Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horseshoe Meadows to Onion Valley 2009

 We started our trip on Friday night at about 7pm. Hit the trail head at Horseshoe Meadows and started hiking as we went it started getting dark but we wanted to get to Chicken spring lake by at least 9:30 this was a 4.5 mile hike up over Cottonwood pass. As we hiked the sun went down and we had to put on our headlamps. We saw some lights coming down the trail from the top of cottonwood pass as they got close we head the 2 guys say " What are you crazy going up at this time or just stupid" Well I thought the same thing about them coming down the trail.
We did get to Chicken Spring lake by 9:30pm set up camp. Could not believe that their was hardly anyone at the lake. When we woke in the morning it was 34 deg out no clouds and no wind perfect day in the sierras. We made breakfast oatmeal and cereal bars and started our journey to Lower Rock Creek about 8 miles from the lake.
This is a photo of Chicken Spring lake from the trail to Rock Creek. A part of the PCT that runs from Cottonwood pass to Rock Creek.
On the way to Rock Creek it would be a stretch of trail without any water for the entire 8 miles. We saw wild Turkey and a lot of chip monks.
 Photo at right is from the trail looking south west over Big Whitney meadow. This is my daughter and I taken by our friend Jesse. It was too bad that I had the only Camera on the trip.
 This is a photo of the wild turkey that can be seen in this section of the PCT. We saw a total of about 5 of them along the trail to Rock Creek. As we got closer to Rock Creek we ran into a coyote running from a hawk that was swooping in after it. It was quite funny to watch the coyote run from this bird. We arrived at our camp spot Lower Rock Creek at around 2:30pm plenty of time to set up camp and go exploring. We caught a couple of Golden trout although they were so small we ended up throwing them back. We set up our fire for the evening collected wood and mad dinner. We had Chili and fresh corn bread it was perfect.
  We sat around the campfire and ate our chocolate pudding, talked about our great day of hiking. Where we were going the next day. Up over Guot pass and on to Crabtree meadows we decided we would camp at Crabtree the next night. We all turned in at about 8:30 -9pm as the night was getting late and the fire was dying down. Jesse got a sink full of water and dowsed the fire prior to turning in.
 Sunday 8/16/2009
Up at around 7am temp was actually very cold at about 34deg in the morning then warming to around 68 during the day. Had biscuits and gravy this morning and boy did that hit the spot. Started out up Guot pass at around 8 or 8:30am and reached the top at around 11am this is quite a climb out of Rock Creek.  This is a photo of some of the steps made from logs on the way up the pass. We reached Crabtree meadows at around 2pm this gave us enough time to relax and check out the water falls below the meadow on Whitney creek. After relaxing for a while we are sitting their by the creek and some lady come running out of the trees. We did not know what to think we looked at each other and then the lady says “ Do you know where you are?” We looked at her and said Yes! Crabtree Meadows then she asked if we had a map she could look at. Of course we said sure it hear in my pack. Then another lady come out of the forest and said something then they both turned around and walked back towards the forest without saying anything at all. They came back to the creek a couple of time but did not ask for anything. We hope they found out which way they wanted to go. The ranger station was just up the trail about a mile so I am sure that was where they went. Any way that was some excitement for our day.
 We Then set up camp down by the falls as we like the rushing water sound. We baked our Tuna noodle casserole for dinner and mad some Vanilla pudding for desert. Then headed off to see the meadow and what kind of animals we could see. When we got to the meadow we saw 8 deer and 2 baby’s we could actually get quite close to them. We hiked around for a while went up to Upper Crabtree this was a great meadow with trees and rocks in the center like an island. Some of the deer at Crabtree meadows. Jesse was trying to see how close he could get.
8/17/2009 Monday
Today we are heading to Guitar lake.
Breakfast was Oatmeal and Honey bran muffins. We made 2 large muffins so we had some to share. Yesterday we saw some folks camped by the trail near the bear box so I headed over to see if they want some fresh bake muffins. We I arrived they were just packing up. The one guy that was at the site I asked if he wanted some fresh muffins and he said” No way fresh! Your joking!” then I gave him the muffins and he could not believe it he then asked how we did this so I gave him a brochure on the Bemco Backpacker Oven. He was so excited he showed his wife and shared the muffins with her.
  Well after that I headed back to camp to get ready for the days hike to Guitar lake. We left our site at Crabtree at around 10am late start today although we only had about 3 miles to go. Hiked through Upper Crabtree and past the ranger station then on to the JMT to head to Guitar.
 Right photo reflections in Whitney creek.
Arrived at Guitar lake at around 12:30pm it was a beautiful day no wind and about 70deg. My daughter who had knee surgery last year said her knee was hurting and she may not hike to the top of Whitney on Tuesday. I was hoping she would go after all we hike all this way 20 some miles. Well Jesse and I went on a short day hike up to Hitchcock Lakes took some photos and explored the area for about 3 hours then headed back to camp. At camp we finished setting up and decided to cook dinner we were going to have The corn bread, spam, cheese casserole. Right photo of baking cornbread cassorol.
  After the sun went down and the wind stopped it was pretty cold at around 40deg we saw other hikers arriving as late as 8:30pm. They must have been hiking all day. One guy was so dirty it looked as if he had been following a pack of horses. The stars were great that night and we turned in at around 9:30pm.
Photo at right is of Me looking over Hitchcock lakes while on our day hike around Guitar lake.

