TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

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TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

Postby tim » Mon May 28, 2012 8:19 pm

When we got up to the permit station at Big Oak Flat at 11am on Saturday morning, there was a long line of people all asking the same question: where can we go as an alternative to our pre-booked Tioga Rd permit? By the time we got to the front of the line (out on the cold patio) it was pretty clear there were no decent options for our group of three (myself, my 6 yr old son and his 8 yr old friend), given our constraints of no big climbs and preferably only about 3 miles in from the road (the reason we'd chosen the Porcupine Creek trailhead in the first place). So we settled for a permit for 1 night going in Sunday, with a view to spending Saturday afternoon at Hetch Hetchy and camping in the backpackers campground there (my previous experience with a Memorial Day in Yosemite Valley had convinced me to avoid that at all costs). We had a leisurely lunch at Evergreen Lodge and headed over the Hetch Hetchy entrance at just after 1 o'clock. I told the ranger we'd be staying at the backpackers campground, jokingly saying "unless the Tioga Road is open" and her colleague said "well I just heard that they opened it 10 minutes ago".

A quick about turn had us heading up into the cloud and snow, and I was feeling less and less convinced that this was a good move, especially when it started snowing heavily on us while I was getting the backpacks sorted out. Nevertheless, at just after 3pm we headed out into the snow, which was about 4-6 inches deep in places, with roughly 100-200 yards visibility.

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Heading out

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In the snow

We met a few people coming back from short day hikes who wondered why we were heading out in the late afternoon, but in the end it turned out very well and the clouds started to ease a bit. The path was also easy to follow, with many footprints in the snow. We camped on top of Indian Ridge (just under 3 miles in), just across from where the path goes up to the arch and found two couples there who suggested we join them to share the fire. They had come in on Friday afternoon and spent the entire day in the tent, because it was so cloudy. However, the skies did start to clear a little at dusk and we got a nice sunset.

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Sunset, storm clearing

On Sunday morning we awoke to a hard frost (probably around 24 degrees) but clear, blue skies and still a lot of snow around on the trees. So we headed down to North Dome for a day hike.

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Snowy scene, Sunday am

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Kids and Half Dome

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View from North Dome

After getting back to the campsite around 1pm, we had a lazy afternoon, because my son was running a bit of a fever and I didn't think it would be a great idea to make him walk another 3 miles out. We had pleasant sunny weather (around 60 degrees), with the snow virtually all gone. Despite the hordes of people on the trail only 100 yards away, we weren't disturbed at all and I had time to take a quick look at Indian Arch.

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Indian Arch

After a very nice sunset, Sunday night wasn't quite as cold, but still frosty, and we packed up quickly and headed out by just after 8am on Monday morning, through a completely transformed forest, with hardly any snow and temperatures that were even warmer - it was almost 60 degrees by 10am. We didn't see any skeeters at all, and it looks like the hard frost may have helped keep them down for a few more days.

Great trip - highly recommended for families, and water wasn't as much of a problem as I anticipated. There is a permanent stream just before the final climb to Indian Ridge plus a seasonal snowmelt trickle on the opposite side of the ridge which proved more accessible (less of a climb back up) when we were there.
Last edited by tim on Mon May 28, 2012 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

Postby maverick » Mon May 28, 2012 9:37 pm

Hi Tim,

Thanks for posting this delightful TR & pictures. Great to see kids of this age getting
some experience, especially when having to deal with some type of hardship, but not
to hard of coarse, builds character which is was what we were told in the boy scouts.
Have you taken him on a lot of trips, and has he had to deal with inclement weather
in the past?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

Postby tim » Mon May 28, 2012 10:54 pm

maverick wrote:Have you taken him on a lot of trips, and has he had to deal with inclement weather in the past?


No, just his second backpacking trip (and his friend hadn't camped at all except once in the garden!). But we have done a few decent hikes in less than summer like conditions (like Gaylor Lakes last December).

They dealt pretty well with the cold - in fact I've found getting up in the morning is usually worse for the kids than the initial couple of hours hike (frozen boots!). So I probably wouldn't have done it if I hadn't known the weather would clear up by Sunday morning.

But it did bring it home to me how it can go wrong when I met two women backpackers down at North Dome who said they had got lost in the forest in the mist on Friday and had then spent a day not moving because they didn't know where the trail (or more importantly the valley rim) was. Because we were on the main trail it was all fairly easy to follow, though even then I wouldn't have wanted to be out there with the kids on Saturday without a GPS as backup.
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Re: TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

Postby Snow Nymph » Tue May 29, 2012 7:43 am

Pretty with the snow! We day hiked it on Sunday, and most of the snow was gone. We didn't start til 12:40pm, so you must've been at Indian Arch when we walked by. Beautiful area!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: TR: Indian Ridge/North Dome May 26-28

Postby quentinc » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:18 pm

That's great that the kids were so hardy. I bet if there were Legos hidden along the trail, my 7 year old wouldn't have minded the conditions, but otherwise I'm not so sure. :)
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