TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

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TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by dapperdave » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:48 am


After gleaning much inspiration and information from all the fine folks on this forum over the past years it's really about time for me to start writing up some of the trips that have resulted.


Uneventful Journey, planes on time, we managed to pre-book exit-row seats upstairs on the BA A380, so had about 5 feet of leg room :D
Arrived at LAX 1915 local time so about 3 in the morning for our bodyclocks. immigration seems to have be a bit quicker since the touchscreen machines have been installed at LAX. Usual conversation with CBP agent about Imported food (for information they are OK with dried backpacking food as long as there is no Beef) Shuttle straight to an airport hotel then sleep.

21 Oct: LAX - Tulare

Rose early, walked from hotel to Hertz lot to pick up our rental car at 6am, drove to a hotel in Tulare via REI Northridge and a Grocery Store, packed Bear canister and packs ready for the next day.

22nd Oct: Tulare - Roads End - North of Granite Pass ~11miles +5000ft

Got up Early for the Drive to Roads End, passed through smoke from a forest fire somewhere near Grant Grove. Self-registered for permit, started on the trail about 9 am. It was cold at the trailhead, but once we got moving and into the sun we were comfortable in T-shirts and Shorts making good time up the Copper Creek Trail, saw a couple just getting up at Lower Tent meadow; they were only people we saw until hitting dayhikers on the last day.
The stream at Upper Tent meadow still had good flow, even this late in a drought season, we had a pleasant late lunch on the dried meadows in Granite Basin then headed over Granite Pass at about 3.30, had dinner then cowboy camped in the woods a little while later as jet lag started to hit. Weather was beautiful all day.
23rd Oct: To Tehipite Valley ~20 miles -6000ft

Pleasant walking through the woods, only filtered about a litre of water at East Fork Dougherty, which was a mistake. Perhaps because of this, the descent to Simpson Meadow seemed interminable, but we eventually reached the Middle-Fork and had a good hour bathing, eating and drinking. The crossing was easy, but not totally dry-feet, we boulder-hopped all but a 5-foot wide, thigh-deep section.
I had happened to find out that there was to be a partial Solar eclipse this afternoon and sure enough it started getting a bit darker as we descended the valley. Capturing an image took a bit of trial and error, without a strong ND filter at hand, this was about as good as I could manage, the "bite" can only be seen in what I assume must be a double reflection of the sun.
It soon became apparent that if we were to make it to Tehipite that night we would need to hike in the dark. I'd just bought a new Fenix HL50 headtorch and was very impressed, Claire used our old Petzl Zipka+ and there was really no comparison, the technology has advanced tremendously in the past few years.
The trail was faint, more an absence of vegetation rather than presence of foot traffic, at times it felt like we were "Using the Force" but we never lost our way.
As we got lower, it became warmer and there were a few black flies but they didn't bite.
At one point, Claire was leading the way, she rounded a boulder then heard loud crashing off to the left of the trail, she froze and grabbed me as I nearly walked into her. "It'll be a deer", I said confidently and upped my headlamp to full power to show her, two big forward facing eyes shone back at me :bear: :whistle: I'd guess it was about 25 feet away, but it made a swift exit.
It was about 9pm when we reached the Eastern end of Tehipite Valley, we camped on the first flat bit of ground we encountered, had a couple of bars for dinner and went straight to bed.

24th October: Tehipite Valley to NF Kings above Simpson Meadow ~12.5 miles +2500ft

We woke to our first views of the valley and were frankly a little disappointed, it's a little wooded and closed in for our tastes, but still I can imagine it's a nice place to hang out, fish and explore if that's your thing. We wandered down to the Silver Spray falls which were predictably feeble and had last nights planned dinner for breakfast, hung around for a bit watching the sunlight creep down Tehipite Dome.
After a while we started back up the valley, it didn't take too long for it to get hot, without a breeze, the black flies soon started to annoy.
The trail makes lots of little ups and downs, moving away from and then closer to the river; eventually we made our way to Simpson Meadow, crossing at a wide shallow point at the Northern end, walked a little further and camped near the confluence with Goddard Creek.

25th October: Goddard/Kings to Palisade Lakes ~15 miles +5000ft

Continuing up the valley, things soon became much more open and scenic than the previous day's forested trudge.
Just before Devil's Washbowl, we spied a bear on the opposite bank, who, on seeing us dashed up a rockfan and into some trees at quite a speed, too fast to get a decent pic.

