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Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

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Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:26 pm

After almost a two year hiatus my old bud Markskor and I finally got together for another backcountry adventure. We managed not to kill each other and only once did I tweak him a little too far.

The joint venture began when we met at Curry Village about 8:30 AM on May 21. A quick breakfast, loading Mark’s gear, and we were off to Oakhurst to get our permit and last minute supplies. Arriving at the visitor center we were informed that the FS person who issues permits is off Monday and Tuesday and we would have to drive to North Fork to get our permit. I immediately lost my cool as there was a bunch of people working at the center, including an NPS person (who knew absolutely nothing about Yosemite backpacking). It would seem that they could figure out some way to delegate responsibility to someone when the FS person is on days off. Mark’s cooler head prevailed and he got me out of there before they called the cops. Then we tracked down a radio shack so mark could buy a car charger for his cell phone (which remains in my car so I am not quite sure why he bought it to bring his phone up to full charge once. The good news is that it works for my new cell phone!).

After making last calls to Mark’s ex (don’t ask) and my sweetie and getting our permit we headed up the Beasore Road and could almost make it to the Chiquito TH. But were stopped by a large tree across the road about ½ mile short.. (We were saved the frustration on getting halted far short of the Quartz Mt. TH when Troutdog59 kindly agreed to check out the Sky Ranch road the previous Sat. and left me a message about road conditions (same as he posted in the forum last spring).

After spending the night at/near the TH we hiked the 3 miles to Chiquito Pass and then down to Gravelly Ford where I took my first pics of the trip.
Gravelly Ford.jpg
Gravelly Ford
This was one of only 2 places where we actually had to ford a stream crossing. It was time for lunch and we took a ½ hour break before our second uphill trudge of the day. This was my first outing with a really heavy pack (for me) 47 lbs since my blocked artery got repaired. Since I had been monitoring my physical activity very carefully at the Cardiac Rehab Center at the Hospital and during my conditioning hikes I had a target heart rate I did not want to exceed. But Mark was a much better “governor” than my heartrate monitor. So every time he breathed a loud “whewwwwww!” I knew it was time for a break! We eventually followed the trail, then a last ¾ mile or so of cross country to avoid a tedious roundabout trail route to the trail crossing of Givens Creek. Though the “plan” such as it was, was to hike to Givens Lake, neither of us was up to that option. We found a great campsite about 150 yards below the ford that was far enough above the creek to avoid nighttime dew and sinking cold air.

Mark immediately headed for the creek but was stopped short and began grubbing around in the dirt (not all that unusual for him I discovered). I asked, “what are you doing?” He replied, “Come here!” Approaching Mark, he pointed down. “whoa” I exclaimed, “a machine gun!” “Naw, it must be some mining equipment.” No, it’s a machine gun from a plane wreck. See the aluminum attached to it? There must be a plane wreck around here.” Mark uncovered the relic a little better and finally agreed that I was correct (I can’t believe he ever questioned my judgement!) We scouted the area briefly but found no other signs of the wreck. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was part of the “lost flight” of P-40s that dropped over much of the sierra around 1940 (3 went down near my old ranger station at Roaring River).
Machine Gun.jpg
Machine Gun Mark


Next AM we cut to the trail and in less than 100 yards we encountered most of the wreckage.
Crash.jpg
Crash
Since fishing was on our minds we took a couple pics but quickly intersected the trail and headed up to the top of the ridge then traversed over to Givens Lake. This was a delightful surprise, loaded with cooperative brookies ranging from 9 to 14 inches (that we caught). We kept dinner fish on snow and as usual mark caught the largest!
Givens fish.jpg
Givens Fish


Rather than backtracking we took a descending traverse back to the trail. I took a few more pics of the wreckage (after some convoluted internet searching I was able learn that the plane was a P-70 that had disappeared during a training mission out of Fresno around 1940 it was found the following late spring or early summer) then we had our usual premeal daiquiris and mark did his usual treatment of the fish (foil wrapped, in olive oil sauted garlic and a little seasoning) plus our new culinary discovery—instant potatoes with freezedryed mixed veggies. A small piece of dark chocolate with a nip of Grand marnier topped off the meal.

Not wanting to stress ourselves out too much day 3 involved a short hike over to Johnson Lake where we set up camp about 50 vertical ft above the water and quickly set out to fish.
Johnson Lake.jpg
Johnson Lake
The lakeshore was pretty shallow but where fishable 9-10” RB were willing strikers. But the inlet stream was amazing—filled with hundreds of getting ready to spawn rainbows—all in the same size range.

The next morning, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, dawned with an obvious change in the weather, cold overcast and blustery. We broke camp and headed up to Royal Arches Lake, a mere 1.5 miles away. After about a mile it began to spit snow and we met the first person of our trip other than ourselves. By the time we got to the lake it was snowing pretty hard and there were some substantial patches of the past winter’s snow as well. We quickly set up our tents and I blew up my Exped and got everything ready for an extended period in the tent. Before fishing I rounded up some dry wood and stashed it under a ledge. As expected we caught stunted brookies until the snowfall halted our desire to fish.

