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111 Days In The Sierra

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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby seanr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:11 pm

It is stuff like this that keeps me coming here to envision what I can see in a long day or overnight with an eye toward what I am missing that my kids might be able to explore with me when we get around to backpack trips. Thanks for taking the time to add the stories that go with your great photos. I am gifted with a memory that helps me retain most scenes and experiences without my photos (many of which are buried in old hard drives) but things would probably start to blur if I were up there as much as you. I'm inspired to get out farther and write more by your efforts.

Thanks,
Sean



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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby allnatural49 » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:35 pm

I am absolutely loving these reports. Keep up the good work. I am very jealous of the freedom you have to spend your summers in the Sierra.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby WarrenFork » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:50 pm

A friend referred me to this site specifically for your trip reports and the links to your photos. I am blown away. They are the best I have ever seen about the wildest parts of the Sierra.

I'm grateful like others for all the work and time you have put into this stuff. Many thanks and happy (off)trails.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:17 pm

In your search for a camp at Ladder Lake, did you visit the tree area on the SE side of the lake, which is supposed to have a decent camp?


Yeah that was where I said it did not appeal to me. It's perfectly good camping and I'm planning on using it this year since I am going back to Ladder Lake but I was just dead set on having a nice view straight from camp.

Glad you all enjoy it since it's so much work. Maybe it will help motivate me to keep going on this. I have just not been into it for so long so I don't get it done.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby dougieb » Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:42 pm

I just want to second others' remarks and say that I really appreciate all the work you've put into your trip reports. All the photographs are great for researching the terrain and planning routes and your stories are wonderful. Your efforts are absolutely appreciated and inspiring. :)
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat May 02, 2015 7:17 pm

Week 10

MAP

After hatching a plan to get a new camera I set out across the rugged landscape of Ionian Basin heading for Goddard Creek Pass. Other than the tedious drop down from Lake 11,828 it was an easy trek past a small lake then after passing Chasm Lake my route was slowed down a bit by taking the route directly in the creek up to Lake 11,582. This involves allot of class 3 boulder hoping that is stable but slow going. After doing this a second time in 2014 I finally realize that climbing the Western slope of this drainage offers a far easier way. Once at the lake thankfully it was much easier to pass around Lake 11,582 and on up to Lake 11,837 both showing off the pure desolation and harsh geology of the area. This lake however is much more tedious to get around with a number of class 3 moves and a horrendous population of shore flies that threaten to give you some extra protein for the day.

After passing the particularly annoying sections on the South Western shore I topped the saddle here and passed another nameless body of water . At this point I was rather annoyed that the conditions for the day were providing for excellent photography and at the time I had no idea of knowing whether my camera was even still take pictures or not.

As I dropped down to Lake 11,818 with Goddard looming before me I once again cursed that I was on my way out rather than climbing up that beast! I'll be back for you yet!

Reaching Lake 11,951 from it's outlet I once again was pushing around a tedious shoreline of perhaps one of the most desolate locations in all of the Sierra. Hardly a blade of grass can be located as you tramp along a forgotten land. One final push to the pass remains and thankfully it was an easy one as I neared the top admiring a shore line in which I will never traverse.

As I began down the easy West slopes of the pass I made use of a faint use trail. Dropping to the lake below I was debating on which shore line to take. A potential cliff which I would have to climb around or a nasty snow slope offering disastrous consequences if one should fall. I chose the former and was not disappointed.

This choke point of the route is the most obvious yet tedious on sharp rocks. It's not until the final drop to Martha Lake that you have to make a decision about how to drop down past a small mess of cliff bands. While on my way down the rain finally began to fall and I caught site of a lone man hiking quickly along Martha Lake. From this distance he looks like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings since he had a large cape like rain coat on as he moved quickly along.

As quickly as the rain came it went as I hiked along Martha Lake. I came across a nice pair of trekking poles leaning against a rock. I thought perhaps Aragorn was camped near by and they belonged to him so I left them.

I made my way down the San Joaquin to the same campsite below the fire line I had used the year before. Before getting there however I caught up to Strider who had returned to camp and his wife. Chatting it up with them they asked me if I had seen some trekking poles and they weren't too happy about hiking miles back to the lake to get them in the morning.