Devil's Washbowl itself is beautifully situated, it must be a special place during the spring runoff.
We passed many examples of seasonal colour.
During the day a breeze began to pick up, but the skies remained bluebird, so thoughts of weather-related bail-out remained just that.
Soon we approached the JMT, rock-hopping across low-flowing Palisade Creek. I wonder if the bridge here will ever be replaced?
We turned right and headed past Deer Meadow to the "Golden Staircase" it was nice to have one of the most scenic sections of the JMT completely to ourselves.
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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by dapperdave » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:03 am

Part 2
As we approached the top of the climb, the wind got stronger and colder, needing a hat,gloves and another layer to avoid becoming too chilled.
We camped near the JMT overlooking Palisade Lakes, finding shelter from the, by now, 40 mph winds in a patch of Krummholz. A rock windscreen was necessary to enable efficient boiling.
As the sun set, it became clear we were in for a cold one, all clothing bar WP shells was donned and we huddled into our 10F EE Accomplice twin quilt: Soon, the wind died right down.
My watch has a Temperature sensor so I left it outside the quilt to monitor how cold it got, the lowest I observed was -10C (about 15F). We were glad we had bought the 10F quilt, feeling pretty comfortable under the moonless Sierra starshow.

26th October Palisade Lakes to Woods Creek Falls ~19 miles +3000 -5000 ft

The day dawned frostily.
We managed to coax a slow boil from our (non-inverted) canister stove for a cup of coffee and breakfast, then kept our down jackets on for the shady walk up Mather Pass. Winter's attempts to reclaim the mountains had already begun.
As we topped the pass we came out of the shade, but the low sun did little to counteract the altitude and previous night's chill.
The JMT through Upper Basin is straight and flat, giving ample opportunity to take in the views of Prater, Split, Vennacher and the picturesque tarns along the way; It also holds a good footprint, which lead me to wonder whether mine would be covered by snow before they were obliterated by other hikers.
Dropping into the small trees, Deer and Chipmunks were active, making the most of it the dried vegetation before winter forced them into hibernation or down to lower altitude.
The descent from Mather soon became the ascent of Pinchot which we crested at about 3.30pm, opening up a view of the next basin, Mt Cedric Wright prominent.
As the sun descended so did we, camping at the heavily impacted site at Woods Creek Falls.

27th October - Woods Creek Falls to Roads End ~15 miles -5000 ft

We woke before dawn and decided to walk for a couple of hours by headtorch. It remained a few degrees below freezing until we reached the switchbacks above Mist Falls at about 1130, rapidly warming over the next hour, allowing a dip in Woods Creek to wash off the worst of the trail grime. at about 1pm we passed the first day-hikers, then reached the trailhead at about 2pm.

Route ... /k057/k093
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Last edited by dapperdave on Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by sekihiker » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:55 am

Wow. Great report for a bold trip. Exceptional photos. Thanks.

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by gary c. » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:18 am

Very nice, thanks for posting.
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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:53 am

Lots of miles walked considering the short days. Devils bathtub looked like a great swimming hole for a late afternoon on a hot summer's day. Were there any places to camp nearby? I was hoping you would say that there were no black flies in Tehipite Valley since it was so late in the season. :( I guess it really does not matter what time of year, little buggers still there. Did you see any fish in the river?

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by maverick » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:23 pm

Great trip and pictures Dave! You caught some good Fall color at Upper Tent, surprised the Castle Domes
area was not glowing, though it looks like it may have been 2 weeks past its prime. Good shot of the Devil's
Washbowl, haven't been there when the water is that low only during run-off, which was quite a show to
How many hours can you get out of you Fenix HL50 headtorch? Is it pretty well constructed? What else about
it impressed you Dave?
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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by LMBSGV » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:35 pm

Thanks for posting. You hiked impressive miles every day--oh, to be that young again. As Maverick, I loved the fall colors photos.

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by ofuros » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:46 pm

Enjoyed your trip report & beautiful pics, dapperdave. :thumbsup:

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by hurricaniac » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:26 pm

Tehipite and Waterfall Gorge on the MFK are in a class by themselves. You are one of the chosen few to have travelled those steps. I loved your photos and especially getting to see the late season conditions that most of us can't get to.

PS - I caught two goldens out of the devils washbowl last summer ;-)

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Re: TR: Tehipite from Roads End - Oct. 22nd-27th 2014

Post by limpingcrab » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:42 pm

Awesome! Thanks for sharing! Too bad you were let down by Tehipite. :( I'm one of the oddballs who likes the old, intimate, dense forests... Beautiful in their own way even though the high meadows are nice as well.

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