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TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

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TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:47 pm

Loop from Taboose Trailhead
August 30-Sept. 8, 2013

This trip was unusual for me. Instead of seeing lots of country, my goal was to go back to areas I had quickly passed on previous trips and try to catch a fish per day, and get one fish out of as many lakes as I could. Other than the first and last day, I only hiked in the mornings, and spent the afternoons fishing and exploring.

Being Labor Day weekend, I left early to get to the Mono Lake permit desk by 11AM, unnecessary because there was no run on permits for Taboose Pass. I reached Bishop by 1PM and after buying last minute supplies I was sucked into Wilson’s and dropped $100 on gear on sale. I decided to head to the Taboose Creek Campground before I spent all my gas money. The quiet campground became busy with kids on four-wheelers, but thankfully, all were put to bed by 9PM. It was hot – 95 degrees. Not expecting bugs, I spent a miserable night in my car camping tent with the zipper broken, and got eaten by some mysterious bugs.

Day 1: Trailhead to unnamed lakes below Striped Mountain. I awoke at 4:30AM with swollen eyelids and itching all over. What a way to start at trip! I quickly packed up while making coffee and eating a bowl of cereal. I started up the road, at a creeping pace in the dark. I could see a speck of light far ahead- some hiker starting up the trail by headlamp. After a half an hour I reached the trailhead. My husband called at 5AM (my wake-up call if I had not gotten up earlier). The trailhead is tight, and I spent some time parking the car without bashing into rocks. By 5:20 I was on the trail going as fast as I could to beat the heat. The trail heads up, unrelenting. I stopped for water at the one place where the creek was accessible. Soon I saw tent poles lying in the trail and wondered if they belonged to the person with the headlamp? I decided to leave them there; no way was I going to catch up, and perhaps the poles were not even this person’s. At first it was shady near the stream vegetation. Then the trail started up the south hillside, void of shade. It was beastly hot by the time I reached the crossing at 8,300 feet after gaining 2,500 feet. I took off shoes and waded just to cool off my feet. With 10 days food, my pack weighed 35 pounds with water and it was killing my back already. One foot in front of the other, up, up, up to the second crossing at 9,120, another 1,000 feet done, with a thankful breeze. I stopped and soaked my shirt and hat, wrung them out and used evaporative cooling for the next 1,000 feet to the lovely meadow with campsites. It was 11:30AM. This was my planned stop and the clouds were building above. What in the world was I going to do here for the rest of the afternoon? I decided to continue. I met a couple with a donkey who were descending the trail. Poor Donkey! Although threatening, the clouds offered welcome shade. My pace slowed to a crawl. I was finally on the pass at 12:30 after the final 1,300 feet of elevation gain. The west side was very dry so I decided I would head for the lakes below Striped Mountain. I knew I did not have the energy to make it all the way to Bench Lake, another option. Although only 1.6 miles and 450 feet gain, I did not reach the lake until 2:30, thoroughly exhausted. Thankfully there is a nice established campsite at the outlet. I slowly set up camp and regained enough energy to go fishing. I did not have to go far- about 100 feet from my tent I caught two fish, the first a little one and then a whopper! I cleaned the fish and cooked dinner, coming close to falling asleep while eating. An impressive sunset kept me up another hour taking photos. Several deer came by just before I hopped into the tent at 7PM for a good night’s sleep, after chugging down two Advil and an allergy pill. A long day;-9 hours, 8.2 miles, and 6,400 feet elevation gain.

