Friday, June 23, 2017

Kaiser Pass Area June 23, 2017 And The Kaiser Pass Road

Dale Matson

OK, so the “Climb to Kaiser” bicycle ride (“it’s not a race”) is tomorrow and I thought I would see what the area looks like since the pass was just plowed open last week. I completed the sufferfest bicycle ride three times and the 155 miles with 13,000’ of gain is one of the top ten toughest one-day rides. When the cyclists reach Kaiser Pass, they turn around and head back to Clovis CA. Tomorrow they will be finishing in 104-degree heat. Here is a short video clip of the ride:
The Kaiser Pass road comes off Highway 168 at Huntington Lake and climbs to 9,150’ before dropping down to a junction that will take you to Edison Lake if you head north 7 miles from the junction. If you head south for 7 miles you will end up at Florence Lake. Both of these lakes are a part of the massive Big Creek Hydroelectric Project and are connected underground by the Ward Tunnel. There is no electrical or phone service to either lake. There is evidence along the road that there were utilities at one time. Edison Lake was created by placing a dam on Mono Creek (1954) and Florence Lake was completed in 1926 by placing a dam on the south fork of the San Joaquin River.  The last 7 miles takes about an hour and is only a tad more civilized than the Dusy Ershim OHV Trail that begins one mile from Kaiser Pass, travels through the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness and winds up at Courtright Reservoir after 31 punishing miles. I hiked a portion of this trail and struggled less than those who drove on it. Here is a video clip.
The Last 7 miles of the Kaiser Pass road really requires a high clearance vehicle. My wife put a hole in her oil pan driving her dad to Edison Lake for fishing. Thankfully there was a mechanic at Edison Lake who made a temporary repair that got her back to Fresno. Mono Hot Springs Resort is also along the road to Edison Lake.
Both Lakes are staring points to join up with the John Muir Trail (JMT) but Edison Lake is also a good starting point for a trans-Sierra Hike up Mono Creek over Mono Pass to the East Side of the Sierra Nevada. That trail joins the Rock Creek Trail.
I went about 5 miles past Kaiser Pass to get some photographs of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. It is a one lane “road” with occasional pullouts to let oncoming traffic pass by. The road is not for the faint of heart.

My photographs were taken with my Sony A7R2, 24-70 2.8 GM lens and an adapted Canon 400 f4. The air is bad right now and the long shots were a bit hazy. 

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
 China Peak Crop 400mm

 China Peak 

 Road To Whitebark Vista Maybe In A Month!

 Portal Forebay

 Rancheria Falls From Kaiser Pass Road 400mm


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day Hike To Rancheria Falls: Sierra National Forest

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Trailhead elevation: 7,550’
Overall elevation gain 322’ uphill outbound
Trail condition: excellent
Distance 2.0 miles round trip
Location: Huntington Lake area on right just before Kaiser Pass Road.If you see
a sign for the “Kokanee Work Center”, you are already past the turnoff.
From Fresno CA it is about a 1.5 hour drive on Highway 168.

This is a trail that is actually smoother than the drive in on the road to the trailhead. I recommend a high clearance vehicle for the one-mile drive to the trailhead. There is a potty at the parking area. The trail ends at the falls and climbing higher requires careful footwork and hands. The overspray from the falls makes the surrounding steep terrain and rocks slippery.
This year is an exceptional time to do this hike with a lot of bang for the buck so to speak. If you drive on Kaiser Pass Road (now open) you can see the falls looking south from one of the pull outs and actually hear it in the distance this year because there is so much water in Rancheria Creek. The creek eventually flows into Huntington Lake. 

Snow Plant

Falls From Kaiser Pass Road

Huntington Lake From Kaiser Pass Road

I have a YouTube film of this with video clips included: