TR: Yosemite Valley to Clover Meadow, July 2018

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TR: Yosemite Valley to Clover Meadow, July 2018

Post by esrice » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:28 pm

Backstory: This is the first leg of my solo trip from Yosemite Valley to Onion Valley. I left Yosemite via Fernandez Pass, intending to continue south on the JMT at Red's Meadow, but the trail over Granite Stairway was closed due to the Lions Fire, so I had to skip the 18 miles between Clover Meadow and Red's Meadow.

Day 1: Happy Isles to Clark Fork of Illilouette

Getting out of the valley is always brutal and crowded, but the going was easy once I crossed into the Illilouette drainage. Very hot. The area to the W and SW of Starr King is all burned, which means no shade, making the heat more unpleasant. Didn't see a single person after I left the Panorama Trail. Set up camp a few hundred feet from where the trail crosses the Clark Fork.

Aquilegia formosa
Lotus oblongifolius
Lilium parvum
Ptetospora andromedea

Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pinus lambertiana
Pinus jeffreyi
Calocedrus decurrens
Pinus ponderosa

Day 2: Clark Fork to Upper Merced Pass Lake
Pinus flexilis
Pinus contorta
Juniperus occidentalis

Castilleja applegatei
Erigeron peregrinus
Penstemon newberryi
Calochortus leichtlinii

Woman about my age, alone
Old man with grey beard
Man about my age
Two men and a woman, sunning on a rock next to illillouette Creek, from a distance
Man and a woman, looking for campsite near lake

Everyone today has given me distance, with nothing more than a friendly acknowledgement. And many traveling alone. I guess this is the place to come if you want to be alone. Somehow I feel surprised by both how many and how few people are here: many because I'm fifteen miles from a trailhead by the side of some random lake that isn't visible from the trail or marked on any signs, yet there are two others camping here. Few because I'm in one of the most popular parks in the country on a national holiday.

Camping by Upper Merced Pass Lake tonight. It barely registers on my map, but it seems so large from the shore. Lodgepoles all around, wildflowers, a granite cliff rising out. Couldn't ask for a prettier campsite. At 9,000 feet it's a lot cooler and windier, although maybe that's just the weather today. Had a hell of a time staking my tent but it has survived some very large gusts now over the course of an hour or so, so I think it's good now.

Day 3: Upper Merced Pass Lake to Breeze Lake
Triteleia ixioides
Dodecadon jeffreyi
Phyllodoce breweri

Mushroom: Neolentinus ponderosus
Humans: none!

Breeze Lake is beautiful beyond description. And I have the whole place to myself! Spent some time exploring around the lake. The area is a perfect illustration of the glacial geology explained by John Muir in Mountains of California, with a series of lakes, each one deeper as you follow the chain upstream. The mosquitoes are awful.

Day 4: Breeze Lake to Clover Meadow
No time for much naturalizing, but I did find Cassiope mertensiana at the pass. Such a great flower; no wonder it was Muir's favorite. The pass was beautiful, of course, with a view of the Minarets and a plume of smoke from the Lions Fire. Lovely meadows coming down the other side. Camped at Clover Meadow so I can talk to the ranger in the morning about whether the trails are open yet. A very kind lady at the campground gave me a tomato from her garden.

Day 5: Clover Meadow to Cora Lakes
The ranger said the trails may or may not open up on Monday, so I am going to Cora Lakes today, spending tomorrow hanging out there and resting, and then going back to the ranger station Monday morning to ask again.

Day 7:
Some trails opened this morning, but the one over Granite Stairway was still closed, so I hitchhiked into Oakhurst, took a bus back to Yosemite, and then took another to Mammoth Lakes, where I camped for the night and then picked up the JMT at Red's Meadow. Bummer.

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Re: TR: Yosemite Valley to Clover Meadow, July 2018

Post by justm » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:02 pm

wow, that was one of the best TR !!!, I love all the trees, flowers , mushrooms and especially human encounter report !! Really like this , thanks for sharing !!

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Re: TR: Yosemite Valley to Clover Meadow, July 2018

Post by oldhikerQ » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:37 am

Nice trip report. Thanks for sharing.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

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Re: TR: Yosemite Valley to Clover Meadow, July 2018

Post by Harlen » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:55 am

esrice wrote:
but I did find Cassiope mertensiana at the pass. Such a great flower; no wonder it was Muir's favorite.

Nice trip, and trip report. Thanks for posting it. We really love the black and white photo of the view southeast with the Ritter Range/Minerets in the distance. We hope he rest of your trips toward Onion Valley will appear soon. Thanks again.
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