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Striped Mountain Lakes

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Fish Dinner

Day 2: Striped Mountain lakes to Cartridge Lake. When I awoke it was stormy and overcast. A few raindrops fell. The tent was soaked with condensation, wet inside and out. Up at 6:15 I did not leave until 8:15. Thankfully the sun came out enough to dry the tent before I left. I returned to the trail and shortly was at the JMT junction. A large group was taking a rest. I looked around trying to decide if the lighting was worth the effort to go up the trail a ways to get a photo. A person in the group informed me that I was at the trail junction and Pinchot Pass was “that way”, just as the large sign said. Did I really look that clueless? I went up for a photo, disappointed. The lighting was all wrong. So I put on the miserable pack and started down to the South Fork of the Kings River crossing. The river was so low that I could hop across on rocks. I left the trail, passed a sign that said “no camping, restoration” and immediately found a nice distinct use-trail. Horses had recently been down this trail which runs up on the north bench above the river and then drops to the river at the east edge of a large talus cone. This is the old Cartridge Pass Trail. Although it crosses the river here, I followed the horse poo and found another use-trail on the north side of the river that skirted the talus cone’s lower edge and continued down river, through a forest, past another talus cone and through another forested area, ending at the third talus cone. I think it continued through willows, but I decided it was easier just to get up on the talus and hop rocks to the large flat area where the trail starts up the hillside to the north. I headed up finally bumping into the trail after about 200 feet gain. I had been down this trail before, but it seemed to be in much worse condition, with many wash-outs, the original switchbacks essentially replaced by a maze of steep “cut offs”. Yesterday’s effort had taken its toll on my energy levels and this hillside seemed endless and agonizing. My back ached; I sucked air taking a rest every few minutes, reaching Cartridge Lake (10,880) at 12:30. I spent nearly half an hour hunting for the perfect campsite, only to come back to my pack and set up on a nice grassy area adjacent to the outlet ponds, but without a view of the lake, but with a good view south towards Pinchot Pass and Bench Lake. With threatening weather I was more interested in being protected from rain and wind and having a site with good drainage. I fished for an hour or so catching three fish from 8-11 inches. The wind was howling so casting was a challenge! I strung the fish in the lake. The weather was clearing so I took a hike along the shoreline to the inlet. Half way there, the sun came out and I took advantage of this break for a bath. I washed one shirt and hung it in a tree and continued down the shoreline taking photos. Returning to camp at 4PM, I cleaned the fish and fried them up for a leisurely dinner. Again the sunset was outstanding so I had to run around taking photos! And again I went to bed early. It was a warm night, overcast with a few raindrops. Thus the short day’s backpack ended; 4 hours, 4.7 miles and only 1,500 feet gain. I was happy that I had found the old Cartridge Pass trail and caught fish. I hoped to catch at least one fish per day!

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Sunset View from Cartridge Lake

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Fish Dinner Again!

Day 3: Cartridge Lake to Lakes Basin Lake 10,632. The tent was soaked inside and out when I awoke at 6:15. After drying the tent it was 8:30 before I left. My pack still hurt my back having bruised my tailbone by now. I really need a new pack! I missed the trail to the next small lake to the north, although I was following the “trail” location shown on the map. It did not matter as there are many ways to go, all fairly easy. At the outlet of the small lake, thankfully, I found the trail and it was distinct. I took a break and ambled down to the little lake, surprised by the nice reflections. The trail continuing to the pass is very distinct and easy to follow. The north side of the pass has been severely eroded since I was there years ago. The last 300 feet was very steep, and a maze of paths among huge wash-outs. The upper lakes are quite beautiful and I was tempted to fish but I knew the lower lakes had great fishing so I continued. The clouds were puffy cumulous and less threatening than previous day’s clouds. I heard a shout in the distance. Years ago a wonderful campsite at Lake 10,632 was occupied by a couple who had caught so many fish they wanted to give me a few. I hunted and found that site! But I found a nearby sight that was even better with a view. As I set up, the beautiful puffy clouds had turned dark. With the unsettled weather I decided to skip the day-hike to Marion Lake and instead fish the closer Lake 10,592. This lake is shallow surrounded by smaller ponds and lots of tall grass. I immediately caught an 11-inch fish in one of the small ponds. At the lake, I caught two smaller fish. Back at camp, I had no luck fishing the outlet so I took a bath and washed clothes during a brief sunny period. Then I went to the shore close to my campsite and caught a 10-inch fish. Well, if I just had one more small fish that would be a grand fish dinner! So I cast into the lake and caught the largest fish (nearly 14 inches) of the entire trip. Now I had my limit and would have to really work at eating all these fish. I had to cook the fish in two batches. I stuffed myself but did not throw out any fish. While stuffing my face during my 2-hour dinner, four members of the trail crew (working on Mather Pass) walked by. Now I knew that the shouting I heard earlier was one of the fellows jumping into a lake. They were strong hikers – had the weekend off and went over Mather Pass and Frozen Lake Pass and camped at the lakes east of the pass and were returning from a day-hike to Marion Lake. After dinner I was blessed with another outstanding sunset that seemed to last forever. The clouds cleared to just the perfect amount to enhance the sunset. It rained a few drops but overall was a warm overcast night. Another short backpack and enjoyable afternoon: 4 hours, 3.7 miles, 1,000 feet elevation gain plus running around fishing.

