Hoover Wilderness August 2020

Tim Valentine

May 24, 2015
Just to the east of Yosemite lies the Hoover Wilderness. When they made Yosemite they probably grabbed as much land as they could without upsetting local landowners. Hoover Wilderness lies just outside Yosemite but it doesn't know it is not a national park. It has some national park worthy scenery and great campsites. When the pandemic lockdowns hit California there was a partial closure of the ranger stations in the state and national parks. If you already had a reservation for a hike you were allowed to show up and backpack in as usual but they were giving out no new permits. Not even walkups. Some of the wilderness areas however, were still providing walk up permits so we took advantage of this to explore a new area for us. We were surprised how easy it was to get a permit when we arrived at Bridgeport. The trails were also not very crowded as we hiked in to do the Crown Lake loop/lollipop hike. My daughter Holly was about to start a great new career job so she joined me for what was possibly the last of our daddy daughter trips for a while.

This deer was waiting outside the cabin to startle some folks at the Twin lakes campground.


We were a couple of miles in and I got out my full size DSLR camera to take a picture and found out I did not have a memory card, rendering the camera useless for the entire trip. Oh well, time to practice what I preach. I always tell myself these trips are not about photography or fishing or logging a bunch of miles.....its just about being out there in the wilderness, everything else is just a bonus. So I wrapped up the camera and tripod in a dry bag and hid it in the forest so I would not be reminded of my ineptitude by lugging around its dead weight. We would pick it up on the way out. The benefit was a lot less weight to carry and more time for fishing.

The approach to the Crown lake loop was scenic and there was a little haze in the air from the many fires. Our timing was good though since the big Sierra fires had not yet fully exploded.IMG_5596.jpg

The trail took us past Barney Lake and then we got into a pattern of hike, swim, fish, camp at new lake, sleep, repeat. I was impressed as our campsites got more and more scenic along the way.
Peeler Lake swim.

A great meadow on the border of Hoover/Yosemite.


The pass to Snow Lake.IMG_5613.jpg

Snow Lake lunch stop.IMG_5617.jpg

Swimmin and fishin.IMG_5619.jpg


We chose an unnamed lake for one of our nights. It had great views.IMG_0209.jpg

View down to Crown Lake

The evening fishing session was memorable. On one cast as I pulled my lure out of the water near the bank, a fish jumped a foot out of the water to hit it in mid air! Not only did he hit the lure, he hooked himself and I flung him on the grass! This happened twice in a row! I had never seen that!IMG_0137.jpg

We safely released everything we caught.

The next morning Slide Mountain looked great in the early light.

That morning we moved camp a short ways down to Crown Lake.
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Very scenic views from above our tent site.IMG_0096.jpg

More good fishing. This lake had a shallow shelf encircling much of it that allowed you to wade comfortably into knee deep water.

Robinson Lake was a good lunch stop the next day. IMG_5645.jpg

Holly spotted a garter snake swimming over to us.IMG_0031.jpg

It was very predictable and swam right between my legs after I took this picture.

A cool colored pond above Robinson lake.IMG_5654.jpg

We had been sleeping without needing the tent fly but on our last night back at Barney lake we could see a thunderstorm developing. We hustled to put up the fly and were treated to a loud, wet, and vibrant storm for an hour as the sunlight faded. It helped to clear out some of the haze but then the next day was when a lot of the Sierra fires intensified.

Barney lake valley arrival.


Barney swim

Our final morning we checked out the numerous beaver dams above Barney lake before hiking out. IMG_5660.jpg

It was a great short trip. We were so glad to be able to do it. We thought for sure we were going to get shut out of a backcountry trip as the covid shut downs increased.
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great pictures. Did a hike similar to this a few years back. I remember the cool colored pond. Our hike did a lollipop thru a corner of Yosemite.
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Short but sweet trip, glad you got out in the wilderness with your daughter. It's rare to hear a photographer acknowledge "its just about being out there in the wilderness, everything else is just a bonus". So how did it feel without the big camera, like being naked? ;) I could go off on a long rant about this topic since my hubby long ago pretty much choked the all fun out of my big passion scuba diving - after he invested in an expensive, yet always troublesome leaky camera case. That problem was mostly solved by shifting to hiking :)

The Garter snake-did you watch it snatch any fish? This summer I watched a Garter snake exactly that size quickly snatch a good size goldfish out of our pond, as I was having a cup of coffee while watching our fish peacefully swim around. Rick rescued the goldfish from the snake and it survived!
Yes Titans, I missed the camera at night when the cell phone could not capture the milky way. Other than that, its absence was quickly forgotton. Raising three kids and taking them in the back country and trying to shoot video of the trips helps you prioritize things real fast. First and formost enjoyment of the time outdoors has to always be paramount. You can't let efforts to document the trip take away from that goal. I am always impressed with Joey and others who hike solo and make videos of their trip. They are putting in a lot of extra miles to go back and get the camera after they get the shot.
Phones do a good job with landscape photos and we had two of them on this trip.
The best animal encounters for me are when multiple species are involved.....even if one of them gets eaten.:cry: That would have been great to see a snake in the wild capture something. I have watched garters hunt polliwogs but I don't think they caught any.
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Great that you took the opportunity to get in an adventure with your daughter before she started her new job!
Yay! Father daughter trip!
Great share, I have been meaning to get out to Hoover, but gosh, so many places in CA to hit haha! That deer waiting right outside the cabin door made me laugh unnecessarily hard haha!