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Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

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Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:51 pm

OK, I'm a confirmed addict, planning a trip for the fourth consecutive summer, probably mid-July.

Looking for a loop, 4 nights, but with 1 of those staying put, but that day left open to do some exploring off the loop. I've done the HSC area now so looking for something in a different area. We're aiming for hiking days of no more than 10 miles, with a total in the loop therefore less than 30 (ideally 20-25). The Yosemite Creek to May Lake stretch isn't a loop but as long as we could get a bus from one to the other at the end (or from the car to the other trailhead at the beginning) it seems like that would work, maybe low 20's miles. Then the 1-day pause in the middle could be somewhere in the Ten Lakes area. One night could be Raisin Lake, another night somewhere else along the way.

Any thoughts from the vets about this quickly-hatched idea, or good alternatives that would put us in different, less well-beaten trails than the usual HSC loop?
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby WanderingJim » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:23 pm

I did Luken's Lake to Murphy Creek in 3 days/2 nights, although I didn't spend more than a few hours in the ten lakes basin (I generally like grand vistas over close up lakes).

If you added May Lake, Tuolumne Peak, and Mt Hoffman at the end, 5 days 4 nights would be a good trip.

Had to hitch back to my car at the Luken's Lake trail head (waited for a little over an hour of someone to give me a lift). Shuttle buses don't go beyond May Lake, so the single hiker's bus or maybe the YART buses would be the only other options.

Although if you haven't done it yet, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River is a fantastic hike. By itself, it's a good 3 day hike and you could try to do a loop with it and Ten Lakes, although it might be more of a 6 day/7 night hike (depends on your speed).
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:31 am

WanderingJim wrote:Although if you haven't done it yet, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River is a fantastic hike. By itself, it's a good 3 day hike and you could try to do a loop with it and Ten Lakes, although it might be more of a 6 day/7 night hike (depends on your speed).

Thanks Jim, food for thought. I had imagine doing the GCT route might be too much and not a loop, but it seems we're probably in for needing a hitch or a bus anyway, so the more I think about it the more I like the sound of that. We did the TM to Glen Aulin stretch as part of an HSC loop a couple years ago and regretted not going beyond GA to all the waterfalls. Looks like its 30 miles though, so it would definitely be more than 3 days for us, but I think I can persuade my better half to make it even 6 days if necessary, so we can stop and enjoy the scenery and have a side-trip day somewhere.

From reading some pretty good blogs of this trip (http://www.fuel4play.com/2017/02/yosemite-birthday-backpacking-grand.html and http://thoughtfullyawesome.com/hiking/backpacking/2014/grand-canyon-tuolumne/) it seems there are some areas along the way that are tough to find viable campsites in. Any thoughts about good spots at roughly 6-8 miles intervals?
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:15 am

I think that most people do this hike in 3-4 days. The first day takes them down into Pate Valley, where there are plenty of campsites. Depending on how far you hike after the long downhill, you can choose to go beyond Pate Valley.

Day two would take you up to just below Muir Gorge if you are going to do this in four days. In three days, you'd want to camp the first night at the far end of Pate, and then make it up over Muir Gorge before the second night. The last night is usually either Glen Aulin (for a four day trip) or maybe by Waterwheel or Leconte Falls if it's a three day trip.

Six days isn't too long though, particularly if you like to fish and explore. There's lots to see on this route.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:00 pm

Thanks balzac. It looks like much of this hike is at lower elevation, even at Waterwheel it looks to be around 6500'. Does this mean I should be aiming for very early July or even late June to avoid the heat? That would of course raise the perennial issue of the Tioga Rd opening date.

Also, where are good spots for side-trips? Is Mattie Lake possible/worthwhile?
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:34 pm

You got that right. You'll want to go when it's not too warm. But early in the season the waterfalls are roaring---and parts of the trail are under water. Not under dangerous water, just expect to get your ankles and maybe your knees wet. Later in the season the water levels drop and the falls are so spectacular. It's always a trade-off.

As for side trips---I love fishing, so I would spend more time just exploring the river. The climb up to Mattie Lake is really steep--as is any climb out of the canyon. I would focus on taking your time and enjoying the river.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:53 am

Hey Justin,

So, as Jim found out, that stretch of Tioga Rd from Yosemite Creek - the May Lake turnout isn't served by the shuttle, and YARTS has such limited scheduling that it's a drag to time it perfectly, so it requires hitching it, waiting around, running to make the bus, or a second car.

