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TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

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TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby jfelectron » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:25 pm

did a great ~50 mile loop from Twin Lakes TH->Crown Lake->Matterhorn Cnyn/PCT Junction->Benson Lake->Peeler Lake->Twin Lakes TH:


Firstly, for those who haven't had the joys of the Twin Lakes TH, its a giant private RV resort staffed by some of the most surly, backpacker hating people around. Its a clashing of two cultures.Everyone seemed to have giant scary dogs that they parked across paths. That said, the showers are a great thing to end a trip with. Its really awesome that you have to pay $10/week in order to park your car for access to public lands. I'd love to know what representative lobbied for that to continue once the wilderness was created.

This loop affords stunning scenery and is lightly traveled. It involved quite a bit of up and down with about 12.5k of total ascent. This likely keeps down the crowds.

Hoover-Yosemite-Loop.pdf
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Hoover-Yosemite Loop Profile.pdf
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The trail begins out gently climbing toward Barney Lake. After about 1-1.5 miles climbing starts in earnest until you reach the basin that holds Barney Lakes and meadows on Robinson creek. Robinson creek still has healthy flows and things are still quite green in the drainage. Benson Lake is the main target of day hikers and camping is prohibited with 1/4 mile. From Benson to the junction to Peeler Lake, climbing is constant and earnest but you are afforded with increasingly awe inspiring views of the jagged peaks in the area. After the junction, the climbing lessens, gaining only a few hundred more feet until you reach Robinson Lakes and then Crown Lake.

Lovely little Crown Lake nestled below jagged peaks:

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The weather forecast had noctural T-storms at 30%. Heavy clouds began building in the early evening. At about 2-3AM there were two short cloudbursts but nothing worse. Friday we awoke to heavy clouds that threatened much of the day, but never dropped anything.

From Crown Lake you have an increasingly steep climb to the Yosemite border at Mule Pass.

Mule Pass South into Yosemite:

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You then descend into Slide Canyon,which is named after a giant rock slide that sits in the canyon.
In the flats of the canyon you begin to have up close views of the Sawtooth Ridge:

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After this respite, you begin your assaul of Burro Pass:

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From the top, you are afforded views down into Matterhorn Canyon:

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You descend the canyon until the junction with the PCT where we camped for the second night. This was the coldest night. We woke up to frost we recorded 28F in the middle of the night. Under the nearly full moon, animal activity was high. We had two deer (one radio collared) that kept circling our camp and seemed to be desperate for salt (licking spots of urine elimination and such). In the middle of the night, a couple of feet from the opening of my tarp a large rodent/mammal was busily eating insects/grubs in a dead stump. I'm not sure of the specie, but it was roughly the size and shape of a large porcupine. It could have been a wolverine or some such, but I'm not sure of their nocturnal habits or diet. Matterhorn creek is running in the canyon, but flows are low.

From the PCT junction you descend and then ascend gradually toward Benson Pass. In the last mile before the pass, the ascent turns sharp and you have a long haul with a couple false summits before reaching the nice views of the pass:

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From Benson Pass you descend down to Smedberg Lake. We made a little XC departure from the trail up to pretty Sister Lake.

XC portion.pdf
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Getting to Sister Lake was really easy, we just countoured to the little tarn and the followed the drainage to the Lake. It would be well worth just going up to Sister and rejoining the trail via the reverse path. Instead of this we worked our way down the Sister Lake->Smedberg drainage, descending via Class II/III granite ledge systems. We made our way around the North shore of Smedberg but stayed high by contouring on granite ledges a couple hundred feet above the shore. We descended to the outlet (dry) of Smedberg and initially descended directly in the small boulders and rocks of the dry drainage.

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About half-way down, we transitioned from descending directly in the drainage to granite ledges to the right of the drainage. Over this portion the drainage started making some steep drops and the ledges provided an easier path. Finally made our way down grass/brush slopes and shimmied between the occasional tree and granite to rejoin the trail near the little pond below Smedberg.

Smedberg and Volunter Peak from series of granite ledges on North shore:

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From Smedberg its a long rocky descent to Benson Lake, which has the largest sandy beach I've ever seen in the Sierra. There was an NPS ranger stationed there who checked permits and asked about but didn't check canisters. There was also a trail crew with a team of horses/mules. This proved to be annoying because they allowed the animals to wander around the forest behind all the campsites. They had affixed cowbells to them, which chimed all night as the circled around. I appreciate the work of the trail crews but the noise was a real nuisance.

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From Benson you climb up to Seavey Pass, which is quite unremarkable apart from a nice collection of tarns. The USGS map (and anything relying on it) appears to mislabel the pass though I don't blame them because its quite difficult to tell where it is.

From Seavey you descend down to Rancheria creek, which had nice flows in that part of the canyon.Higher up the canyon, the floor flattens out and the creek forms large pools with fish visible.
Eventually you work your way through a number of expansive meadows.

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These meadows up though Kerrick Canyon are quite dry with limited water available.

Our last night was spent at stunning Peeler lake, which is gorgeously rockbound:

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All in all, a great challenging trip. More photos in no particular order:


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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby balzaccom » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:51 pm

Nice report. We did this trip in reverse a few years ago, and found that it was a popular route for scouts who were working on their "50 mile hike" badge.
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby East Side Hiker » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:01 pm

I was the wilderness ranger in this wonderful country for 4 years.
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby Mradford » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:42 am

nice report and great photos.
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby mshields » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:59 pm

Thanks for the excellent trip report, pictures, and routes; I am thinking of trying this trip next year.

How long did your Sisters Lake XC route take? Would this lake make a suitable campsite?

Thanks
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby jfelectron » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:03 pm

The route to sister lake is quite short, just a little uphill and then you reach a little tarn. It doesn't take more than 15 min. From there just follow the drainage to sister lake. Sister lake is very campable, it has a broad sandy/Meadow shore.


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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby mtanner » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:17 am

I'm planning a trip in the same area, Twin Lakes to Green lake. Were there suitable campsites between Mule and Burrow Pass? Your pic of the valley between looks like there might be.
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby sierraholic » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:26 am

There are several good ones as you come out of the blowdown trees near Slide Canyon (at least a mile past) and head southeast toward Burro Pass. My favorites would be right off the trail near a 10 ft. waterfall underneath Finger Peaks and just before the switchbacks up to Burro Pass (or near the tarns below Finger Peaks). You can't go wrong since the views are outstanding. If there was no chance of thunderstorms (usually storms daily this time of year), the views on both passes are amazing and would be fun to camp on (though dry and exposed if windy). Have fun!
"Not all who wonder are lost!"
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby mtanner » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:37 pm

Thanks! I don't really want to do 8+ miles in one day up and over two passes (Mule and Burro), so camping at the bottom of the switchbacks before Burro to hit it with fresh legs the next morning sounds perfect.
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby windknot » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:18 pm

Thanks for the report and pictures! This looks like a neat area.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR: Hoover-NE Yosemite Loop 8/30-9/3

Postby oldranger » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:37 pm

Ah the sound of the bell ringing in the night! Most comforting sound of my stock ranger days!

Mike
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Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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