30 years and Counting ◆ 3 Days ◆ 1 Peak and a lot of photo and fishing
This year was a short trip given all that has happened in the past two. However, as is normal, we packed in a bit of fun, hiking, climbing and for me, more photo ops. The Geos were at the mercy of United Airlines as they delivered a cancelled flight and 14 hour delay to our plans. While it did damper our chances for a close-in campsite, it did not damper our determination to make it work. Off we went to explore the eastern side of Yosemite and climb one of her high peaks.
Saddleback Lake & Twenty Lake Basin
Just on the other side of Tioga Pass lies Saddleback Lake created by a dam that the Southern Sierra Power Company erected in 1919. There is a small resort with a general store, restaurant and marina that provides a water taxi to the far side, where you step into Hoover Wilderness. And here is where you also enter the Twenty Lakes Basin and a 5mile loop hike weaving among the lakes with spectacular views to the eastern ridge of Mt. Conness, North Peak and Shepards Crest. Here you can find 4 different species of trout, probably one of the few places where all converge, rainbow, brookies, german browns and golden, the most elusive.
I hiked the loop counterclockwise on the suggestion from our 'taxi' driver. A pleasant hike over Lundy pass with quick access to six of the lakes. A well maintained trail with adequate signage and views all along the way. I spotted several backpackers and campsites, however, there is plenty of room to find your secluded perfect spot with a bounty of lakes. A great location for a warm up trip or a quick getaway to feed your soul.
Now to the goal of our trek, get to the top of Mt. Conness. As we were camping on BLM land down towards Mammoth, we had an early rise and long drive to the Sawmill Campground for the proverbial 'three hour trip'. Ha! What was told to be a 5.0 mile trek over 6 hours was actually a 7.8 mile scramble taking 11 hours. Just a touch off the original estimate. Oh well, nothing new.
The trail winds along the valley floor of the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area where the Carnegie Institute is studying the long term effects of climate change. Yes it is REAL!!! There are 4 up-climbs, with the first from the trail up to Alpine Lake. Once here you scramble across rocky and sandy slopes to attain the ridge above the Conness Glacier. Gathering your breath, up-climb number three takes you up along the ridge nose to summit ridge of Conness. One last push takes yo to the top of the summit block with views form miles around. You are at the highest point in Yosemite north of H120!
May our paths & errands meet