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Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

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Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby rbcallaway » Thu May 29, 2014 11:46 am

Hi all,

First time post. I am seeking route advice for a trip my buddy and I have planned August 27 - Sept 2nd.

I would say we are moderately experienced hikers. This will be my 4th trip to the high Sierras; he's been quite a few more times since he lives in CA. We did the JMT together in 2006.

The goal for this trip to try to do some cross-country and dip our toes into the Sierra High Route over the course of 5 or 6 hiking days. Our main goals for the trip are awesome scenery, as much solitude as you can get over Labor Day wkend, and a sense of adventure.

I've already secured cross-country permits for entering and exiting Piute Pass, so I am hesitant to change that start and end point.

Here is our proposed route (link to map, also attached):

Aug 28 - North Lake trailhead over Piute Pass to Mesa Lake
Aug 29 - Mesa Lake over Puppet Pass then over Pine Creek Pass to Granite Park
Aug 30 - Granite Park over Italy Pass down to Big Bear Lake
Aud 31 - Big Bear Lake over Feather Pass to Hutchinson Meadow
Sep 1 - Hutchinson Meadow back over Piute Pass to North Lake trailhead

There's an extra day I have to play with. I can either spend it relaxing in the Bear Lakes area, maybe bag a peak, or just cache it in case something goes wrong and we need to take it slower.

I welcome input from anyone. Thank you very much! I read through the rules and hopefully I didn't violate any in this post!
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alltrails-12847875.pdf
Route Map
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 12:44 pm

Hi Rbcallaway,

Welcome to HST! You wrote the 27th, but starting the 28th, will the 27th be
spent acclimating? The route you have planned is doable, and having that extra
day for weather or other hiccups is perfect. What do you consider moderately
experienced hikers, take a look at this a maybe give us a little more info about
you and your friends experience level and abilities, JMT is a good hike, but much
different that some some serious cross-country backpacking: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby rbcallaway » Thu May 29, 2014 1:06 pm

Thanks Maverick! Yes, the 27th and perhaps 26th will be spent acclimating.

We are level III hikers based on your link. I'm comfortable on class III scrambles -- with the caveat that I would like to avoid carrying crampons and an axe. My normal hiking area is Western NC, especially Linville Gorge, but I've made a few trips to the Sierras, CO, and WY. My off-trail experience in the Sierras is limited to part of one trip. However, this is trip #4 to the Sierras, and I've done off-trail in a bunch of other locations, so I'm thinking this is my opportunity. Of course, I plan on bringing a GPS, extensive maps, and planning early.

We are both in our early 30's and into fitness and living healthy. I've been working with a personal trainer and have a program I started 6 weeks ago to get me ready for August. My buddy is former d1 wrestler and I'm not worried about his conditioning level.

The big idea is that a lot of the hikes we do now, we take our wives on. But neither of our wives really want to push it as much as we do. Now we have permission to go off for a week on our own, so we want to push it as much as possible but still be safe.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 1:16 pm

The big idea is that a lot of the hikes we do now, we take our wives on. But neither of
our wives really want to push it as much as we do. Now we have permission to go off
for a week on our own, so we want to push it as much as possible but still be safe.


Based on your experience you should not have any problems with your route, there are
plenty of TR's with pictures that describe it. It is a beautiful area, would recommend
checking out Royce Lakes on the way too.
Nice to get that permission slip, though it costs me one way or another. Very cool that
your wives go along with you on many of your trips. We would enjoy to read some of your
backpacking adventures to some of the non-Sierra place if you get the time. :)
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby rbcallaway » Thu May 29, 2014 2:41 pm

Yes, I was thinking of going into Royce Lakes basin from Pine Creek Pass and going from there to Granite Park. Currently my route has me losing elevation from Pine Creek Pass to Honeymoon Lake. The person I borrowed this route from complained about that elevation loss and said they wished they had done Royce Lakes instead, but didn't know exactly how they would execute that.

I'm a little unsure what the most prudent route would be and how it would change the timing of the trip. Any advice is appreciated!

