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Sphinx Lakes TR

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Sphinx Lakes TR

Postby copeg » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:57 am

On saturday I got an early 3AM wake up call to drive to road's end in King's Canyon. I think waking up this early really added a strange dimension to this trip - everything seemed quite sureal, probably from the cloud swurling inside my head. I left the TH at about 9am to have my bear encounter about an hour later. It rained on and off all day, and ended up snowing on and off above 9k. I made it to lake 10514 by about 3pm after some serious bushwacking, much better timing than I'd thought - it wasn't raining that hard but I was soaked from all the water brushing off on me from the trees and bushes. That evening I had an amazing sunset. The next day I explored the basin, hoping to make it to Sphinx Col but turned back due to snow in the upper elevations. I fished several of the lakes, which contain some pretty good sized rainbows in several of the lakes. The snow from the recent storms was melting on south facing slopes, but many of the north facing slopes, esp. places which saw little or no sun, seemed to remain. The following day (monday) I hiked out, seeing several helicopters fly overhead and I hoped for the best. Finally saw my first person since saturday morning down along Bubbs Creek. Reaching the trailhead I noticed the car next to me had an ominousnote that the owner was overdue and being searched for :( - most likely the reason for the helicopters.

Some photos with more...Sphinx Lakes - I took two camera bodies, a digital and a film (with velvia 100). These are all digital, and without a dedicated slide scanner it'll be hard to get any of my film ones online.

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Last edited by copeg on Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:07 pm

Gorgeous photos and quite a bear story. That is certainly one of the nicer off trail areas in the Sierra and the fish are indeed pretty nice there, too. I need to get back there and spend more time. My only visit there was all too brief, given that it was a 4 day trip with my wife that did the Sphinxes, Brewer Basin, S. Guard Lake, and N. Guard lake, leaving not enough time as I would have liked to savor the place (trip was originally scheduled as 7 days). Chilling note about the search. This coming on the heels of the death of that hiker on the w. flank of Brewer this summer.
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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Postby Snow Nymph » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:50 pm

Beautiful photos! Its a new area for me, can't seem to get to the west side. Hope they the helo search has a happy ending. :( Love the :bear: shot! :D :
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby langenbacher » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:37 pm

Beautiful scenery. Excellent photograohy!
Shawn and I were there Sept. 30. It was my first backpack trip out of Kings Canyon, and it was very enjoyable. Looks like the smoke from the nearby forest fire was gone when you got there. I've ot to go back to get Brewer and Francis Farquhar. I have a few pictures (not quite as pretty) up at http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/554637498HvZuBY .
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Postby copeg » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:38 am

Thank you all.

Giantbrookie, curious how you made it to N. Guard Lake...over the notch just north of North Guard? On the map that notch doesn't look that bad, and I didn't check it out too closely but from where I had stood it looked a tad hairy. For some reason that lake intrigues me.

langenbacher, nice pics. That campfire looks pretty bad. Hate it when people don't douse enough.
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Postby Buck Forester » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:23 am

AWESOME photos and great adventure all the way around!!!
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
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Postby Skibum » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:00 am

Great shots! BTY the search for the overdue backpackers had a happy ending. We located them near Junction Mdw. They were on a loop trip Up to Sphinx Lakes, X-country over to Reflection Lake then down to Bubbs and out. They were just running late due to VERY sore knees. Ouch!

Next time you come through, stop at Grant "Kings Canyon VC" and say "HI".
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Postby Rosabella » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:07 am

Greg - GREAT Photos!!! sounds like an exciting trip!

I've had plenty of bear encounters (as we all have) but they were all pretty much the same... a bear "mosies" into camp, ya make a lot of noise, and he runs(or grudgingly walks) away.... but never had a close encounter with a cub. That would be pretty scary.

It's good to hear that the search for the overdue hikers ended positively.
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Postby copeg » Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:07 am

Thanks Buck, Skibum, and Rosie!

Skibum, its good to hear the search had a happy ending. I'll try to stop and say hi next time I'm in the area.
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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:51 pm

trailblazer wrote:Giantbrookie, curious how you made it to N. Guard Lake...over the notch just north of North Guard? On the map that notch doesn't look that bad, and I didn't check it out too closely but from where I had stood it looked a tad hairy. For some reason that lake intrigues me.


I don't have my topo with me, but I the route I took was all class 1 and 2. There were no class 3 pitches. There is some of the usual talus up high, then very pleasant slab walking lower down during the descent, with a few easy steep parts (where you can easily steer around cliffs). I suspect (again w/o map in front of me) that we're thinking of the same notch. The pass is situated just south of Mt. Francis Farquhar. In fact, that peak looked so easy from the pass (if one initially stays just a b it east of the crest of the ridge and ascended the easy southern slopes), I would have made a short detour and climbed it but for the lack of time. North Guard Lake always caught my eye because of its inacessibility. Of course I was most curious about the fishing. I didn't see any fish, nor catch any, but I wasn't at the lake very long. North Guard has these nice inlet channels that would seem to be a veritable fish hatchery if there had ever been fish in the lake. I figured if I didn't see a single fish in there , the lake must be fishless, but that may be an incorrect assumption. The lakes of Darwin Canyon and their inlets and outlets appeared lifeless in the afternoon during two of my visits, too (but the fish made their appearance just before sundown).

One thing I remember about the North Guard Lake hike was that it was the worst state of mind I've ever been in for a hike. Perhaps it was because this was a long solo hike that was tacked onto the end of a pack move from South Guard Lake to the Sphinxes, and was net downhill on the way in (meaning net uphill coming back). It just felt creepy descending there, for some reason. That spooky feeling vanished as I hit good pace ascending back from the lake, though.

Also: good to hear those hikers were OK.
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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Postby doug395 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:17 pm

TB - Really great images. The bear cub story adds a real feel for the experience, very cool that you got some shots, I would have been spooked.
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Postby copeg » Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:09 pm

giantbrookie, thanks for the info & the story. North Guard Lake attracts me for the same reason - it looks really inaccesible and remote.


Doug395, thank you so much. That bear encounter really got to me (esp. since it happened in the first hour of the trip). And that photo is now hanging on my wall as a reminder :nod:
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