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Lake 10632, Lakes Basin

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More Fish!!

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Sunset in Lakes Basin

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Sunset at Lakes 10632

Day 4: Lake 10,632 to Dumbbell Lake 11,108. In spite of the overcast night, the tent was dry. I think it was so warm that dew point was never reached. The original plan was to hang out in Lakes Basin and go over the pass in the afternoon but given the unsettled weather, I headed for the pass at 8AM. I had been over Dumbbell Lakes Pass twice so I thought I had it pegged. This time took the direct route up to the small lake at 11,100 feet and it worked fine. There are several ways to get to this beautiful little lake which has great campsites. I was up to the pass by 9:30. I was surprised to see absolutely no snow and a huge sink hole filled with snowmelt in front of me! People had gone down into this hole to get to the top of the medial moraine, but it looked loose and dangerous to me, so I went back up a ways and traversed on the hillside talus, which was more stable. I eventually got onto the moraine which provided flatter travel. Then I had to return to the hillside to avoid the steep nose of the moraine. Previously I had just walked down the gully on snow! Now it was an hour of tedious talus all the way to the solid rock rib below. Trouble did not stop here. Although I had been up the final descent gully before, I missed it and ended up on the steep exposed third class slabs. I had climbed up one move that I could not get back down, so I traversed the slabs, finally coming to the rocky lake shore. Lake 11,108 is one of the bluest lakes I have seen. And in that deep blue water were fish swimming around! I reached the outlet at 11:30 AM and spent way too much time trying to find a campsite. Flat non-rocky ground is hard to find at this lake! I ended up on a grassy patch next to the outlet ponds. The wind was howling and there was little protection. After getting my tent solidly anchored, I headed to Lake 11,470, going directly up the waterfall outlet. I found this route previously when I had camped up at this lake years ago. I fished about an hour, catching nothing. I am not sure there are any fish in this lake. Fishing was difficult in a stiff wind. On the way back to camp I also fished the small pond between the lakes, with no luck. Back at 2:30, I fished Lake 11,108, catching only two 9-inch fish after an hour and half work. I had many other bites and caught a minnow that I returned to the lake. By 4PM it was lightly raining. While fishing the storm lighting was fantastic, and, of course, I had left the camera in the tent. But the storm was not done, so I had another chance to get photos while hunkering behind scrub trees cooking dinner. During a break, I hiked up to the knob to the west to get a view down Cartridge Creek. I stayed up until 7PM watching the stormy sunset. It rained lightly off and on all night. I did not sleep well thinking that getting stuck in Dumbbell Basin was not a good idea if this weather kept up.

