Day # 2
Elevation Increase-648 ft
Elevation Decrease-808 fr
Terrific night of sleep last night. Woke up to snow flurries and went back to sleep till about 9. It was glorious.
The wind gusted upwards towards 40 mph last night and I was glad to have a tent.
Got up and made a leisurely breakfast with coffee. Very relaxing morning under overcast skies.
The first 1+ miles were down about 500 feet into Kerrick Meadow along Rancheria Creek. This was the first open meadow walking I’d done in quite some time and it was very enjoyable. Met and chatted with two backpackers that I saw yesterday but did not stop to talk to. Dad was from Markleeville and daughter, or niece, was visiting from Iowa. They were reevaluating their route just as I had done yesterday. With the intel shared, they too changed up their route. Even though the snow is a lot less than normal, there is still more than I had expected.
Got to Peeler Lake about noon and after my talk with the pair earlier, I decided not to just stop here for lunch, but to stop for the day and enjoy the beauty.
After setting up camp I made dinner for lunch. It was filling and fantastic. I decided to go exploring above and to the side of the lake for a bit. It was fun bouldering and route finding while I was discovering beauty everywhere. This high up the trees are stunted. They battle the winter storms and have the battle scars to prove it. Pockets of wildflowers look as though someone spilled paint between cracks in rocks. Snow, in various stages of melt, makes interesting shapes and textures. On the far side of the lake, and at the foot of Crown Point at 11,374 feet, a waterfall roars down boulders when the wind dies down enough to be heard.
It was a beautiful 1.3 miles. About 200 yards from camp, I saw a Golden Eagle soar over the lake and towards me. It landed in a snag directly above where my tent sat. Quietly, I made my way from rock to rock and behind trees to get a closer look. I got to about 100 yards when it saw me and pushed off. I watched it gracefully soar back over Kerrick Meadow where I’d been just hours before.
It’s late afternoon now and I’m enjoying the warmth of the sun keeping me just warm enough on this blowing wind.
Tomorrow is about 8 miles back to the trailhead to meet Jason and move on to the second leg of this 9 day adventure.
Day # 3
Elevation Increase-394 ft
Elevation Decrease-2783 ft
Colllllld night. It dropped to 23 degrees last night. I was cozy until about 4 and then a bit cold till I got up at 5:30 to get packed up. Without breakfast or coffee, I was walking by 6:20. Within the first 3 minutes I saw the same Golden Eagle that had visited yesterday. I watched it take flight from a tree ahead of me and soar over the lake which was covered in wisps of steam as the sun hit it.
It was a large down today of almost 3000 feet. It was as beautiful as the way up, only a slightly different color as it was earlier in the day.
I hit Twin Lakes at about 10 am and got to my car ready to unpack and repack for the next trip. Took me about 40 minutes to switch out gear, repack new food for 7 days and gather up all my trash. I found Jason waiting for me in the sun by the Cafe. We repaid for my car to sit another 7 days and rode into Bridgeport for some food at The Barn. A root beer and veggie burrito hit the spot and we were back on the road again making our way to highway 108 and eventually Leavitt trailhead.
Tilden Lake-PCT-Hoover Wilderness/Yosemite NP Trek
Day # 1
Elevation Increase-599 ft
Elevation Decrease-489 ft
Arriving at Leavitt trailhead, it was here I realized I’d forgotten my trusty bandanna that I use for oh so many things. Oh well, I’ll make due.
We hit the trail and almost immediately came upon horses and day hikers. We had planned to only hike a mile and a half or so but ended up walking 4 miles to Roosevelt Lake. As we set up it grew more windy by the minute. The wind kept the bugs away and kept us from hearing the noise from the other groups camping around the lake. There were many and I hope for more solitude as we hike deeper into the wilderness.
A bit later we had dinner and still later it snowed on and off on us. It was a beautiful evening. In the tent around 7 to warm up. I can hear the snow again on my tent. Should be an interesting evening for sure.
Day # 2
Elevation Increase-2667 ft
Elevation Decrease-693 ft
Cold night but I stayed nice and warm. Got down to 23 degrees last night. Up at 7ish to the warm sun after about 35 minutes of snow showers when we got into the tents last night.
