen into earlier in the trip. I wanted to go out and poke it to see how deep it was but I was not about to get any where near the thing. I told many people this that if you see bright green moss you stay away! As I got closer to Nelson Lake I had planned to make my way up by moving North then East to avoid where the terrain gets allot steeper but once I got to the area I decided to keep following the creek. At times you have to climb fairly steep grass covered hill sides but then you enter into a very cool gorge with fun rock hoping. As I hoped along I kept whistling the more serious theme to Lord of the Rings. It was clear though that navigating this gorge early season is not possible. Nearing the top I came to a large rock face and I had to drop my pack, climb up and then pull my pack up by rope. Then lift the pack onto another rock. In quick fashion you are all at once out of the gorge onto smooth terrain. Not far away I took note of a use trail going down in the direction I had originally planned to come up. I took the scenic route! Reaching Nelson Lake it was extremely calm allowing for a nice shot of the lake. 5 minutes later and the wind was blowing steady. Nelson turned out to be an extremely beautiful lake that I could put on the list of being lakes worth coming back to. As I strolled away from the lake enjoying the beautiful meadow it began to rain once again so I sat beneath a tree for lunch. As I climbed up towards Reymann the storm raged on with the same lightning and heavy rain I had known for the last 4 days but as I got close to Reymann the rain let up. Moving up the outlet I was suddenly shocked by a cairn garden on the beautiful cascade below the outlet. I hadn't seen anyone in two days and this extreme sight of human presence was strange. Despite this I had to marvel at how beautiful the over all area was. Another Japanese garden I thought. Moving along the North shore of Reymann I began looking for a place to camp but I could find nothing at all. Finally once I had moved to the Eastern shore I found a nice established site to stay in. While in camp I spotted two hikers moving along the Southern shore and I knew it was the same two guys I had talked to at Echo Lake so I went around and met them. They were deciding on what to do for the day and were thinking about hiking all the way out to Tuolumne Meadows tonight. They pulled out a stove and made some tea and gave me some. Good timing as the clouds engulfed us making for a very chilled day. Then it began to rain so it was time for us to part ways. Me to my tent and them to where ever they dare to go. Once back in my tent the worst 3 hours of tent living began for me. It was raining very hard and because my tent was already so heavily saturated and had not been seam sealed the rain began running in steady. I had to line areas of my tent with clothing and what ever I could to soak up the water. If that was not bad enough a new phenomenon began that I had never had or considered. It was very cold out and due to this condensation was forming on the inside of my tent steady. Then as the rain drops hit the tent it would flick water onto me. So for 3 hours it rained non stop both outside and inside my tent. My sleeping bag was soaked and I was miserable. Finally just before sunset the rain stopped and I was able to get dinner made. The night was extremely cold with high winds and I was just barely able to stay warm hoping for morning.

Day 73 A-1063 D-2346 R-T September 12

The morning was extremely cold and a thick layer of frost covered everything. I laid everything I could out in the sun and watched the steam rise off of it. Once ready I began up the hill out of my camp. Due to the terrain I think most hikers cross the saddle to the East of here then go North and back West to drop down to Elizabeth Lake but as I got higher up the steeper route to the North looked just fine and it would be faster so I went straight up. As I got higher I noticed patches of fresh snow that had fallen during the night and once I had topped the ridge I was offered a beautiful view showing that most of the Sierra had got a nice dusting. Mt. Dana had snow at least 2,000 feet below it's summit. As I crossed the many snow fields on this ridge it was clear that the snow had fallen in extremely cold conditions as all the new snow was more like sand then snow. Dropping down the easy terrain populated with extremely fat Marmots I arrived at a nice little unnamed lake. Dropping down it's outlet proved to be easy all the way to the bottom when you arrive at the meadows surrounding Elizabeth Lake. I had intended to go eat lunch at Elizabeth Lake but I needed to use the restroom and I realized that I could easily make it down to Tuolumne to get a burger for lunch so I decided to keep on slogging to the bottom. Once I had got to the bottom I didn't know exactly where I was in the camp ground and began off to the West which was a mistake. I got to learn just how big Tuolumne Meadows campground actually is! Finally I crossed over to 120 and found my way back to the grill. While I was eating I had been talking to another hiker about backpacking and was over heard by two guys near by. They asked me about my hiking and then said they were here doing trail work for the PCTA. This peaked my interest as all the work I do is for the PCTA. While one of them introduced himself and the man next to him he said "this is Paul". "Paul Cardinet!?" I asked. Yep it was him. I only knew of him but had not met him before. turns out they had a whole crew base camped in Tuolumne Meadows campground so they invited me for dinner. I got set up with my wet gear and did some laundry which of course would not dry for the next few days. I met up with the Australian guy again and declared that I had survived. I had little else to do for the day but sit around and relax before I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the trail crew. The rain came in about 7:30PM and continued into the night.

