Hoover/Yosemite, August 2006

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This year everything broke.  First a hiking pole (which we managed to fix), then Alex's sunglasses, then (on Day 2) the cap fell off Alex's front tooth.  This made things like eating and breathing the cold mountain air difficult, plus we were uncertain if a week without dental care was a good idea, so we made the tough decision to hike out.  We tried to make up for it with a day hike in the Marin Headlands.

The original route was to be a seven-day, 50-mile loop of Kerrick and Matterhorn canyons.  What we ended up doing was a three-day, out-and-back to Arndt Lake. 


Day 0:  Buckeye Campground

Due to the eastern entrance for this trip, we drove up the day before and car-camped at Buckeye, about 20 minutes from the trailhead.  On the way up, we had lunch at the Wolf Creek Inn in Markleeville -- excellent ribs and brisket!  We also spent some time in the Buckeye Hot Springs near the campground.

Day 1:  Mono Village to Peeler Lake 

The first day of our route climbed 2500' from Mono Village to Peeler Lake.  That sounded daunting, especially with full packs our fist day at altitude, so we rented a mule to carry our gear up the trail.  This let us have a very relaxed and enjoyable first day!

The trail started by winding through the Mono Village Campground at the west end of Twin Lakes, then climbed very gently along Robinson Creek.  It alternated between lovely forest and dry, almost desert-like alluvial fans.  As the trail began climbing, there were some fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, especially up Little Slide Canyon.  Eventually, we reached Barney Lake, a very pretty little lake with a sandy shore, and had a rest and a snack.
Barney Lake
On the way up to Peeler Lake
Hanging out at Peeler Lake
Eric reading, back and front
Then, after fording the creek a few times, the trail climbed brutally the last few miles to Peeler Lake.  We were very glad to not have our packs on this stretch.  Reaching Peeler Lake, we found our packs in a small pile near someone else's campsite.  We put them on and walked further around the lake, looking for a more private site.  Alex commented that this last quarter-mile with the packs was harder than the first eight without!

Peeler Lake and Crown Point

We eventually found an excellent campsite on the western shore and settled in for lunch and an afternoon of swimming and exploring.  The changing light on Crown Point (or Crowne Plaza, as we called it) was just amazing, as were the billowing clouds.

Alex's Castle
Changing Light

Day 2:  Peeler Lake to Arndt Lake

From Peeler Lake, the trail descended through forest into Kerrick Canyon.  From there, it was like going down giant steps:  one huge alpine meadow after another, each separated by short stretch of slightly steeper, rocky forest.  The meadows were glorious carpets of green with scattered white granite boulders.  There was still a lot of water in the meadows, so the trail detoured around mud pits pretty regularly.  There were also lots of bugs.

About four miles from Peeler Lake, Alex's tooth fell out.  We decided to detour to Arndt Lake for lunch and to think things over.  The cross-country route to Arndt Lake was easy to follow, although the guidebook misplaced the one good campsite here:  it's not on the west side of the lake, it's on the north side.  We had a frustrating time before lunch looking for it.  After lunch, we found it and decided to settle in for the night.

We spent the afternoon exploring the area.  We climbed up an unnamed knob to the west of the lake that gave us fantastic views both up and down Kerrick Canyon.  We could see all the way to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, the site of last year's trip!

Hunewill Peak erupts!

We then explored the beautiful little creek that flowed into Arndt Lake right below our campsite.

A snake!  A snake!

Little Slide Canyon

Day 3:  Arndt Lake to Mono Village

On the morning of the third day we had a pow wow to figure out what to do.  The consensus was unanimous and unhappy:  hike out.  Thus began this year's Death March.  Thirteen miles on the last day of a trip isn't beyond the pale, but when you're carrying four days worth of food that you're never going to use, it's near our limit.  By the time we got to Mono Village we were exhausted.

The hike out was otherwise just as nice as the hike in, though.  We stopped at Peeler Lake for lunch and a final swim, and again at Barney Lake for a snack.  Barney Lake was packed with mid-afternoon day-hikers.

Finally, we stumbled back to the van and drove to the Wolf Creek Inn for dinner.

This year's composites