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California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

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California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:32 am

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Trail e. out of Vernon, viewed from Moraine Ridge
I remembered the stairway out of Jack Main Canyon from pics that Hetchy had posted years ago. His pics were early in the season with water flowing over the stairway.
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Moraine Ridge from S end of Jack Main Canyon
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Looking up Jack Main Canyon from the stairway
No water this time of the year but Falls Creek had plenty of water and almost every intermittent stream I encountered still had water flowing. I’m sure this was pretty unusual for this low elevation area for this time of the year. At the saddle beyond the top of the stairway I broke off the trail and walked e. until I could see the slopes below and the n end of Lake Vernon.
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Lake Vernon
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Last view of Jack Main Canyon
I considered dropping down following the route sssdave recently described but given my state of mind didn’t feel it was safe to do a difficult crosscountry route without complete focus. So I opted to head to Laurel Lake and pretty much committed myself to hiking out the following day, a day early, something usually only continuous rain will make me do.
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Branigan from trail down Moraine Ridge
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Trail e. out of Vernon, viewed from Moraine Ridge
The trip down Moraine Ridge is a lesson in fire ecology. Much of the area has been burned at least once over the years, including 1980 when hiking from Tuolumne Meadows to Hetch Hetchy I walked through the fire burning around Laurel Lake and Beehive area. What was most interesting to me was the almost complete mortality of the large mature fir trees from fire but the Ponderosas/Jeffery pines had a high surival rate. Book learning taught me that but the lesson is much more dramatic in person!

As I rested at the junction of the Lake Vernon Trail and Moraine ridge trail an NPS pack train trod up the hill to resupply the trail crew camped at Lake Vernon. Earlier in the day I could clearly see the trail switchbacking up the lower west slope of Mt. Gibson. Now I wondered if the clarity was the result of this summer’s hard work. After the pack train passed I continued on to Beehive and took the s. trail to Laurel Lake. In early mid afternoon I set up camp in a well worn site near the outlet. From 1980 I did not remember all the aquatic grass growing around the lake. I decided the way to fish was to wade but in my melancholy mood the effort did not seem worth it. After dinner I decided to walk around the lake. As I got to the sw corner I was struck by the massive thunderhead that appeared to be directly over Jack Main Canyon.
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Thunderheads
It never got any closer and for the 3rd night in a row I did not put the fly over the tent. A little later I ran into a stark reminder of the potential consequences of leaving a fly dangling from a tree limb.
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Ever leave a fly dangling from a tree limb?


A really early start the last morning got me to Hetch Hetchy by 11 AM.
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The end, almost!
It was quite warm by then and I met 3 twentysomethings just starting out for Rancheria Creek. A pretty location but about the time they should be arriving rather than starting. The hardest part of the day? The damn hike from the dam to the parking lot!

So after 3 trips to California this year what did I learn or relearn?

1. Be willing to lose a little elevation rather than fight the terrain to maintain elevation.
2. Make sure you have books that you will enjoy. Preferably long books with small print.
3. Don’t invent stupid things to think about. Focus on your surroundings.
4. On the last trip I came out with several extra lbs because I added some “Love Force” bars to my food. They are about 400 calories for 3 oz. I should have reduced some of my snack food. Came out with 8 oz of jerky and a couple of lbs of Trader Joes honey roasted peanuts mixed with wasabi peas plus some other stuff beyond what I would have consumed had I stayed another day.

Epilogue:

1. Kathy (my wife) told me I was crazy and the elevation must have affected me.
2. A few days later Kathy was driving in the same Prius down to California and hit a deer less than 30 miles s. of bend. She was able to drive the car back to Bend. When we were checking the car out at the body shop we discovered that a little critter had chewed on some wires when the car was parked at Hetch Hetchy.
a. One dead deer=$3600 damage.
b. One little rodent=$4800 damage

And that’s the truth!

mike
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:54 am

I really enjoyed your reports. They were worth waiting for- perhaps more interesting reading during the winter doldrums. Mind games! Wow. I have lots of them every long trip. And yes, bad weather really seems to bring out those little bad-mood gremlins who sit on our left shoulder and keep shouting rediculous stuff in our ear. My husband says that is because I was raised in a grim Scandinavian household rather than in a more happy-go-lucky culture. My only experience at Tildon Lake was when mosquitoes were so bad that I had to retreat to the top of a hill to the south to get out of them. I need to go back to enjoy the lake when the little nasty critters are gone.
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:09 am

WD

The "mind games" were completely new to me after 55 years of doing backpacking. I noted that hill as a potential place to camp and even walked it on my semi layover day. Thought it would be nice because it would max out morning and evening sun.

Mike
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby sparky » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:11 pm

When did you do this hike? I was there the second week in july. The staircase was overflowing. Skeeters werent a big deal. The river was flowing! The trail went underwater east of mahan lake sp? The way we took down to lake vernon was easy, fun and beautiful. Found tracks of a very large cat!

Those car repair bills are outrageous! It pays to know people :-)
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:24 pm

Really enjoyed the read Mike! The Mary Lake and Tilden Sunset shots are very
pretty.
Glad to hear Kathy was uninjured! Thanks
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:37 pm

Sparky

Started Sept 11. Cost to us was $100 for each incident.

Mike
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby markskor » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:42 pm

Nice TR Mike…
Especially like the way you tell a tale/ spin a yarn – eschewing all the “I did this, then, I did that”… so commonly seen here, and instead, letting us know what is going on in your head as you fight through those long solo days – with the rains. Solo hiking includes much introspection and when it showers - sigh… does have a way of messing with the urge to explore anything. You show a nice touch here in the way you present things, something each of us solo jockeys can well relate to.

I too detest those long, rainy, backcountry days where pre-made plans become altered and hiking becomes not fun. I just hunker down too when it pours and reading seems to be the only available option, other than sleeping.

Just suggestions here though, since we have a great map here available, why not insert it in your TR? I found myself going back and forth; following your path…would not be that hard to include a map with the words.
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Re: California Odyssey 3--Leavitt Meadows to Hetch Hetchy conclu

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:48 pm

Mark,

This was a weird trip! Usually I am 100% into what I am doing and cocksure of what I am doing but not this time.

When I read other's TRs I always open another window and go to the hst map. Then I have them side by side on my 20" IMAC and I don't have to toggle back and forth or move the page up and down to figure out a route.

mike
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