Friday, July 29, 2016

Overnight Hike To Mott Lake From Edison Lake CA

Dale Matson

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Hike Route

 Edison Lake Ferry 

 Devil's Bathtub Is In The Arena Formed By The Mountains
 Mono Creek

 Creek Crossing The Trail

 My Tent Location

 Waterfall on East Side Of Mott Lake
Snow Still Evident
 Heading Back To The VVR On The Ferry
Morning Photograph Of Mott Lake

Mott Lake details: elevation 10,072’. The distance is about 15 miles round trip from the boat landing at the east end of Edison Lake. The elevation gain is about 2,650’ overall with nearly all the gain outbound. My hike time was about 6 hours outbound and 6 hours inbound the following day. I paid $25.00 for the round trip ferry and overnight parking. The money is well spent. It would have been an additional 10 miles of hiking if I had begun and ended at the Mono Creek Trailhead instead of taking the ferry.

My friend Mike Phillips recommended the hike and I opted to do it instead of an overnight at 4th recess lake on the Mono Creek Trail. It was a good decision. The other hike would have been too ambitious for me.

Riding the 9am ferry is a ½ hour social event where you chat with folks who are returning to the JMT/PCT from their stopover at Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR). Others are just out for a day hike and will return on the 5:30pm return run to the VVR. Special trips can be arranged for extra money. We were dropped off at the east end of the lake and followed Cairns through a campground to the Mono Creek Trail. The drop-off point changes as the water level drops throughout the summer.

After about a mile and a half, there is a junction with the JMT. Heading northbound toward Silver Pass both trails run together until the Mono Creek trail heads east toward Mono Pass. Continuing north on the JMT there will be a sign for Mott Lake at the Junction. The Mott Lake trail heads northeast. On the Tom Harrison map the trail is indicated by dots instead of dashes. It is a trail that is rarely, if ever maintained and it is discouraging to see such a steep trail heading up and away from the JMT. Don’t be discouraged; the worst of the climb is the initial part.

The first part of the climb is dry, with the creek far below the trail. You have to pay attention as you step over deadfalls and cross open granite slabs. There are helpful stones and Cairns placed for guidance. When you finally reach Mott Lake, there are a few established campsites above on the west side of the lake. There is a nice waterfall that can be seen and heard on the far side of the lake. Because of fatigue and time limitations, I set up my tent, stayed the night and headed back the following morning after taking more photographs. I used a Sony A7R2, a Zeiss 18mm 2.8 and 85mm 1.8 for the photographs.

My recommendation would be to spend at least two nights at Mott Lake and do day hikes to Rosy Finch Lake, Bighorn Lake and or Blue Jay Lakes if you are good at off trail navigation and a fit climber. Just remember to be back at the ferry landing by about 5 pm for the ferry pickup unless you want to add another 5 miles of hiking.

I got to the landing about 3pm and others gradually showed up. The clouds began to gather and we heard distant thunder. The ferry was “storm delayed” until 7:30pm. Of the 15 or so folks, none decided to hike the additional 5 miles to VVR on the Mono Creek Trail on the north side of the lake. We went from being prospective passengers to being a support group. Not everyone was prepared to spend the night there. When we finally saw the ferry approaching we all gave a cheer as if we were being rescued not picked up.

A video slideshow with additional graphics is available on YouTube.  


Friday, July 22, 2016

Dinkey Creek Area And Courtright Reservoir Part I

Dale Matson

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Tower On Top Of Bald Mountain

Before you get to Shaver Lake on Highway 168, there is a turnoff called Dinkey Creek Road. Heading east, you will come to the resort area of Dinkey Creek. If you look to your left you can see Bald Mountain with the lookout tower on top. Along the way there are several turn offs for off highway vehicles (OHV) that follow old logging roads. Probably the most traveled logging road off Dinkey Creek will take you to the trailhead for the Dinkey Lakes loop in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. Tom Harrison has a relatively new map developed for this area. Once at the trailhead the route is fairly straightforward with a vigorous hike to this lakes chain.

There is a fork in the road just before Dinkey Creek and taking the road to the right, you will find yourself crossing Dinkey Creek on McKinley Grove Road. This road essentially ends at Wishon Reservoir. Between Dinkey Creek and Wishon Reservoir is the McKinley Grove of Giant Sequoias. It is one of two Sequoia Groves in Fresno County (Grant Grove this the other grove). It is well worth the stop to wander under these stately giants. In the spring of the year, there are many dogwood trees in bloom including Dogwoods among the Sequoias.

My Truck Provides Perspective
McKinley Grove With Dogwoods In The Spring

Before you get to Wishon Reservoir, there is a left turn off to Courtright Reservoir (elevation about 8,000’) on Courtright Way. This is about an eight-mile climb to the north. Before you drop down to the reservoir, there is a vista pullout on the right with a view of the LeConte Divide and the prominent Mt. Goddard (elevation about 13,560’) to the east.

 Mt. Goddard

 Bald Eagle

When you are near the lake, take the road that heads toward and across the dam. Cross the dam. At the end of this road you will see the sign for the Maxon Trailhead that leads towards Kings Canyon past Hobler Lake and eventually over Hell For Sure Pass. There are also opportunities for fishing and day hikes. The infamous 33 mile Dusy Ershim trail begins in this location. The trail travels north and ends at White Bark near Kaiser Pass. It would be easier to hike the trail than drive it!

I recently drove up from Fresno CA and enjoyed the route taking photographs along the way. I especially enjoyed sitting at the south end of the lake and taking photographs of passing Ospreys and Bald Eagles. It is so good to see this beautiful high Sierra reservoir full again. I have biked this route from Dinkey Creek and during the week, there is not a great deal of traffic for cyclists. The trip back is quite a bit faster that the climb up!

Here is a day hike to Hobler Lake.