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Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:15 pm
by ODS
Anyone have any info on x-country from Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake?

Had a trip planned for later this week around Vogelsang area, but with the latest weather changes we're opting for some lower elevation hiking to try and avoid frigid temps at night.

Looking at a loop trip Ostrander Lake, to Buena Vista Lake, then cross country to Lower Merced Pass Lake, then down Illiloutte and out Mono Meadow. Going up to Ottaway for a day hike.

Any input/comments/advice welcomed...


Route here:

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:56 pm
by balzaccom
Haven't done that X/C route, so I can't speak from experience on it. It will be a long slog---a lot of that is in forest without views to help you navigate. But if you make it down past Windy Lake, then work over to Hoover Creek and then up the tributary towards Lower Merced Pass lake... it all seems reasonable. Of course your speed will be much slower than on a trail. I assume you know something about XC hiking?

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:34 am
by Phil
I've never done that route either, but it looks more challenging than what you might think. You're going to spend a lot of time and energy navigating the terrain and obstacles, especially after Hoover Lakes. Everything from slopes, to talus and boulder fields, to downed trees. You're going to pick and pick and adjust course almost constantly. Much, much more so than the trail, by many multiples. You'll only know what to do when you're standing there looking at what's in front of you. Bring a good compass that you know how to use well. Did you really crank down and zoom in on the hybrid satellite version of your map?

But, that said, if you know what you're doing (without a have a lot of course changes to risk not), I would go for it. It looks fun-ish, but I would have to ask what your motivation is here? If it's the cross country adventure, great, that's one thing, but if it's to cut miles for the sake of saving time to Lower Merced Pass Lake, that's not going to be the case at all.

Did you happen to see that plane crash site next to the small pond at 8743'?

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:03 am
by markskor
A few years back, we did a 14 day, South Yosemite fishing trip, starting south of Chiquito Lake, passed through Gravely Ford. Up to Givens, east to Johnson, and a little backtrack to Royal or two nights at each. Following the trail north, we also then stopped at/fished Buena Vista.
Off trail now, we went east, generally followed the contour lines north of Buena Vista Crest...over and up the slot into the Hoovers - stayed at 8696. I do not remember anything very tough about this part...just finding the right canyon up. BTW, Hoover has stunted Brookies aplenty.
Going east after 8696, maybe a little south...easy... up to the obvious slot and over the crest and relatively easy down...met the trail a few miles south of Merced Pass. From there, followed the Moraine Meadow trail up to Breeze (alas no fish remain here)....west then South, off-trail down to the Chains (came down just south of Middle Chain.)... Back to the car.
Nothing that hard...nice trip!

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:23 pm
by Phil
Following the contours below Buena Vista Crest would definitely make it easier.

Besides that, I was looking into plane crashes in that area, and aside from the 1976 Lockheed Lodestar crash into Lower Merced Pass Lake with all the dope onboard (you should look that one up...quite the situation..."Dope Lake". I actually smoked some of that "Lodestar Lightning" back in the day...aviation fuel and all), all I'm seeing is the 1938 TWA DC-2 crash that killed 9 people. That's an interesting bit of history too, and the site fits the location and description of being just below Mt Bruce, so that has to be it. ... 8Crash.pdf

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:11 pm
by ODS
thanks for all the info and comments. Mark's route was my plan, over to Hoover but then north to the lake, but I see the saddle and route to the pass and will keep that as any option.

my thoughts were adventure and save time, have x country experience and understand the bush wack and slog of it but enjoy the route finding.

in Oakhurst tonight, going in via Ostrander tomorrow, group of 3. coming out Sunday. I'll do my best to remember to post trip report next week.


Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:14 pm
by ODS
... watched valley uprising when it came out... dope crash and the climbers selling it to live off of was a great story...

Re: Buena Vista Lake to Lower Merced Pass Lake

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:33 am
by ODS
BVL to LMPL x-country was fun and a time saver.

Didn't make it to Buena Vista Lake the first night due to rain/wind/hail, that we waited out huddled on the stoop of the Ostrander Ski Hut. So we set up camp there after the weather improved and stayed there the first night.

A very wet morning lead to more time letting things dry out, including ourselves, in the much appreciated sunshine of Friday morning. This lead to a later start than expected, and though the route was not altered, or 2nd night camp spot was shifted from Lower Merced Pass Lake to the first Hoover Lakes 8696. Route was fun, really cool talus field crossed around 9160ft from a cluster of ponds on the west to a small pond on the east. The entire section had awesome views of Mt. Starr King and others. It was a long day from Ostrander to here, and we were pretty tired once we finished the last little up and over into the lake, avoiding some of the steeper granite sections. One slight regret was that I sent a bud to scout the other side of the outlet for camping because the western shore only had a few spots. The regret was I should have gone because on the hike out we saw that he walked right around an incredible site just across the outlet with a great fire ring and a pile of firewood waiting, though stage 2 restrictions were in affect, so that wouldn't have mattered, but the area was great and had plenty of room for our 3 tents. (also found a great site at Hart Lake that would be a preferred first night stop over Ostrander if this route was ever used again).

The east side of our Lake looked quite steep in the early evening light, so I had a little worry about our route out the next morning, but I've learned to not worry about that until you need to and enjoy the moment, so we had a great dinner and did our best to stay warm without a fire. Woke up at 5am to the sound of rain on my fly, my shoes were left out to air out, so I scrambled quickly to get my camp shoes on and headlight and go get them out of the rain. When I opened the zipper of my tent fly I was greeted by white snow flakes slowly floating into my face. So it wasn't raining but snowing. This was great, because it pretty much filled our entire trivial pursuit pie full of all the weather pieces for this trip, rain, wind, hail, snow...

Route out in the morning was very easy, in the morning sun the shadows were different and we could see it was not nearly as steep as we thought. Once on the slope it was a piece of cake. The entire way from there to LMPL was all easily passed.

Our plan was to head back on the Illiloutte Creek trail as long as we could until we found a nice spot to camp, leaving about 5 miles back to the mono meadows trailhead and quick hitchhike to our car at Ostrander Lake trailhead. Well, around 3PM with about 9 miles left to the trail head the three of us made a decision to just go for the car and get out versus setting up camp for another possible cold wet night. We cleared 16 miles that day and got to the car at 7:45PM and drove back out to Oakhurst to a much welcomed hot shower, pizza and a cold beer.