Rutherford Lake 2008
Wilderness: Ansel Adams Wilderness
Elevation: 9,738 feet
The hike this year begins at the Fernandez Trail head located off of Beashore Road near Bass Lake, California. The Fernandez trail interacts with the Lillian Loop trail, Timber Creek trail, the Post Peak Pass trail and passes into Yosemite National Park (over Fernandez Pass). Most of our gear weighs anywhere from 40 lbs to 55 lbs and because our trips are not high-mileage trips, we are able to pack more items like beer and fresh food. The group consists of three main core people; Chris, Chris and Erik as well as an added a first time packer named Vincent. The trip begins on August 22nd and ends on August 25th
Day 1 – Hike in
Our basic strategy consisted of hiking straight to Rutherford Lake and using it as a base camp while traveling around. The hike directly to Rutherford was 5.86 miles which we begin at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Friday. The first part of the trail climbs a large hill which then dumps down into a dry waterbed named Madera Creek. By the stagnant ponds in the area, it looks like the water had just recently subsided. The other side of the creek leads to the top of another mountain and then the Lillian Lake turnoff. It is 3.4 miles from the trail head to the Lillian Lake turnoff and another 2/3 of a mile from the turnoff to Lillian Lake. Being that we got a late start, we decide not to make the full trek to Rutherford, but rather spend the night at Lillian Lake instead. The trek to this point is pretty challenging for people who only do this once a year and climbing 1370 feet to this location has reminded us just how old we are getting. After locating a camp location and everything is situated, the guys decide to try their luck at fishing. After an hour or so however, nothing was caught. There were a few Yosemite trail crew members in the area that fished this lake earlier and had caught some, but not while we fished it. In any case, it was still nice to sit by the lake, relax and enjoy a beer. Night comes quick thanks to the tall mountains and trees hugging the water banks making the temperature drop instantly to sweatshirt temperatures. After dressing appropriately and building a fire, we begin cooking our food. Every year we make this trip, we always have steak and potatoes for the first meal. It has become a tradition that we truly cannot live without. After the meal, we top our bellies off with Jiffy Pop, a beer and a few shots of whiskey; the perfect way to end a day.
Day 2 – Finish the hike and fish the lakes
It doesn’t take long and the Morning comes quickly. It’s time to finish our trek to Rutherford Lake. We still have another 1.81 miles to travel before enjoying the day so we get started early. After dressing up and getting a quick meal, we start our quest again towards Rutherford Lake. It was decided that rather than going back down the trail to just come back up, we would rather cross country to save about a mile or so of walking. We traveled this alternate route for about one mile until it tied in with the original trail and then follow it towards Rutherford. After traveling on the planned trail for a while, we tie in with the Fernandez Pass trail junction and take a small break. From here we travel up the trail another 3/4 of a mile, passing three junctions to finally rest at Rutherford Lake. After reaching Rutherford, there are tall peaks and few trees all around the lake. A view of Anne Lake can be seen when looking over the edge of the lakes eastern edge . After dropping our packs and taking a small breather, the guys wanted to try the lake and see if there were any fish. All three of the guys fished this lake and did not see or catch anything for a good hour. After giving up on fishing, we discussed and agreed that Rutherford would not be a good place to base camp at. Even though it was extremely beautiful, we decided to camp at Anne Lake which was only about 1/4 mile below Rutherford. Upon arriving at Anne Lake, this lake is much greener and the fish can be seen feeding on top; another plus for not staying at Rutherford. It is a nice small lake with plenty of tree cover and camping options. After locating a spot, we dug out the fire pit and proceeded to get wood. Whoever built this camp did an outstanding job. It is located at the very back end of the lake and furnished with rock-stacked ovens and counter tops. Once situated, the guys decided to give fishing another try. Unlike the other lakes, they were able to catch fish in this lake fairly quickly. The size of the fish ranged anywhere from 8 inches to 12 inches average and were caught mainly on crickets and consisted mainly of brook trout. Only one Brown was caught out of about 30 or so and all were released back into the late except three that we eaten that night. After fishing, and before the sun sets, we decide to honor an old tradition which is customary for the new guy to jump in the lake. The water is very cold and very refreshing so I decide to bathe off as well. Feeling refreshed, we clean the fish that we caught, sprinkled a little butter and garlic on them and they made for a great meal. With full stomachs, whiskey and old reminiscences, we hit the sack to begin day three.
Day 3 – Climb the peak
Day three is peak day. Usually, day one and four are used for travel/hiking; day three is for fishing and day four is for bagging peaks. Our destination was Merced Peak, but we miss calculated the location putting us short about two miles (way off). From base camp, we headed straight up the creek canyon until it opens into a big meadow. At the back end of the meadow starts the tall granite peak and we begin the long upward climb. The mountain is pretty steep, but we finally reach the top of a location we named “Devil’s Deekhole” or the unnamed peak. Regardless our shortcomings, the view is spectacular and it takes us a good hour to soak it all in. After eating lunch, we head back down the steep mountain taking a slight detour to Alpine Lake. Alpine Lake is no bigger than probably 50 feet across by 200 feet long, but the water taste better than anything we have had thus far. After filling our bottles, we finish the downward climb back into base camp and fish the rest of the afternoon away followed by content stomachs, whiskey and stories of reminiscence.
Day 4 – Hike out
Day four comes too quickly. It doesn’t take long when you’re out there to realize that you could just stay forever, but after much (non-verbal) deliberation, we pack up and start down the trail. The walk out was much easier than coming in (duh!), except for the new guy taking a wrong turn and having to back track 2 miles to catch up. In the end it was more funny than frustrating and we’ll most likely invite him back next year. This is the journal of our 2008 trip, next year we are planning on hiking the mountains above Edison Lake to Mott Lake area which should be nice. Until then, I hope you enjoy the writings.