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TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

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TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:00 am

Due to an illness in the family, I had to postpone a long planned trip to the Bear Lakes Basin. It also became evident that if I wanted to get out at all this year, I'd have to do it very soon. So, last Thursday morning, a window in my work and personal schedules aligned and I made a few calls to see if anyone could join me for a last minute trip to Emigrant Wilderness. I expected to go by myself, but 24 hours later four of us hiked out of Kennedy Meadows.

I and another of my group left the trail head at 3:30 pm and made quick work of the dusty trail. We saw a few day hikers heading down for the afternoon, but no other hikers or horse packers heading up. We reached Summit Creek in about 3.5 hours and found another of our party already there. 30 minutes later our fourth member joined us. We all took a quick dip in the creek and found a great campsite on a granite cliff overlooking the creek. The bugs were a small nuisance near the water, but gone with the slightest bit of wind.

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Camp night one


Next morning we headed up the outlet from Lewis Lakes, taking our time to pump some water and enjoy the beautiful creek. At lower Lewis Lake we found fish rising everywhere but the wind picked up just as I finished setting up my rod. I cast for a while and had a few rise to the line, but no luck. After a small snack we continued south from the lake, climbing up the small drainage. We made our way to the middle Lewis Lake and then up to a small saddle that lead us to the shoulder of Granite Dome.

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Heading up to Lewis Lakes

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The route up to the shoulder of Granite Dome

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Looking back down


We dropped packs and continued up the shoulder to the peak of Granite Dome. The top of the mountain is a large rolling space with a mix of weathered granite, decomposed granite, and volcanic sand. We bagged the peak easily. Coming back down the shoulder I took huge bounding steps across the large sandy false summit—the ground absorbed the shock of my steps and I felt like a kid for a few moments as I flew down the hill.

upper_lewis_relief_peak_063012.jpg
View from the shoulder: upper Lewis to the left, Relief Peak to the right

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View north from sandy false summit of Granite Dome: Iceland, Ridge, Sardella, and upper Lewis Lakes all visible


After grabbing our packs, we climbed down to upper Lewis Lake, found a route around the north shore and headed to Iceland Lake. Along the way we passed Sardella Lake. At Iceland Lake we camped at a spot I found years ago that sits on a granite shelf above the lake with easy access to a great sunset view.

upper_lewis_063012.jpg
Upper Lewis Lake

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Sardella Lake

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Granite Dome at sunset


The next morning we followed the drainage from Iceland Lake and headed northwest down the slab to Lower Relief Valley. After making our way around the valley, we found the trail and headed downhill. Near the confluence of Relief Creek and Summit Creek we bid farewell to one of our party and the remaining three found another granite bench to camp at. I broke out the rod and fished both creeks. The fishing was great! While most of the fish were in the 6-8" range, it was almost impossible to go three casts without hooking one. I worked the pools down the creek and managed to land a 10" rainbow in addition to many small brookies and goldens. It was ridiculously fun.

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The morning's walk down from Iceland Lake


After one last night we headed back to Kennedy Meadows and reality. For a trip planned in less that 24 hours we had a great time—maybe one of my best trips ever. I wolfed down a pizza at Pie in the Sky.

Overview
The mosquitoes were not that bad, but I did get a few bites. We did use head nets a bit on the third night, but anywhere with exposure was clear with the lightest breeze. As you would imagine, snow is not an issue at all. I used one small snow field to climb on the way around Lewis Lakes—it was solid but soft in the sun and easy to climb. We saw two other groups out there, one the first night at Summit Creek and other on the third night near Relief Creek. We also saw one solo hiker from a distance at Upper Lewis Lake.

Edit: Forgot to add that we had a Bald Eagle flyby the second night at Iceland Lake.
Last edited by Carne_DelMuerto on Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:17 am

Quick and dirty image of the loop. Note: this does not show the portion from Kennedy Meadows TH to Summit Creek.

Screen shot 2012-07-05 at 12.13.48 AM.png
Granite Dome loop
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby justm » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:00 am

Thanks for the trip report. I've been to most of the lakes in the Emigrant except these. The photos are beautiful and it sounds like the fishing is excellent. Thanks for showing us this loop trip , I know were I'm going next ! :)
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:30 am

Thanks CDM for the fun TR and pictures! Hope everything gets better for you and the
family at home!!
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: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:09 am

Nice TR Carne. That area became one of my favorite areas when I visited it two years ago. I don't want to steal your thunder, but I think it is worthwhile to point out that Granite dome is very interesting geologically. It is half surrounded by volcanic material in a classic 'contact zone' between granitic and volcanic material. All the more startling is that Granite dome and its associated pluton is some of the whitest granite you will find in the Sierra, so the contrast between the granite and volcanic is quite picturesque. Add the historic emigrant trail that passes nearby, and you have a very interesting area to visit. Two pictures to illustrate my comments.
Attachments
GD 3041.jpg
A picture I took from "Lion King Point", looking down Summit Creek, a classic contact zone between the volcanic and the granitic.
GD 3128.jpg
Middle and Lower Lewis Lakes. You can see Carne's mapped route on the far side of the lake. Note the volcanic mountains on the left contrasting with the granite below.
Doyle W. Donehoo
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http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:20 am

Doyle, I noticed that when I first hiked this area in 2009. It's so striking as one hikes up to Summit Creek with the weathered dark volcanic spires to the left and the round white granite to the right. What struck me this time was the amount of volcanic material near the top of Granite Dome. The false summit we climbed was basically a big pile of pumice-like stone and sand and it was so fun to run down it.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby windknot » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:07 pm

Thanks for the report and great pictures! Looks like an amazing place.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby venturefar » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:36 pm

Great Pictures! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby mediauras » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:18 pm

Very nice, thanks for posting. I have a long weekend coming up soon and have been thinking about spending it at Emigrant. This looks like a great loop -- how many miles did you put in?
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:52 am

mediauras, mileage below:

Day 1: Kennedy Meadows to Summit Creek, 7.5 miles
Day 2: Summit Creek to Iceland Lake with summit of Granite Dome, 7.1 miles
Day 3: Iceland Lake to Relief Creek/Summit Creek confluence, 2.8 miles
Day 4: Confluence to Kennedy Meadows, 6.9 miles
Total: 24.3

Edit: Forgot my GPS died on day 4, amended mileage to compensate.
Last edited by Carne_DelMuerto on Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:57 am

Carne_DelMuerto wrote:...What struck me this time was the amount of volcanic material near the top of Granite Dome. The false summit we climbed was basically a big pile of pumice-like stone and sand and it was so fun to run down it.

Fun facts for the day: :nod:
The entire Sierra at one time was covered by a thick layer of volcanic material. The Sierra uplift and the onset of ice ages quarried most of that material off the rising granite plutons. In the highest places near the glacial trim-lines, the volcanic material was not so much quarried as weathered, and remains today. Pieces of the Sierra roof pendant can be found here and there, looking like dark dance floors suspended above the glaciated valleys below. A good example you can walk can be found on the PCT just south of Sonora Pass. The Three Sisters can be seen from Granite Dome and other places nearby, another remnant of the volcanic layer that once smothered the Sierra region. From Granite Dome, you can plainly see why the area is called "the land of fire and ice".
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Re: TR: Emigrant Wilderness, June 29 - July 2, 2012

Postby sparky » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:17 pm

WOW! Beautiful area. It is a long way for me to get that far north. I will have to make the effort one of these days!
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