Breakfast. Coffee. Pack. Hit the trail. Today's miles were more than expected and the beauty surpassed either of our expectations. A forest of fir, Ponderosa, Lodgepole, Juniper and Aspen. And later, a granite gorge with the Walker River running through it.
Today was a huge climb with many water crossings. We moved slowly and took many breaks. Harriet Lake was very pretty. Not the most amazing lake I’ve been to but with only one other camper on the other side of the lake, it was true wilderness. As we were putting dinner together we saw a bald eagle fly over the lake and a few hours later saw it again, this time perched on a snag. We watched it take off and fly the opposite direction from us.
It’s 41 degrees outside as I write this. And it’s gonna be another chilly night for sure.
Day # 3
Elevation Increase-1162 ft
Elevation Decrease-1151 ft
Warm start to the day. Bug free and perfect for a swim. We hit the trail once I dried off. First off was the 250 ft climb to finish Dorothy Lake Pass. We saw thru hikers all the way up, down and all day long until we cut off the PCT. We figured we must have seen at least 75 during our time on “the highway” (or the Pacific Crest Trail).
Today was a beautiful walk through Jack Main Canyon next to Falls Creek almost all day. We walked in and out of “buggy zones” where the bugs formed literal clouds at times. Most PCT hikers had head nets on.
Crossing Falls Creek was not the rock hop that all other crossings had been and we decided to take off our shoes and walk across in our camp shoes instead.
The climb up from the PCT to Tilden Lake was a push of 700 feet alongside a cascading waterfall that formed the outlet of Tilden Lake.
Upon cresting the ridge it was obvious that the skeeters were going to be a challenge. We hiked to the back side of the lake, as we’d planned a down day here to day hike, and set up camp. We were swarmed. We threw up our tents and Jason got clean while I finished my organizing. When done, I went for a glorious swim. We then hid in our tents watching the sky change colors until it was time to make some dinner. Eating, while lifting our head nets as quickly as possible, was a challenge. Back into our tents to watch the light show.
Day # 4
Elevation Increase-922 ft
Elevation Decrease-918 ft
“Down day.” Today was our day to hang low and take a small day hike. Well. We did hang low, for a while, and then we took a big day hike.
When we woke up around 7 the skeeters weren’t out yet and we had some breakfast and coffee. We decided to hang out by the water, where there was a steady breeze with good gusts mixed in. We hung out for a couple hours until the bugs drove us to our tents. We lounged for another 90 minutes or so and then packed up for a day hike to Mary Lake.
I’ve been in this canyon a couple times but not for over 5 years. My memory of the terrain and distances were both a bit off.
The hike was beautiful and included 2 adult Bald Eagles and a juvenile as well as a sleeping doe which was nestled up under a small rock that I stepped on and then looked down to see the critter. I backed away slowly and showed Jason. We watched it breathing and looking to try to escape the hordes of mosquitoes that covered both Jason and myself for most of the almost 5 hour hike. When we reached Mary Lake, we both jumped in but even though we had crossed our fingers and toes that the bugs would be better 1000 feet higher, they were not and we quickly dressed and headed back down the valley.
We got back to our tents just after 6pm to millions upon millions of mosquitoes. Jason quickly got some water and disappeared into his tent while I stripped for another quick swim before diving into my own tent.
Last night the mosquitoes disappeared at about 8 and we were able to be outside for the sunset. It was 48 degrees. We kidded that the bugs must know that number. Since today is much warmer, our hope is that they aren’t actually good with numbers.
They are good with numbers. They didn’t subside until about 9:20. We donned our headlights and made dinner so that we could eat virtually free of bugs. It was at least a meal accompanied by less stress.
Calls for possible rain tomorrow. We shall see.
Day # 5
Elevation Increase-1654 ft
Elevation Decrease-1814 ft
Slept decent and pulled the rain fly off mid night to get a better view of the stars and clouds floating by. Awoke to 37 degree weather and a cloudy sky. And bugs. We had hoped that the bugs would give us a reprieve this morning but with no wind they are out in force. So instead of hanging out till mid morning we are hitting the trail at about 8:45.