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Sunrise in Lakes Basin

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Dumbbell Lake 11108

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Storm at Dumbbell Lake 11108
TO BE CONTINUED



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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:03 pm

CONTINUED

Day 5: Day in Dumbbell Basin. This was one of the shortest “backpacks” I have ever done! Clouds had cleared a bit by morning, but more were quickly moving in from the south. Amazingly, the tent was dry due to the windy night. At 8AM I moved down to the lower lakes where there is better camping - a huge hike of half a mile. I paid close attention to drainage and wind protection and found a suitable spot on the northeast shore of the second small lake. The morning was overcast and unsettled enough that I decided not to do a long day-hike to the high lakes west of Observation Peak. Instead I walked up to Cataract Pass to check it out; there was no snow and I was relieved that the north side looked very feasible so I could continue my loop instead of retreating. That is if the weather ever got better! Back in camp at 11:30 I headed up to the long lake to the north and quickly caught two 10-inch fish. One had swallowed the fly so I had to clean it on the spot and cut up the head to get my fly back! Unfortunately, the hook broke anyway so I had put on another fly. I failed to get it tied properly and the next fish pulled and ran off with that fly! I put on another, this time checking the knot and caught a second. Fishing was good but the sky was darkening. I quickly got back to the tent just in time for the deluge to start. From 1:30 to 6:30 one storm after another rolled in with heavy rain, lightning, wind and hail. Between storms I would go out and catch two more fish at my little lake or clean a fish previously caught. My last foray to the adjacent lake took too long and I got soaked in the last deluge. By 6:30 rain stopped and the fog rolled in as I cooked dinner. My tent held up good in the storm, but water built up at the foot and was starting to seep in. I went to bed at 7PM as the wind died down and fog lifted a bit. It was a muggy night and I felt I was sleeping in a sauna.

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Sunrise at Dumbbell Lake 11108

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Lower Dumbbell Lake

Day 6: Dumbbell Lakes to Amphitheater Lake. By morning everything was soaked but I wanted to get over Cataract Pass early in fear of more afternoon deluges. I got up at 5:30 under nearly clear skies but the sun never hit my campsite until after I left. Once I got into sunlight, I took a break and dried the tent. I reached Cataract Pass at 9AM. The descent was relatively easy. Only one spot did I lower my pack, simply because I got off route and was too lazy to go back up to find the proper route. Thankfully there were cairns on the lower part to guide my way. The guidebook description is confusing, as I saw no “bench” other than the topographic flat 300 feet above Amphitheater Lake, which I doubted was the route. I reached the inlet at 9:45 and talked to a family camped there who were leaving. They had come up Cataract Creek and assured me that it was not too bad and the trail was easy to find. At 11AM I left for a 4-mile day-hike to the upper lakes, skipping the highest and the series of small lakes at 11,000 feet. Because of the joint pattern of the rock, it is easier to traverse above these small lakes to get to the large lake at 11,300. I then traversed over to the lake northeast of Amphitheater Lake, skipping the upper lake because the weather was deteriorating. The afternoon sun was good for photographs at this lake, but I was disappointed when I saw gill nets in the lake. The folks I had met earlier told me that there also were gill nets in the lower lakes at 11,000. The only fishing was in Amphitheater Lake. Rain started just as I reached my tent. Then it cleared and I caught four small brookies, took a bath and washed clothes. I cooked dinner while watching the sunset. Unfortunately Amphitheater Lake sits in a bowl so shadows fell at 5:30 and the sunset only produced alpenglow on the upper peaks. The best location to photograph the sunset would be at the large lake northeast of Amphitheater Lake. The cold wind drove me into the tent early. It was an easy day, with the backpack was less than 2 miles and 4 miles as a day-hike.

