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#7821 - 09/26/10 09:38 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Leaving Pioneer Basin I couldn't help but feel the weather was shifting as the last two days had not had a single cloud in the sky yet it was very windy and the mornings were extra cold with an outrageous amount of frost everywhere...

Climbing Mono Pass I stopped by the snow survey cabin and I couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed by the whole wilderness act since there is so much drama about removing bear boxes and I cannot use a wheel barrel on trail work despite the fact that the wheel has been around a hell of allot longer then say Loppers! and it does not disturb wild life but nooo can't use it yet here is this cabin and how is it not illegal under the wilderness act? The "act" says exceptions can be made when it benefits the wilderness such as pit toilets in heavy use areas yet how does studying what the snow level is "help" the "wilderness"?

Nearing the top of the pass I tried to get information out of people on Rock Creek Resort to know if I was wasting my time or if great things were waiting there but sadly no one knew, a stock packer out of the pack station just up the road had no idea either, I guess working just down the road from the only store just isn't enough to have a clue right? Finally one guy knew that yes they have fuel and yes they had "some" food including great pie so "yes!" I thought as I trudged down the trail.

Crossing Mono Pass and beginning down to the amazing beauty of Little Lakes Valley I had forgotten just how beautiful this valley is! One woman said I was radiant with positive energy and well why not? I enjoyed the view of Mt. Morgan and thinking back to when I lost my trekking pole trying to climb it in 2008.

Reaching the trail head I probably could have hitched a ride yet I just made the walk down the road which wasn't more then 2 miles or so and I reached the Pie In The Sky Cafe. grin It did not offer more than a simple store and the only food served was 3 types of burgers, chili and need I say PIE!! lots of pie! If any of you have ever seen the movie "Waitress" then you have found the place! So after eating a good meal, chatting with wonderful people and getting a ride to the Rock Creek Lake Campground I was able to close a good day in the chaos of a campground surrounded by people "trying" to have a wilderness experience. [In the background is the noise of a father and his two kids trying to make a fire out of charcoal to cook dinner. "Father: It just wont burn!?" dumping fuel after fuel on it and frustrated by failure until I finally walk over "Me: It's charcoal, it's not supposed to burn like wood it's supposed to simmer into hot coals" "Father: oh..."]

[While I took a shower at the resort, Man: F%&#ING PEOPLE!!! AARRGGG!!!! Me coming out of the shower: What's the problem? Man: SOMEONE STOLE MY F$%&ING BOOTS!!!!! THEY EVEN TOOK MY FILTHY SOCKS I HIKED IN ALL DAY!!! Me: 0_o]

Before hitting the trail I downed some drinks, filled my water bottles with gatorade, put 3 cans of Pepsi in my pack, 1 full bag of chips and some heavy flavored tuna spreads for lunch, mmmm! today will be a good day! laugh

Back up the road and onto the trail to the easy and beautiful world of Little Lakes Valley. Crossing Morgan Pass I was enthralled with the entire nature of this area, from it's unique geological features to the impressive mining operations conducted here. Reaching the Pine Creek Mine Shaft I found that it had been filled in yet air was flowing so hard from between the rocks it sounded like water roaring inside and I could feel the cold air coming out, as I understand this mine goes 8000 feet into the mountain and I think it would not be that hard to make a hole big enough to get your body through with the use of a pick mattock so if you see one on my pack in the area you know what the story is. whistle

After spending the night behind the parking lot of Pine Creek Trail Head I awake to see clouds forming early thinking "here it comes that I have been expecting for the last 3 days".

Climbing up I finally reached Brownstone Mine which I had been keeping an eye out for and I take the hard way up the scree to the mess which is not necessary if you ever go there, the mine will be up on your left but stay on the trail for a switch back or two and you will be fine.

My first goal was a door in the side of the hill that read "Danger Explosives" and I thought this might be an entrance into the mine but after a difficult class 5 move to get to the door I only found a small room in the rock so climbing back down I approach the collapsed structure of wood and thinking this is the primary mine shaft so I work my way in appreciating the nature of this complex as I reach the motor room for the lift system, I decided to leave my camera here as I did not have a flash and thought it was pointless to bring it in.

Beginning in I see that the room is flooded and oil is floating around on the water, some where in the back I hear water flowing so navigating boards on the floor I manage to reach the back of the room but all I see is where the water is flowing in and I take in the history around me thinking this was the end of the line but then above me a ladder leading up is on a wood structure about 6 feet off the ground and at first I thought no way I can't get to it but my sense of adventure took over and I thought "hell with it I am crazy, lets do it" so taking a moment to look I began making a difficult maneuver onto the 6X6 board and crawl on my knees trying not to hit my head getting to the ladder. I tried to pull the ladder down and checked the wood closely and decided it was safe so up I went through the shaft just big enough for my body and out I came into a huge room where the ceiling was probably 30 feet up with a set of ladders going up to a hole leading outside and I was so amazed by this room alone before I learned of the main shaft leading further into the mountain as far as I could see. As I moved down the shaft it was also flooded and required you stay close to the wall and make use of rocks and boards possibly placed by other people visiting the mine and I reach a junction with both directions going as far as I could see, at this junction was an electrical box, "wow! I thought" "this place was big enough for power!?".

