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off_the_hook

[TR] Volunteer Peak - Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop 8/6/2011

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Trip: Volunteer Peak - Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop

 

Date: 8/6/2011

 

Trip Report:

An "instant classic" adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. Total elevation gain was over 11,000 feet and the trip time was 15:28 starting at 5:10 am and finishing up at 8:38 pm as light was fading.

 

This is a fantastic loop with excellent variety of scenery throughout including Peeler Lake, Kerrick Meadows, the tarns of Seavey Pass, Benson Lake's sandy beach, granite-lined Smedberg Lake, Matterhorn Canyon, and the rugged Sawtooth Ridge. I also climbed Volunteer Peak which rises above Smedberg Lake. Volunteer Peak is one of the more remote summits in Yosemite, but the climb itself is straightforward. The panoramic views from the top include much of Northern Yosemite and its many granite ridges. Specifically, the summit afforded views of Mount Conness, Smedberg Lake, Benson Lake, Tower Peak, Sawtooth Ridge, Matterhon Peak, among other notable points.

 

We encountered generally good trail conditions except a substantial amount of snow remains on the north side of Burro Pass and on both sides of Mule Pass. The snow approaching Mule Pass was becoming hard in the evening and took some time to negotiate with the trail running footwear and no axe/crampons. We saw very few people the entire day and there is a real feeling of solitude and wilderness in this region of the park, which sharply contrasts to the more accessible parts of Yosemite like the Valley or Tuolumne Meadows. I will surely be returning to run this amazing loop again.

 

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Elevations (high and low points):

 

Start (Twin lakes): 7,092 ft

Peeler Lake/Pass: 9,489 ft

Depart Kerrick Canyon: ~8,900 ft

Seavey Pass: ~9,150 ft

Benson Lake: 7,581 ft

Smedberg Lake: 9,219 ft

Volunteer Peak: 10,481 ft

Benson Pass: ~10,100

Matterhorn Canyon: ~8,400 ft

Burro Pass: 10,650 ft

Piute Canyon Lowpoint: ~9,400 ft

Mule Pass: 10,460 ft

Finish: 7,092 ft

 

Total Elevation Gain (including Volunteer Peak): ~11,000+ ft

 

Gear Notes:

Ultimate Direction Wasp Pack; First Endurance EFS and Ultragen; La Sportiva Fireblade; Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles

 

Approach Notes:

Trails are in good shape. Extensive snow remains over Mule Pass and the north side of Burro Pass. There is a wet stream crossing in lower Kerrick Meadows and several wet crossings through Matterhorn Canyon.

Edited by off_the_hook

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50 miles? is that all? hardly seems worth the bother. seriously, if i had your legs and lungs, I'd throw away my car keys. nice pix, as usual. suggestion: change your handle to "Mercury."

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Just out of curiosity:

 

On these routine 50+ mi jaunts, how much time do you spend running, and how often do you just walk/hike super fast?

 

--N

 

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Fact!

 

We encountered very few people (<30 the entire trip including occupied tents we saw early in the morning) and most were between Seavey Pass and Smedberg Lake along the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

The relative solitude and remoteness of this region sharply contrasts with the popular areas of Yosemite, but it's a huge park with more to see than the Valley and Tuolumne Meadows!

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