We planned to hike for 7 days and about 75 miles through the Yosemite
wilderness, but as you will see we had to turn around because of troubles.
1st day, going through the gear and looking at the trail guide, on nice riverside campsite near Sonora Pass trail head (where we left Paul's car.)
Day 2. Paul and Howard crashed out on a small open patch after trudging up Cold Canyon. It was cold too, and the packs were heavy with 7 days of food. Sort of strange.
All loaded up & on the trail above Cold Canyon.
Marianna resting her foot with the blisters at the Return Creek crossing (14 miles in). We decided to abandon the 7 day through hike and camp just north of here for a couple of days. This was quite a disappointment for us all, but it ultimately turned out to be the right decision.
Return Creek. This photo can not begin to show how neat the creek and rocks were near our Virginia Canyon campsite. It was just spectacular with huge boulders and ravines and water flowing through them. Although there were fish, they had already been well trained by other fisherman and so Paul was unsuccessful, even thought he tried all kinds of tackle.
Flat granite rocks are clean but cold in the morning air!
Howard hiked up the canyon while Marianna & Paul stayed at the camp
on Return Creek.
Shepherd Crest from Virginia Canyon. Trees on ground were pushed down by avalanches.
Volcanic peaks visible at the end of Virginia Canyon. Excelsior Mt. (12446).
Trail fork up to Virginia Pass. I didn't see another person all day long up Virginia Canyon.
But I did find an arrowhead! The tip and neck where it was tied on are broken off, but the chipping is right, and there is clearly a necking at the upper left where it would have been tied to an arrow.
The final ascent to Virginia Peak (Howard's hike). This shows why I didn't get all the way up that day! Without a rope this was much too dangerous and I would have had to walk back in the dark. So all I got of this peak was a view of it.
Stanton Peak, 11695 ft. This was my fallback goal, in case I couldn't get up Virginia, but this turned out to be unattainable without real mountain climbing gear.
But I did get the the saddle between Virginia Peak and Stanton Peak. Here's the view to the southeast towards Shepherd's Crest. From right to left, Sheep's peak (11842), Mt. Conness (12590), in background, Shepherd Crest, far left Excelsior Mountain (12446). Dark unnamed peak in foreground near Soldier Lake.
Quarry Peak, center, (11161 ft), as seen from Virginia Peak's west saddle. (Right foreground is west end of ridge leading to Whorl Mountain. Left is stanton peak.)
Whorl Mountain (12033 ft) from Virginia Saddle. (This is much further and steeper going down than it looks from the photo. But there is a nice flat valley at the bottom, with Spiller Creek running through it).
Another use for bear canisters: seating. (Lake camp). Marianna also figured out how to use them to solar-heat water for washing.
The unnamed lake about 6 miles up Cold Canyon from Glen Aulin, where we stayed the night of Sept. 11th and saw ducks, bats, & really nice bear and cub prints. The bear tracks made us a little nervous, but looked like they were a few days old. Also we saw where something had killed a duck. Probably a bear. We only saw one other human footprint at this lake. To one side of this lake, hidden by rock, is a much smaller black water pond with a stunning set of towering rocks and line of matching trees to one side of it. Camping at this lake was clearly the high point of our trip.
It was intensely quiet that night because there were no aircraft flying over (and we didn't yet know why). We actually thought a group of ducks flying in was a military jet, they made so much noise!
Top of rock outcrop near Bat/Duck/Bear lake. Virginia Canyon in background. From right to left: Shepherds Crest, Summit Peak?, Camiaca Peak (11739) behind Howard, Virginia Peak, behind Paul.
Marianna. A view in the other direction (west across Virginia Canyon).
On our way back through Cold Canyon we took time to stop and have lunch at this huge overhanging boulder in the big meadow about 3 miles from Glen Aulin. Ferns and miner's lettuce grew in the damp spot below the overhang. The meadow itself was almost completely dry, although there were some mud holes which would do for water in a pinch.
Western Cedar got very large at this massive rocky ridge just before the ascent back to Glen Aulin.
Waterwheel Falls (Tuolumne River). Not much water, but lots of slick rock to play on.
Loaded up for the hike out from Glen Aulin to Tuolumne Meadows. Background is Tuolumne River (just behind) and Cold Canyon (in distance.)
Then we drove to the other end of our hike destination to pick up Paul's
car. We hiked to Mt. Leavitt (11570).
Mt. Leavitt from near the "notch" - Howard & Paul were barely visible with binoculars, on the dark colored part of the saddle. Peak is hidden behind volcanic outcropping to right of picture. Marianna kept the camera and stayed at the saddle while Paul and Howard did the peak.
Spectacular view from the "notch" about 4-1/2 miles south along the Pacific Crest Trail from Sonora Pass - trail loops right and goes across not far from snow field, heading towards Yosemite. Lake Latopie is the little green one. We think high peak in the background is Mt. Conness.
Can't wait to go back next year!