Thanks guys!
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 3:44 pm

From highest of the Royce Lakes you can climb up and above the small cliffs
under the pass, then skirt around and over the shoulder of Peak 12,470 into
Granite Basin thereby not loosing all the elevation and be right near Lake Italy
Pass. You could also use Granite Bear Pass instead of Lake Italy Pass for
quicker access into the heart of the Bear Lakes area. Also you could use
Le Salle Col to access the Merriam Lake drainage, or another option would be
to include the Seven Gable Lakes area and use Ruskie Pass that would place
you right above Merriam Lake.
http://www.highsierratopix.com/high-sie ... p.php?fs=1
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby snowblind » Thu May 29, 2014 4:15 pm

Great trip....I agree that heading to Royce Lakes and then to Granite Park makes more sense. I would definitely use my layover day in the Bear Lakes area. Seven Gables is a great climb. I prefer Ruskie Pass over Feather...less traveled and you get a chance to see Vee Lake and the Seven Gables area. Also, the snow on the way down makes it pretty quick.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby Pato » Fri May 30, 2014 7:19 am

I think your proposed trip is an outstanding choice. While there is a decent amount of off trail travel - most of it is pretty straightforward. I've been to much of these areas, but not in a single trip as you have proposed. I believe this exact route is a recommended route in Trekking California by Paul Richins. I've run into Paul in the backcountry - he's a great guy.

http://www.amazon.com/Trekking-Californ ... 0898868947

A few suggestions I might add:
1) Consider going to Tomahawk lake instead of Mesa. I found it much nicer, although it is a bit off route.

2) Royce Lakes is beautiful....bring your fishing pole! The route from Pine Creek Pass is pretty straightforward. Here's a pic I took from the uppermost lake that shows Pt 12470 that Maverick mentions on the left.

Royce.jpg
His route down would be around the left side of that peak. I actually ascended/descended the gully from Lake 11725 to the right of the peak which has you drop about 700 before you hit the trail near Granite Park.

3) Granite Park is very nice...worthy of the accolades IMO.
Granite park.jpg


4) I'm sure you've heard all the superlatives about Bear Lakes Basin too and they're right - it is a beautiful place.
bear.jpg
Its no longer a secret however, and when I was there it was a little crowded for an off trail location. I actually preferred Vee Lake. If you want a little more solitude, Vee sits in a much bigger basin with a bit more room to spread out. Scenery is just as nice...if not better.

5)Hutchinson Meadow isn't anything special but is convenient for a stopping location. If you have the energy consider huffing it up to Lower Honeymoon Lake.

Enjoy your trip. I think you've chosen one of the premier loops in the Sierra!
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby rbcallaway » Fri May 30, 2014 9:25 am

Thanks so much everyone! This is exactly the kind of detail I was looking for. I am going to research some of these suggestions, then will remap the loop based on the great input you guys have given me.
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby Laserjet3051 » Fri May 30, 2014 9:45 am

RB:

Sounds like a great trip. I've been through much (but not all) of your proposed route. Personally speaking, your itinerary seems doable under ideal conditions. Though, getting to Mesa (or Tomahawk) lake from North Lake TH in one day is a long haul with a lot of elevation gain. You'll need a good pace and an early start to make it there before dark.

Like your proposed itinerary, 2 years ago, I packed from Hutchinson Meadow over Piute pass to the North Lake TH in a single day. After breaking down camp mid morning, I set off, but the last 1 hour descent to the N. Lake TH was in total darkness and I was too stubborn to break out my headlamp, insisting I could make it all the way on natural lighting.

Given it is a drought year here, a late August trip will encounter very dry conditions. Plan accordingly. I wish I had 5 or 6 days in that area. It is spectacular!
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby bbayley80 » Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:52 am

you'll be hot on my heels! my big trip for the yr is 8/27-8/31 as well.
going through most of the same area-Pine Creek loop, through Granite Park/Italy Pass, Bear Lakes Basin, over Feather Pass but hanging a left to go back out to Pine Creek TH for the next two days.

i agree with LaserJet on your Day 1and last day . they are long ones. but with two days to acclimatize and being fit you guys will be good.

your day out will be a big one from Hutchinson Meadow. last year i finished up a North Lake loop through Lamarck Lakes/Lamarck Col/through Evolution Valley by coming out the same way. i came from camp at the bridge/wilderness boundary up the Piute Trail through Hutchinson Meadow and ended up camping just short of Summit Lake. i was pooped. i would think it would be a similar mileage for you too-starting further up the trail-but finishing over the pass to the car. expect to be gassed at the car ;) but the scenery along the way is awesome! of course..

I'm on the same program-i like to push when out with the boys, you gotta take advantage of that hall pass from the wife ;) - so I'm a fan of your itinerary. have fun!
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Re: Trip Advice: SHR / Bear Lakes Basin

Postby paul » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:54 pm

Do not miss Merriam Lake while you are in the area.
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