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Sunrise at Lower Dumbbell Lake

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En route to Cataract Creek Pass

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Amphitheater Lake

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Lake 3403 at head of Cataract Creek

Day 7: Amphitheater Lake to Palisade Lakes. After a clear windy night I awoke at 6:30 glad that the tent was dry and quickly packed up. Then I photographed the sunrise for half an hour before doing a 2-mile hike around the small lakes at 11,000 feet. These lakes have the best camping with more sunshine although are gill- netted so there is no fishing. At 11AM I headed down Cataract Creek. There are numerous cross country routes down to the small lake at 9,650 where the trail starts. I was able to cross the creek four times to avoid cliffs, talus and brush. I missed the best route down the last buttress, instead getting on a game trail adjacent to the creek – steep but very scenic. The trail stays high above the small lake and is very distinct, until, bang, it just disappears! At 9550 I got frustrated with trying to find the trail and crossed Cataract Creek above where it spreads out on rock slabs, and traversed steeply down through open forest intersecting the JMT at the east end of Deer Meadow at 9,000 feet. There even was a huge log to cross Palisade Creek. The 2.2 mile, 1,750 foot descent took two hours. I met several people on the busy JMT. The “Golden Staircase” was very scenic. The view as you turn the corner and see the Palisades is fantastic. My big mistake of the day was not stopping here to camp and day-hiking to Palisades Lakes to fish. Instead I continued to the inlet of the upper lake where I was disappointed with the inferior view and set up behind a tree on rocky ground because of wind-tunnel conditions. I fished and caught two 8-inch brookies. After getting numerous bites I looked at my fly and again, I was fishing with a fly on a shaft. The hook at broken off. Many of my flies are very old and rusty, some tied by my children 25 years ago! It was very cold, but I took a bath in the inlet stream which as wind protected by a small bluff. There were whitecaps sloshing waves on the sandy inlet shore of the upper Palisade Lake. I had cleaned my fish and threw the heads in the lake. Eating dinner I spotted a coyote walking the shore, probably eating the fish heads that had washed back on land. I was in cold shadows by 5PM so went to bed shortly after dinner. I think it was only 6:30!

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Morning day-hike to small lakes above Amphitheater Lake

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Golden Staircase on the JMT

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First View of Palisades

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Palisade Lake, outlet

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Palisade Lakes

Day 8: Palisade Lakes to Upper Basin. Again, in the shadows, I awoke to a cold frosty morning. Sun was not going to warm my campsite for a long time, so I got up, put on all my clothing, cooked a quick breakfast, packed up and left walking back up to the trail and into the sunshine after half an hour. At about 11,000 feet elevation I set up the tent behind a rock just off the JMT, threw the pack inside, set the bear can in the shade and took off for 3-mile a day-hike to the basin of lakes south of South Fork Pass, while the tent dried. I hiked to the uppermost lake, peeked down at the largest lake to the north and then returned. The basin is stark and lakes moderately scenic. The basin would get late sunlight and be a good placed to view sunsets, but I am not sure the 750 foot elevation gain would be worth the effort. On my return it took a bit of hunting to find the tent! I packed up and headed for Mather Pass, having a nice visit with two young men at the top. It was about 2PM when I dropped to the large lake below Mt Prater. I put the fishing rod together and started to fish, convinced at first that there were no fish. Then I crossed the outlet and saw tiny fish which changed my mind! I continued fishing down the shoreline and had several bites. I got several nibbles and changed the fly. Again I had not tied the fly on correctly so a fish took off with it. The next fly worked and I caught a small fish, which I returned to the lake. Then I went to the outlet pond and caught a bigger fish that I kept. I strapped the rod to my pack, put the fish in a zip-lock with water and dropped the bag in the outside pocket of my pack, and headed to the next two lakes to the south. I made a good effort to fish the south shore of the lower lake to no avail. It was getting late and my plan was to camp at the next set of lakes. Unfortunately, I did not know that these lakes were “frog” lakes with no fish. They are beautiful lakes with nice camping, but dinner included only my one 9-inch fish from the upper lakes. I walked around the lakes photographing at sunset. The weather was perfect so I finally washed my hair- it felt great! Finally I had some later sunlight to enjoy the evening. It was a 5-mile backpack day, with a 3 mile day-hike, with en-route fishing.

