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Yosemite x-country route

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:22 pm
by michaeljf
I'm planning a trip for this summer that involves some cross country travel, and I'm looking for any comments on the off-trail parts, good or bad.

Starting at the Mono Pass/Parker Pass trailhead on Tioga Road, I'll head south and veer off to Spillway Lake, on the Helen Lake, and then over the Kuna Crest Saddle (enter legal camping) to first night at the lake below Kuna Peak. From there head south into Ansel Adams through Lost Lakes Basin, hang a right and go over to the JMT south of Donahue, back north into Yosemite over Donahue to Maclure Creek, then up the drainage to the small lakes at the head of the creek. Next over the saddle to the Lewis Creek drainage (Secor calls it "Hell Hole" — hmm, that could be telling me something), down the creek to hit the trail that comes from Vogelsang Pass, then on out along the Merced. A bit over 40 miles total. For me, ambitious, but not crazy. Unless solo counts as crazy.

Part of this reverses a route in a recent Backpacker Mag, and they didn't make it sound too bad, and the Kuna Crest section I picked because I met a family last summer at Donahue Pass who had just come from that direction with grandma along. I figure if grandma can do it, I should be able too. Just right for my first significant off-trail trip. And if I have to bail, Lyell Canyon is right in the middle, easy exit.

Any comments?

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:47 am
by giantbrookie
Very interesting route. I'll get out the topo map when I get home this evening and take a closer look. Off the top, this sounds like the kind of off trail game plan I like to put together (the route incorporates segments of two shorter trips I've schemed up but haven't done yet). You note that this would be your first off trail trip--that is my main concern. What you've scripted is a great one for a seasoned off trail veteran, but for someone going solo off trail on their first trip I think there are milder, but still pleasant (and reasonably adventurous) options.

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:22 pm
by maverick
Hi Michael

Kuna Crest is cool with some nice views. Youll like Lost Lakes.
I went from Waugh Lake to Lost Lake.
The Hell Hole is a class 2 with some pretty steep ledges on the
Maclure side which I bypassed going north, the western side was
If your comfortable with class 2 you wont have any problems.
On the other hand if you have never done cross-country than
try some x-counrty routes in northern Yosemite in Slide Canyon
and Spiller Canyon areas till you get comfortable with it.

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:11 pm
by michaeljf
Good comments. Just what I was looking for. I'm pretty comfortable with the Kuna/Lost Lakes part of the plan, but have some concerns about Hell Hole. My only other off trail with a pack was early 90's, and not solo, so maybe that doesn't count, but I've scrambled a bit on day hikes, and can still navigate my way with a map and compass. I think the issue for me is lugging a pack over the pass in questionable footing. I'm usually very cautious, so when I get up to Maclure Lakes, I'll scout ahead and if I don't feel confident I can do it with the pack, I'll head down Lyell and maybe up to Evelyn Lake instead (where my dad and I camped in the 60's, so sentimental reason for going by there).

Spiller does sound interesting, tho. Read several things about that area, so I'll look at that, too.

I've collected a lot of intel on the planned route, both from my own experience on parts nearby, and from posts/photos found on the web. New to this forum but it looks quite promising.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:25 pm
by maverick
By the way I see you live in Fremont to. Hope you take advantage
of using Mission Peak as training.
I go up there 2 times a week doing a 6.5 mile loop in the morning
before work with 40 lb pack.
If you want to tag along one morning let me know.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:47 pm
by michaeljf
Mission Peak is good for training as long as the grass is green. Once it dries out the flies take over and its much less appealing. I like Pleasanton Ridge at the moment cause there are much less people, but the hill climb is tame by comparison.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:35 pm
by giantbrookie
Mission Peak was a favorite off season training hike for me before I moved to Fresno two years ago (used to live in Hayward). I just dragged my students up the first 400' vertical feet from Stanford Ave. a couple of weeks ago as part of a (Fresno State) geomorphology field trip. There was more than a little urge to just keep going for old time's sake. In part it was a scientific stop, but I also wanted to see how well this current group of students hikes--one of them did quite well.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:22 pm
by maverick
How do you like living in Fresno? Do you miss the bay area?
I have tried to get my wife to move to Bishop but see wont hear
of it. She says she would never she me with the Sierra being right
in the backyard! She's probably right.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:46 pm
by giantbrookie
I guess I will always consider the Bay Area home. Forty six years was ample time to set down some very deep roots. My wife grew up in Fresno but absolutely detests this place--she misses the Bay Area more than me. On the other hand, I get to visit several times a semester as part of various academic activities (including field trips I lead there). While we originally moved because it was my turn to "get a real job" instead of being a consultant with a low billable percentage (my wife having really held up the ship for better than 13 years), the big reason she hates the place so much is that it turned out to be a graveyard for her own professional career. For me, gaining academia (faculty position at Fresno State) after so many years being a more-or-less wannabe academic was like a fish getting to water (well, maybe not quite, given that I was enjoying myself as a consultant, too). Since I am having a grand time being an academic, it is easier to not be bothered about some of the aspects of living here (weather, air quality, etc.) I don't like as much as "home". The greatest thing about this place (other than the university) for me is, as you can probably guess, the proximity of that favorite mountain range of mine. The other thing I think about is that the things that my wife and I like so much more about the Bay Area are things that adults appreciate but not children. To little kids the much larger space to romp around in our house (much bigger, as you can guess, than our old place in Hayward), as well as having that fabulous mountain range so close makes this much more fun for them. The youngest one was born in Fresno and is not yet 1-1/2 so she can't offer a comparison. The oldest, who will turn 5 in April and moved from Hayward at the age of 3 has said emphatically that he likes Fresno much better.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:53 pm
by Trekker

I was a geology student up at UOP in Stockton many years ago. Chances are you are familiar with some of the areas we had field trips and where I did my field geology course. Have you checked out Mountaineer's pics of the Carrizo Plain in the Campfire section? My first field trip!

Speaking of Bay Area, you are probably familiar with San Juan Bautista mission, and the fault line going through there. I once drove my motorcycle up a peak in that area called Fremont Peak; incredible views. Wonder what it's like these days? Seems like that would be a really cool hike. :nod: