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Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

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Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby artrock23 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:45 am

I'm planning to climb Mt. Lyell soon, and will approach from Silver Lake on the Rush Creek Trail.
Tentatively, i'd like to camp at Donohue Pass, or thereabouts. For this trip, my pack will weigh around 40-45lbs, and i'm in moderately decent hiking shape.

Should I aim to hike the entire distance (to Donohue Pass) in one day, or do it in two? Last year, I hiked in to Alger Lakes in one day, and was exhausted (and only made it there minutes before a mother of a storm hit). Suggestions?



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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:14 am

I climbed Mt Lyell from Rush Creek with the CMC years ago. We made a base camp at the 10,200 foot level south of Donohue Pass. We had a variety of folks, our pace was moderate, and we made it to camp mid afternoon. Just be sure to get an early start to beat the heat. You can also camp at 10,200 on the Marie Lakes trail. From there you can easily go x-country over the saddle to the north and then contour to Donohue Pass. We climbed Mt. Lyell and McClure in a day from our base camp. Next day we walked out. We went over Donohue Pass and climbed from the north side of Mt Lyell. I assume this is also your planned route. I think you can also climb from Marie Lake, but it is a harder climb.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby cgundersen » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:40 pm

artrock,
It may not be a big deal yet, but my wife $& I did a trip last September via the Rush Creek trailhead and the entire stretch up to Waugh Lake was, pardon my crudeness, a shithole. The amount of dung from the packtrains seared our nose the entire way. It was not pretty. Frankly, the high trail out of Agnew meadows is so much nicer and so much prettier that it's worth the small expense of going in that way. Getting to Donahue will be a long schlep either way, so definitely follow Daisy's advice and get an early start. Just as a fyi: the little lakes to the south of Donahue (maybe a quarter mile off trail), just before you reach the pass are surprisingly untrammeled, so either way you go, they're an option for night 1.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:45 pm

Hi Art

Agree with Cg that the Waugh stretch is not the most scenic in that area but if
that's not a major issue for you than just get a very early start and you should be
able to make it. Marie and especially Davis Lakes make nice areas to stay at just
in case you don't make it.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:16 pm

Save yourself time and energy and take the tram!

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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby John Dittli » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:39 pm

LOL cg, I'm glad I'm not the only one. After getting stuck in a "Pack Train Sandwich" down in the gorge, my wife and I vowed to never hike that trail again (at least not in the summer). It has to be one of the worst on the eastside.

But that aside, if you were "worked" getting to Alger, you will probably be equally worked if you push all the way to Donahue (that trail always seems further than the miles on the map). If you can take two days, why not use a nicer approach?

Which route (on Lyell) are you considering?
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:42 pm

I have been up from Rush Creek twice, both early season (used this trailhead because Tioga Road had not yet opened), and I thought the route was scenic and nice. Never met horses. In fact nobody was using that trail at all. The campsite I referred to at 10,200 are the numerous ponds that someone else mentioned. They are 2 miles and 900 feet short of Donohue Pass so fairly reasonable to reach in a day from the Rush Creek trailhead. I used the ones on Rush Creek, just off the Marie Lake trail. Actually went up Rush Creek and did not use the trail.

Going in from Tuolumne Meadows is definitely easier - not sure I would use Rush Creek to climb Lyell once Tioga Road opened. Only reason I can see is if I had a dog because dogs are legal going in Rush Creek and not going in Tuolumne. Or, if I could not get a permit to go in Tioga. Since YARTS is operating, you could even go in from Tuolumne and then go out to Rush Creek (or visa versa) and not repeat miles. I think it is only $7 to take the bus between the two trailheads.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby artrock23 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:19 pm

Thanks for the suggestions and comments, all of you.

John Dittli wrote:... if you were "worked" getting to Alger, you will probably be equally worked if you push all the way to Donahue (that trail always seems further than the miles on the map). If you can take two days, why not use a nicer approach?