Cold air was flowing from the shaft on the right so I decided to take it first and it did not go very far before the shaft branched in 3 directions including a 4th vertical direction! I stopped and glanced around as strange noises bounced from the mine shafts, man! I thought... this is no place for the faint of heart, alone in a pitch black mine with my flashlight. Water was flowing from one shaft and re-entering the ground in another. Moving down a shaft the mine went on and on with water coming from the ceiling and my breath could clearly be seen on the air with my flashlight, rusted pipes hanged from every tunnel and finally I reached another branch leading into a medium sized room filled with junk and a ladder was going up into another shaft which I decided not to climb. Turning to Resume down the other shaft BAAMM!!! AAARRRGG!!! "ouch my head!" as it smashed into a low hanging pipe leaving a rust stain on my hat for the rest of the trip.

I reach what looked like a small dam structure to hold back all the water that was flowing from the ceiling and a ladder was placed on it going into the water. Along it I walked until the water was so deep the ladder was under it, I high beamed my light around trying to assess the chambers ahead and if it was worth all the risk I was taking, the risk of getting wet that is. With carefull and risky manuevering one may be able to enter this chamber without getting wet but I decided it was not worth it so back I went aways to explore other shafts.

Reaching one I was convinced it led out to where I said 3 tunnels branched but as I went in the tunnel was too flooded to pass...Or? at least I think it is... "Is that rock under water?" hmmmm, SPLASH! Yes, yes it is. Back I go!

I back tracked to the chamber start where I said 3 branching and one vertical shaft which had a ladder. Testing the Ladder yet again it was safe so I took it up to a set of ladders running at about 45 degrees to another vertical ladder so up I go but when I got to the vertical shaft I shined my light up and all there was as far as I could see was more vertical ladders so I decided I didn't really want to do that much climbing right now and back tracked to the electrical box. The air here was sucking down the last shaft I had not been down so off I went and it was not that long of a walk before I reached a large room with a reinforced ceiling of netting. This room appeared to be a bathroom and or a recreation room of some sort. Across the room I hear sound and the air is flowing heavy so I walk over and holy shit! in the floor going straight down is a hole perfectly round about 6 to 8 feet wide. Clearly some sort of drill hole since it was perfect but I could see no light at all and my flashlight could not even come close to seeing the bottom. So I pick up a rock and throw it in, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, KNOCK.....KNOCK......KNOCK......knock.......knock as if the hole was curving as it went down and after about 15 seconds I hear BOOOOOOOM!!!! "holy crap I thought! mines of moria!!" "Pippin you fool! throw yourself in next time!".

This room could be camped in and there is even a spot where you could light a fire in the mine and all the smoke would just suck straight out this hole.

At this point I had been in the mine for over an hour and I had not even explored it all but it was time to go so back tracking out and down the starting ladder I approach the blinding white light of the outside and think wow!! that was awesome!!! best mine I had ever been in! I will have go back there some time and explore the rest!

For those of you scared of mines this mine is very safe, the tunnels are solid granite, the air is clean with constant fresh air flowing through the shafts and I didn't see any sign that rats, bats or mice were living in it as the chambers were clean.

Resuming the trail I finished the 4000 foot slog up and over Pine Creek Pass and down to Hutchinson Meadow and by the time I got there I was beat. I stayed at the packers camp and thought what is that smell?, well I soon found it as there was a dead mule by my camp and if that was not bad enough the winged demons were horrible!!! I had not had bad mosquitoes in about 3 weeks and now I had hundreds on my tent as I ate dinner hiding from the freaks. Crap camp, crap dinner, good day. =P


Edited by RoguePhotonic (09/27/10 12:37 AM)
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#7828 - 09/26/10 11:35 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
I once explored a gold mine like that near Sonora. Had a hole like you described hundreds of feet straight down, too. The place has since been completely strip-mined for the gold.

I don't think I'd want to go into a place like that all alone, though. What an adventure!

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#7883 - 09/28/10 02:21 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Waking up to a cold morning I find the winged demons already up waiting for some morning breakfast. Disgusted by their assaults and considering the easy hike ahead of me to the Muir Trail Ranch I decide to skip breakfast and hit the trail.

About a half mile down the trail yet again a foul stink hits my nose and a find a dead horse laying just off the trail that a bear had been eating on. "What the hell is with this canyon!?" I thought and moved on before the intoxicating stench of this thing makes me gag anymore.

Picking some Currants as my morning breakfast I move on into what can only be called a horrible trail. Hot, exposed, dry and rocky! I mean the type of rocky where I become pissed off and wish I had a Mccloud to rake the damn things off the trail! This was not a consequence of terrain no! This was someones bright idea before my time to control erosion. All you JMT hikers know the spots. Dropping off or climbing Silver Pass near the VVR junction, the area where you leave or enter Kings Canyon to the north, yes that sort of trail! Thankfully it was not that many miles of it and I once again found myself talking to hikers on the trail for over 30 minutes as they got high and offered me some. I don't smoke or drink myself and I cannot count how many times I was offered weed or alcohol on the trail! I always would give the standard response of "I am sure that is gold to most hikers but not for me"

As I rejoined the JMT and began toward the ranch my GPS had a notation for the Muir Trail Cabin and I had no idea what it was and had not seen it last year on the trail so I went out to it. The door had been closed and was not easy to open but over all it's in good shape and it's quite interesting some of the markings on the wall from hikers doing the trail in 1930!

The Ranch was it's typical self with very tired hikers around.

Sharing the Blayney Hotsprings with a hand full of hikers it was becoming more comical and a bit strange sharing my hike with people. [Me: How long have you been out for? Woman: 4 days, you? Me: 40 days... Woman: 0_0 40 days!!!!?]

