Various Yosemite Area Excursions

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July 17-18, 2004

Outline and Background

Quoting from Brian Welsch's trip report. "You might have heard of The Plan that I hatched to run up Half Dome this past weekend, continuing on around Cloud's Rest and onto Tenaya Lake for a healthy 20 mile run. Many CHAOS members were irresistably drawn to such a great idea. Steve Andrews even decided to organize a post-run party in Yosemite around it --- a Mexican-themed fiesta, to be precise."

Of course, CHAOS being what it is, not everyone wanted to do the same thing, but the attraction of a group trip was undeniable, so plans to hike, climb and otherwise recreate were added. Oh yes, and eating...very important that. Below are an assortment of trip reports.

Twin Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows - Brian Welsch
Ten Lakes Loop - Robert Parks
Mt Gibbs Loop - Robert Parks

Saturday: Twin Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows - Brian Welsch

You might have heard of The Plan that I hatched to run up Half Dome this past weekend, continuing on around Cloud's Rest and onto Tenaya Lake for a healthy 20 mile run.

Many CHAOS members were irresistably drawn to such a great idea. Steve Andrews even decided to organize a post-run party in Yosemite around it --- a Mexican-themed fiesta, to be precise.

Alas, it was not to be: the Meadow Fire shut us down! Last Thursday's report from the NPS looked bleak --- all trails toward Half Dome from the Valley were closed! ( Even if the trails did open, though, the Valley had generally been filled with smoke in the mornings --- far from ideal running conditions.

Nonetheless, we all proceeded to Yosemite anyway, fiesta fixins along for the ride, figuring we could still do something involving a sufficient amount of suffering to be fun. (Just how obvious is the masochism present in this statement?)

So in a late-night Friday conference at the Tamarack Flat campground, we considered our options. We couldn't find any appealing runs over the original distance away from the smoke near the Valley --- every potential choice seemed boring. It was suggested (note the third party voice here --- dunno was doing the suggesting) that a longer hike might be equivalently strenuous in comparison to a shorter run, so we began pondering 30 mile day hikes. (The days are around 15 hours long, and hiking two miles an hour isn't too challenging, so this seemed reasonable.)

One option we kept returning to was starting from the Twin Lakes trailhead outside of Bridgeport, and hiking to Tuolumne Meadows, right past the Matterhorn --- a strong selling point. One disadvantage: we only had high-resolution map covering the Glen Aulin - Tuolumne segment. My curved finger guesstimation of the distance on the low-res map north of Glen Aulin (don't try this at home, boys and girls!) put the distance from Twin Lakes to our Good Map at about 12 - 15 miles. Multiplying by 1.2 to add in a few miles for good measure, we arrived at Grand Total Mileage of about 30. Robert Parks would later suggest 1.5 to be a better multiplier than my factor of 1.2. (This is a weak example of foreshadowing. While my future as a novelist clearly sucks, I hope you'll keep reading.)

We found shorter hikes, but none had such appealing scenery (e.g., the Matterhorn & Sawtooth Ridge), so we settled upon the Twin Lakes - Tuolumne route. (We also reasoned that our long hike would be a form of homage to Lizzie, famed death marcher, on her wedding day.)

Realizing we'd have a long day ahead of us, we immediately turned in, agreeing we should be in the cars by 5:00, and should therefore get up at 4:30. Which came too quickly, as usual, but we (Michelle Minikel, Steve Andrews, Carl Mautner, Scott Morrison, Matthias Seeger, and me), managed to leave camp on time. (Robert Parks, legendary bunny hiker [that's the Energizer variety] had arrived after we'd turned in, but we thought it'd be nice to invite him along, so we woke him and asked him if we wanted to join us. Wisely, he opted to go back to bed, looking forward to a shorter 20 miler that day.)

We dropped off Steve's Ford Escort in Tuloumne, and continued on in Carl's stylin' Honda minivan to 395 N., through Bridgeport, turning west on Twin Lakes Road (I think) near the far edge of town. They charged us $7.00 to park at the private campground at the Twin Lakes trail head (would've been the same price regardless of how long we left the car there), and we were on the trail shortly after 7:30 a.m. (Ach! Nearly two hours of daylight wasted already!) We set a good pace, quickly passing a pack train of several mules and two drovers, both of whom thought we were crazy for attempting such a hike.

Soon after, we bet on when we'd arrive at Steve's car that night. Scott the Pessimist (or perhaps Scott the Propagandist, trying to scare us into hiking faster) promptly bet 2:15 a.m. Carl predicted 11:00 p.m., Michelle predicted 7:45 p.m., and the rest of us fell in between. The wager: a burrito at LaVal's, with beverage, to the winner.

Around 1:00 p.m., we reached what we thought was the second of three passes we had to cross, in the shadow of the Matterhorn, still far from our entry point onto the Glen Aulin - Tuolumne map. Unfortunately, it seemed Scott's dire prediction might be an accurate one.