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Lake in basin above Palisade Lakes

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Lakes at 3200 in Upper Basin

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Sunrise at lakes at 3200 in Upper Basin

Day 9: Upper Basin to Lakes below Striped Mountain. I awoke to frost again and got up early to finish breakfast and get mostly packed (except for the wet tent) before the sun hit my campsite. I then walked around the lakes for great sunrise photos. I was surprised when I saw a blue lump just as I left my campsite. A group had come in at 9PM last night by headlamp. I did not hear them. The blue lump woke up and mumbled. Two others were just up out of a tent nearby and pumping water. Since I am an early riser and like to camp by mid to late afternoon, I am always surprised at how many backpackers get up late and walk until dark, or after dark. I could day-hike to Cardinal Lake or Bench Lake. The light was not right for Cardinal Lake and I hoped I could reach Bench Lake before the sun got too far to the west to ruin the photo opportunities. On the trail, a fellow was walking while looking at his I-phone. I really do not understand this attachment to electronic gadgets. By the time I dropped my pack behind a big tree at the Bench Lake trail junction it was already a bit too late for prime photos, but Bench Lake was nice and I enjoyed the visit. After this 3-mile side trip I sat at the outlet of the small lake near the trail junction I ate lunch watching all the small fish swim around. I was thinking of camping at the Taboose Pass lakes since the weather was good, but remembered the fine fishing at the lakes below Striped Mountain, and decided to return. I set up at a different campsite near the outlet. I hate to camp exactly at the same spot twice! Then I hiked to the uppermost lake to fish. At first it looked barren, but once I woke up the fish with my horrible casting, they started to bite. I quickly caught three nice 10-12 inch brookies, cleaned them on the spot, and carried them back to my campsite at the lower lake in a water filled baggie. The entire side trip only took an hour! Although windy the sun was bright and I had time to take a bath, wash two shirts, socks and my hiking pants too. Sunshine and wind provided nature’s clothes drier. Then I cooked dinner. Cooking three large fish requires quite a bit of time since they did not all fit in my pot. After a lazy supper and enjoying the endless sunset, I went to bed at dark. As I was watching the stars out the tent door, I saw a headlamp bobbing nearby as another late hiker evidently was looking for a campsite. It was cold and frosted at night, but the sky was clear and the stars brilliant.

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Bench Lake

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Striped Mountain Lakes Again

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Great fishing at Upper Striped Mountain Lake

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Sunset at Striped Mountain Lakes

Day 10: Return to Trailhead. I awoke early and was packed up before the sun hit. I lingered about a half hour longer just to dry the tent as the sun hit the site. I never saw the late night hiker. I left at 8:30 and headed to Taboose Pass. I was not sure my knees would tolerate the entire descent, but had enough food to spend one more night if needed. I kept a purposely slow pace and rested every hour. I reached the last possible campsite by 1PM and my knees were fine so continued. I met two fellows who informed me that a bear was down the trail. I passed huge blobs of bear poo but never saw the bear. The last mile out seemed endless. I had done this section of the trail in the dark coming up so did not have a good feel for the surrounding terrain. As I descended it got beastly hot. I used the soaked shirt air cooling method every chance I could. At the trailhead, I immediately went down to the creek and sat in it! Back at my car at 2:30, ants started crawling up my legs within minutes. I quickly threw the pack in the back seat and took off! Owens Valley was filled with smoke. I stopped in Bishop to pick up my booty that I had bought earlier (did not want to leave it in a hot trunk for 10 days), got an ice cream cone and started driving. I was not going to camp until I got out of the smoke. At Monitor Pass it was clear, but I was buzzed, so I kept driving home. My husband had been invited to a neighbor’s for dinner and they said to drop by. I drove directly to the neighbor’s and knocked on their door at 8:30, the dinner party still in progress. Thank goodness it was “dress casual”. The BBQ chicken and a cold beer tasted wonderful. Our puppy was crazy to see me. My husband also, but he is not quite as expressive as the puppy who was on her back, tail wagging wanting nothing more than for me to scratch her belly!