The next morning we were greeted with a winter wonderland maybe 4 inches but the poet mark utilizing his special license insists a foot!
Royal Arch.jpg
Royal Arch Lake
The weather was pretty miserable all day and the quality of the fish didn’t merit fishing so I took a few pics, read a lot, and trimmed a snagging fingernail and promptly dropped my knife with scissors open on my Exped but with no apparent damage. A couple of hours later I noticed the downmat was considerably deflated but I did not connect the loss of air to the dropped scissors until the next day when I checked the pad out in Buena Vista Lake and discovered a tiny pinhole right about where I dropped the knife. Later that evening at least one group of people joined us at Royal Arch. We helped them locate a suitable place to camp.

It was below 20° that night. Not fun but I survived to be greeted by bright sunshine the next morning, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. With much of the trail covered by both new and old snow we had to pay a little attention to stay on route.
Buena Vista Pass Trail.jpg
Buena Vista Pass Trail
But soon we met a couple then several more groups in succession, all cheery despite the past 2 days of inclimate weather or perhaps because of the delightful change in the weather. Arriving at Buena Vista lake there was one group camped about 100 yards down from the outlet. We looked for a sunny, high spot that was in the process of drying out. About the time we located a satisfactory site another, large group came up the trail from the north. They paused for a break and then moved on—the last people we would see until after getting back to the old 4 Runner. After setting up the tent my next task was to find and repair the leak. First dunk in the lake and the bubbles flowed! A couple minutes in the sun and the pad was dry. A small piece of duct tape and my featherbed was working again! Getting that taken care of allowed me to enjoy a little fishing and a pretty nice sunset.
Buena Vista Lake.jpg
Buena Vista Lake and Crest
Starr King and a few other notables.jpg
Starr King and a few other notables


To be continued .......

Mike



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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow--part 2!

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:37 pm

Memorial Day became our first significant off trail challenge of the trip, not long but challenging with steep slabs, talus, and deadfall from old fires to negotiate.
Enroute to Hoover.jpg
Enroute to Hoover
Beyond my comfort level but ....jpg
Beyond my comfort level, but later in the summer I wouldn't have paused
The western most of the Hoover Lakes was a pretty little lake.
West Hoover Lake.jpg
West Hoover Lake
The campsite near the outlet stream was nice. And the slabs and rocks nearby provided a great place to sip a daiquiri and contemplate the world.
Mark contemplating his good fortune.jpg
Mark contemplating his good fortune
Alas western Hoover was just another stunted brookie lake so fishing had little attraction.

Tuesday would prove to be the most challenging day for the two old farts. First we had to negotiate the ridge between western Hoover and the eastern Hoovers, really a nice hike up slabs. Then down to the eastern Hoovers surrounded by a damp lodgepole forest. From all the visible jumping fish it was clear that these, too, suffered from an overabundance of brookies. From the ridge we had just crossed it appeared that there was a negotiable breach in Buena Vista Crest so we headed in that direction.
Breach in Buena Vista Crest.jpg
Breach in Buena Vista Crest
Yes it went and so did we.
Near the top.jpg
Near the top
Then traversed east and crossed the saddle between Moraine Mt. and Buena Vista Crest and soon dropped down to the Merced Pass Trail, then down the trail to Moraine Meadows and finally up the Fernadez pass trail where we took the lateral over to Breeze lake, our destination for the next 2 nights. The last couple of miles was close to 90% snow cover.
Fernadez Pass Trail.jpg
Fernandez Pass Trail
My goal was to prove or disprove that there were brookies present at Breeze. After two evenings of scanning the lake from above or fishing and a day of fishing not a sign of a fish was visible. But it was a relaxing time.
Breeze from s.jpg
Breeze from the s, not a dimple!


Thursday was another short crosscountry hump—over the ridge and down to Chain Lakes where we had visions of plump rainbows and a great fish dinner for our last night. Well we fished our butts off (at least Mark because that is how he fishes, no joke, ask Russ!)
Mark fishing his butt off.jpg
mark fishing his butt off
and managed a couple of barely eatable size brookies—the rainbows were interested in sex and the brookies were selectively feeding on what appeared to be tiny black leaches. I stripped a fly down to almost a bare hook to catch my last fish.

Hiking out on June 1 we encountered our first mosquitoes of the trip and actually had to apply some repellant. Out by noon then dropped mark off at the Curry Orchard Parking lot and then hit the road. Gosh do I hate that trip up 99 and I-5.

So the good thing about a dry year is the extra trip I got in 2012. Many thanks to Troutdog59 for scouting out the trailheads for us! Now only 3 more trs for 2012.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby markskor » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:11 pm

Nice start to another grand adventure... with Mike and Mark.
Being as this TR is almost a year old now - surprised that Mike's memory still functions so well - (mine is shot)...He did have the camera though.