Day 74 Layover R-T September 13

The main thing I had to figure out on this day was what the plans were with David. I had been getting low on money and I had two checks sitting at home. I gave him a call and he was ready to get out for another hike but shorter so he could bring me my money and get back onto the trail. He had to wait for an unemployment check but would meet me at Reds Meadow in 3 days. My original plan from here was going to follow the JMT back to Reds Meadow but I thought why take the same trail when I can do something new so I planned to take the Parker Pass Trail. The rest of the day was just resupply, relax and another good dinner with the trail crew.

Day 75 A-3707 D-2880 T September 14

It was another freezing morning as I hoped on the shuttle to the Mono Pass trail head. The bus driver was a big talker and I was the only one nice enough to engage her in conversation and respond to her statements. Once again I was entering a heavily traveled trail by the masses yet never traveled by me. The trail however proved uneventful and not extremely scenic until I was closing in on Parker Pass. The wind was blowing an extremely icy chill and I had to keep on my rain coat while I hiked. Nearing the pass I could see that Parker Peak and my general route had a pretty solid layer of new snow from the storm. Parker itself was about as easy as they come for passes and I was dropping down slightly on it's South side still covered in decent sized snow fields. Now it was time to switch back climb once again. As I made my way up Koip Peak Pass I began to feel more fatigued but the beautiful views kept me company on the way up. Once I had reached the snow it was only about 6 inches of fresh snow making for easy work up the final push. Once I had made it up and over the scene of the South side was like a painting and I made slow progress down with all my stops to enjoy the view. At this point I had been running from the storm as it slowly made it's way over me. Thunder had long been booming but I had so far avoided any sort of rain. The trail on the way down had several enormous wash outs but were not too difficult to get around. Before too long I was moving along Alger Lake where I found a decent place to camp. No rain fell today which was a welcome break after 6 days in a row of rain. I fell asleep watching the massive flashes of lightning coming from the desert.

Day 76 A-2214 D-4299 R-T September 15

While I wrapped things up at Alger Lake a pack of Coyotes began their typical howls and yips but in this location it was a surreal sort of moment as the sounds echoed back and fourth throughout the whole area. The call of the wild set in but it was time to continue South. Most of the day was fairly uneventful hiking as I crossed over Gem Pass and began slogging to the bottom. I passed a group of hunters heading to Alger Lakes for the opening of Deer season the following day. They claimed Alger Lake had "world" record fish in it which I seriously doubted. As I made my way up and over Agnew Pass I was once again running from the storm. The Ritter range had a total beast of a cloud mass over it and lightning flashes and booms came steady from it. By the time I was grinding down the final switch backs to Agnew Meadows a light rain was falling but did not last for long. I had planned to find some location off in the woods near Agnew to spend the night but after I had used the bathroom I started talking to a man who also had just come out of the backcountry and he offered to give me a ride to Reds Meadow and I accepted. I was here a day early as I had planned to hike the trail to Reds but oh well I thought. Once again the night ended with flashes of lightning coming from the East.

Day 77 Layover September 16

I called David and informed him of what number I was in at Reds. He had to wait for the mail and would not show up until probably midnight. I ended up going back to Rainbow Falls for awhile and then I went down to Lower Falls which I had never visited and made friends with a girl that was probably 9 and her over active dog Waldo. Once I had thrown a stick for him it was all over and no amount of throwing could wear him out. After spending a couple hours relaxing there I went back to camp and closed the night.

Day 78 Layover September 17

Waking in the morning David had been a no show so I called him again and the check he was waiting for did not come so he would have to try again tonight. My money had been depleted at this point and I did not even have enough money to stay another night in the camp ground. I ended up filling out a card but never put money in the slot. It would be too hard for David to find me if I tried to give him instructions to a dispersed camp site.