I like Ten Lakes, whether that be just going there and back out, or going through to one of the other trailheads further along Tioga Rd. Besides being a beautiful area, you can go and get into some serious cross country up beyond Lake #5 where you'll see nobody at all. Lots of little lakes all over those hills, but, with some of that terrain, you can also get into some serious trouble if you don't pay attention and don't do some serious reconnoitering and route analysis.

Another thought would be to go from Mono Meadows > Red Peak Pass > out the Merced drainage down to the Valley or back up along Illilouette to the car. This one might still be a problem in mid-july if we get a lot of snowpack like last year but, so far, it doesn't look like it's going to shape up that way. Another gorgeous route!

And Raisin Lake is nice, but it's more of an alternative to the crowded HSC backpacker's camp and to walking only a silly 1.2 miles to May Lake than anything else. And, on the GCT trail, anything past Pate Valley, then up to about Waterwheel Falls, then again at Glen Aulin is going to be limited campsites. Part of that is just a function of the terrain in a narrow canyon, but without taking the time to go off-trail and really scope things out, you'll pass more of them than you'll ever see.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:20 am

Thanks Phil, I'll take a close look at those on my Tom Harrison. A good way to spend a few hours inside tomorrow, when the high for us is supposed to be zero F, with winds gusting to 40mph :shock:
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:38 pm

I think we're sold on the Red Peak Pass loop. We can squeeze 7 days of food into our Garcia barrels and make it a 6-nighter, so we can do one leave-the-tent-up-and-putz-around-camp day in the middle. It looks like there are some standard places to camp, Ottoway sounds like a great place to tarry a while. How does this look:

Day 1 - 6-7 miles from Mono Meadow to somewhere just beyond where the Clark Fork crosses Illilouette Creek
Day 2 - 8-9 miles to Lower Ottoway
Day 3 - same spot
Day 4 - 9-10 miles over Red Peak Pass to somewhere along the Triple Peak Fork (any suggestions whereabouts? Looks to be about 2 or 3 miles before the trail descends into switchbacks)
Day 5 - 6-7 miles to Washburn Lake
Day 6 - 7 miles to Bunnell Dome
Day 7 - 8 miles to Happy Isles

Any suggestions on camp sites or wiser alternates welcomed.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:08 pm

Lower Ottaway Lake is one of our all-time favorite places.

Your trip looks good...and keep in mind that you don't have to get your first day's lunch or dinner into the bear can---because you'll eat that before you have to worry about it.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:30 pm

Ottoway it is then!

As far as optimal time to go I know by now that the answer is "it depends on the snowpack", but given a normal year (and I just compared today's ski conditions report with the same date last year: 10 inches settled snow depth now vs 89 inches last year, so its not currently looking anywhere near the snow-nado of last winter) would you guess the last coupla weeks of July would be a good time to catch flowers without risking too much snow at RP Pass?
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:59 pm

Two years ago that would be perfect. Last year, not so much.
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby robow8 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:59 pm

Yeah, we were supposed to do that loop last year the first week of July. :roll:
Starting at Mono Meadow and finishing up in the Valley, how are you getting between the two?
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Justin-T » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:38 am

Plan would be to park in the Valley and get the glacier point tour bus up to GP. I think it typically leaves at 8:30, then we’d get the free Badger Pass shuttle back to Mono Meadow. But if I’m mistaken it would be good to know that now...
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Re: Ten Lakes area as part of a 4-nighter?

Postby Phil » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:54 am

That plan does sound good, and the daily mileage is realistic.

I guess the only snow-in-a-normal-year caveat would be descending the north side of Red Peak Pass. Snow there tends to stick around a little longer because of the aspect, and even when dry it's steep in places and the rock loose. Not quite talus, but a wrong step has twisted many an ankle. It's a good place to carry your poles for.

It's also not quite like the towering granite cliffs of much of the rest of the park for the most part. Very rugged, an alpine zone as you get up there, older geology...beautiful, but almost desolate. You really do start to transition from what you think of as Yosemite to more of what the rest of the Pacific Crest is all about. Lower Ottoway is a great place to hold up for an extra day and explore, or even fish. Excellent choice!

One more thing- when you get down and have a choice between going further to Merced Lake HSC or holding up at Washburn Lake, choose Washburn.
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