Another current thread talks about planning, food planning specifically, and all that other "before" detail chit that usually accompanies any 12-day, non-solo, Sierra adventure...off trail. We, (and by we I mean I), never do any pre-planning when backpacking with Mike - never have. Best to let him do all of the route itinerary, (well, let him is the wrong term too as whatever you say before the hike has absolutely no value at this point) ...He knows exactly where he wants to go, insists on leading, and amazingly, has never disappointed...Just thankful to be invited. Sure, he probably had mentioned where we were going somewhere along the line before the trip, but who ever listens to Mike. I just show up at the Curry Arch with a full backpack, all I really ever needed to know is how many days - Mike said 12 - thus I was responsible for 6 shared dinners, Mike the other six (add fish here), and breakfasts and lunches and everything else were up to each. This is the extent of "our" planning. BTW, we have always eaten and drank well, after we (actually I) decided to keep Mike out of the kitchen. FYI, We only carry one stove - my Windpro, and the rest of gear carried is as if we were both totally self-contained. This complex "pre-planning" system of ours has proven to work quite well.

Speaking of gear carried, when Mike and I compared our kits a few years back (at Edna where I first met the OldRanger - 27 miles in and he showed up - almost on time), we discovered we both carry quite similar set-ups: Western Mountaineering bags and vests, Bearikade Weekenders, Tilley Hats, Tarptents, and Z-Rays...Packs, Spinning rods and reels may differ slightly...only in name though - not in quality. We both somehow had evolved identical tastes in gear.

One great thing about hiking with Mike is that you never have had to worry about him being equipped for anything - He always comes ready and well-prepared. Snow, off-trail ledges, talus miles...We did it all well... styled it actually - (slowly?). BTW, Only on the trail will my opinion ever matter as we always hike together when off-trail and regularly confer on the best off-trail routes ahead - a great hiking team...He plans and I do all the cooking. This year am once again humbled by another invitation from the OldRanger...hopefully another month-long Sierra adventure.
I merely await how many days we will be out and what time to meet him at Curry. The rest seems to take care of itself.

Now lets wait for chapter three and we can all see/(and I can remember) what two ancient farts accomplished last summer... being old and slow.
Thanks Mike!
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby gary c. » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:56 pm

A very nice trip report and pictures for sure. I totally agree with Marks simplistic view of it all. A couple of like minded souls enjoying there time together in the Sierra. Fish, food, and friends in mountains, what more could you want.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby BakoGal » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:02 am

A fun read...thanks for sharing.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby maverick » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:59 am

Thanks Mike for the fun read, and looking forward to the other 3 TR's to come.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby rlown » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:57 am

A nice report. Thanks, Mike. Glad to see Mark is still laying down on the job. ;)

Mark, it's about time you plan a trip. I totally agree that it's best to keep Mike out of the kitchen. He's more a bartender.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby Scouter9 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:54 am

Great posting(s). I look forward to reading the upcoming TR's, also.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby SweetSierra » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:41 pm

i enjoyed reading your trip report. Do you have a photo of your route from Breeze to the upper Chain lakes? It sounds like it was easy. Was it? I've visited the Chain Lakes several times and Breeze once (beautiful lake!). From Fernandez Pass, I just glanced at the terrain west of Breeze and wondered about the route over to the lakes. We didn't stay right at Breeze Lake but went cross-country from the west end of the lake north down and down through some old horse camps in some beautiful meadows until we hit the Fernandez Pass trail again.

I look forward to the next trip reports!

I often look like Mark horizontal on the rock but without the fishing pole ;)
Last edited by SweetSierra on Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby markskor » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:42 pm

Breeze to the Chains?

We camped at the north end of Breeze – little bump –
From there mostly traversed west (little north),
Worked our way up and over the crest, passing a bit south of peak 9857 –
Then following the natural terrain southeast and down to the Chains, arriving about half way between Lake 2 & 3, passing east of 9344.
Took about an hour - POC.
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby oldranger » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:44 pm

SweetSierra

Mark is right that it is a piece of cake if done correctly. I've done the route 3 times now and both times from Breeze to Chain exactly the same. Go nw from Breeze along the obvious bench to about the 3rd little pond then head up and over the ridge at about the 9750 level or so. Then work your way s. alternately going downslope and traversing to your left. It is important not to drop into the drainage that goes into Lower Chain (you can do it but will get into a lot of talus) but head for the little puddle on the map that is just e. of the trail between middle and upper chain. Then head w. to the trail.

Oh I bought all the dinners (mark paid for his share) and mark supplemented them with a couple of packs of Tuna in case we didn't have enough fish to eat. (and they did come in handy). And it wasn't until the next trip that I was voted out of the kitchen!

Mike
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Re: Tr-May 2012 We may be old but we're slow!

Postby SweetSierra » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:57 pm

Thanks much, to the both of you.
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