Day 79 Layover September 18

David did indeed arrive late last night but there was a catch. The unemployment check he had been waiting on did not come as they sent him paper work about his new card he would get in a few days. This meant I had to loan him 260 dollars of the money he brought me. The second catch was that it was now Sunday which meant closed banks for me to try and cash a check. A task that is not easy for someone with no bank account on any day of the week let alone Sunday. Rolling into Mammoth we struck out at a number of locations until I tried Vons which did cash one of the two I needed. For what ever reason they simply would not do more then one. Once failing every where else David thinks we should drive to Bishop to try a Vons there. We do so and fail due to their integrated database. After failing at every single other option in Bishop we decided to spend the night in a camp ground along Bishop Creek. When there we did some fishing on the newly stocked creek and are able to catch a couple nice sized trout to add to dinner. Later that night I put all my food in the bear box and thought David would handle his stuff.

Day 80 A-126 D-2249 September 19

Come morning it was almost a comical sight as he had his bear barrel with no lid on it sitting out with his food in it, a whole sack of other scented items sitting on top of the bear box and a mess of other small items. He had got lucky and no bear stole all his stuff but it just amazed me at his lack of thought on such matters with all the time he had spent in the mountains. Once back in Bishop I went to a Bank of America and amazingly enough they cashed the last check and did not even charge me anything. Something I was never able to repeat again at any other location. Driving back to Mammoth we picked up the last supplies we needed and hit the trail for Iva Bell. On our way we met a strange enough guy who was filtering about 5 gallons of water for his camp. He was hardly able to handle the altitude even as low as it was in this location. He had only been 4 miles from the trail head when we saw him yet later I would learn David ran into him again still trying to make his way out late the next day. In typical fashion the rest of the way was fairly uneventful other then the fact that while dropping down the switch backs to Fish Creek we were in the last amounts of useable light. My flashlight was deep in my pack which I did not want to bother getting. By the time we were closing in on the bridge crossing I was following David in total darkness. We began looking for a camp site but David had poor skills in this area. After 80 days on the trail I had a keen instinct to where exactly a site would be located and I finally got too irritated by David's searching that I pulled out my light and set off to find a camp which I located in less then 2 minutes. I spent the night laying out since thankfully the mosquitoes were starting to die off. I was certainly happy to be back on the trail after 3 days of layovers and actually riding in vehicles.
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby Electra » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:07 am

Beautiful Cathedral Lake rainbow shots! Thanks for the trip reports and helping us to get thru winter...
Dan Braun
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:53 am

I always forget to post the rest of the images:

Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
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Re: 95 Days in the Sierra

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:46 am

Great photos, again. I was in the Red Pass area just a bit after you were there and the snow conditions were about the same. I do not think there was much melting in September. The day I met the trail crew they were leaving in a few days for the end of season.

Great to see the photo of Nelson Lake. I went there years ago and did not take a camera. Unfortunately, I went early season and mosquitoes were absolutely horrible. It is one big swamp early season.

The route you did on Cathedral Peak is class 3 (no ropes needed), if you know where the route is located. If you continue to do climbs, I suggest you get some information from climbing guides prior to your adventures. The route scoots around the corner at the top and avoids those "technical cracks" that you climbed. Climbers who do the other techincal side have ropes anyway so they usually just rappel off the little cliff instead of going down the standard route. I also suggest that in times of bad weather approaching and there are climbers on top with you, there is nothing wrong with swollowing your pride and accepting an offer (or asking) for a rope on the descent. We climbers really do not pass judgement on hikers who accept our assistance. We just would like everyone to get down safely. Because it is our ethics that if someone were to get hurt, we MUST assist them and do immediate rescue. Honestly, most of us do not like to do that. We would rather just help you down so we can get on with our climbing. A number of people have died on the top of Cathedral Peak- it truely is a lightning rod. We do get a bit irritated at those who are too stubborn to accept assistance then put us at risk. If your slip had turned into a fall, and anyone saw it, regardless of the danger of an incoming storm, they would have risked their lives to help you. And those climbers you met were looking back and keeping an eye on you.
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