Saturday, October 16, 2021

Afternoon Exploring at Izaak Walton Lake: Sierra Nevada


Camp at Izaak Walton Lake

found this old cache stored between some pines

view into Tully Hole

Izaak Walton Lake

Continuation of a trip to the Sierra Nevada back in August:

After Camo and I set up camp at what we thought was Hortense Lake, we decided to do some afternoon exploring. According to the map, there should have been another big lake adjacent to the one we were camped at. After hiking to the other side, the other lake was nowhere to be seen. We had views down into Tully Hole, but couldn't figure out where the other lake was located. Camo hiked back to camp and I decided to investigate a bit. After wandering around for a half hour or so, I found a small stream whose source had to be another lake up above. Sure enough, I found another large lake, looked at the map, and concluded Hortense Lake was in another small valley about a half mile or mile from where we were camped. We were actually camped at Izaak Walton Lake, and then the map made sense. After hiking back to camp, I told Camo where we were. It didn't really matter. We were away from anything and everything, with great views, and that was all that mattered. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging around camp, talking, and watching the light change off the surrounding granite peaks.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Tully Lake/Izaak Walton Lake: Sierra Nevada


View from key hole opening

View of where we would be hiking later in the day. Cotton Lake below.

key hole opening view, sunrise light

hiking cross country

View of Izaak Walton Lake from above

Izaak Walton Lake. Camo and I thought it was Hortense Lake but would later be proven wrong.

Camp for the day/night at Izaak Walton Lake

 Continuation of a trip to the Sierra Nevada in August:

When I woke up early on a summer morning in August in the Sierra Nevada at Tully Lake, the wind had shifted over night, and smoke had filled the valley. I could smell it in my congested nostrils and my eyes felt puffy like softballs. Light was just starting to also enter the mountains, and I realized I had an opportunity to catch some sunrise pics. The first thing I noticed after waking up other than the smoke, was that I felt simply exhausted. Even after scrambling around the granite for 15 minutes taking pictures, I noticed I could not wake up and felt so fatigued. I spotted a keyhole notch up on ridge that looked doable for good pics. It was extremely steep, but not overly dangerous, it was like a steep grassy slide that went right up to the ridge. After scrambling and climbing for half an hour, I made it to the top, once again, absolutely fatigued. The keyhole offered really cool views into the valley behind the ridge, right at sunrise. I didn't stay long. I had another goal in mind- to get back to camp and go back to sleep. An hour later, after a downhill scramble, I was back at camp and fell asleep immediately. 

After waking up later in the morning, Camo and I had breakfast and our plan was to hike cross country to Hortense Lake. After scouting the area yesterday afternoon, I thought I had a good idea where it was. Once Camo and I starting hiking, I was deceived by the number of little lakes in the area and had trouble pinpointing exactly where we were on the map we had. The hiking was easy, and we reached an overlook with a beautiful large lake down below. We thought it was Hortense Lake, but found out later it was actually Izaak Walton Lake. We reached the lake around noon after a short downhill scramble. We were the only ones there at first. Camo went for a swim, I went for one a little later, felt completely re-energized, a Sierra baptism I like to call it. The water temp wasn't too cold. We set up camp on a flat, soft, grassy shoreline, ate lunch, and decided to do some afternoon exploring...

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tully Lake Afternoon Exploration: Sierra Nevada

 After setting up camp at Tully Lake, there was still several hours until dinner. I still felt a little uneasy about hiking cross country off trail (too many past screw ups) so I wanted to get familiar with the map that Moosie gave Camo and I to use. The area we were planning on hiking in the next couple days looked simple enough, the woman who suggested it also said it wasn't too difficult, but I needed a little more assurance. So I grabbed the map and my water bottle, and decided to do a little exploring around the lake area surrounding Tully Lake, and make out some landmarks on the map. I had a great time looking around for a couple hours, "witnessing" several small lakes in the area, some trees and plants, and looking at the granite. 

Too many times, I have made the map read what I want it too, and not what it actually is. In hindsite, unfortunately, my afternoon exploring produced the same results. Some of the lakes I found during my trek were not what I thought they were. Thankfully, the terrain was gentle enough where it didn't really matter in the grand scheme, but it was another reminder to use caution in the wilderness.

I met Camo for dinner at our camp at Tully Lake. Rain showers entered the area. By evening, we noticed the wind had shifted, blowing in from the north. We saw a bright half moon become obscured by fast moving clouds. Again, a smoky smell entered the valley...

Sunday, September 5, 2021

McGee Pass and Tully Lake: Sierra Nevada

Big McGee Lake sunrise

Camo eating breakfast

hiking up and out of Big McGee Lake basin

Camo dwarfed by rock

Hiking up towards McGee Pass

Looking down towards little McGee lake

Small snow melt lake

McGee Pass 11,895 feet

meadows still appeared to be unusually dry

Tully Lake

Camo and I woke up after the sun rose over the ridge and broke down our tents after breakfast. We still had a climb ahead of us to get up and over McGee Pass. We were not sure what our final destination for the day was going to be, and we began the guessing game of locating the pass from the trail below as we hiked. We made several guesses that all turned out to be wrong. Just below the pass, we met a woman who was returning from her trip. She changed our entire itinerary after talking to her. She suggested we camp near Tully Lake and do some cross country hiking off trail near the lake and do some exploring. Our current plan, according to her, was ambitious, but also would take us into crowded areas. Her suggestion would take us away from the crowds, and allow for a much more leisurely, enjoyable experience. I was a little leary of hiking cross country with an unfamiliar map and not quite feeling "in the zone" yet, but Camo and I ultimately agreed and took her advice. After saying our goodbyes, we continued our task of hiking up towards McGee pass.

I was definitely feeling a bit of altitude, Camo and I took it slow and reached the pass around 11:00 or so. Visibility was pretty good, although there was still a noticeable light smoky haze, distorting the usual crisp clarity one usually finds in the Sierra. After hanging out at the top for 20 minutes or so, Camo and I began our decent, our destination for the day was Tully Lake, only a couple miles away. We grabbed lunch near a waterfall, I did my best to keep my skin covered from the intense sun. 

By early afternoon, some clouds rolled in again, keeping the sun's intensity at bay, before we knew it, Camo and I arrived at Tully Lake where we planned to set up camp. The views were outstanding, the day's hike strenuous, but not overly so. We had plenty of time to relax, enjoy the views, and do some exploring. It was a great day...