You begin to become like a celebrity and an inspiration to people which is an odd sort of feeling, then of course others call you crazy and truly mean it but as a Russian man I talked to on top of Glen Pass said "I no longer talk to those sorts of people, their hearts are not open".

Resuming South on the JMT was mostly uneventful until I was just below the switch backs leading up into Evolution Valley when a cut root hanging into the trail hooked my ankle and began to trip me, as I stumbled to regain my balance it was still caught on me and took me firmly to the ground BAM! Nice... cut knee, ripped shirt, trail crew bastards I thought lol as that is exactly what you don't want to leave when doing trail work!

Evolution Valley was it's typical beautiful self but McClure Meadow was just packed with people! almost no place to camp at all!

Waking up at McClure Meadow I could see the clouds were already forming very heavy which is never a good thing. I began to wonder if I was going to have a repeat of last year being stuck in a lightning storm climbing Muir Pass but it never did anything, high winds and solid clouds all day but not a single rumble of thunder or a drop of rain.

What can you say about Evolution Basin other than beautiful? Evolution Lake, Sapphire Lake both beautiful!

I'll have to get back to more later as I need to go.


Edited by RoguePhotonic (09/28/10 02:24 PM)
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#7930 - 09/30/10 05:11 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I have to say that while I passed Wanda Lake those flies that stay along the shore and like bushes or trees were the worst I had seen on this trip! I'm sure you all know what I mean when you walk along and have to cover your mouth and nose so you don't breath them in but this was worse! As I moved along fast trying to pass through the clouds they of course followed along with me and then the way turned black with the bastards and my whole body was covered in them! I suppose it would have made a good photo.

For weeks I had debated on staying in the Muir Hut as a way to burn an extra day while on this section and I finally had made the decision to and on this very cold and very windy day it was perfect for a comfortable night but to my dismay and surprise there was no one in it and other then a couple hikers that came by I had the place to myself which was too bad for all the poor bastards that said they were headed for Wanda Lake for the night. Nearing sunset I quickly realised this was a very special place to be at this moment in time as the beautiful landscape seemed to change instantly. One moment the clouds were gray then the next they were a solid blue! I thought to myself wouldn't it be cool if the sun dropped down below the cloud layer and lit up everything? And then as it went down it did just that! All my attempts to capture this special sunset was pointless because the images aren't anything compared to being there.

I was expecting snow but it never happened and the clouds cleared up at about 4am.

Dropping off Muir Pass and into the beauty of Leconte Canyon I wanted to stop in and talk to the Rangers there since I had spoken to them last year and I was lucky enough to have them be home at the station and they informed me of another crew camp at the Pine Creek Junction where I had planned to camp so after getting set up and fording the river I found their camp and spent some time with them once again getting fed fruit, soup and walking away with a big steak for dinner. grin

I never go to the crew camps expecting to get fed but at this point I hoped lol.

The hike to Palisade Lakes was uneventful and easy other than the Golden Stair Case in the heat of the day but as I got to the Lakes I had already calculated being short on food so this night I just caught fish to eat. Fishing in Palisade Lakes is a joke! You can catch them at any time of the day from any location on the lakes. It got to the point where I would walk along the shore looking for the big ones and when I found them I would throw right out to them and I had them.

Blah I wanted to write more and finish this up but I have to go again!
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#7965 - 10/01/10 03:50 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for continuing the travelogue, RP.

I saw those fish in Palisade Lake, too. Wished I had a pole. What did you use for bait?

Fish in Palisade Lake


JMT Trip report 2008   Pictures.

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#7966 - 10/01/10 03:58 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: Steve C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 981
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
"Lost 40 pounds of body weight"

I'd like to hear more about that impressive figure.

meaning, some details or thoughts on: hunger, lack of hunger, toning up, wearing out, appearance before, appearance after, would you have done anything differently? .....etc

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#7997 - 10/02/10 02:50 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I just used spinners, Steve. The gold ones work best. I had one that was black with a couple red spots on it with a gold spinner and they loved it!

As for the weight loss I was never hungry in terms that I did not have enough food. I learned last year how to do it better and my typical days were something like: Eat dry bad for your kids cereal for breakfast such as Coco Pebbles and I would eat half a bag a day so 1 box was for 2 days. Lunch varied depending on where I was but most typically was crackers and peanut butter, a beef and cheese stick, beef jerky, corn nuts and flavored drinks. Dinner could be a single serving Hawk Vittles meal or Ramen & mashed potatoes mixed, sometimes Pasta Sides with Tuna dumped in it (my favorite) and then cookies for desert. I have no idea how many calories I was eating a day but it wasn't enough of course!

Some important details is I was very out of shape when I began this trip and I was up to 245 pounds which was the heaviest I have ever been! So I had lots of room for weight loss and I still consider myself over weight for being 40 pounds lighter! Last year I was only eating 1500 calories and I felt it big time and often had a lot of trouble climbing those switch backs because of the lack of energy but I never had that problem this time.

As for appearance I do have some shots from day one on the trip but I didn't get a shot on the last day! And looking through my photos the last decent shot of me was on Mt. Barnard which was day 55 so that still left over 2 more weeks of the trip. I certainly notice looking at pictures from day one how chubby I look in my face and everything else and now I am not lol.

