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TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

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TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:50 am

Embarrassing!

Last weekend (April 19-20, 2014) I thought I was going up Symmes Creek to the "pass" south of Mt. Bradley. I was searching old posts for trail descriptions and what I was reading didn't match my memories because all I remember is following deer trails. The Sheppard Pass trail was nowhere to be seen and in retrospect I didn't see a single human-made trail whatsoever. I was actually in Pinyon Creek! So far there's nothing on that Creek on HST.

On Saturday, I was in a hurry to get to Center Peak with an ammo box and summit register and return to LA in two days. Didn't realize that Symmes Creek Rd. intersects 395 south of "W. Market St." in Independence (this is the one that changes into Onion Valley Rd.). Driving up Onion Valley Rd, I didn't see the left turn for Foothill Rd, which goes south towards Symmes Creek. Turns out I made a left turn onto some road that goes along Pinyon Creek. At one point it is severely washed out although it was passable with a 1990 Toyota Corolla.

On my way back to the car, I walked a ridge through cattle country, instead of following the creek, and noticed a watering hole for cattle that shows up clearly on satellite images: Lat. 36.76425 / Long. -118.28252 ( http://www.gps-coordinates.net/‎ )

The other sure clue I was not in the creek I thought I was, is this wonderful mesa between 8,920 and 8,960 ft: Latitude 36.7477 / Longitude -118.3226

I'll post some photos later. Here is a "trail" description. One doesn't really need directions because the terrain is so rugged that the whole time there was just one way to go: the path of least resistance. I parked at the end of the dirt road around 5,900 feet (36.764149 / -118.28295).

The north side of the creek is passable, but steep. There's a nice camping spot down from a beautiful waterfall around 6,400 feet. The trees are huge. The falls can be bypassed by going over a mini "pass" (36.761269 / -118.295417).

Around 7,000 feet, there's another mini "pass" which is also to the north of the creek. Around 7,200 you have to switch to the south side of the creek. Around 7,400 there is a huge willow "forest" in the creek that shows up on satellite images as a large green patch. Around 7,600 (36.7526 / -118.3128), there's a fork in the creek, the right branch (north) has running water but is too steep. The left branch (south) was dry and easy to climb with lots of rocks in the bed. I slept under a large boulder around 8,200 and saw lights of Independence at night.

Sunday morning, I climbed up to the above-mentioned mesa. Then, crossed the main branch of Pinyon Creek. This could be taken to "Pinyon Pass" (Latitude : 36.733828 | Longitude : -118.345456) say, 12,460 feet, which is to the north of Mt. Bradley. Instead, I took the drainage to the north of "Pinyon Pass". I thought I was heading to the main crest and Center Basin. Instead, the top of the drainage I was in shares the ridge with the drainage above Robinson Lake. (It would have been lots faster to park at the top of Onion Valley and hike up that drainage.)

In comparison, "Symmes Pass" (36.723063 | Longitude : -118.338032) is around 12,480 feet, to the south of Mt. Bradley. The two "passes" S and N of Mt. Bradley are roughly the same elevation. Sheppard pass is just over 12,000 (about 400 feet less).

Around 9,500 feet (36.748 / -118.3292) there is a beautiful foxtail (?) pine forest. I made it to about 11,000 (36.7495 / -118.3397) then started back down by glissading down a large snow chute.

The climb up was easy when done slowly. The slopes are STEEP. As a result, the climb down was tedious and kinda scary. I remember spending a lot of time sliding down sandy slopes. A few times, it was tricky to decide whether the rock I was about to step on would start sliding or remain put. A few times I started a bunch of rocks sliding down a ways, but nothing major.

I would give it a 5 out of 5, in comparison with creeks: Carroll, Lubken, Diaz (didn't get far in Diaz), and Tuttle. Pictures around Sheppard Pass look prettier, but I've never been there ;-) There are BIG trees, a waterfall, large patches of willows, a mesa, and stunning views of the upper canyons with a lot of snow, even in this low-snow year. Happy trails !!!



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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:31 pm

Rcymbala wrote:
Instead, the top of the drainage I was in shares the ridge with the drainage
above Robinson Lake.


Yeap that would be University Pass: HST Map
Thanks for the TR to a seldom used east side canyon. Would really like to see the pictures
since I have only been up to that ridge via UP.
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:49 am

Pinyon Creek is not well-known.

