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

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Postby Dave Miller » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:21 pm

Thanks again Bill. You've given me some good homework.

Take care!

-dave
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Postby oakroscoe » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:54 am

Well, I can tell just starting off that this is going to be a long post. Anyways, to start, yes, myself and 7 other knucklehead friends were able to make it into Eleanor last weekend, and yes it was amazing weather. And I'm very happy you found the frog creek trail going up. The elevation is the same as going through Miguel Meadows, but you cut out a lot of miles, and that's always a good thing.

No I didn't make it up to Laurel this trip, although I wanted to. We saw how Frog was flowing and we surmised we wouldn't be able to make it across it. Had I known that you had made it down, I would have definitely gave it a shot. However, I was preoccupied by the new experience of floating around the lake in a canoe. I have to say, that was amazing. Going in from the dam, its 45 minutes in canoe to the penisula (which is about a 1/3 to a 1/2 mile from the cabin/fish hatchery at the end of the lake. Also, Bill, not sure if you know this since you didn't mention it, but there is a bear box on the peninsula and a permanent fire ring (on the opposite side of the lake from the horse camping area). Personally, I think this is the best campsite on the lake as you have an excellent view of the falls, plenty of shade all day, a nice beach and a huge amount of firewood. I have it on very good authority that they tried to prohibit camping there, but the group kept going and they finally gave in and built a bear box and fire ring. It really is a fantastic site and the perfect place to bring a rookie.

Anyways, as I was saying, I was blown away by canoe camping. A canoe can carry 900 pounds, and having real food every day with ice cold whatever you want to drink is amazing. We paddled out all the way to end of the lake by the falls and checked out the other seasonal falls. It really was an excellent trip.

Also, I was quite unaware that the Groveland Ranger district will leave a permit for you in the mailbox. That is very interesting information to know. I've always wished that Yosemite would leave blank permits in the winter time and let you fill your own out.

The road in to both Eleanor and Kibbie is in excellent condition. Cars can make it up there, and I didn't even need to put the FJ in 4x4 on the way in. Also, the gate wasn't opened up until Thursday the 16th, and that was after putting pressure on them. They weren't planning on doing it until the weekend.

As for Memorial Day, Bill is right, you have to realize that everyone and their family will be out on the trails. If you want solitude you will have to go very deep into the backcountry. Or you will have to sacrifice any views and easy terrain, otherwise you will definitely be sharing the territory. I would expect Eleanor to be overrun with people, as well as Kibbie that weekend. Also, just a heads up, but fishing in the creeks opens up June 14, and that weekend it will be swamped as well. As for Memorial Day, you really need to give up any popular trail or view. If you are willing to settle for no views and crosscountry, you can be left alone, but you have to work for it.

As for going up to Boundary for Memorial Day weekend, I can't guarantee anything, but I would think that you would have a very good shot. Just being in at Eleanor, you could see the snowpack melting every day. You could see it disappearing every day, and the lake was going up at the rate of a foot a day. (hah, one of the guys in our party forgot to stake his canoe and it floated halfway across the lake in the middle of the night). Back to Boundary, I would advise at this point that the Forest Service has not been up the trail through Styx Pass, so at this point (end of april) the trail has not been cleared, so noone really knows what the trail condition is right now. However, I have an early May trip planned going out that way towards Mercur Lake, I'll post a report, if anyone is interested.
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:27 am

oak,
Thanks for the info on the Penninsula. Good to know.
There were some discussions by me and my buddy where you
are allowed to camp. He was pretty adamant about not camping
on the penninsula. I told him ok.. I'll look at the map when I
get home. As you know it turns out you can camp anywhere on the
south side of the lake including the penn. You cannot camp on
the Islands.
I've had my trail boat on the lake a number of times so I can
imagine how much fun it was in a REAL boat!
:)

>I've always wished that Yosemite would leave blank permits in the winter time and let you fill your own out.
Maybe I am missing something here.... because that is exactly what
they do. The location where you normally get your permit will have
a bunch of self-registration permits sitting there.
I've gotten permits from 120 entrance and from the wilderness
center in Wawona when it is self-registration.
I know this year there were a couple of times we went where there
were no permits in the box tho.
So maybe you are talking about how things are done at Badger Pass?