The next day was far less eventful as I figured making my way all the way out to Florence was not practical in regards to getting anywhere on the road so I just hiked down to the Blayney Hot springs. In the evening I put a change of clothes on a rock outside my tent and set out for the springs. When I got out in the river I looked up to see the sky had clouded over completely again. That is not good I thought...Maybe I should return to put my clothes away but decided to keep going. While in the hot spring by myself all hell broke loose! Rain and hail began pouring down. Lightning bolts were flying right over head! What an awesome place to watch the storm I thought as a massive bolt struck the hill side in front of me and the whole area around it glowed for a second. I couldn't have been happier until I returned to my camp in the dark to find my clean clothes soaking wet.

The next morning I made my way out to the Ferry landing and tried to radio for a pickup but there was no response. Over the next couple of hours a group formed and I secured a ride with them at least to the junction heading for Vermillion. Once there I took to the road. Although plenty of cars drove past me in which I would step off the road since their was no room I made no effort to signal for a ride. Once I had passed the junction to Mono Hot springs a car came pulling up with a familiar face in it. The young girl asks me "are you Chris Ryerson?". It took me a moment to remember Marie from VVR the year before. Her and Brian gave me a ride the rest of the way getting me there by lunch time.

Since it was Saturday other than the food logistically it was not ideal. I decided to order a Canon G1X and use over night mail. When ordering a 40 dollar spare battery it cost 50 dollars to ship over night! This still meant that it would not ship until Monday, arrive at my house Tuesday and my grandmother brought it up Wednesday. When she arrived she exclaimed that if she had known the road was that horrible to get here she would never have came. I got her a trailer to stay and tomorrow I would return to my route with a fresh new and better camera and 1600 dollars less in funds.

On her way out she gave me a ride to Florence Lake and I caught the Ferry across. Sky Crane helicopters were battling a fire burning near by from the lightning the night I was in the hot springs. Due to how all the mileage worked out I only made my way back to the Blayney Hot springs and ended another week in the Sierra.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby tomba » Sun May 03, 2015 10:20 am

Yay, another week posted!
Good to see that photos turned out well even with a broken screen in auto mode.
-- Found trash? Please pack it out. Thank you.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 31, 2015 8:37 pm

Week 11

MAP

Once again I find myself on this stretch of trail. Hot, dusty and crowded with people. How many times have I hiked this? How many more times will I? Too many I think as I trudge along past the bridges and on up canyon . It's not until you pass the junction heading for Evolution Valley that you can enjoy any sort of solitude and will begin climbing back out of the heat of the lower levels of the range. I made my way back up to the same camp below the fire line just before a small shower came and went.

Retracing my steps determined to resume what I had began I went up canyon back to Martha Lake and on up Goddard Creek Pass. This time when I had reached the small lake below the top of the pass I took the left option.

When I reached Lake 12,280 I saw a single location to camp. It did not look big enough for my tent and it was so mixed into the rocks I did not think I could even set it up anyway so I kept going around the Southern shore looking for a place without luck. Once I had reached the East shore I managed to find a single rock that was just big enough to lay my body on. I thought this would have to do and hopefully it wont rain but that notion lasted about 2 minutes as the rain began with large drops. I quickly took out my tent and laid it over the rock and stuffed all my gear into it to protect it. Before I knew it the rain was ripping down and lightning was sounding with ear deafening cracks over head. I was completely exposed up here so I just hunkered down as close to the ground as I could get and sat in the rain getting soaked. I had my rain shell on but my pants were not even water resistant. At one point I was just laying on my back on a flat granite rock staring into the raging abyss above me. I was cold and miserable as the storm raged around me for the next 2 hours while I helplessly lay out in it. When the madness finally stopped I checked my gear which had got quite wet from condensation inside the tent due to rocks warmed by the sun earlier. I decided to hell with this and packed up my stuff again and went back around the lake to that crappy little spot I had seen. When I got set up there however it proved to be quite nice and I actually was able to drive almost all my stakes into the ground. If I had just set up here in the first place I would have avoided all this trouble! But then again I would have missed all that fun!