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Taboose Canyon
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Mike M. » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:00 pm

Nice trail report, WD! It seems to me that we've had a summer chock-full of unsettled weather.

What kind of tent are you using? I know a lot of hikers complain about condensation inside their tents, but if the tent is well designed and you properly ventilate, you should seldom encounter this. After last year's crappy weather, I chucked my old tube tent (it has been re-purposed as a groundcloth) and bought the lightest weight one-man tent I could find -- an Easton Kilo (1lb 15oz). I used it during this summer's trip and was very pleased. A few reviewers had complained about condensation, but I found if I kept the rain fly partially opened at the top and bottom of the tent, the tent was weather tight, with no condensation whatsoever.

Better watch out -- the backcountry gendarmes here will be after you for camping on those grassy patches. They were all over a first-time poster last week for doing the same -- I fear he'll never post another report.

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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby justm » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:10 pm

Great trip report as all ways. Beautiful photos, those fish look delicious. How do you cook them ? Thanks for sharing, you've given me some good trip ideas !
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:20 pm

In the real world, sometimes your choice of campsite is a grassy patch or constructing a new dirt site. In my opinion, one night on a grassy patch causes much less damage than clearing off a new dirt spot. My impact on that grassy spot, this time of year, when the grass is solid and not wet, is no more than a deer sleeping on that spot. If the only flat, smooth spot I can find is nearer than 100 feet to a lake or stream then I walk back the 200 feet to brush teeth, wash dishes, peeing, etc. Backcountry impact can be minimized many ways, and the methods are not set in stone. Each area, each day and each person/group present unique problems with multiple solutions. I prefer to use judgment over set in stone "rules".

I have the original version of the Tarptent Moment. It is known for condensation problems. The condensation is annoying, but the tent does keep out the heavy rain and is very wind-worthy. I would not buy another, but it is what I have and it will be used until it wears out.

Overall the weather was not bad, just threatening. Unfortunately, one does not know when faced with threatening clouds, if a deluge will follow or just a cloudy day. When I am solo in remote areas I play it conservative and do not get too far from my tent in those conditions. Most of the time it was just threatening; one day a deluge materialized and I was glad to be inside my tent! I started backpacking (mountaineering) in the Pacific Northwest, and then spent 25 years in the Rockies, so my backpacking style very much deals with weather. The Sierra weather, even in a year when most Californians would call the weather bad, is pretty good in the bid picture of mountain weather.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Tom_H » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:59 pm

Gosh, such beautiful photos. Your next book should be a photographic album of the Sierra, seriously. Really enjoyed reading your TR. Hope my friends and I get to take some day hikes with you this fall.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby lambertiana » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:31 pm

Looks like a great trip, and those trout sure look good.

I've been in Lake Basin/Marion, and have wondered about making another trip to that area to visit Dumbbell and Amphitheater/Cataract. Your picture of Amphitheater Lake just moved that trip up in priority.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:56 pm

Now that is the sort of trip of which dreams are made. What a list of highlights! In spite of your "slow down and hit all the lakes" philosophy, you covered some serious ground, too, including some segments that would shame much younger hikers. That is a very serious opening day to punch it all the way into those lakes.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:13 pm