Mercur Lake. Dunno if you know this but there is an old trail that
runs from the cabin by Sachse Cabin to the west side of Mercur Lake.
If you like that sorta stuff you can maybe take a look for it.
Its the quick way into the Lake. And if you haven't been up Mercur Peak
it's a must do IMO also.
Of course if you've never been that way then stick to the trail the
first time... but it sounds like you've been up there multiple times.
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:35 am

>early May trip planned going out that way towards Mercur Lake

Please post if you go! Many years ago we went to Mercur on
Memorial day timeframe and it was full-on snow after
Sachse. Mercur Lake was completely frozen over. And it was
a trip my buddy has the brilliant idea to go 'a la Ray Jardine' and
bring a fleece blanket. Lucky for him another friend was with
us and brought a tent and he was able to wrap himself up in the
rainfly.
I digressed... I wanted to say I've wanted to go back up their
early and see it like that again.. w/Mercur frozen over and all.

Have fun..

o... and we think we saw 2 canoes on the penninsula when we went
to Eleanor... glad you were there instead of at the cabin... 2 guys came
in at about 9:30pm in a canoe and the next morning were fishing
the outlet... I told them it was
a no no... and they later came back and were talking to my friend
while I was trying to find the old trail... they said they were
catch and release ... blah blah blah.
anyway, so glad it wasn't you...
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Postby oakroscoe » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:47 pm

Bill,
I'll definitely post what the trail conditions are like out towards kibbie ridge. I'm heading out next monday morning after I get off a graveyard. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule I can only get out in the backcountry off of graveyards since I don't have mandatory overtime off of graves as opposed to dayshifts.

Definitely check out the peninsula campsite next time you are there, it has a bear box and in my opinion is the best campsite on the lake. You don't have much of a view at the cabin campsite, plus you have a lot of noise from the creek there. The view of the falls each morning is fantastic. Like I said before, I have it on very good authority that NOW it is dispersed camping (with established firerings of course - don't get caught building your own), but before, they wanted you only in the set spots they had put in. It really is a beautiful lake though. A real canoe is the way to go on Eleanor. That was my first time out on one, and it was great.

That definitely wasn't our group at the outlet by the cabin. I'm not much of a fisherman myself, although I definitely appreciate it however I was never a huge fan of fishing as a kid. Although, I will say now, I do enjoy the idyllic afternoon of trying to catch a fish. So this trip I didn't even fish, but the hardcore fishermen that were in group respect all the rules and understand the reasons for them. So I am sure that wasn't anyone in our group that you came across. Anyways, while we were at Eleanor it was our group on the peninsula, two guys further over on the other site on the peninsula and another group that consisted on one white guy and 3 asian girls at the cabin campsite.

I must have been mistaken on the permits, I probably confused winter vs spring or early summer. But I can remember waiting an hour for them to open up at 8am so I could get a permit. And I do recall, this was in the summer, but I remember hitting the gate at 7pm and realizing the permit office was already closed and being faced with the decision to go in illegally or to car camp for a night and then go back the next morning and get a permit. Which is never a good decision.

Thanks for the info on the Mercur Lake trail. Its really refreshing to see someone on here willing to share details on a hidden trail that isn't on newer maps instead of hoarding it for their own use. Thank you Bill, it really says a lot about your character that you're willing to divulge that info. I was unaware of that trail (I've only been on the trail once when I was coming out of Boundary by going in cross country way from Flora), however I emailed what you said to my backpacking buddy, whose knowledge makes me looks like a greenhorn rookie, and he was aware of it. I was told:

I believe it was built by the black cavalry regiment that originally patrolled Yosemite before there was such a thing as the National Park Service and rangers

Regardless of how it got there, I am looking forward to checking it out this trip. I'm hoping that the weather isn't as bad as its predicted over the weekend. Either way, its always nice to get away and get out in backcountry.
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Postby bill-e-g » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:18 pm

Cool.
If you go up to Kibbie Ridge as you say... you WILL hit snow .
I wouldn't doubt full on snow after Sachse... sorry if I already said this.

If you want the gps track I have of the trail let me know.
My wife and I found it just because we got off the trail at Sachse
and we just kept heading straight for the Lake...

If you look at very old topos from the early 1900's there are a
bunch of trails that are no longer around.
And the books dan has on this site has old trails.
btw
You HAVE to go to Sierra Pt. next time you are in the Valley!
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Postby oakroscoe » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:30 pm

Bill,
You are dead on when it comes to old maps. My backpacking partner collects old maps, and it is amazing how many trails are listed on those that disappear on the more modern trails. I think a glimpse into that world can be found in the book "The Last Season" http://www.amazon.com/Last-Season-Eric- ... 0060583002 where more than once its alluded to that a backcountry ranger talked a mapper into dropping an old trail off a new map. By the way, that is an excellent read. And yes, the books listed here that have maps are an amazing resource for those who want to go exploring.
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