Emigrant Wilderness
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Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Emigrant Wilderness on 11/16/2008 11:32:01 MST Print View

Love the photos and story, Tony. Don't love the blister photo quite so much ;-)

You've inspired me to pitch in. I really like Emigrant, and used to hike it frequently when I lived farther south. I hiked out of Crabtree a month after your trip, on a four-day solo. Here are a few photos from that hike.

I got a late start and found myself hiking after dark (via headlamp and, later, moonlight). One really appreciates the challenges of following rocky, indistinct trails once the sun goes down. GPS is VERY helpful in finding and following junctions, otherwise it can be literally impossible.

(Let me mention how much I love trails that are beaten to smithereens by commercial packers. It makes hiking so much more pleasant and navigating much easier.)

Actual trail hidden beneath protective fluff layer.

By Contrast, intermittently one finds oneself hiking on a horsie superhighway.

Rock escalator to menswear, housewares floor

It was difficult to find a watered place to camp. By September this year pretty much all the streams had dried up, including those normally perennial (we're in year two of a drought here). After finding the trail junction I headed down (dry) Cherry Creek, not really knowing how long I'd be hiking that night or whether I'd have to dry camp with my dwindling water supply (down to a pint or so). Very luckily, I spotted the moon's reflection off of a pool in the distance, and by ear located a tiny audible trickle. The entire flow of this branch of Cherry Creek is represented here:

Roaring Cherry Creek

Considering how large the streambed is this dribble seemed impossibly small, but it disappeared entirely farther downstream. My improved luck held and I found a nice campsite across the mighty rapid from the trail. What it lacked in views it made up for in amenities (i.e., flat spot to sleep on).

Cherry Creek basin

Day's destination: Hyatt Lake, via a combination of trail and XC. Much of Emigrant is subalpine forest, but at relatively low elevations it opens up into alpine country, with an always interesting blend of classic Sierra granite and volcanic geology. The trip into the Hyatt basin includes rocky cols and granite slabs, opening vistas south into Yosemite.

I came across this exposed vein of quartz, forming a vertical curtain.

Quarts o' quartz

The lake basin opens up from the north. A small surprise is revealed to the observant (which doesn't include me).

Hyatt basin from the north

Surprise! Earlier in the summer, somebody evidently let their campfire get out of control, burning most of the campsites into a sad memory.

Crispy camp

I camped at a site that was legal when I was there, due to the lake's receded shoreline. If the lake had been fuller, I'd have had to look elsewhere.

Hyatt camp

One of the big Hyatt attractions: a vast quartz sand beach.

Hyatt beach

That's as far as I've gotten with the photo set! Perhaps more later, presuming Tony and I haven't torpedoed the BPL server ;-)

Edited by halfturbo on 11/16/2008 12:45:41 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Emigrant Wilderness on 11/16/2008 15:02:28 MST Print View

Yep Rick, Crabtree is/does get pretty chewed up from the packers. Though it is my fave trailhead to start trips in Emmigrant. It just has so mmany different loops that can be done.

Never been to Hyatt Lake, most go there! Looks quite nice!!

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Re: Emigrant Wilderness on 11/16/2008 15:44:58 MST Print View

Rick,
To get to Hyatt Lake, from the confluence of the Cherry Creek West Fork and Buck Meadow Creek, do you head down Louse Canyon and cut south up to Rosasco Lake?

I came through there the last week in September and followed Cherry Creek down Louse Canyon to find water in the bed rock pools. The southeasterly side of Louse Canyon looks really steep in the photos I took.
Louse Canyon at Sunrise
Sunrise looking down Louse Canyon.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Emigrant Wilderness on 11/16/2008 16:34:10 MST Print View

Hi Ken,

Yes, you head up and away from the canyon, heading south. Here's a piece of the "trail"--one of the more distinct bits, actually:

spur trail to Rosasco

I found it's easier to route-find going up than down, where I lost it [trail, not mind] completely halfway. The described route to Hyatt passes north of Rosasco, then circles an unnamed peak and drops to Hyatt from the northeast.

Hyatt is also approachable from the south, but I've not done that bit. I'd planned on trying the route via the Kibbie Ridge trail a few years ago, but didn't make it that far in that time.

