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Trip Report - Mono Meadows - Red Peak - Merced Valley

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Trip Report - Mono Meadows - Red Peak - Merced Valley

Postby taradactyl44 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:54 pm

Hi folks,
I've been lurking here for weeks trying to get intel for my Red Peak trip, now that I'm back, here's what we found.

7/30 - Ranger Nick told us the Meadow was flooded, the creeks would be thigh high, and we probably wouldn't get past the snow at Red Peak. My research on snow and creek levels left me skeptical of his info, plus he said he hadn't been out in 2 months, so we acknowledged his warnings and decided to go as far as we could.

7/31 - start from Mono Meadows TH, the meadow was saturated but passable by balancing on logs, feet stayed dry. Illilouette Creek crossing was shin high late morning, piece of cake. Talked to some people who had cautiously gone around to Panorama, I'm glad we didn't. The Illilouette Valley was beautiful and not buggy, tons of wild flowers.

8/1 - up to Lower Ottoway, on this stretch we had to pull out the DEET. Lots of down trees on the trail, but easy to get around. Creek crossings were easy again, mostly balancing on rocks was sufficient. Passed a couple of groups who were coming down having decided not to go over Red Peak. We heeded their warnings but of course would have to see for ourselves. Lower Ottoway was beautiful, patches of snow still melting in, mosquitoes were terrible. There was a Sierra Club group camped near us who planned to layover at Ottoway and scout the pass the next day, I'm not sure if they ended up going for it.

8/2 - Up to Red Peak, the south side was mostly clear, ran into deep snow banks on the trail a few times that required detour and relocating the trail. The snow was thick and we had trekking poles, so we were reasonably confident in our footing. Peeking over the north side there was considerably more snow, but using a good map and reading the terrain we could see where the trail should go. We hugged the contours heading toward the switchbacks on the left, going single file and taking care to dig our feet and poles in. Once the slope was reasonable, and knowing to avoid the lakes, we slid the rest of the way down on our butts. There were patches of snow and soggy trail for miles after the peak, but it was all passable with good waterproof shoes and poles. We camped just above the falls at the end of the Triple Peak Fork. The bugs persisted, they were biting through our clothes, by the time we left here I had over 89 bites on one leg. That’s all I was willing to count.

8/3 – Hike down past Washburn Lake, Merced Lake (Merced Camp was a ghost town, complete destruction from the winter, bathrooms and water are out), and on to Echo Valley (where I parted with my buddies, I was doing Half Dome and they weren't), JMT, to the Clouds Rest junction - it rained and hailed like crazy this day so we all walked further than planned. Loads of wildflowers, birds, and butterflies, but no mosquitoes.

8/4 – Headed out for Half Dome in the morning. Stashed my pack at the Half Dome junction even though signs were posted recommending against it (bears have figured it out and are scoping the area). I hit the sweet spot between all the sunrise hikers and day hikers, I had the summit all to myself! Hiked back down to find my pack unmolested, then reunited with my friends at the Merced River in LYV, the river was huge, easily twice as wide as I’ve ever seen it here. We continued on past Nevada Falls, and since we’d covered more mileage than planned in the rain the day before, we decided to just hike all the way out (a day early), back to the Mono Meadows TH. The Illilouette Creek crossing late afternoon was just above knee high, but still comfortably passable. The meadow was still saturated (we stayed dry on top of the logs), and some additional trail maintenance had occurred since we passed through a few days ago.

I imagine the snowy parts are easier every day, be careful and have fun!
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Re: Trip Report - Mono Meadows - Red Peak - Merced Valley

Postby Phil » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:45 pm

Thanks! I've been waiting for this one. Looks like I'll be going solo though.

How far was the butt glissade off the pass? Would you recommend traction (spikes/crampons) and an axe or Whippet for that north descent?
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Re: Trip Report - Mono Meadows - Red Peak - Merced Valley

Postby taradactyl44 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:18 am

The glissade wasn't far at all, and we could have walked it, just sliding was easier and more fun.
Crampons would have been nice for peace of mind, it was a bit slippery and it's really steep at the top. Taking a tumble from there with a pack on, it would have been a while before we stopped rolling, and it would likely have been rocks that stopped us. We managed with only trekking poles and taking it slow and cautious, not sure that was the smartest move, but we felt comfortable enough.
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