8/18/2009 Tuesday

Up at around 5:30am Temp was 42deg.
Breakfast was Oatmeal as we wanted to get started early. My daughter decided she was not going on the hike to Whitney her knee hurt too bad. We did not want to push her at this point as we still had 35 miles to go on our trip to Onion Valley. We set out for the top as Denise set out for the camp site at Crabtree Meadows. It was a long hike up but the views were great and temps did not get too hot. We passed a number of hikers on the way up the trail as we did not have packs just day packs. Reached the top at around 11:30 am after starting the hike at 7 am. Walked around a while checked out the views and then decided it was time to set up the Bemco Backpacker Oven to make lunch. Everyone else was having trail mix and dried fruit. But we were setting up to make fresh pepperoni pizza. We mixed the ingredients and prepared the pizza's 2 - 6" pizzas one for each of us. Stuck them in the oven and they baked in about 15 min. The temp at the top of Whitney that day must have been in the 50's or 60's no wind a perfect day. We ate lunch then signed the guest book and took pictures. A few people asked about the Oven and I gave out about 5 brochures. Then we started back to Guitar lake the hike down went fast it only took 1.5 hrs to reach the lake. We packed or packs and set out to meet Denise at Crabtree meadows for our 4th night out.

We arrived at the camp at Crabtree around 3pm. We set up camp and then walked down to see the ranger station. Looked around a while the ranger arrived and we asked if they had an egg we could use. We wanted to make some of the brownies but we need 1 egg. The ranger did have some powdered egg whites she gave us enough for 1 egg and we told her that we would bring some brownies back for her to try. Went back to camp this was only a ¼ mile away or so carrying this powdered egg white wrapped in foil along the way.
We made the brownies and brought the ranger 2 of them they were great!
Brownies that we made and shared with the rangers.
08-19-2009 Wednesday
Up around 6:30 am temp was around 38 deg.    This morning we baked biscuits and gray we each had 3 large biscuits some snacks and packed up for our hike to Tindall creek going through Wallace creek total of 8.5 miles. We arrived at Wallace creek at around 10:30 am had lunch and headed fro Tindall creek this was the half way point. After hiking mostly up hill and across a flat plateau with a large pond off to the south side no trees though. We finally arrived at our destination of Tindall creek. Walked towards Forester pass as this was our planned trip for the next day. Made camp in a small grove of trees next to the creek. Setup our tents and cooking area and headed off on our daily hike to check out the surrounding area. This was great we saw lakes and looked at the trail for the next day. At about 5:30 we arrived back at camp and began cooking Chili and corn bread for dinner. This would give us the energy to make it over Forester pass the next morning. We also made some Vanilla pudding for desert. We could see all the way to Forester pass and also Shepherds pass from our camp site. We all turned in early as we knew we had a big day ahead of us.
08-20-2009 Thursday
Up at around 6 am temp was 48 deg. Nice morning.
We started our hike to the pass at around 7:30 after breakfast it was going to be 4.7 mile to the top of the pass and I figured we would get their around 10:30 or 11 am. The hike was mostly up hill past a number of lakes and ponds. We saw a lot of Marmots and 1 small animal that actually looked like a grey hamster. We sopped at the lake at the bottom of the pass and took a break. Then started up we actually reached the top at around 10:30. A lot of people were at the top 4 of them were doing the JMT from Yosemite and 4 other were heading the same way as we were. We found that a lot of the hikers were doing anywhere from 10 to 18 miles per day and hiking all day long from sun up to sun down. We sat at the top of the pass a while and ate some snacks talked to the folks then headed down to Vidette Meadows our next camp spot. This was a great walk down the canyon. Saw the rangers repairing the trail and a lot of hikers going up to the top of the pass. We hiked until about 2:30 then found a great spot down by the Buds creek. We could have a camp fire again in this location as we were under 10000 feet in elevation for the first time in 5 days. We checked out the area and found 3 great waterfalls along the creek, took lots of pictures. Hung out down by the creek walking up and down just looking at all the great views.
Tonight we were going to have Pizza as this was our last night in the back country. I made up 6- 6” pizzas all of them had pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers with tomato sauce and shredded cheese. We pigged out and even had desert.

8-21-2009 Friday

Up at around 7am temp was in the mid 40’s
Photo looking back at Forester on the way out of Buds creek.
Today we are hiking out of the back country and heading to our car parked at Onion Valley hope it’s still their. We headed out down the trail and saw a couple of deer along the way. Then up the hill out of Buds Creek and up to Bullfrog lake and the Kersarge lakes then up over the pass and down the car waiting at the bottom this was going to be about 9 miles. We got to Bullfrog lake at around 10am then headed up to the pass this was going to be a climb. But considering we just went over Forester the day before it seamed like a piece of cake. We ran into a pack mule team heading down the pass the leader was having a hard time getting the mules to go down the pass. We made it past them and helped her get them moving. Made it to the top of the pass at around 11:30 hung out for awhile then began our decent to the truck passing a number of day hikers and BPrs as we went. It seamed that the day hikers did not even want to say Hi. Maybe it was cause we had been out for 7 days. Smell you know but I don’t think so as we could not smell each other cause we all took a dip in the creek the day before. Anyway we made it to the truck by 3pm and on our way back to Horseshoe Meadows to pick up our other car. Then we stopped at the Whitney restaurant and had dinner before our long trip back home.

It was a great trip and I hope I did not bore you with this report see all the photos here.

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