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Murphy Creek Trail to Polly Dome Lake
1 Photoset

2018-07-31  
mini location map2018-07-31
39 by photographer avatarnonot
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Murphy Creek Trail to Polly Dome LakeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack59.62 Miles 14,741 AEG
Backpack59.62 Miles7 Days         
14,741 ft AEG
 
1st trip
With the Ferguson Fire ongoing, conditions were not optimal for this trip, but it kept most of the people away, so for the first 4 days I felt I had the entire backcountry to myself. I met more bears than people until reaching Glen Aulin.

Day 1: Starting at Tenaya Lake, I headed up Grant Creek Trail, and then over Tuolumne Peak pass into the South Fork of Cathedral Creek. It was a struggle to adjust to the elevation and the weight of all the food and water also slowed me down. Unable to find a trail report on these areas, I ended up carrying way more water than needed. The tarns near 10000 ft were still flowing, and the South Fork was flowing beautifully. I ended up camping out near a granite slickrock cascade in a beautiful area of this fork of Cathedral Creek. The trail routing was fantastic and I was constantly amazed how they had routed the trail.

Day 2: An early climb out of the canyon to beat the heat on a smokey morning, and then onto the Ten Lakes Basin. This area seemed peaceful, and I passed several ponds and eventually reached the main lake, though I couldn't even see to the other side or to the pass in front of me. Over the pass I go, where I encounter a butterfly migration, then down the trail and towards White Wolf. I setup camp the legal distance short of Lukens Lake junction.

Day 3: I pass the turnoff to White Wolf Lodge and head down the steep trail into Pate Valley. The smoke limited visibility to less than a quarter mile all day, so I couldn't see Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and couldn't even see the river until I reached the bottom. The park service reports the bridge over the Tuolumne River destroyed, but there are still 3 timbers left, and good balance will get you across just fine. Based on the trail conditions it looks like they are running horse pack trains down there brining down materials to begin to rebuild it next year. I continue up river and find a great campsite. Unfortunately for me, right at dusk a large bear comes wandering in within 70 yards, and I yell to scare it away. Stood guard for an hour with no sign of it returning, but didn't get much sleep that night as the slightest noise had me wondering if it returned.

Day 4: I wake up after what little sleep I got and find my bear barrel untouched (Yosemite requires food canisters - neither hanging nor sacks are permitted). I walk upriver admiring the creek, and small cascades, before I reach the bypass around Muir Gorge. The waterfalls and sheer walls make the trail detour quite high, much higher than anticipated. But soon enough I am past it and continuing upriver. I pass a small juveline bear, which was an obvious problem bear, based both on its behavior and the obvious tags hanging from both ears. The skies begin to clear slightly and I am able to admire Waterwheel Falls, Le Conte, and California Falls before finding a small campsite late in the evening. I was quite tired from all the elevation gain and fell right asleep.

Day 5: When eating breakfast, a bear strolls up the trail about 10 yards from me, and surprised I yell at it. Turns out to be momma bear, because there is a tiny little furball following her around. They both pick up the pace and luckily don't appear to want any of my cereal. A little bit more climbing, and I enter the flat expanse of the river leading to Glen Aulin. After a short day I setup camp, explore the waterfalls above the camp, and generally relax all day reading a book, watching all the people come and go. The camp has tents for rent, as well as a backpacker campground with 30 sites, running potable water, and the composting toilets, like you find at Indian Gardens, as it is one of the High Sierra Camps.

Day 6: A short 8 miles and a little bit uphill to reach May Lake, the 2nd and last High Sierra Camp I will visit. The place it lightly populated and I generally laze around, watching some people fish.

Day 7: Smokey morning, so I head downhill back to Tenaya Lake and walk along the road and several trails to reach my vehicle.

Fauna
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Black Bear
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max California Falls Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cathedral Creek Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Conness Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Le Conte Falls Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 May Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 McGee Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Morrison Creek Light flow Light flow

dry Murphy Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Register Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Return Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max South Fork Cathedral Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Ten Lakes 76-100% full 76-100% full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tenaya Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Tuolumne Falls Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Waterwheel Falls Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max White Cascade Medium flow Medium flow
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