August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

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F14Rainman
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August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by F14Rainman » Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:24 pm

As a longtime reader of these pages, and having gathered a lot of good information over the years that has inspired my own journeys, I figure that it is high time that I do my part, so here is my write up of last Summer's hike around the Clark range in Yosemite.

The last several years my hiking method has morphed into a place where I have found that what I enjoy most are 8 miles a day or so. This means 4 hours a day of hiking and the rest of it spent contemplating the views, or taking pictures, and generally just soaking in the moments. Whenever I do hike longer distances in a day these days, it is purely for the purpose of getting deeper into the back country going in and out most likely. Once there I find it more satisfying to just experience.

With this background here is a record of my 9 days wandering around the Clark Range. These days I prefer to explore down in Sequoia, but with the high snow year I didn't want to deal with snow on passes. On this trip I did have to cross 2 small snow fields on the North side of Red Peak Pass, but there was nothing remotely sketchy about it midday when I did it.

I had chosen this trip in part because I wanted to peek into the Lyell Fork of the Merced. The fact that Ansel Adams had loved it so much, and that I had not heard of it until the last couple of years had been working in my mind, and I was well rewarded when I did get in there. On the way out I detoured over Cloud's Rest, camping afterwards on East Quarter Dome, and then went up to Half Dome first thing before the crowds and then out to Glacier Point on a very very warm day.

Two things struck me on this journey, both related. I was stunned by how few people I saw until Cloud's Rest, and also by how little wildlife. On the people front, after the first mile down from Glacier Point, I saw no one until day 4 over at the crossing of the Merced Peak fork of the Merced. After that I only passed 3 other people until day 8 at Cloud's Rest. Aside from the half mile cross country to camp at Red Devil Lake, and the day and a half I spent off trail in the Lyell Fork, I was on trail for all of this. I never would have imagined that I would have this much solitude in Yosemite.

On the critter front, I saw almost no rodents, aside from a very skinny Marmot on top of Red Peak Pass, and a few random chipmunks. No deer, very few birds, and just the one bear on the way out at the footbridge over Illilouette Falls. It seemed odd to me.

Here are a few pictures, and then after are the links to my report on my blog. At the bottom of each blog page are the links to the full set of pictures for each day. Enjoy.

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Morning of Day 3 at Lower Ottoway Lake

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Looking North from Red Peak Pass

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Looking up at Red Peak Pass from the North side

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Sunrise reflections on Red Devil Lake of the Clark Range

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The achingly beautiful West Meadow in the Lyell Fork of the Merced near Sunset

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The view up Tenaya Canyon from near my camp on top of East Quarter Dome, Cloud's Rest to the right

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The more famous view looking the other way

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And finally sunset from my camp by East Quarter Dome


https://rainmansrambles.wordpress.com/2 ... and-day-1/ (description of preamble and day 1)

https://rainmansrambles.wordpress.com/2 ... s-2-and-3/ (description of days 2 and 3)

https://rainmansrambles.wordpress.com/2 ... s-4-and-5/ (description of days 4 and 5)

https://rainmansrambles.wordpress.com/2 ... s-6-and-7/ (description of days 6 and 7)

https://rainmansrambles.wordpress.com/2 ... s-8-and-9/ (description of days 8 and 9)








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kpeter
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by kpeter » Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:25 pm

Thank you for that trip report! I like your pace and itinerary. Your hike up until Merced Lake was almost identical to a trip I took in 2016 when I joined the HST meet up at the Lyell Fork. I even recognize the exact framing of a few of your pictures--such as the ferns coming up the upper stretch of Illilouette Creek! We camped on the west side of Red Devil rather than the east, and in the morning, coming from about where you camped, we heard and then saw a pack of coyotes. But you added the Clouds Rest loop and a few days and made this an even more spectacular loop. Very nice!

I was also stunned at the solitude in many parts of the hike. Red Devil Lake, for example, felt splendidly isolated. There were a couple of people camped at Lower Ottoway, but they were on the other side of the lake.

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paula53
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by paula53 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:28 pm

I enjoyed reading your trip report.I have not ventured into that part of Yosemite. Now, I want to. Your pictures were awesome. I especially enjoyed your picture of the West Meadow of the Lyell Fork of the Merced. Beautiful.

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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:58 pm

Thanks for the trip report. I will admit, I only skimmed the text; but I looked closely at the photos and maps. Thanks especially for the maps. I am glad some people put their trip reports here off-season. I will have to think about doing that myself!

