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Shoulder Season in Yosemite
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Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 10:48:35 MDT Print View

A weekend trip with a few BPL friends to a lesser-visited corner of Yosemite...

The South Fork of the Merced River was flowing well due to recent snow melt. It wins the award for best-tasting water of the year.

After Moraine Meadows we ran into a bit of snow as we headed up to Breeze Lake.

We camped in a beautiful meadow just below Fernandez Pass & Breeze Lake with a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains.

It got pretty cold overnight, enough to freeze the water in our water bottles. Chris's thermometer said 27F. Drinking the cup of morning coffee & eating breakfast while still wrapped up in a sleeping bag is always a nice and cozy experience.

It snowed a little overnight, just enough to cover everything in a fine layer of white. As we were packing up, the skies closed in and some light flurries started again.

After packing up we headed off trail past Breeze Lake over the ridge to Chain Lakes.

There were some great views of Merced & Triple Divide Peak from the top of the ridge.

It's starting to feel a lot like winter out there...

Three more trips (Nov, Dec, Jan) and I'll have finished my project to visit the Sierra every month for a year. And visiting the headwaters of the South Fork of the Merced ticked off #27 of 32 of my project to visit the headwaters of all major Sierra rivers.

Erik G

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Looks like fun! on 10/21/2013 10:57:02 MDT Print View

Great TR and pics! I really enjoy shoulder season hiking.

I'm very curious: What are the 32 major headwaters you refer to? Do you have a link or source of info for this? I'd really like to start checking them off myself!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Re: Shoulder season on 10/21/2013 11:09:16 MDT Print View

Great report! I think you've also won the award for best looking breakfast in a backpacking trip writeup.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 11:29:04 MDT Print View

Erik, it's an informal list that I put together myself just browsing through Hillmap. My criteria was pretty arbitrary, any major tributaries that drain into a named river. And I added Cherry Creek since it's the same size as many of the rivers. I am sure that I am missing a few. Since I'm getting close to the end of the list, if you have any suggestions of more creeks to add, it'd make a fun project last a little longer... :)

W Fork Cherry Creek
N Fork Cherry Creek
E Fork Cherry Creek (missing this one)

Lyell Fork Tuolumne River
Dana Fork Tuolumne River
Return Creek

Tenaya Creek
Lyell Fork Merced River
Illilouette Creek (missing this one)
South Fork Merced River

N Fork San Joaquin River
M Fork San Joaquin River
S Fork San Joaquin River
Fish Creek

Mono Creek
Bear Creek
Piute Creek
French Creek
Evolution Creek

N Fork Kings River
M Fork Kings River
S Fork Kings River
Palisade Creek
Woods Creek
Bubbs Creek
Roaring River (missing this one)

Marble Fork Kaweah River (missing this one)
M Fork Kaweah River
E Fork Kaweah River

Big Arroyo Creek
Kern-Kaweah River (missing this one)
Kern River

Edited by andrew.f on 10/21/2013 11:36:11 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 11:32:41 MDT Print View

Ike, I consider getting a compliment from you about having good looking backpacking food as a significant achievement :)

Erik G

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Re: headwaters list on 10/21/2013 11:39:08 MDT Print View

Thanks Andrew! Very cool that you created the list yourself. I'm impressed!

Also, +1 on a very tasty and fresh looking breakfast :)

James Winstead

Locale: CA
Shoulder Season on 10/21/2013 11:55:14 MDT Print View

A great trip! I had fun pushing my 32deg bag colder than I've been. Note to anyone curious, a prolite plus ontop of a ridgerest is amazing. Heavier than many options, but it's what I had available. I didn't even need a puffy layer on in my bag to be cozy. I'm confident that this would take me decently colder without too much suffering.

My photos are here:

Also regarding fresh food, Andrews shocking diet also consisted of chocolate cake crammed into a freezer bag!

