Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuolumne Meadow to Reds Meadow

14 August 2010 - Tuolumne Meadows (8680') to Lyell Forks Bridge (9650')
4% D=13.5
C4 - At Lyell Forks cross a footbridge before resuming ascent. A few good sites here, less good sites for latecomers. Better to forge ahead, cross a stream then drop down to a 2nd stream crossing. There are a few small sandy tent sites used by Mt.Lyell climbers.
Breakfasted at the Tuolumne Meadows Grill then hit the trail to Lyell Canyon. As soon as we reached the 2nd foot bridge we were compelled to stop and swim -- the water was far, far too beautiful to pass up. While wading, I found a famished little trout boldly nibbling my leg. While swimming, day-hiking hordes descended on our position. They stood sweating, watching us swim, which inspired our exit and a few miles of speed hiking on the nearly flat trail up Lyell Canyon.

We broke for lunch along the river and Pilastr was able to tie on a fly and fish for an hour or so. Our destination was the foot bridge below Donohue Pass, approximately 12 miles from our breakfast, with a 1000' elevation gain that we failed to realize would come entirely at the final half mile in the form of very steep switchbacks. Daylight was escaping and we ended our day with a rushed 800' slog. Several rock climbers were speeding down the other way, no packs just climbing gear, headed to a nearby base camp... unless they meant to keep on clear to Tuolumne!

We pressed on to the Lyell Creek foot bridge where 100% of the campers had pitched their tents a few feet from the trail, dusty, illegal and ill advised since they were now in full view of one another. It proved good for us because there were many truly outstanding sites free for the taking just 200 feet straight ahead from the bridge via a small use trail. We selected a site, perfect like a Star Trek set, among a pile of boulders with a fire ring perched on a balcony ledge looking back down the valley. Totally hidden from other campers and the legal distance from water. We quickly pitched camp and then ran down to the river for a dip, treating the illegal trail-clingy campers to our hurried nude bathing revue complete with ice-water scream opera.

15 August 2010 - Lyell Forks Bridge (9650') to Island Pass (10,200')
8.5mi 1400‘ 7% D=10...Donahue Pass to Rush Creek has numerous small creek crossings that may slow progress. (These crossing are dry by Aug)
C5 - Camp Island Pass or press on to Garnett Lake (joe=”Garnett is crowded but good to swim”) NW Shore, "sites better the nearer to Garnet head/inlet. Also good sites beyond at Ruby Lake.
Climbed our first major pass of our journey, Donohue Pass (11,056 foot elevation) arriving before noon. On the way up, in a grassy patch among the boulders, I spotted a pair of (white tailed?) Ptarmigan .

We broke for an early lunch on the pass so that we could acclimate for an hour or so to lessen our chances of experiencing altitude sickness (climb high, sleep low). One the descent, we spotted our first Pika of the trip.

We had heard that Thousand Island Lake was likely to be crowded. Apparently the bears have heard the same as campers are routinely besieged there. So, rather than descend, we kept our incredible view of Mt. Ritter and left the trail to explore the many frog ponds atop Island Pass. The ground is lumpy here but we pitched our tent on a sandy bar atop a small granite ridge beside a seculded, pristine frog pond. We were careful to carry our shower bucket away from the water so as not to disturb the world of bizarre water insects and yellow legged frogs dwelling there.

We felt stronger each day and decided not to use our planned zero-day (shown as Aug15 in the map image here) opting instead to keep it for later.

16 August 2010 - Island Pass (10,200') to Rosalie Lake (9350')
815’ @7% D=12
C6 – Rosalie Lake, various sites are strung along trail. Best sites are a few hundred feet from water, sandy sites West side of trail. Some great sites nearer to water too.
As spectacular as the views are all along the way from Island Pass to Garnet Lake, we were most amazed with Ruby Lake with steep glaciers tipping into deep clear waters and shores patrolled by thick trout. Pilastr was over-anxious to get at these fish and kept snapping his own line when he'd try to hook the hard-striking char. We had miles to cover and soon pressed ahead.

Garnette Lake is huge, windy, and fishing from the shore proved fruitless.

We'd been told Shadow Lake was closed to camping though we did not see signs posted and did see tents pitched there. We busted up the steep hill from Shadow Lake to Rosalie Lake where we found an excellent site on the near shore, high above the water. We walked down and found the water in the shallows warm and perfect for leisurely bathing.

It was clear we were no longer in a National Park by the presence of trash in the fire pit, specifically a tangled, shredded and scorched jiffy pop popcorn aluminum tray with wire handle. Ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you chased each other around their camps