I do all my backpacking in Yosemite in late April to early June or after mid-Sept. I have never gone in August; I really wilt in heat. I have x-c ascended Red Devil Creek from near Washburn Lake, a bit of slab climbing and bushwhacking, quite the adventure, one of those "I am glad I did it but not again". There are a ton of great side-trips that you may want to come back and do later- Upper Ottoway Lake (I camped here once and it was great), Edna Lake, Hutchings basin with its lakes, upper Lyell basin, Harriet Lake, to name a few. Turner Lake has lots of fish. I have also camped on the shoulders of Cloud's Rest and quarter dome- wonderful views! Just curious, late in the season, where did you get water when you camped on Quarter Dome?

Just a note, instead of hiking back up to Glacier Point, another option is to go down the Mist Trail (my favorite trail) or JMT to Happy Isles and stay in the Backpacker's campground. I often do this so I can walk the valley trails and photograph early the next morning where it is cool and not many people. You can then book a bus ride (fees about $25) from Yosemite Lodge back to Glacier Point. Or, I have hiked up the 4-Mile Trail - really scenic. If you do not want to carry up your pack, stash the pack at the Backpacker's CG and day-hike the trail.

The trailhead quotas are mostly filled by people who only go in a little ways for an overnight trip or as a connection to the JMT. I am not surprised that you did not see a lot of backpackers on most of your trip. Most of us, myself included, head for the high country mid-summer. As for wildlife, I see a lot of deer and bear in the spring. Maybe they move higher come summer, likely because in most years a lot of water sources dry up.

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CAMERONM
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by CAMERONM » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:23 pm

Nice report, nice trip. It is true that once past a certain point, even in August, few venture that far.

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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by wildhiker » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:38 pm

Thanks for the great reading and photos to enjoy in the dead of winter! Although this last week has been warm, sunny, and dry here in the Bay Area - too dry, portending a possible drought year? I've been on a few trips into the upper reaches of the Merced River, which is one of my favorite areas in the park, but not over Red Peak Pass (yet!). I agree that the campsites by the meadows on the Lyell Fork are really outstanding, especially at sunset. I, too, prefer to hike fewer miles each day and have more time for stops to rest and enjoy the views.

I have backpacked in Yosemite for nearly 50 years and I generally find a lot of solitude as long as I stay away from the John Muir Trail corridor and destinations within one day's hike from Tuolumne Meadows. However, I do think it is unusual that you had Merced Lake all to yourself. People concentrate on "famous" trails - and easy ones!

-Phil

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F14Rainman
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by F14Rainman » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:03 pm

Thank you all for your kind words.

Wandering Daisy - Putting in the report off season was not by design, it just took a while to find the time to finish it. I spend part of the end of each day on the trail journaling my thoughts, and that combined with pictures helps me recall. I find that writing up the reports is what really helps me keep them in my memory, and I am always gratified that this exercise for me finds a response in others.

To your specific question about water near Cloud's rest, for that day I got out my little expandable water container that holds 3 liters and filled up from the small stream that follows the trail up to Cloud's Rest from the JMT. This is the one that flows into Sunrise Creek at the junction. Those three liters combined with the one liter water bottle I mostly used gave me plenty for the day and the dry camp that evening. The climb up to Cloud's Rest wasn't warm, and at my slow uphill pace I don't seem to overheat. I think I had a liter and a half for the next day and that was more than enough for me in the early morning to traverse over to the Half Dome trail and go up and down without my pack. I think I didn't need to fill up more til lunch by the top of Nevada Falls.

I had briefly considered heading down into the Valley and taking the bus up the next day, but since it was Labor Day Weekend, I decided that I just didn't want to deal with the crush of people I would find.

Wildhiker - The poor snow year is concerning me as a skier, but since my favorite part of the Sierra to wander lately is above timberline in Sequoia, it does have the nice compensation that that will be easier for me this year.

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gary c.
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by gary c. » Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:51 pm

Loved your trip report and pictures. I have planned on someday taking the lower trail down past Washburn Lake but your pictures of the Lyell Meadows makes me thing it would be worth going that way. I've seen them from above and thought that they were beautiful then.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray

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iainmacdonald
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by iainmacdonald » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:32 pm

Good stuff! This area is very under-appreciated, a well-kept secret. Thanks for the great photos.

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Chris B
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Re: August 2019 Circuit of the Clark Range

Post by Chris B » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:26 pm

Great trip report, your website is really cool, I bet that took longer than the trip?
I did a similar version of this trip a few years ago, I only had 5 days so just went over the Red Pass and back via Washburn and Merced lakes. It looks like I missed some of the best parts:-( I need to try and bag a permit and dig out my backpack. Like you I hardly saw anybody from Illiluuette Creek until I reached the Camp at Merced Lake. There were a couple of other tents around one of the Ottaway Lakes but I never saw any people.

Mono Meadow can often be an easier permit to get. I paid my $25 and got the glacier point bus, if you tell the driver they will drop you at Mono Meadows. This way you can leave your car in the valley and exit via the JMT.

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