Edited by James_W on 10/21/2013 12:11:17 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Shoulder Season on 10/21/2013 12:37:02 MDT Print View

Nice report and photos, Andrew. The Sierras are great this time of the year. Sounds like you've been getting to see a lot of them. Hard to go wrong especially with good company and good food!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Shoulder Season on 10/21/2013 16:48:59 MDT Print View

Excellent! Getting out this time of year takes some motivation but, from the pics in your TR, it was well worth the effort.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Shoulder Season on 10/21/2013 17:05:27 MDT Print View

Make that a +4 on the breakfast.

Do you dip the raw egg in paraffin and boil it in the field or boil it prior to the trip? If the latter, do you need to freeze it before the trip?

I haven't packed out hard boiled eggs but I'll pre scramble and freeze my eggs with some bacon prior to a trip as long as I can eat them the first morning.

I love camping in the winter and shoulder seasons too. Nice TR.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 17:26:15 MDT Print View

The breakfast is actually my wife's. She ate it in front of me while I choked down my cold Grape Nuts with Nido. To her credit she did give me a bite. She boils the hardboiled eggs ahead of time, puts them in a cooler in the car, and carries them in inside of a cozy. I'm not sure how well this works if you don't eat the eggs the first day.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 17:33:42 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting the report Andrew. I finally understand why they call it the Trailstar ;)

Here's a few more pics....


bear tracks








James Winstead

Locale: CA
Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 17:54:38 MDT Print View

Ha! Chris, that last photo might be the most true portrait ever taken of me. Beer first... then take off pack.

Good times.

Brian Mix
(Aggro) - MLife

Locale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
looks great on 10/21/2013 18:12:30 MDT Print View

Everything within this thread is awesome. If you ever need another person to tag along, I'd love to go.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 18:17:10 MDT Print View

Glad you enjoyed the TR Brian. I just posted a group trip announcement here, you should come along.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/21/2013 22:55:21 MDT Print View

Andrew, thanks for the pictures and report. It looks like you all got in another good one.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite - hard boiled eggs on 10/22/2013 14:54:46 MDT Print View

We frequently carry hard boiled eggs for up to three days. So if I cook them on a Tuesday for a hike starting on Wednesday, we'll eat hard boiled eggs on Wed, Thurs, and Friday. That's assuming night-time temps below 50 and day-time temps below 75. If it's a hot hike, say 80 or 90, then we only carry eggs for the first day. For an October trip in the Sierra, where it's below 40 at night and below 60 during the day, I'd not hesitate to carry hard-boiled eggs for 4 or 5 days.

Jim carries all the food that can get warm, and I carry all the food that should stay cool (cheese, chocolate, eggs, roast beef, hummus, carrots, dolmas, etc). I pack that sack of food with at least an inch of insulation all the way around, nested inside down jackets and such.

We always get an early start, so the food bag is insulated before the sun has warmed the air, and I don't take that sack out at all until evening; the food we need during the day is packed in a separate bag. I carry the double down quilt and both down jackets, so I've got a LOT of insulation to work with, so my pack volume is 2x Jim's pack volume, since he has dense stuff and I have all the insulation.

This whole packing strategy was established to prevent melted chocolate. But now that we've got the system, we take fresh food like this for the first 2-3 days of almost all our hikes.

Edited by drongobird on 10/22/2013 14:58:06 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Yosemite on 10/23/2013 16:05:59 MDT Print View

Awesome trip. Nice write up too.

James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/28/2013 22:53:10 MDT Print View

I see your solution for the double quilt in your TS. How'd that work for you?

-James (D)

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Shoulder Season in Yosemite on 10/29/2013 09:51:10 MDT Print View

The inverted V worked great in the Trailstar. My LT4's were more than long enough to set up at an angle without any extenders. It felt like there was a lot more room under there without the center pole. I'm glad it worked so well, I would've been sad if I had to switch to a different shelter to use the double quilt.