As for doing anything differently not really, I have now better defined what is good and not so good with food and I have more ideas for things to bring but generally I did ok this year and only the meal of eating Salami, Cheese and Tortillas I feel like I no longer want to get again but I was already getting burned out on that before I took it for lunch the first 10 days. Last year what I ate left me never wanting it again and I haven't eaten it since.

And by the end I did feel really in shape. Unless it was 3000 feet or more of climbing for the day I didn't think it was anything. I did have a couple problems with my feet here and there but no blisters and nothing that kept me from continuing.

My upper back was having bits of pain by the end mostly because of leaving Horseshoe Meadows with 12 days worth of food on my back then 3 cans of Pepsi and a full bag of chips!
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#8070 - 10/04/10 09:58 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
So Leaving Palisade Lakes was a mostly uneventful string of days leading from one beauitful place to the next, Upper Basin, Lake Majorie, Pinchot Pass, Crater Mountain, Fin Dome, Arrowhead Lake, Rae Lakes etc.

Once again I tried to stop in and say hi to the Rae Lakes Ranger but no one was home. Oddly enough I ran into the Rae Lakes Ranger later that day on the high road above Onion Valley so we got to chat anyway.

Reaching the Onion Valley Trail head I got a site and David arrives ready or should I say not ready to join the hike for 9 days. A cold front of some kind was beginning to pass through and it was getting colder then it had been on the whole trip yet he had no jacket, no tent, no sun screen, no chapstick, one day short on food and had done nothing at all to prepare for this hike. He said "I am not prepared for cold weather". It's September and your not prepared for cold weather!? Now none of this was anything special but just David.

Starting out I tell him I will wait for him on the top of the pass and I had a nice time with tons of wonderful people as I wait 3 hours on top for him to get up there! Kearsarge Lakes that night had a peaceful sort of nature as a Pika and I watched the storm rolling in with fog coming off the lake due to the extreme cold. Snow was expected but never happened.

The next day I began to realise how much nicer it can be to hike alone as his pace was too slow for me and he stopped for breaks allot to smoke cigarettes and then I would see him flick the thing off into a creek! mad While eating lunch a man in Bubbs Creek told us he was in the area looking for Yeti. Yes that's right a Yeti which he claimed he saw two different years in the area. I don't like to doubt people but he was the classic image of a guy that did too much LSD. I'm sure he saw something...

While climbing Forester Pass I passed by the trail crew coming back from work but none of them had any interest in talking at all, it was a 17 CCC + 3 Park Service crew which by far was the largest I had seen! Waiting only an hour and a half on top for David we begin our trek down to below Mt. Tyndall but as we moved cross country David catches up saying he does not want to climb it because his feet would be destroyed since they were already hurting him. I should have said he can wait at the bottom for me while I climb it but we just decide to head for Tyndall Creek for the night which put us one day ahead of schedule and made his trip 8 days instead.

Passing the Big Horn Oasis as I call it we bail off and go cross country to Wallace Lake managing to follow the trail most of the way. If you stay sharp there is a trail you can follow all the way from Wallace Creek to Wallace Lake.

The trip for me was very easy but David's feet were killing him and he was moving very slowly. Reaching the Lake it offered very little for camping but was a nice isolated location to stay for two days. Looking up I saw Mt. Barnard and it was just calling my name and it looked easy to climb so I decided to go up it the next day alone as David certainly did not want to.

Now I hate to broadcast this over the net but it's the whole reason we came to this lake, Wallace Lake has fish, big fish! 20 inch Golden Trout as I had been told and we were here to put that to the test. So mid day using a lure I had not caught a single fish on I go to the outlet to try my luck and the second cast I catch a nice fat Rainbow Trout that was bigger than any fish I had caught in the Sierra so yes it is very good! David had the most pathetic little pole he bought for 15 dollars but it managed to pull in fish nearly as big as itself lol. Even the smallest ones you catch are the biggest ones you catch any where else and the meat is pink like Salmon which is better tasting then the standard white meat.

So after doing some star photos that night I take off alone to climb Barnard and near the top I see 5 Big Horn Sheep about 50 feet below the summit which is something I had never seen before. Talk about wishing I had a nice telephoto lens as my 70MM couldn't even come close!

So after conquering Mt. Barnard and being one out of like 6 people to sign the register that year I head back down to catch more fish for dinner.

Is that a camp fire in that picture? Yes it is, just ignore that! whistle David had decided to make a camp fire out of what few stumps of wood were laying around at 11,400 feet. I did not agree with this fire but also did not complain because it cooked the fish which was allot easier then a super hot hiking stove. At least he had his own permit so it was not my duty to police him. Or is it? I suppose that is a debate in it's own! =P

I'll add a video for fishing Wallace Lake when it is done uploading.


Edited by RoguePhotonic (10/04/10 10:03 PM)
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#8073 - 10/04/10 11:48 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Nice fish! Incredible fishing poles.

And nice bighorn sheep!                  

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#8095 - 10/05/10 12:31 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Actually my pole was a proper rig I spent 100 bucks on.

Here is my first try at Wallace Lake.

And this is David's first try.
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#8097 - 10/05/10 12:40 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
Nice Fish!

One thing that I notice in most of the JMT trip reports I haven't seen too many accounts of fishing for food. It's always about carrying X number of days worth of food. I would think that fishing would be a good way to supplement the diet. Do you find that most people doing the JMT do fish along the way?

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#8099 - 10/05/10 12:55 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I'd say it's a good mix with people fishing, you see lots of people carrying fishing gear.

Trips could easily be planned to catch fish on one night or another but you would have to plan right such as being at a lake because although most creeks have fish it can be a problem to find a pool to fish in or they are too small.

Even in the Tuolumne River which is known for big fish I only caught little ones.

Most of the time I found it a pain to cook fish because these hiking stoves are so hot that even on the lowest heat you burn your pot or pan and it's a hell of a mess to clean up after with all the oil used to cook them but it sure tastes good for all the work!
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#8119 - 10/05/10 06:54 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: RoguePhotonic
...
Most of the time I found it a pain to cook fish because these hiking stoves are so hot that even on the lowest heat you burn your pot or pan and it's a hell of a mess to clean up after with all the oil used to cook them but it sure tastes good for all the work!


So poach the fish in soup. Dill, parsley, thyme, or sage to taste.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#8131 - 10/06/10 02:34 AM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
That sounds like a good idea. I had planned at first to boil them but for some reason that became lost on me while out there.
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#8672 - 10/26/10 01:38 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Ok so I have been putting off finishing this thing up mostly because I have been so lazy to work on images and I can't help but feel it's all too boring!

So leaving Wallace Lake we were able to follow the trail all the way back to the JMT, it is a poor class 1 trail.

As a note since I have not heard people use it I am not sure how many people know that trails also have class ratings like climbing but it's reversed that the lower number is worse. A class 1 trail is one were you can hardly even find it at all and may be marked by cairns. This is something I will note later in frustration.

So resuming South passing the typical sights such as Sandy Meadow I saw a girl coming down the trail towards me with no hip belt attached so I asked her if it had failed on her but no she said she finds it more comfortable walking down hill with her hip belt off. This I cannot understand! crazy I had ran across a PCT hiker near Benson Lake that had his hip belt fail and he didn't know if he could make it out due to the pain it was causing him.

Reaching Crabtree Meadows ahead of David I relaxed and waited for him since I did not know if we were going to continue to Rock Creek or stay here and as he approached close behind was the hip belt girl. After a lot of confusing conversation I managed to gather she was actually headed to Rock Creek but decided to turn around and go "back" to a water source since she did not know how far the next source was. ??? Now this is something I have NEVER heard of! I mean who does that!? I hate to put people in doubt but after catching up to her later trying to hide that she was smoking weed I thought she probably forgot her weed and had to turn around to get it. laugh

So anyway we did decide to push on to Rock Creek and I took out ahead and enjoyed the unusual nature of the Guyot Desert. The area is strange in the way that the ground through out most of the forest has no bushes or smaller plants, it has no real rocks but is mostly dirt and even the trees are sparse and alienated feeling. Dry, hot, lifeless yet I had the feeling the trees were watching me. Perhaps I read too much into these things. =P

Reaching Rock Creek I could smell something nice cooking and saw a small bridge heading off through the stock camp so I left a marker for David to find camp and set out to explore the area and find where I thought the Ranger Station was but instead I wandered into another trail crew camp as they were having dinner so I had a nice chat with them and the ranger that was having dinner with them and started to set off back to camp when they offered me food before I went so they gave me a huge Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and a couple beers which although I do not drink I knew David would like.

After a night of picking spiders off my face sleeping under the stars we set off for Soldier Lakes which was not far yet for some reason I felt drained and did not have an easy time making the journey.

Once again I need to go when I finally sat down to write all this out lol oh well I will finish this thing soon.
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#8674 - 10/26/10 02:49 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
I love the common thread throughout your posts: wandering into a trail crew's camp, and scoring a great meal and good drinks. Not bad! cool

Really enjoy those meadow pictures.

Where is the "Guyot Desert"?

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#8724 - 10/27/10 03:30 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Yeah most trail crews are friendly people, I have been checking USAjobs.gov constantly so I can apply for one of these back country crews for next season. 6 months in the wild getting paid to work on trails sounds like the right thing for me.

The Guyot Desert is a different name for the "Guyot Flat" which is on the North side of Guyot Pass on the PCT.

Reaching the Soldier Lakes was an interesting place to be since David and I had failed twice to reach this area, once due to the fact that he and a friend of his after dropping me off at the trail and returning to Lone Pine had taken the wrong trail and were missing for nearly two days while I waited for them at the Cottonwood Lakes and another time by extreme weather coming in but here we were and frankly I was unimpressed, I had become spoiled by grandeur and the Soldier Lakes seemed little more then another charming high alpine lake.

The area had a crew camp which I explored wondering if anyone was home and although the camp showed signs of recent use such as recently used food items that were not stored no one was home. I learned later this was the primary base camp for the Rock Creek crew I ran into.

The next day climbing New Army Pass was no trouble at all and we found the area had just hordes of people! The trip down was easy past all the sights both of us had seen so many times before. Reaching the parking lot luckily for me David was ok with the idea of going to Lonepine and getting food so after eating and spending another 70 dollars in the grocery store we went back up onto the mountain and just camped out on flat ground by the Cottonwood Pass camping area since it was completely full.

This would be my last resupply and I had planned this section to be 9 days yet my family pushed back the date they wanted to pick me up so it left about 3 extra days to burn which was no problem for me as I was not looking forward to going 17 miles to Lake South America with 8 days of food.

At this point I sent home my fishing gear and lost my knife so I was down to minimum gear and on a good day I could get up, eat breakfast and be on the trail in 45 minutes. I did debate sending my tent home but it had risks involved and it only weighed 10 ounces so it came along.

