Overview & Maps

Year 26 was to be a short trip for our annual wilderness trek because a dry snow/rain year had taken a toll on most of the Emigrant. However, a series of check dams at High and Emigrant Meadow Lake hold back the winter snow melt-- as they were intended when constructed between 1920 and 1951-- and Emigrant Lake was still high. The series of 18 lakes with 48 small streamflow dams, mostly using native rocks, was the brain child of Fred Leighton a local outdoorsman who installed them to hold back winter snow melt to create sustainable fisheries, increase riparian meadows for wildlife forage and provide emergency water storage. Leighton began this as a conservation project prior to the arrival of wilderness designation in 1975. Unfortunately, politics has taken a toll and we now are now seeing a slow deterioration of these unobtrusive structures that are woven into the history of these unique lands. (click here for a USFS 2003 listing of Emigrant checkflow dams)

Highlights

  • Kennedy Meadows drop trip and our sixth visit/stay at this magnificent convergence of Emigrant-Hoover-Yosemite wilderness
  • Conservation project saving 40+ troutlings trapped by the low waters on a dry year
  • Sasche Monument day trip about 11 miles and 1610 elevation gain. Our second climb 11 years later
  • Used several check dams to navigate our way. Claiming these are spoiling the wilderness experience is really missing the point and the value of preserving wild areas. All landscapes have history that contribute to the present state and if that history helped create a unique, non-invasive experience that was built in the spirit of conservation of that era, then let it be! I am a avid environmentalist, but this crosses the line of sensibility.
  • One day of area exploring and fishing, including a cold dip in Red Bug Lake and new shots of the surrounding lakes
  • Bigelow Peak day trip to make sure George climbs the right ridge using the old Montezuma & Cherry Creek mine roads from WWII tungsten mining. Also passed by Snow Lake and yet another check dam
  • We were treated to a raptor fest with Red Tails, unkindness of Ravens, Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles
  • Back to Kennedy Meadows on board Navajo and Cherokee, two sure-footed paints
  • As we passed over paths that have carried our weary feet many times, the scenery never gets old and the power of this small corner of the world continues to draw us in
  • 2013 looks to be shaping up as a trip into lower Emigrant and out via Cherry Creek, which will tack on more wilderness miles to feet that are ready to soak the miles up!

May our paths and errands meet...