Nice trail descending in elevation for about 90 minutes before we hit the PCT again. Within minutes of hitting the highway we saw a hiker. Before the day was over, we’d see an easy 50 more. Did some big ups and downs today on surfaces varying from forest duff, granite slabs, water covered trail, actual DG, and rocks blown up, drilled and moved into staircases for travelers like the two of us.
Took a long and appreciated break at Stubblefield Creek before our final 1000 foot climb of the day. The top of the climb was our off trail cutoff. We were headed to lake 8896 (named only with its elevation). We never made it to that lake because just a mere .15 off the trail was another unnamed and very hidden lake. PCT hikers who rarely, if ever, leave the trail corridor, would never camp at this lake. And I can’t imagine anyone would make it a destination. But here we are and it’s spectacular. The lake has a shoreline with reeds, boulders and cliff faces. It made for a nice swimming lake and is really beautiful to look at. Strolled around and took some pictures of the area before heading to my tent for some rest before dinner.
Came out after dinner and sat for a beautiful sunset.
Tomorrow we plan around 12 miles to Peeler Lake for the night. It was just 5 nights ago that I camped there for the first time. Both times it would be the last night of an amazing trip.
Day # 6
Elevation Increase-2037 fr
Elevation Decrease-1276 ft
Woke up to rain at about 5am. Jason said it had been raining since about 3. We rested in our tents and waited for a break to eat and get packed up. Sometime later we seized on a pause in the rain (which ended up being a 7 hour pause in the rain), had breakfast and packed up. Our first miles included a huge drop into Kerrick Canyon where we would be for most of the day. Again we saw 50+ PCT hikers and were glad to reach the cutoff where the PCT split from the route we were taking.
The changes were immediate. At first it was the knowledge that we wouldn’t see another person coming toward us every few minutes. The second was that Jason noticed that the pine cones on the trail weren’t crushed. A sign of very few hikers here compared to the highway behind us.
The feel of the canyon changed as well, it became more narrow. The canyon walls weren’t as high. The river itself was smaller, almost more tame.
But it was another mile in that the real changes began. All of the sudden we were surrounded by granite domes and even larger granite monoliths. We were in what would be the high point for each of us on this trip.. How had we never heard of the grandeur that existed in this canyon? A place that rivaled anywhere else I’ve been in the Sierra Nevada. Completely unknown to me. Every mile was stunning. And what made it even impressive was the massive storm building, first behind us to our west. With each step we took it closed in. And then the thunder started. And then the lightning joined in. It was just drizzling for about 30 minutes. We put rain covers on the packs but didn’t put on rain gear just yet. The enormous booms that echoed between the domes and monoliths were unworldly.
I come to the backcountry to get a sense of awe. Something that is very hard to find in the front country. I’ve felt that many times on this trip:
Got to Peeler Lake about 5 and set up camp before diving (yes, Jason) into the lake.
Tomorrow is our last day. I’ll truly miss this place. The backcountry creates a deep sense of calm and meaning for me that’s very difficult (yet not entirely impossible) to find in the front country.
I’ll take it with me to help weave those feelings into my front country life while at the same time get myself out here as much as possible to recharge.
Day # 7
Elevation Increase-421 ft
Elevation Decrease-2832 ft
Least sleep of the trip last night. Think I’m just excited to see Paula and Bee as it’s been about 10 days.
Up at 5:30 to a perfectly still lake and the sun yet to hit Crown Point. As we had breakfast and packed up, the sun warmed the granite around us and I was able to warm up my wet shoes from yesterday’s creek plunge.
For 8 days I’d been careful where I stepped in the too many to count steam, creek, river and mud crossings. Yesterday I got a bit careless and launched off the bank of a small creek to bounce off a boulder in the middle to give me the inertia to make it to the other side. The rock moved. I went in the drink. My feet weren’t quite as wet as if I’d walked right through the crossing, but close.
It’s about 8:30am and as we sit at our last major creek crossing I’m again reflecting on this amazing trip. A sure sign of success was the Bald Eagle that greeted us perched in a tree as we left Peeler Lake today. As we passed underneath it on the trail it took flight and we were able to track it all the way across the lake.
Miles - 77.40
Elevation Increase 9462 ft
Elevation Decrease 9183 ft