Which route (on Lyell) are you considering?


Last year, my Alger Lakes trip (with a day hike/climb of Koip Pk. and Kuna Pk.) was my only Sierra trip :o . This year, i've been doing a trip every month since April, so i'm hoping i'll be in better shape than on that excursion! Anyway, yes, the pack trains were a drag, especially hiking in on a hot day. Even with a 7:30 start, it was in the upper 80s at Gem Lake by 10am.

My route, as WD correctly guessed, will be the approach from just below (West) of Donohue Pass, crossing Lyell Glacier, then a short climb up class 3 rock (wherever it looks good and where crossing the bergschrund isn't too risky) to the summit plateau. I'm hoping that by the end of July the snow should be a lot firmer than it is now.

Wandering Daisy wrote:Going in from Tuolumne Meadows is definitely easier - not sure I would use Rush Creek to climb Lyell once Tioga Road opened. Only reason I can see is if I had a dog because dogs are legal going in Rush Creek and not going in Tuolumne. Or, if I could not get a permit to go in Tioga. Since YARTS is operating, you could even go in from Tuolumne and then go out to Rush Creek (or visa versa) and not repeat miles. I think it is only $7 to take the bus between the two trailheads.


I haven't done a hike from the West side of the range since the late 70s... guess i've gotten into a routine. The drive from OC through Owens Valley is agreeable, and I love Bishop (I have some friends there, too). Looking at the Eastern range and all the peaks while driving is really inspiring, as well, since most of my trips are solo. Thanks for the suggestion, though (and the info in your other post)... one of these days, I need to plan an approach from the Yosemite side.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby John Dittli » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:27 am

By no means trying to diswade you from Rush Creek. I hiked it the last two Januarys and didn't see any horses up there :) Once you're past the trams, dams and bathtub rings it becomes quite nice! The upper Rush Creek drainages hold some fantastic secrets both on and off the JMT.
038_442_645LS.jpg


Others have recommended the fantastic camping to be found south of the Pass, indeed one of the unheralded highlights of the JMT. If you do make it to the pass, there are incredible camps on benches to the north east of the trail with spectacular views of your objective.
086_301_D1A.jpg
view from northeast of pass


If you do ever decide on a "west side" approach, the Dana Fork over Helen Lake pass is one of the more direct, scenic routes in there. A high elevation start with a nice mix of trail and XC and lacking the human "touch" of Rush Creek.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby longri » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:26 am

I had an opposite sort of routine when I first climbed Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. Instead of a seemingly more logical east side approach I started from Tuolumne, mainly because it was a shorter drive.

You'll walk a little further and probably do twice the elevation going in from Rush Creek, but Lyell Canyon gets kind of boring. So flat. So long. So many JMT and PCT hikers. I'm falling asleep just imagining it. I've only hiked out of Rush Creek two or three times, most recently on a July 4th weekend a few years ago. I don't remember there being that much horse poop. Maybe I got there early enough in the summer to miss it.

Another alternative for a Rush Creek approach is to camp at Marie Lakes and climb Lyell via its east ridge. It's a really good climb but somewhat harder than the standard glacier approach, which itself is a good climb. You really can't go too wrong.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby John Dittli » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:35 pm

Lyell Canyon has it's "moments", but a pretty place none the less. But ya, that's why I usually take the Dana Fork.

As far as climbing from Marie Lakes; once you reach the col just east of Lyell's summit (base of east ridge route) it is a very easy traverse around to the standard route. I did that exact line a year ago last May (it's better skiing than the East Ridge :) ).

Ops, sorry Longri, I got you confused with the OP.....
Last edited by John Dittli on Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip advice: Donohue Pass from Silver Lake (Rush Creek Trail

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:51 pm

I should also clarify that when we did the Rush Creek trail and were passed by those guys on the tram, we did not see many horses or their leavings...

And we had a great trip
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