Edited by halfturbo on 11/16/2008 19:33:15 MST.

Victor Karpenko
(Viktor) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Hyatt Lake camp on 11/16/2008 18:25:16 MST Print View

Thanks for the update on Hyatt lake. I have been there when there were at lest five other groups camping. It can get quite crowded for an out of the way lake with few camping spots. What camp site was burned? Was it the one at the other end of the beach?

Does that post near your tent still have a message on it from the Forest Service?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Emigrant Wilderness- Rick's Adventures on 11/16/2008 18:29:13 MST Print View

Rick,

Love it that you have posted photos of your trip into the area.

I have my Topo map out and it really is fun tracing your journey on the map with your photos and your narration.


Yeah, gotta love a trail that has been beating to a dusty pulp and held together with a healthy dose of horse poop to keep it from all blowing away in the wind. :)

I see that you have a Contrail too....great shelter.

Was it hard to go off trail?

My navigation skills are pretty poor, so for now, I am sticking to the main trails, but photos like yours are great for pointing the way for landmarks for me to look for in the future.

Keep posting...love to see more of this area for inspiration for future trips!

P.S. Tom...thanks for your kinda words of praise. Hopefully you can get your family out on trips with you soon. We took our daughter, Mei, when she was 2.5 yrs old. Now that she is too heavy to carry at 5 yrs of age, our family trips are limited to just a few miles in from the trail head.

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 11/16/2008 19:08:42 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Emigrant Wilderness- Rick's Adventures on 11/16/2008 18:46:58 MST Print View

Well Tony if you hike with the Bay Area possey then your off trail skills will increase!


Oh and don't discount yourself on the off trail stuff. You did Tenaya Canyon and even though it has many hand rails to use, you did a great job. Thanks for the reccomendation on that hike. Sublime!

Edited by kennyhel77 on 11/16/2008 18:48:09 MST.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Emigrant Wilderness- Rick's Adventures on 11/16/2008 19:06:02 MST Print View

Ken,

Looking forward to hooking up with the Bay Area BLPers.

Think my wife would prefer that I don't develop those off trail skills....she really wants to collect on my life insurance. :)

Fortunately, for the Tenaya Creek trip, my friend lead the way on that one, but yes....it was pretty easy in that we were following the creek down stream.

-Tony

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Hyatt Lake camp on 11/16/2008 19:50:41 MST Print View

Hi Victor,

For the time being, it appears all the north side campsites west of the inlet stream are now unusable, which is the majority of legal sites near the lake. There's another camping area on the east shore, but I don't know how many sites it has. Until the widowmakers fall it will be chancy to camp there, and the soil has to recover as well. It must have been windy when the fire occurred, as several isolated stands of trees in the rocky basin to the north burned, as well as some stands on the western ridge.

I can't find a record of this fire, probably a product of a summer when at one point California had more than two-thousand active wildfires. There was another recent burn in the Pine Valley area on the trail in.

That is an FS camping boundary signpost next to my camp, marking a hundred feet from theoretical water. More like three-hundred this trip.

Crispy camp

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Re: Hyatt Lake camp on 11/16/2008 20:11:43 MST Print View

There are many isolated burn areas at Piute Meadow, East of the creek crossing. I believe they, and the Pine Valley fires were all lightning strikes, early in the year.

Burned areas in Pine Valley - Emigrant Wilderness
Burn area Pine Valley - Emigrant Wilderness

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Emigrant Wilderness- Rick's Adventures on 11/16/2008 20:12:18 MST Print View

Thanks Tony,

All in all, Emigrant seems like a good area to develop your off-trail chops, especially above treeline. But like any new skill set it's best to build those skills in an organized fashion. Visual overland navigation using map and compass in open country is a great way to start and Emigrant has many opportunities. (Desolation offers similar terrain and is more compact.) A gps preloaded with key waypoints organized into routes is huge help, especially traveling through woods and across complex topography, but I can't stress enough how important map and compass skills are in tandem with our electronic friends.

I like uploading tracks at home and comparing my actual route with my planned path, and with the mapped trails. Sometimes the discrepancies are startling.