Despite the heavy load I also put 3 cans of Pepsi and a full bag of chips in my pack and hit the trail solo once again.

This trail proved to be how Doug once described it as a dirty, dry, sandy horse route. Other then crossing Cottonwood Pass and some high views of Big Whitney Meadow and beyond the trail was mostly viewless and even at places was like walking through sand dunes. The only source of water between the trail head and Rock Creek which is 14 miles in was the outlet of Chicken Spring Lake.

Reaching Rock Creek I visited the trail crew once again and talked with some of the other people in the area which included the head of Sequoia National Park and some high ranking officials from Edwards Air Force Base as they were on a back country trip discussing the impacts of the jets flying over these mountains and the possibility of rerouting their flight paths.

As I cooked dinner though the female ranger I had talked to before came over and wanted to discuss the fire we had when we were here before. She said that foil was right on top of the ash and that it was so hot at 5PM that she burned her hand as she tried to pick it out and she was double pissed because her two year old she had out here also almost picked it up and burned himself. At first I was a bit dumb founded as I could not recall what was done on that fire because it was not mine (sort of) David built a fire in the morning which I never do and then he burned trash on it and I didn't even think about what he did to put it out but of course it is no excuse because it's your camp and you have to watch out for what others do also. Then I went on in what I realised was an asinine argument about how I know Aluminum melts at about 1200F trying basically to argue that when I burn trash I do it right and I don't leave foil in fire pits but that's asinine to argue because burning trash at all is illegal lol. So after allot of bad chat she left saying she was going to think about this more and decide if she was going to fine me for it but she never came back.

Heading north once again was pretty uneventful until I spent the night at Wallace Creek chatting with backpacking.com forum members that I knew but when I woke up in the morning another man was camped near me that must have come in late at night since I never heard him. I was all set to hit the trail when he woke up and I began talking to him about a number of subjects on hiking but then branched into deep discussions on politics, life and whatever the hell else because by the time we both hit the trail it was 3:30PM! As I made my way for Lake South America in fading light and the building storm I felt just so pissed off about more things then one, after all one of the reasons I was out here was to forget about politics and people like him in general and I couldn't help but feel how much of an idiot the guy was.

So pissed off, freezing cold and mentally tired I pushed on passed Tyndall Creek and as I left the nice class 3 trail to class 2 then it turning into more of a class 1 trail as I crossed the small pass to the lake which just began to really annoy me how a map will just show trails all the same despite the fact that it can be class 1. I think I was more annoyed at the thought that having such a poor trail you can get lost on could really screw allot of people that cannot handle such navigation.

So I reach the lake at about 7:30PM and had just enough time to set up my tent before no light was left. The wind was blowing hard and chilled to the bone. I got in my tent and tried to cook from bed but I could not even get my fingers to strike the lighter until I warmed them up enough, some snow flurries began to fall and I noticed my water in my bottles were already freezing. I tried to boil water but it was no good, it simply was too cold out with the heavy wind blowing for it to boil so I settled for the warm water and made dinner, ate and cocooned into my sleeping bag knowing I had a hard night ahead of me!

I have a solid 10 degree Western Mountaineering bag and I could just barely get warm with any movement bringing back the cold. At some unknown point of the night my feet were only getting colder so I put my top shell over my feet but they never warmed up again all night. This was the sort of night that unprepared hikers die in!

After one of those nights were you don't know if you ever fell asleep I see the light coming and was so thankful to see it and I decided right then that I was not spending my layover day up here freezing my ass off and I would go down to the Kern Hotspring and spend it there.

Getting up the wind was still blowing hard and it did not feel the sun was doing much to warm up this landscape. I took me twice the time to pack up my gear as it was so cold my entire mental function was being impaired and every task was a bit of agony but nearing 10am I hit the trail...
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#11200 - 02/28/11 04:12 PM Re: Grand 2010 Summer hike [Re: RoguePhotonic]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I thought I would dig up this thread one last time since I finally finished all the images from this trip. Only took 5 months. crazy

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

I know I never finished this whole report and I guess if I am digging this thing back up for pictures I could finish it up.

So leaving Lake South America I immediately came back to the small lake that is often mistaken as Lake South America and the Roaring River Ranger told me she actually hiked up there once and thought that the lake was no big deal but was at the wrong lake and never even saw it! But what this lake surprisingly had is very big trout. I saw what looked like 12 inch fat trout of some kind swimming away from the shores as I went so if you go up there throw a line in!

As I descended this large and beautiful basin I once again found the trail going from class 2 to class 1 and it being a bit difficult to follow even though I was going down hill. This did not really bother me personally but once again I started thinking about how trails on the map are mostly listed the same yet can be radically different and the impact that can have on less experienced hikers or pack trains making their way into these locations.

Moving through the beautiful tarns I make my way into the trees and down the creek and at one point the trail reaches the Kern and disappears. I glance around and see two prominent cairns on the other side of the creek. I check my GPS map and it does not show my trail crossing the creek but I have known the GPS trails to not be 100% accurate so I cross the stream and begin following the trail. The trail then begins to climb and curve more West and it does not take me that long to realise that this is not my trail but another trail that is not on any map that leads up Milestone Creek and I assumed to the small lakes just South of it. I quickly became really annoyed about going off trail and up hill and having to back track so instead of following the trail back to the creek I said F%&K IT! and bailed off through the trees cross country in a SE direction to intercept the trail at some point. It did not take long before I was down climbing steep granite ledges and aways below me I found the trail switch backing up this section so I once again resumed on trail. The trail here was poor but easily navigable. When I stopped for lunch two ladies past on the way to Lake South America and they commented about how poor the trail was so I warned them it was only going to get worse ahead.

