Trekking a 100k in Yosemite's Wilderness: Part I from Twin Lakes to Harden Lake

Published by Alpin_Rise , 18 December 2014, 18h32.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike: 5 June 2014
Hiking grading: T3 - Difficult Mountain hike
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA 
Time: 6 days
Height gain: 2750 m 9020 ft.
Access to start point:Twin Lakes near Bridgeport, no Public Transport as far as I know. Hitchhiking from Bridgeport.
Access to end point:Yosemite Valley, Public Transport avaiable
Accommodation:Free wild camping outside private property. Campsites in Twin Lakes, all kind of accommodation in Yosemite Valley.
Maps:I recommend the very usefull and well made 206 Yosemite National Park Trail Map, providing much additional information

Wilderness - the often discussed and disputet term describes "a natural environment that has not been significantly modified by civilized human activity". These areas have been fascinating to me, even more since the Alps don't have any "real" Wilderness areas. To get a taste of the Wilderness concept (that goes back to pioneers as the legendary Muir) my stay in the US last summer was a perfect occasion: I planed to spend a week in the Sierras more or less without contact to civlisation. My goal was not to do as many miles as I could per day - in fact I walked exactly 100km in 6 days before reaching Yosemite Valley. Therefore I had a lot of time to enjoy barely untouched nature and practise my second favourite occupation: fishing. 

Trekking in the Sierras is pretty popular and since I didn't want to wander with the crowd I decided not to do a popular Route like the Pacific Crest Trail or John Muir Trail. Luckily I could hit the trails before main season and since there was not much snow in the Sierra that Winter I didn't have to fight "potholing" the notorious june snowfields. 
However, backpacking out there is pretty easy due to usually good, stable weather and easy, singposted (but not marked!) trails. Nevertheless one should bring some experience, especially when travelling solo and follow the guidelines avoiding unwanted bear-encounters!

In search for wilderness - a wonderfull trekking through Yosemite's backcountry

Remark: This report is just a small summary of my trip to inspire future aspirants and give an impression of the Sierra's beauty. I won't go into details concerning gear, food, orientation and safety measures. If you want to know more, have a look on that map, write a comment or a private message. 

Day 1: Twin Lakes to Buckeye Pass +750m / -150m, 13km
After a nice mountaineering trip to the Sierras Matterhorn 360 had to leave downstreams back home while I continued upstreams. Since my backpack was pretty heavy (around 20kg/40lbs) and my legs still tired from yesterday, I was happy to reach Peeler Lake and the highest point of day one after about 4 hours. There were a lot of trout and brookies swimming in the glass clear water - todays protein source was easily caught. I set camp below Buckeye Pass at the edge of a beautiful meadow.  The night was peaceful but temperatures dropped below freezing point. 

Day 2: Buckeye Pass to Benson Lake: +300m / -700m, 17km
I continued downstreams along Rancheria Creek till the beginning of Cerrick Canyon, where I came across the PCT which I followed, running into several PCT-long-distance hikrs. Going over Seavey Pass I came down to Benson Lake, which lies a little bit off trail. Therefore most PCT folks don't visit this beautiful lake and I had another wonderfull campspot and a little beach for my own. And there were of course some trouts to go along with my dinner. But every paradise has its hunters and the mosquitos were as hungry as I was...

Day 3 Benson Lake to nameless Lake near Pate Valley, +700m / -1000m, 20km
From Benson Lake some miles along the PCT where I crossed another handfull long-distance hikers. I wanted to avoid this "mass" of hikers I and changed my original plans from following the PCT via Matterhorn Valley to Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. Instead I went up to Murdock Lake and then down Rodgers Valley, where I met the first bear, just wandering on the trail as I did. Before I could take a picture it run away. I heard some other bears in the brush and there was a lot of poop, but I didn't have another encounter that day. For my campsite I chose a nameless lake lefthand when going down to pate valley. A little paradise just for myself, warm water to swim and a lot of time just to let my feet dangle...

Day 4 Nameless Lake to Harden Lake, +1000m / -600m, 15km
From my "private" lake I went back to the ingrown and very little travelled trail down to Pate Valley where I met some other backpackers that where hiking the popular route following the Tuolumne River upstreams. Tuolumne River was very inviting for a cool swim and to my surprise I was pretty lucky fishing: I caught one of the biggest trouts in my live. After some pictures I released it - simply to much to eat for me & myself.  
The final ascent to Harden Lake was hot and strenous but in good company. It's a real joy to have someone to talk and eat with after some days on our own! 

On day 5 and 6 I continued towards Yosemite Valley via Yosemite Point and Falls. 

For every overnight hike in Yosemite National Park you need a Wilderness Permit. It's also mandatory to carry a bear canister to keep your food and smelly items safe from bears. All information about the regulations can be found here

Hike partners: Alpin_Rise

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Comments (5)

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Sander says:
Sent 18 December 2014, 21h33
What a fantastic trip!!!
It must be hard to return to civilization after some days in the wilderness.
Did you not had the feeling to return as quick as you can after seeing the first villages? ;-)

Mistermai says:
Sent 19 December 2014, 10h13
That's a fairly impressive hike and exactly the kind of experience that I miss in the alps. The lonelyness is just an amazing experience IMO. Did you see a lot of other "human beings"?

BTW: Is it leagal to do fishing in the NP? Do you need any kind of license?


Vauacht says: RE:
Sent 19 December 2014, 17h44
Fishing is legal if you own a license:

It seems very popular in the Sierras to stock up food supplies with freshly caught fish :)

Delta Pro says: Fantastic
Sent 19 December 2014, 17h37
That's real hiking adventure!

sri says: Wovon wir alle träumen
Sent 20 December 2014, 03h18
Danke für den wundervollen Bericht.

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