20 March 2016

Tyee Lakes Trail

Inyo National Forest

We set our sights on South Lake for some actual snowshoeing. Well, I wanted Sabrina, where the highway ends, but I was overruled. We drive around a sign which would say "road closed" if turned the right way around, and start to hit snow on the road. Not too much further, it becomes a solid mass up the hill. Happily, there is a trail right next to where we have to stop that just happens to be quite covered in snow.

bridge across the creek
Always nice when we do not have to wade through the snow melt on the first day of spring.

We cross the bridge and strap the paddles to our feet on the far side. There are already a few prints to help with route finding. Unfortunately, there are a couple post holes to go with the prints where someone tried to walk it in runners. There are not a lot of routes available, but it is nice not to have to search for it. There is one patch of bare rocks after a few hundred feet, but then it is all snow.

twisted tree in the rocks
Good views come quickly.

John Muir Wilderness sign
Entering the John Muir Wilderness and still on trail.

following the tracks in the snow
Onward we go.

We dive into a bit of forest and the views reduce again. It seems like we are ducking and bobbing around branches, but there is still a clue here and there that the trail is somewhere below us in the form of cut trees. There is one spot where it is obvious the original track makers took a shortcut, but they came back to the trail again for more climbing. One person went the long way, but we follow the larger number of tracks. Oh, and the post holes that are still working at getting up the trail.

along the tree edge
Edging along beside the trees. There are noticeably more prints after we pass.

snow capped rocks
There is beauty in the way the snow caps the rocks.

clear of most snow below
Looking down the valley, there does not seem to be much snow even up high.

It is quite the grand winter wonderland as we go, but there are signs of spring. The season has changed.

willow buds
The willows are budding even as their feet are below two feet of snow.

tall trees in snow
The trees are opening up again.

evidence of a creek
Perhaps the creek flows through here.

As the trees open up again and we think of the long drive back home, we find a good viewpoint to stop and enjoy. We point out some familiar landmarks along the ridge line to Vagabond as we look around.

bulk of Vagabond Peak
Vagabond Peak, climbed three times in the course of getting to and from Cloudripper behind it.

stretched view
It is a good viewpoint.

We are only halfway to the first lake. It looks so close to just go over the lip of rock above us. Or maybe there will just be another lip after it. Whatever it may be, we finish and return. The crampons so great for climbing do seem to become a little bit of a tripping hazard when getting too much into the swing of a protected downhill stride.

snow blanket
The local landscape under its thick but incomplete snow blanket.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 22 Mar 2016

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