The rest of the slog to the Kern Hotspring was uneventful other then taking notes of downed trees to report to the trail crew that was from Rock Creek that I knew was relocated to the spring. Approaching the spring I was hoping the place was not completely packed and was crossing my fingers for getting the nice camp sites with a bear box but to my surprise as I got there not a single person was camped there. I made the decision to not only do my layover day here but to also just go ahead and burn the other day that I had to use here also.

The following day I stopped in at the crews camp to say hi and talked to them a bit. A Ranger was spike camped here also and I talked to her a bit about why the trail crew was here on this nice trail when the Upper Kern trail was a mess and hard to follow, an answer that came later...

I talked to her about these trails being class 1 and she said that all trails in the park are built to the same standard and I just shook my head at her and she laughed knowing that although it's an official agency "pitch" it simply isn't true. "That trail has not been touched in 10 years" I said and she only argued the point that it isn't used that much so it's not a priority...

The only thing to note about staying at the spring is at this point it was September 10th and I had some Mosquitoes attacking me which I thought was unusual not only for so late but so low in altitude. Also only one person ever passed by on the trail in 3 days.

As I resumed the trail I was happy to find massive fields of Raspberries under Chagoopa Falls. Not Timbleberries that resemble them but actual Raspberries which I had not seen before and they were quite tasty!

Once again on this trail I slogged along on this long stretch of "crush" with no dirt on it and was annoyed by the trail construction. For those of you that have not done trail work when a section of trail is constructed amongst wood or rock structures such as a "Causeway" you put thin granite rocks into it and smash them up with a sledge hammer to create "crush" this essentially is your foundation and then you dump dirt on it completing a nice trail. Now sometimes such as the North side of Forester Pass you will have to walk on tons of crush with no dirt but it's because there is no dirt to be able to put on it. This is not the case with the trail along the Kern and we all know how horrible it is to walk on that ankle twisting crush. "More notes about this later."

So moving on up and out of the Kern Canyon and then through a section of trail I like that is a sea of ferns. This section of trail is being removed though in 2011. A trail crew at Hamilton Lake told me they are doing a 2 mile reroute of the High Sierra Trail to avoid the burn zone that is from Chagoopa Creek down to the switch backs to the Kern.

Reaching Sky Parlor Meadow I walked out and enjoyed the peaceful nature of this meadow in Fall. For some reason this place had great energy to it and I wished I was camping here. But then I hear a bell which sounded to be coming from the other side of the meadow and I thought it was a bell horse but it only got closer until I saw it was a hiker with a bell on his back. Obviously an "outsider" to the Sierra and intimidated about bears.

After a night with no people at Moraine Lake I resume once again. Climbing out of the Moraine Lake area I notice what may be a good view point so I leave the trail and climb out on some rocks for a beautiful view of the Big Arroyo and Saw Tooth Peak. I did not see a single person until I closed in on 9 Lakes Basin.

At this point I was excited to once again be hiking through one of my favorite areas in the Sierra. From Precipice Lake to one expansive view after another. Reaching Hamilton Lake I go and visit the trail crews camp but it was their day off so only two guys were in camp and the main one I talked to was probably the most how can I put it? "drab" person I had talked to on the trail so far. He seemed to be all apathy and had a one word answer for anything I guess. So finally I retreated to camp and enjoyed the alpine glow.

Leaving Hamilton Lake I was not excited about the big climb up Elizabeth Pass coming up as everyone I talked to said it was horrible but before I could even get out of camp I started talking to two hikers for probably an hour and a half about all sorts of things but finally we HAD to go! Closing in on Lone Pine Creek I was happy to find tons of Timbleberry that was quite tasty and as a Ranger passed and I talked to him I tried to see if he could identify another set of berries that happened to be right where we spoke that I had never seen on any other trail and I could not find anything even remotely like it in any guide books but he didn't know either.

Back on trail I began the first climbing as the trail went up Lone Pine Creek and it was hot and humid! Bear scat littered the trail every where as I went.

I noticed as I crossed Lone Pine Creek where the drift wood line was and pictured the water level of this creek in early season and it's safe to say it would not only be impassible but deadly if you tried!

The trail then begins to climb radically! And the trail has really high check dams that have been under cut over the years taxing your legs even more then they already are on this extremely steep trail. The only thing that saved it was the incredibly beautiful views all the way up.

Finally as you hit the outlet stream of Lonely Lake the trail gives you a break from it's extreme altitude gain yet you still look up to see you have aways to go.

Around this point the trail begins to fade and become class 1 but instead of building a trail the trail crews spent their time building cairns to help you find the trail. I do have to admit they did a nice job with them as they are solid to the touch and do not move at all. So the rest of the way up until the last scree slope climb to the summit you find the trail, lose it, find it, lose it but the going is very easy cross country. Feeling completely taxed I finally reach the pass and enjoy the view of Glacier Ridge and gawk at the idea that there are copper mines way up on the Deadman Canyon head wall!