Next to this spot there was a few rocks tied together with a rope. When I looked at them closer I found a small medicine bottle under it with some paper inside. It was the first lake register I had found before.

When I tried to get water from the lake I could not get any that was clean. The water fleas were out in the millions! As far as I could see out into the water was clouds of large water fleas. Closer to the shore they were too small to see until after they were in your bottle. The Red Copeopods were also out in force. I tried everything I could to not get any in my bottle. I even tried to run water through my shirt but it would not work. I finally gave in an drank the damn fleas.

When it was getting closer to sunset I decided to hike over to a small hill looking out on the basin. Looking South towards the Middle Fork of the Kings earlier the storm that was raging was so black it was like an abyss of destruction. "My god, who ever is over there is getting **** up!" is all I could think as lightning bolts sprung from the darkness left and right. The sunset came and I ended this chaotic day.

Come morning I set out to climb Mt. Goddard. The entire way around the shore and beginning up the East slope of Goddard can only be described as tedious. It's small sharp rock plenty loose but technically easy. Far off I could hear talking. It was not until I had topped the ridge and was on my final push that I spotted a large group of people on the ridge line described by some guides as a way to climb Goddard from Wanda Pass. Ludacris is all I could think when I looked at the route from many different viewing angles.

On top the view was certainly all encompassing as I had heard. Unfortunately for me most of the view was washed out by the early morning light and plenty of haze. I sat on top for as long as I dared while the storm clouds steadily grew. I retreated back to camp and made it before all hell broke loose once again. Hail, lightning and plenty of rain for about 3 hours but thankfully this time I was dry.

Leaving this lake I took the route down the outlet and on to 11,951 . I decided to go straight through a hump in the terrain which led directly to 11,818 . The only difficult part was the steep chutes here you had to take down to the lake. I was supposed to be heading to the lake below Scylla in order to climb it but the weather was turning fast once again. I knew I would not be able to climb it today as planned and the thought crossed my mind whether I would find camping or not at the lake and to my surprise this lake offered beautiful sandy places to camp. There were actually a couple trees clinging to life. Not only are they the only trees I have seen anywhere in Ionian but after four trips this clearly is the best camping in all of Ionian also so I set up camp before lunch and stayed dry.

Climbing around the shore that evening I was fascinated by the nature of the geology. I examined every bit of the terrain and enjoyed the setting sun. I floated along in some sort of strange Dr. Seuss induced state making a rhyme story as I glided seamlessly along the harsh terrain. " Ms. Grouse she was near, I said do not fear I am going to the view that is near over here! - She seemed upset but did not fret as I went to the left over the cliff in which she sat". And on it went as I hopped along increasing my pace as the alpine glow was going to peak soon. I reached a nice vista looking out on the White Divide and Goddard Creek. I stared into the marvelous scene in front of me only I could hardly say I was me anymore. I was lost in the moment so completely until I snapped out of it and realized I need to return since I had no flashlight on me. Suddenly I found the terrain more difficult to travel now that I was not possessed. I stumbled back into camp at the last bit of useable light and closed another day.

I crossed the isthmus of the lake which lead to a nice easy slope up to the lake below Scylla. I debated heavily on climbing it but the weather was turning again and I had along ways to go. I was a bit burnt at leaving the last named peak of the basin unclimbed but I would see it's summit in 2013.

After I had traversed it's harsh shores I topped out on the small saddle that connects the two lakes together which offers a beautiful view of Scylla and the Three Sirens. Once down the tedious slopes and back at Lake 11,837 I rounded to it's outlet and began up the slope in an effort to avoid dropping down any and doing a continuous traverse to Wanda Pass. Other than some large class 3 rocks before the summit this plan worked out quite well.

As I dropped down the primary chute of Wanda Pass I stepped onto a rock which gave out beneath me like I had stepped into air. I fell about 4 feet down and landed perfectly on my feet. Yikes I thought that certainly could have been much worse! I had a brief chat with a couple on their way up the pass. I would run into them again in about 4 days and run into the girl again in Leconte Canyon in 2013. Just one more of the many people I have encountered multiple times over the years.