If I were to rate the areas I visited, Lakes Basin is #1 because it has beautiful lakes, good fishing, and lots of little nooks and crannies to explore. Amphitheater Lake cirque would be #2 because of the scenery, but fishing is limited because of all the gill netting of the upper lakes. #3 would be Dumbbell Lakes basin. I has mystique because it is so remote, but it is the most rugged and stark, a bit less scenic, in my opinion. Fishing is better than Amphitheater but not as good as Lakes Basin. Upper Basin would be #4. It is very large and although not that scenic standing on the JMT in the middle, there are tons of little lakes and places to explore, on both sides of the JMT. Although I did not go there this trip, Cardinal Lake is scenic, and the lakes between Vancher Needle and Mt Ruskin are quite nice ( visited all of these in one day-hike on a previous trip, but did not try to fish). Fishing is not great in the Upper Basin, as far as I know. The little area below Striped Mountain is great for fishing and very scenic but being so small, it is not a destination in itself, but it is well worth the effort of a 350 foot-elevation gain to spend at least one night and half a day. The Golden Staircase and Palisade Lakes along the JMT is very scenic. It would be #3 or #4 were it not for the many people- still a very nice destination off-season when the JMT is not so busy. Lots of fish in Palisades Lakes, but mostly small.

I had trip plans to come in from Taboose or from South Lake and through Palisade Basin. If I were to do this trip again I probably would go in from South Lake. But getting a walk-in permit for South Lake on Labor Day weekend is not a guarantee. There was only one permit left when I got my permit. I went in Taboose because Lakes Basin and Dumbbell Basin were my main objectives, and I was not sure that I could get over Cataract Creek Pass (probably would not be able to do this pass if there was lots of snow, or even the regular amount of snow). I also wanted to get a bit farther south, worried about the smoke from the Rim Fire.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby sekihiker » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:54 pm

What an awesome trip. I agree that Lakes Basin is one of the finest destinations in all of SeKi, or maybe you didn't say exactly that, I guess that's what I feel. I quit fishing a decade ago, but seeing your results tempts me to take it up again. Thanks for the well composed photos and thoughtful report.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby SSSdave » Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:54 am

Quite an ambitious trip, congrats WD. For a couple years my detailed plans for a 10-day trip over Taboose have been deferred due to the droughty conditions. That may happen next summer given a decent winter and would likely do so early to mid August when wildflowers peak. I'd be carrying twice your weight and will take a couple days to get over the crest. Regardless I'd have a difficult time doing the 6,000 feet in one day even without a pack so your're feat is considerable. Google Earth views and rugged metamorphic topography on the USGS map, show the upper basin of Taboose Creek above 9500 feet to be rather spectacular so that is another reason I have for spending time there during at least one early morning while light is best.

On the west side won't be venturing into that remote region beyond Cartridge Pass but rather about the upper South Fork of the Kings and Woods Creek mainly because that is where most of the colorful metamorphic peaks rise. I've never climbed over any of the notorious marathon passes along the southern Eastern Sierra.

I agree with your comments about tenting atop turfy areas in remote areas as I do the same all the time. The primary negative issue with tenting on turf and grass is IF it is a location other groups will also tent at. Usually popular destination camping areas have long had bare mineral earth tent rectangles fashioned out and groups ought to use those spots instead of making new ones, much less tenting nearby on turf. My own preference in remote zones is to tent atop well drained gruss flats or on duff surfaces below trees but in some areas such little spots are simply unavailable. At timberline areas, turf and alpine bilberry areas are often much more common and are robust enough to support modest infrequent tenting atop without problems. As long as one is at least 100 feet from lake/stream water sources such spots are not an issue with this person.
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Re: TR: Lakes Basin, Dummbell, Amphitheater, Upper Baisn

Postby Mike M. » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:33 pm

Backcountry impact can be minimized many ways, and the methods are not set in stone. Each area, each day and each person/group present unique problems with multiple solutions. I prefer to use judgment over set in stone "rules".

Agreed. I do it too.

The Sierra weather, even in a year when most Californians would call the weather bad, is pretty good in the bid picture of mountain weather.

True enough, but the splendid Sierra summer weather, where cloud cover and rain at night is rare, is one of the qualities that draws me to these mountains and helps make them such a paradise. It allows me to sleep out under the stars at night, which I much prefer to a tent. Aren't we spoiled! If not for the crappy weather, I'd be complaining about the hot trails and sunburn . . . .

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