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backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

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backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby desertdryad » Sat Jun 07, 2014 5:08 pm

Hi folks ~

I'm looking for some advice. I'm planning to do a short out and back backpack in the Lee Vining / June Lake area. I've been looking at Lundy Canyon, Saddlebag Lake, Gibbs Lake, and.. now thinking maybe something near June lake might fit better. I'm an experienced backpacker but out of practice, and I'd prefer something in the 4-6 mi range heading out. Relative 'low use' strongly preferred over spectacular scenery, as I'm fairly easy to please on scenery in the Sierra! (and yeah I know 'low use' is a relative term) Water is desired; but a creekside camp is fine if not a lake. I have a 4x4, so road to TH conditions are generally a non-issue. I'm looking at late June timeframe.

I was leaning towards Lundy Canyon, but the scree-fest I'm reading about is putting me off. Comments and suggestions welcome.. I hope I gave enough info to advise. Thanks!



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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:51 pm

The scree fest is not that bad, easier coming from 20 Lakes Basin. You mentioned
being out of practice, does that mean out of shape too? If yes, then 20 Lakes Basin
out of Saddlebag is very easy, even easier if one takes the ferry accross the lake. :\
You will leave most of the crowd once you get away from Saddlebag and into one of
many higher interior lakes where you will find some of the solitude you seek, but you
will also have to put up with the outstanding scenery. ;)
Here is a TR that gives you a peak into Lundy: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7014&p=49181&hilit=+lundy+canyon#p49171
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby desertdryad » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:54 pm

Hi Maverick, thanks! I'm in pretty good shape (as in generally fit from other exercise besides backpacking), but it's my balance with 30+ lbs on my back that I worry about. If the other lakes above and beyond Saddlebag might offer relative peace and quiet, that might be a good way to go.. I'll suffer with the scenery.. :wink:
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:04 pm

Make sure you visit the Conness Lakes, small emerald green lakes situated under
Mt. Conness.(No camping allowed in that area)

Something to wet you appetite:
Conness Lakes: https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/ ... ness+lakes
20 Lakes Basin: https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/ ... t&y=Search
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: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby seanr » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:04 pm

Hi desertdryad! I saw your post requesting elaboration on my experience with Saddlebag in the other thread. By the way, I think I may have seen you on a desert oriented site that I frequent in the winter. Anyway, to put it simply, I agree with everything maverick has posted in this thread. I dayhiked North Peak via Conness Lakes with a side trip to the Wasco Lake area and several ponds between Wasco and Greenstone Lakes. I peered down at Twenty Lakes Basin from atop North Peak. Another day I dayhiked to Bighorn Lake near White Mountain. Camping is not allowed in most of the area I ventured.

Image

You expressed desire for a short trip and some concern about getting used to balancing with your pack. The terrain, elevation profile, and mileage on a trip from Saddlebag can be about as easy as it gets with options to add challenge. IMO, the scenery seemed superior to most places, including others in the Lee Vining area. My visit at the tail end of June and beginning of July 2013 did not feel crowded at all, but I did see other people out and about. The campgrounds and resorts in the area were all open by the time I visited. I suspect there are so many suitable spots you could set up camp that you ought to be able to garner some solitude either along the main route or along use trails around the multitude of ponds and lakes within the large basin. The nice thing is it is easy terrain to travel and navigate to take your pick of backcountry campsites. Late June you might be able to arrive before the campgrounds at and near Saddlebag open and before the July 4th through Labor Day summer Sierra crowds (before peak usage season). I have yet to see much detail on specific conditions this year, but the snow was melted and gasses were green late June last year.

As noted by maverick, camping is not allowed at the Conness Lakes/within the Monroe Hall Research Natural area. Still, I agree the Conness Lakes are worth checking out. Hike the trail along the west side of Saddlebag to Greenstone Lake (about 1.5 miles). Then head north beyond Wasco Lake and pick a nice spot to set up camp somewhere in the legal area. Decide while there if you feel like doing the whole basin loop. At some point head back toward Greenstone Lake to dayhike without full pack up to Conness Lakes (there is some easy scrambling on a class 2 use trail/route northside of the creek that cascades down from Conness Lakes to Greenstone Lake).

I bet there are opinions about the best campsites among the many lakes somewhere on the internet.

These shots of Conness and North were taken between Greenstone and Wasco (in solitude aside from mosquitos):

Image

Image
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby desertdryad » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:35 pm

Seanr, thanks for the details and *great* photos, much appreciated! Definitely sound like an easily doable area with lots of options.

Oh, and, If you are talking about the Death Valley forum, that would be me ;)
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby SSSdave » Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:21 am

If Lundy make the short hike to Oneida Lake that is 1800 feet on an old 4wd mining road with few backpackers and occasional day hikers, mainly fishermen at mid day. Gibbs is another just sub 2k hike, but with nice scenery down towards Mono Lake and you are unlikely to see any others. Trailhead does require 4WD. 20 Lakes Basin is heavily used by backpackers and even more so by day hikers. One can find places to camp a bit away from trail traffic, but walking about in those areas, even away from trails one will see others and lots of people if on weekends. Another short trail hike in that zone where you are even less likely to see others and with slightly less vertical would be Tamarack Lake from the Summers Meadow road end.
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby seanr » Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:15 pm

Yeah, desertdryad, if your highest priority remains solitude, Dave's suggestions put the odds much more in your favor. I am one to notice other folks in the backcountry and didn't feel close to crowded (I only came near enough to someone to have a conversation once), but my visit was not on a weekend. I was in Saddlebag area Sunday night -Tuesday and there were midday thunderstorms each day with noticeable hail, rain, and lightning that drove people to take shelter. The trip is memorable because of the beauty of the area and because it was my last successful hike last summer due to breaking my ankle a couple of days later near the Incredible Hulk.

If by late June you mean the weekend of 27-29, all the Tioga/Saddlebag area campgrounds will be open by then and regardless there will be dayhikers driving in from afar. Still, you might be doing well at all the suggested spots by avoiding and preceding 4th of July weekend.
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby desertdryad » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:41 pm

Side note - doe anyone happen to know, are there lockable campground or trailhead or resort bear boxes at or near Saddlebag lake? Doe anyone know? Thanks!!
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby austex » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:32 pm

The only bear boxes are located at Saddlebag are at the pay campsites by the resort/shuttle/boat rentals. No community ones like at Onion Valley etc.
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Re: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:36 pm

Austex wrote:
The only bear boxes are located at Saddlebag are at the pay campsites by the
resort/shuttle/boat rentals.


That is correct, but email the resort to find out if anything has changed from last year:
staff@saddlebaglakeresort.com
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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: backpack suggestions for Lee VIning/June Lake area?

Postby jessegooddog » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:24 pm

I wonder if the campground right at the Saddlebag Lake turnoff on 120 has bear boxes???
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