End of Year hikes

posted Jan 5, 2012, 8:50 AM by Paul Wagner
We spent the last few days of 2011 in Yosemite Valley and Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, taking advantage of the amazingly warm weather and sunshine.
 
The first day was a frantic hike up to Boulder Lake of the Clark Fork in Carson-Iceberg--frantic because we started late and wanted to get to the lake and back to our car before dark.  That's eight miles, and we had just a hair less than four hours to do it.
 
(That's the Iceberg at right---with a snow covered meadow in the foreground.) 
 
And for the first couple of miles, that seemed very easy.  The trail wanders along the Clark Fork through the gently rolling floor of the  forest canyon.  We were right on schedule.  Then we hit the junction with the Clark Fork Trail, and turned left. 
 
And started climbing.  About 1500 feet in a couple of miles.  And remember, we started the day at sea level. Gasp, wheeze.  And we fell behind schedule...
 
So we held a tribal council at 3 p.m., and decided to push on for five more minutes.  Then ten.  Then fifteen--and that's when we made it to the lake: small, bouldery, and frozen over.  
Boulder lake.  Frozen over except for one small part that got sun in the middle of the day, on the north shore.
 
OK-great.  Quick photo, quick drink of water, and now let's head back downhill.
 
(That's Boulder Lake at left. In the summertime, this is a nice first stop on the way to the Pacific Crest Trail in this area--although the campsites looked a little overused to us.) 
 
There were some terrific views on this trail--click on the photos here and they will take you to our Picasa webpage for the hike--and that has the whole collection for this trail.   We could see Stanislaus Peak and the whole range from Nightcap Peak to Sonora Peak--all without snow in this weird weather year.
 
Racing the sunset, I couldn't pass up this shot.
Luckily, we were a lot faster downhill (there's a surprise!) and made it to the car just as darkness fell.  You can see in the photo at right just how close we cut it, as the sunset is reflected in frozen pools about a half mile from the trailhead.
 
So we made it, just as we planned--and that left us feeling just a bit smug with ourselves.  By the time we started driving, we needed our headlights. 
 
And yes, for those who love to second-guess every trail report, we were on a well-marked trail, and had headlamps warm clothes, and even some food in our packs.
 
And in our next post we'll write about two trips right in Yosemite Valley that allowed us to see wonderful sites, hike for hours, and not see another person on the trail. 
 
Well, there wasn't exactly a trail....
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