Hoover/Yosemite, August 2006
Back to other
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.
On the way up to Peeler Lake
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
reading, back and front
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.
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!
We then explored the beautiful little creek that flowed into Arndt
Lake right below our campsite.
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
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
Lake was packed with mid-afternoon day-hikers.
Finally, we stumbled back to the van and drove to the Wolf Creek Inn for
This year's composites