Yosemite, June 2013

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Second solo trip!  This was also the earliest trip I’ve ever taken.  However, it was a very dry and warm year, so there wasn’t too much water.  I didn’t even see any snow on the peaks. 

My goal for the trip was two nights at Spotted Fawn Lake.  I was there once before, in 2002, and I remember it being one of the nicest lakes I’ve ever seen.  I’d wanted to go back ever since.  I planned a route on-trail to Kibbie Lake then cross-country from there, but I didn’t make it.  The trip was characterized by decisions that felt bad at the time but turned out to be good.

Three good pieces of equipment news from this year:

Slide Show (40 pictures)

Day 1:  Shingle Spring to Kibbie Lake

0500: Awake
0510: Driving
1015: Trailhead
1030: Hiking
1300: Lunch
1430: Camp
2100: Tent
~5.5 miles
After an overly-long breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Tracy, I finally made it to the Shingle Spring trailhead about 45 minutes later than expected.  I quickly packed up and headed up the Kibbie Ridge Trail.  I’ve done this section of trail before, and it’s a pleasant, moderate climb through forest.  Near the top, I came across a four-foot rattlesnake on the trail.  He was a big, fat, meaty guy, but was unconcerned about me and slithered quietly into the brush.

As the trail reached the top of the ridge, I branched off to the right onto the Kibbie Lake Trail.  I descended slightly into a valley filled with burnt trees and young ferns.  After winding through this valley for a while, I crossed a pretty little stream a the base of a cliff and came upon Kibbie Creek.  Rather than follow the trail across the creek and then cross back when I reached the lake, I decided to stay on this side and go cross-country the last half-mile. The day was extremely hot by this point (records were set in the the Central Valley), and there was no shade.  I pushed myself too hard going over the rocks and became overheated and fatigued by the time I reached the shores of Kibbie Lake.  I found some trees, ate my lunch, and wished I’d stayed on the trail.

After lunch, I continued north along the shore of the lake, past some very nice campsites.  I was still very tired, and after stumbling across some large expanses of downed trees and starting up the first hill, I realized I wasn’t going to make it.   I returned to the best of the campsites on Kibbie Lake and stopped for the day.  It was only a little after lunch, and I felt terribly discouraged.  I was less than halfway to my goal. 

I spent the rest of the day reading and trying to stay cool.  I think I soaked in the lake 5 or 6 times just to lower my body temperature.  At 9:00, the mosquitoes came out and I got into my tent.

Day 2:  Day Hike and Explore

0630: Awake
0800: Hiking
1230: Lunch
2000: Tent
~5 miles
At the first rays of direct sun, I woke up and the mosquitos dispersed.  I considered packing everything up and trying to make it on to Spotted Fawn Lake, but it looked to be another scorchingly hot day.  Reluctantly, I gave up on my goal and went for a day hike instead.  To satisfy my curiosity, though, I took the route I’d planned on taking the previous afternoon.  It turns out I’m glad I didn’t try it with a full pack.

After skirting the shore of Kibbie Lake, I headed up a small stream a the north end of the lake.  There is no route at lake level here, so I had to climb over and around a hill to get to the other side.  I followed a poorly ducked route up a steep gully on the side of the hill, which turned into easy walking up to the summit.  After pausing to look down on Kibbie Lake, I continued east down the other side towards Kibbie Creek.  Things got really rough here, but I managed to pick a route through the confusing jumble all the way down to the creek.  I found a small swimming hole and cooled off for about an hour.

From the creek, there was no obvious route on towards Spotted Fawn Lake.  The view from the peak had revealed the country back here to be quite jumbled and brushy.  I wouldn’t recommend any cross-country route here, though I did see three guys making their way around the east side of Kibbie Lake.  This is extremely steep and brushy, and I was a little worried for their safety.  I ran into a ranger that evening who told me they'd made it, thankfully.  They'd come down from Many Island Lake, so I guess the route is possible -- but not easy!

Eventually, I made my way back to camp the way I'd come.  After lunch (and more swimming), I went on an explore to the outlet of Kibbie Lake.  The lake is very beautiful, and I was surprised how un-crowded it was.  I’d heard it was very popular, and being only 4.5 miles from the trailhead I expected it to fill up with weekend backpackers and dayhikers.  As it turns out, I pretty much had the lake to myself.

At the lake’s outlet, I reevaluated my decision to go cross-country on the first day.  The only ways back to this side from the trail were a narrow, 20-foot log crossing high above the water or a chest-deep wade.  Being packless on my explore, I took the wade and checked out the trail junction and a pretty little island.

Back at camp, I swam and read the rest of the afternoon.  Unfortunately, I was developing quite a sunburn even though I’d been staying in the shade.  The mosquitos were a little earlier this evening, and I was in the tent by 8:00.

Day 3:  Kibbie Lake to Shingle Spring

0600: Awake
0800: Hiking
1015: Trailhead
1030: Driving
1500: Home
~5 miles
I woke at 6:00, packed up, and headed out.  Instead of skirting the lake and creek, I went due west up over the smooth granite hill behind my campsite.  I’d seen some ducks up there and assumed there’d be a way down the cliff on the other side.  I was right, and easily found a nice scramble down a gully.  I followed the stream at the bottom of the cliff until it intersected the Kibbie Lake Trail.  This was a much easier route than what I took on my way in.  I was back at the car in no time.

I’d always taken Cherry Lake Road (N07) from CA120 to this trailhead, but I decided to try something new on the way home:  Cottonwood Road (N04) to CA108.  This route is longer, but it turns out to be much nicer.  The road is wider, smoother, and less windy.  I think it might have ended up being faster, too, so I’m definitely taking it from now on.

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