My feeling is that even if one never *intends* to travel off-route, from time to time we're all forced to. Perhaps I've lost the trail, or the route is covered with snow, or a bridge is washed out, or a fire is blocking my intended path, or I have to bug out before dark (or it IS dark), or the weather has turned evil...these have all happened to me.

p.s. The TarpTent is a gen 1 Virga, a great little shelter.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Emigrant Wilderness- Rick's Adventures on 11/16/2008 20:28:39 MST Print View

Rick, just like my Tarptent. And yes, Tony, Rick is right, The ability of accumilating backcountry offtail skills just take some care, patientce and some know how. It is actually quite fun, once you figure the basics out. Once you do figure it out, it is like having a light bulb going off in your head...and you say...ahhh now I understand!

Victor Karpenko
(Viktor) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Hyatt burn on 11/16/2008 23:32:11 MST Print View

Hi Rick,

Thanks for update. The eastern camp has been in that condition for about ten years. Early in the season there is the soil is very damp and buggy. It is a shame that there was a fire there, not much shade left I suppose. Is this area before the burn?

Hyatt Lake pre-burn

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Hyatt burn on 11/17/2008 10:01:30 MST Print View

Hi Victor,

Yes, the burn affected the majority of the area to the left of the inlet, which in this shot is about a quarter of the way into the frame from the right.

There are still scattered camps farther north, away from the lake.

--Rick

Darren Johnson
(woodworkerfella) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
Great Photos! on 01/12/2009 08:45:09 MST Print View

Tony,

Thanks for this photo essay. I've been backpacking in the Sierras since I was a boy. The AirForce as relocated me to NC and I've been here since 1996. As pretty as the Blue Ridge Mountains are, I can't tell everyone how much I miss "real" mountains. I love the Emigrant Wilderness and also Ansel Adams Wilderness. Would you ever be willing to email me two hi-res photos for use as desktop pictures? This would help relieve some of my pent-up, alpine-deprived longings. The two pictures I would like, you titled in this essay are "Private Swimming Hole" and "Touch of Pink." Thanks! Darren

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Great Photos! on 01/12/2009 12:14:59 MST Print View

Darren,

Glad that you enjoyed the photos, it has been a real pleasure to post them up here and to hear all the positive responses back.

I'd be happy to email you those two photos, which are probably my two favorite of the bunch.

I am looking to print Private Swimming Hole out at Costco and hang it in my cube at work.

If you setup an email to PM/Private Message, I can get your email address and send them to you.

At some point, I might figure out how to use Flickr and post up the photos.

I think that Flickr allows anyone to download the image.

Well, if you find yourself out this way again, maybe we can get a group of BPLers to head out to the Sierras with you. :)

-Tony

Darren Johnson
(woodworkerfella) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
Re: Great Photos! on 01/19/2009 07:44:21 MST Print View

Hi Tony, I feel kind of silly being a computer guy, but not knowing how to PM you. :o) Please just email me woodworkerfella aat g mail dott comm. (I'm sure you can figure that out - I'm just trying to fool web bots that harvest emails out of web pages.) I can't wait to see those two photos on my 22" widescreen LCD!

That would be really cool to join everyone for a trip in the Sierras some day. Thanks for the offer!

Sincerely,

-Darren

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Great Photos! on 01/20/2009 00:29:36 MST Print View

Darren,

To setup for PM, you have to go into your profile and setup and email address...like the one you gave me in your message.

Then if you click on someone's name/icon, there should be an option to email them.

Anyway, I have just sent the photos to you.

Glad that you enjoyed them and want to share them with others.

-Tony

Sara-Ann Datta
(sadatta) - F
Re: Emigrant Wilderness on 05/15/2009 05:12:52 MDT Print View

Hi Tony,

I'd love to feature one of your photos on a travel website I am working on. Is there an email address I can contact you on? You can email me at: sadatta@globalgiving.co.uk

Many thanks,
Sara-Ann Datta

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Emigrant Wilderness--Stormy and Cold June Weather on 06/22/2009 21:20:17 MDT Print View

Image002

June Gloom!!!

P6130158

When is the snow going to melt so we can hike?

Edited by Creachen on 06/22/2009 21:24:35 MDT.