As I dropped down into Deadman Canyon I was losing light fast and as I was closing in on the tree line a massive wall of smoke came flooding up the canyon. It's approach was so dramatic I was wondering if the fire was moving up Deadman Canyon itself as I had no knowledge of what the deal was with the Sheep Fire and I was even considering what my options would be if I woke up in the middle of the night with a forest fire barreling down on me. As the smoke engulfed me it choaked me up and was generally disgusting. When I had set up camp and it was dark you could see your flashlight beam like you were in the fog and I was hoping this smoke was not going to ruin my view of the canyon tomorrow as hiking this canyon was the entire reason I picked this route back West across the Sierra.

Getting on the trail early I was glad to see the smoke had cleared up and I set off down the trail and all the beautiful views that are Deadman Canyon came into view. As I reached Ranger Meadow I was happy to see really strange clouds that were hard to read filling the sky and enhancing the view and images through here.

Moving down the canyon I made a point to find the grave site that is Deadman Canyon and was surprised that I had missed it in 2009. I had not even reached Roaring River before all clouds had cleared up and the Sheep Fire smoke once again choked the whole canyon and myself included creating a very strange orange hue to the entire forest. Like a gift from nature my timing in Deadman Canyon could not have been more perfect to get exactly the experience I hoped for from the canyon. As I ate lunch at Roaring River and scouted out the Barton Lackey Cabin the ranger showed up and I talked to her for 3 hours! One of our subjects was trail work as she had worked trail crews for 15 years and we talked about the horrible dirt free crush walk in the Kern Canyon. She said she has been trying for 7 years to get the crew to put dirt on that crush and every single year they go there and nothing gets done. I then made a comment on why they are there at all when there are trails in need of more work then that one and she had the obvious answer. "Now think about it" she says, "they are near the end of their season, it's September, and there is a hotspring". Enough said... lol

After enjoying her company for so long I had to push on as I still had a long way to go.

On the way out of the area I passed some white berries that I had never seen before. I have no idea what those are...

I then see an old cabin so I leave the trail to take a look and was perplexed by the fact that the door on this thing was about 4 feet high.

Then into Sugarloaf Valley with Sugarloaf Dome being visible. Yeah right...

From Roaring River through all of Sugarloaf Valley the whole trail was covered in bear tracks going in both directions. There were more here then I have ever seen on a trail before but I never saw any bears. Finally with light fading fast I found a nice camp site at Sugarloaf Creek.

Many sections of trail through here I picked apart because of them being flooded and turned into swamps. I mean if this was June then ok but this was September 15th. I looked at the problem and fixing the water flow issue is easy and could be done in a single day so I didn't think there was a reasonable excuse.

The next morning I made the slog up Silliman Pass before the Sheep Fire smoke engulfed the area.

As this day had got closer it became a more strange reality after being out here living in the Sierra for over 2 months thinking about the trip coming to an end and heading back to Bakersfield to the life I had left behind... And now here I was slogging down the trail to Lodgepole and crossing the finish line. But before I had I saw a small bear eating on the corpse of a deer which I thought was an interesting sight.

So walking out of the Twin Lakes trail and crossing the finish line I felt weird as I walked by all these casual tourists as they gave me odd looks. People pass by us every day I thought and you never know what their story is. People see me and think there is another haggard hiker but did they even have an idea that I had just finished hiking about 575 miles and living in the mountains for 69 days?

I walked to the registration desk for the camp ground and had to stand in line for a site, that is stand in the middle of the road in a line of cars. The rangers at the desk were shocked and excited about what I had done and although the camp ground was pretty much full they managed to squeeze me into an over flow site which had no table or fire pit but they said they would bring me a table. They told me to keep my sighting of the bear eating a deer hush as it quote "freaks out the tourists" lol.

I had to hurry in order to get a shower before they closed and I was a bit disappointed to find the snack shop was closed but I was able to buy good food from the store and went back to camp to cook it. The can of chili I bought needed a can opener which I did not have so I walked over to this couples camp and asked if they had a can opener which they were happy to lend but before I even opened the can I had explained "why" I did not have a can opener and then this was too much for them and then they started pushing all kinds of food on me and fired up the grill cooking me some steak and making salad and pushed on me what ever I could possibly eat. They did not speak much english but were able to understand enough to have a nice evening with them. But before I left the Rangers came over and pushed even more food on me. Pretty much anything they could find and listened to some stories of my hike.

The next day I went about and saw some sights. I was on the Sunset Rock trail eating on Raspberries from the trail when a mother bear and her two cubes came out of the bushes. A woman hiking solo had been coming toward me and became very scared at the sight of the 3 bears coming toward her and she retreated down the trail. I casually followed the bears as they were walking in the same direction I was going on the trail and at times the mother acted a bit aggressive and standing up as some more tourists approached behind me. As the bears moved further the woman that had retreated was hiding behind a tree and she scared the bears as they passed her causing the cubs to fly up a tree. "GO AWAY!" she shouted apparently scared shitless. As they did she reluctantly got back on the trail holding her chest after nearly having a heart attack.

After returning to camp I finally had a table and an older guy came up and called me by name. He apparently was looking for a camp site and the Rangers had told him about me and that he could ask to stay in my camp which I was more then happy to let him. The Rangers also decided since I had what they considered a horrible camp site they would refund me half my money so it only cost 10 dollars a night instead of 20.

So the last day my ride showed up and it was time to leave the lands that "lay far above the haunts of the devil and the pestilence that walks in darkness". ~ John Muir


Edited by RoguePhotonic (02/28/11 05:21 PM)
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