Once off the pass I climbed up to the saddle known as Davis Lakes Pass. From here it began to rain and thunder boomed over Mt. Darwin. Before long the slopes of Mt. Haeckel were covered in hail . I had intended on climbing the small peak at about 12,220 but the weather once again stopped me. Instead I traversed along it's Eastern slope and down to the small unnamed lake here. The rest of the way to McGee Lake was easy going but by the time I had found a nice camp on the Isthmus of the lake it had started raining hard and I had to throw up my tent in a hurry and just throw everything inside. By sunset all was calm and I was treated to one of the rare sunset lake reflections .

Rounding McGee Lake it was nice to be back onto typical Sierra terrain rather than the harsh nature of Ionian. This made for easy travel as I dropped down through the dip of McGee Canyon and back up to an unnamed Lake that offers beautiful views of The Hermit, Mt. Darwin and Mendel. I was curious if this lake had any decent fish but I could see nothing in the water until I walked over a rock and a large fat trout went swimming off fast. After toping the next small hill I got my first look at what I now call Emerald Pass. Piece of cake I thought and made quick work getting to the top . I stopped here and stared up at the small unnamed Peak 11,751 which is incorrectly listed as Peak 10,751 on National Geographic maps. I faced my typical laziness dilemma. I wanted to climb it but the thought of just going down hill was strong. Luckily this time the call of the peak won and I set out for the summit. Other than a couple class 3 moves and some annoying trees in the way it was a simple task getting to the top.

The peak offers a fantastic view of Evolution Valley and Emerald Peak but I was disappointed by the hopes of finding a register or any evidence of a previous ascent at all. Once back down at the pass I began down the West side which was far less straight forward. A tight mess of shelves, chutes and tedious loose rock. I could not identify a class 2 route.

Lake 10,918 turned out to be a nice little hidden gem that I doubt large amounts of people ever climb up to see. After the easy class 1 drop down to Lake 10,554 I was not disappointed by the beauty of this lake either. But the time came to leave all the amazing lakes I had hiked by today and bail off into Evolution Valley. Before the plunge I found some snow markers and there were a large number of felled trees in the area but I could not locate the log cabin most likely present in the area.

Although not technically difficult the drop into Evolution was very steep and taxing. By the time I got to the bottom and had to ford the river it was a welcome dunk into cold water. More than once I have come off the mountain side onto the JMT and I start getting asked questions about the trail ahead. I always enjoy saying I don't know I came from up there and point.

I ended the day in solitude at the horse camp of Evolution Meadow.

My final day of the week ended where I began as I made my way back down to the Muir Trail Ranch and the Blayney hotsprings where I camped with some cool people and got my resupply. Ready to push further North into the range and conquer the rest of my planned route. Or so I thought...
Last edited by RoguePhotonic on Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby ExploreABitMore » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:54 am

Lots of beautiful photos Rogue, always enjoy looking through your albums. :thumbsup:
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby WarrenFork » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:58 pm

The photo of the hail on Haeckel is really special. Thanks again for continuing to post these terrific reports.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:24 am

How fun to conjure a rhyme with ms or mr grouse and the forgetting of oneself that followed as you skipped along the terrain. Wonderful lyrics. Like timelessness. I liked the way you describe how that was lost and the terrain more challenging when you realized you had to get back before pitch dark. Loved the photos, and especially the ones at dusk.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:09 am

Rogue, Picture-wise anyway, I think that Lake 10,918 and the lake just below it (10554) was one of your best finds. (Much more interesting than the Ionian Basin in my opinion). The contact zone between granite and volcanic in the upper lake is amazing to see, and the lower lake is so very different than the upper. They both appear to offer the possibility of good camping. I have been looking at the ways to get there that does not involve going up a wall (as in your descent) or over a class 3+ pass (as in your approach) ;) . A trip to the "Emerald Peak Basin" combined with a visit to McGee Lakes Basin would make a great trip, I think. There looks like a good route that goes east and north of Lake 10700 that would get you to the outlet of lake 10554 and into "Emerald Peak Basin".
One of your best trip reports. Thanks!
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