Luckily, two passing hikers had an accurate map of the region, which implied good and bad news. First, the good: we'd already done 13 miles, and were all feeling good. The bad: we had another 26 miles to go!

That's right, our 30 mile hike was really a 39 mile hike! ("Hmm, maybe that smoky run wouldn't have been so bad after all...")

Well, I've made a short story long. (Alt. version: we stupidly underestimated a route, and had to hike a lot farther then we'd meant to.) I'll try to make up for it here: we hiked steadily, stopping for a couple minutes at a time every hour or so, with two notable exceptions: to take some ibuprofen around mile 20, c. 3:00 p.m., and for a great swim and snack at Miller Lake around mile 22.

Somewhere before the ibuprofen stop, Michelle slipped while crossing a stream and hurt her hand breaking her fall; shortly after the ibuprofen stop, the pain was bothering her enough that we stopped to make a makeshift splint for her wrist with a bandana, and a sling for her arm using a polypro shirt. Somewhere after mile 30 she decided she'd rather run than walk, so she, Steve, and I set off for Glen Aulin at a good trot (much better than 10 min./mile, I'd say) for about four miles, arriving there a little after 8:00, with slightly more than five miles to go. When Scott, Carl, and Matthias caught up to us a short while later, we set off in the fading light for the last leg, arriving at Steve's car slightly before 11:00.

The accuracy of Carl's prediction (over Scott's) was appreciated by all! It was noted that Michelle's prediction would have been the most accurate had the hike actually been 30 miles. The length of the hike got us talking about a rating system for Epic climbs and hikes. The rough structure of one proposed scheme:

E1 -- The adventure ends (unintentionally) well after dark.
E2 -- The weather turns dangerously bad, impairing progress.
E3 -- A party member suffers an injury that impairs progress.
E4 -- Rescue is required?
E5 -- Hospitalization and/or funeral services are required?

Not to denigrate our effort in any way, but we barely crossed the E1 threshold: everyone was feeling too good on Sunday for any other rating. (Though we did spend the day lazing on the beach at Tenaya Lake and/or in the hot springs outside Bridgeport --- a well-deserved rest --- before returning to the Bay.)

Anyone up for a 50 miler this weekend?

Summary and Technical Details

39 miles, over 7700' of ascent, 15.5 hours.

Weather and Conditions

(not reported)

Twin Lakes to Tuolumne Maps

Route in fuschia

Map with route (part 1) - route map, part 2

Saturday: Ten Lakes Loop - Robert Parks

Ah, the joys of having multiple cars. Stephan S. and I wanted to do the open loop from the May Lake trailhead to the Yosemite Creek trailhead, Ryan B. was feeling a bit under the weather, so he just did an out and back to the Ten Lakes Basin from Yosemite Creek. This is a hike I've long wanted to do, but haven't. because it would be an unpleasant fast backpacking trip to do the loop, and much easier with a car shuttle. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera for this entire trip, and never managed to get copies of any of the pictures taken.

I was a bit disappointed by this hike, partly because there was so much tree cover, partly because I had forgotten how much of the hike I had done previously, only about 10 miles of new ground. There are beautiful chunks, bits above May Lake, on the north side of Tuolumne Peak, and around the Ten Lakes Basin, but there are long viewless slogs in between.

Summary and Technical Details

About 22 miles, with ~4100 feet of elevation gain.

Weather and Conditions

The weather was pleasant.

Ten Lakes Map

Map of hike location and route detail, route in blue

Map with route

Sunday: Mt Gibbs Loop - Robert Parks

Initially, we planned on doing the Mt. Dana - Mt. Gibbs combo, but the clouds wreathing Mt. Dana put us off that. Stefan decided to try Dana only, keeping weather conditions in mind, the rest of us decided to contour around the base of Dana, go up the Dana - Gibbs cirque, and attempt Gibbs, again, depending on weather.

The sidehill contour was somewhat unpleasant from brush and loose footing, but not actually difficult. We were all glad to climb over the ridge and up the cirque. More or less following the stream upwards, we were mostly out of the trees, and surrounded by expansive, if bounded, views. We headed for a high saddle on the north ridge of Mt. Gibbs, and after some steep Class 2 (little bit of easy Class 3) scrambling, summited at 430pm. We went down the south ridge a bit, before dropping into the southwest cirque. Partway down we came across the remains of some prospects, and an old wagon road, which we followed to Mono Pass. Hiking out we followed the main trail to the Dana Meadows fork of the creek, then cut back to our starting point through the meadows.

Summary and Technical Details

About 13 miles, with about 3200 feet of climbing.

Weather and Conditions

The weather was threatening, but never actually became unpleasant.

Mt Gibbs Map

Map of hike location and route detail, route in red, purple, and blue

Map with route

Hiking Homepage

Tamarack Flat CHAOS trip / Robert Parks / / revised May '05