There were only 180 hits in Google for "pinyon creek" (most of them a bunch of fancy houses). Here are the relevant ones:

Scholarly paper:
- - - - - http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mpl/Ge126.. ... dunnel.pdf
" [PDF] Whipple and Dunne, 1992 - California Institute of Technology
Geomorphic map of part of upper Pinyon Creek fan, showing the distribution of debris-flow snouts and levees, boulders, and channels on the fan surface. "

Fishing:
- - - - - http://easternsierrafishing.com/area-wa ... yon-creek/
" Michael Sommermeyer March 24, 2012 -- This is another of the secret spots local residents go to when this crowds come to the Owens Valley. Located west of Indepence of the Onion Valley Road. Just below Lower Gray s Meadow campground turn off to the southwest on a dirt road which leads to the mouth of Pinyon Creek Canyon. A fisherman s trail follows the stream for about a mile to the base of a waterfall. This can be a very productive area for fishing and without a doubt the scenery is spectacular. This is a climb and not as easy to access as say Convict Lake to the north but if you are willing to do some hiking you will be rewarded with great scenery and good fishing. Bring along some water to drink and if you are planning to camp make sure you bring a bear cannister. "

Looking for some beta:
- - - - - http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=515
" Looking for some beta on Pinyon Creek. We plan to hike into Robinson Lake and then head SW up the drainage and then head SE to gain the ridgeline running SW from Independence peak to a saddle at 12,460 before dropping down into the Pinyon Creek drainage. Has anyone been up in that area to know how much of a cornice we may be facing. I have been told in prior years it has not been an issue but can not find anyone who has visualized it this season. "

Kindle:
- - - - - https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/pinyon ... d498301602
- - - - - http://www.bobandelsa.com/welcome.html

" Pinyon Creek, California [Kindle Edition]
Elsa Pendleton (Author)
Description
In 1913, the City of Los Angeles opened the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 225-mile-long engineering marvel. The Aqueduct allowed Los Angeles to grow and thrive, but what about the people at the upper end of the aqueduct? Through three generations, from 1886 to 1938, the Richardson family and their growing town of Pinyon Creek, in Owens Valley of the Eastern Sierra, encounter challenges from nature, outsiders, and the forces of history. "

Secor:
- - - - - http://books.google.com/books?isbn=1594854815
" The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, Trails - - ‎2009
Pinyon Creek Road The Pinyon Creek Road leaves the Onion Valley Road 4.7
miles from Independence (0 mi; UTM 868706), heads southwest, and goes right ... "

Mt. Bradley:
- - - - - http://www.summitpost.org/mount-bradley/208629
" From the trailhead, follow the use trail that ascends on the north side of the stream and follow it to the basin north of Mount Bradley. "

That's it.
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:53 pm

maverick wrote: Thanks for the TR to a seldom used east side canyon. Would really like to see the pictures since I have only been up to that ridge via UP.


Sure. OK, here is the narrative in this post.

( Saturday: )

342 & 343: Waterfall. The way up is right of the falls. I started up the side of the rock next to the falls, and quickly turned around on class 4. Went around the rock counter-clockwise and crossed a saddle (safe yet wicked steep).

344, 345, 346 & 347: A four-shot panorama (L to R) a few hundred feet above the falls taken from the south side of Pinyon Creek about 100 feet upslope from creek.

365 &366: A normal shot and a close-up looking further upstream.

371 & 372: Second one is a close-up of chute I took that leads to area above Robinson Lake on the other side.

( Sunday: )

394 (view left) & 395 (overlap with view to right): To left is the way Center Basin, to right is way I took towards ridge with Robinson Lake on the other side.

397, 398, 399, & 402: Heading up chute with Robinson Lake on other side of ridge.

403: After lying in snow exhausted, started descent with a glissade (looked easy to top, too tired, and out of time).

Happy trails !!
PO Box 150 Topanga CA 90290
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:02 pm

P1110342.JPG
342
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343
Last edited by rcymbala on Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:06 pm

P1110344.JPG
P1110345.JPG
P1110346.JPG
P1110347.JPG
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:09 pm

P1110365.JPG
365
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366
Last edited by rcymbala on Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:10 pm

P1110371.JPG
371
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372
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:12 pm

P1110394.JPG
394
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395
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:16 pm

P1110397.JPG
397
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398
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399
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402
Last edited by rcymbala on Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:23 pm

Would be interesting to see what fall colors one could find near those waterfalls
in the first picture, and all up the creek during October. Was very pleasantly surprise
by the outstanding fall colors we witnessed going Goodale Creek in November during
our search. Thanks for posting these great photos Ray.
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Pinyon Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:38 pm

P1110403.JPG
403
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