Backpacking loop: Emigrant, Hoover and Yosemite Wildernesses

I have my first real blisters in years. One of them is the good type: blood spreading up between the soft space near my big toe. After eight days on trail, I’m not walking anywhere today. This is trip two of my hiking vacation.

Deciding to hike a bit of the PCT, and wanting to finally visit Huckleberry Lake, I slept in my car just off Highway 108.

My third or fourth exploded balloon of the summer. People need to stop releasing them.

My third or fourth exploded balloon of the summer. People need to stop releasing them.

Southbound from Sonora Pass is one of my favorite sections of the Crest Trail. It’s rare to be so high for so long on an alpine ridge. Add the fact that it’s volcanic, rather than granitic, and it’s a stretch of trail that has stuck strongly in my mind since 2006.

I camped that first night on the West Fork of the Walker River – a place that I figured would be lame because it’s in the forest and I’m snobbish towards the sub-alpine zone. Bedding down off the PCT, I found an old trail sign standing guard over tread that no one walks. Sitting alone, thinking, staring at my map, I thought of the long-ago routes like the one we walked the day before down Post Peak drainage. Tonight’s area had important names: Fremont Lake, Walker River, Emigrant Pass, Emigrant Wilderness. I’m a sucker for early frontier history. Joseph Walker and John Fremont are high up on my list of history’s cool guys. It turns out that the West Walker Route of the California Trail was first walked by the Clark-Skidmore Party in 1852. It wasn’t a good one.

I've added the Wilderness 50 sticker this trip. It's a crazy realization that designated Wilderness is only 50 years old. That something that is so important to me is that new makes me think.

I added the Wilderness 50 sticker this trip. It’s a crazy realization that designated Wilderness is only 50 years old. That something that is so important to me is that new makes me think.

The rest of the trip was marked by walking obscure trails – while technically speaking, not actually going cross country.

I looped down into Yosemite from Hoover Wilderness and then crossed into Emigrant via Bond Pass. I stopped to explore the Montezuma Mine – which I assume predates the 1930s declaration of Emigrant as a primitive area. Before the trip, I compared my four maps of the area and found trails that aren’t included on newer publications. I walked those. At one of the remotest lakes of my week, I was surprised to find two other guys. Pounding miles, I crossed once again into to Yosemite then missed an obscure junction. Foot sore, I ended up at Huckleberry for the night.

A bunch of these little guys joined me in the dark. I've had this experience a few times. It also reminds me of visiting the set of WILD when they were filming the scene with Reese has frogs crawling over her.

A bunch of these little frogs joined me in the dark. I’ve had this experience a few times. It also reminds me of visiting the set of WILD when they were filming the scene with Reese has frogs crawling over her.

The area is pretty damn abused by commercial pack companies. My end of Huckleberry Lake was disappointing with it’s huge, dusty, shit-filled camp and braided stock trails.

Day three was another highlight – swimming between islands, a fun chat with a trail crew (they took my book, Water for Elephants, that I had finished that morning), another scarcely there historic route and the linking of the Emigrant Lakes all the way from the granite domes to the volcanic peaks at High Emigrant Lake.

Being alone for four days was wonderful. Time to read, think, reset, look at birds.

Since I was solo this trip, most of photos are uninteresting landscapes. I did take this good timer shot though.

Since I was solo this trip, most of photos are uninteresting landscapes. I did take this good timer shot though.

This week’s hiking was made more delicious by my effort with the dehydrator the week before. I should fire that up more often.

Yesterday was a bit of a misery hobble. Sore feet, a race to the car and crazy strong winds – I tried to enjoy it. The gusts were enough to blow me around. One pushed me off balance while I was traversing a steep slope. It was the closest I’ve come to “being blown off the mountain”.

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