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TR: Huge Kearsage loop Sept 2013

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TR: Huge Kearsage loop Sept 2013

Postby themappist » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:33 pm

Back in April of last year I posted here for some advice on a route for a Sept trip:

Here is a brief trip report on that trip.

Flickr album here
https://www.flickr.com/photos/55533504@ ... 237011763/

I flew in to SFO on Friday Sept 13th, picked up the rental then hit REI for fuel and TJ's for food supplies. I dropped the resupply food package at a friend house and drove to Sacramento to pickup my buddy. We then drove into Yosemite Valley, arrived after 2AM.

Saturday we hiked up to Glacier point to acclimatize and did a large loop, probably close to 20 miles. Slept in Yosemite again, higher up at another campsite on the Tioga road. Acclimatizing well.

Sunday we drove over Tioga, picked up a permit and up to Onion Valley to camp. Did a nice day hike to Robinson Lake and finished packing up for the real trip starting the next morning

Day 1 Sept 16 went over Kearsage then North on the JMT to a campsite just an hour and half below Forrester. Camped in the last nice grove of trees just off the trail at the head of Bubbs Creek.

Day 2: Over Forrester bright and early, had breakfast at the pass. Gorgeous, bright day and the windiest I've had. Put on my rain coat on the way down to stay warm. All the way past Tyndall Ranger Stn. and to Wallace Creek for lunch where we got to meet Rogue and then onward over Bighorn Plateau to Guitar Lake for dinner. Beautiful sunset and glowing peaks around us.

Day 3: Up by 3 to make sunrise on top of Whitney. Another gorgeous day, climbing by moonlight almost all the way to Trailcrest. Back at Guitar lake by 10am packing up and heading back North on the JMT over Bighorn Plateau admiring the views and to Tyndall for the night.

Day 4: To Lake South America and over the KK Divide using Little Joe's Pass and down to Lake Reflection just after lunch for an easy day. Swam and wished we had a fishing rod not for the first time. Rested after the last few days of cruising. Looked at Longley from the top of the KK divide and it looks like a long way back up from Lake Reflection. We decide to take it easy and exit to RE using the East Lake Trail to Bubbs. A few other parties at the Lake. We get good beta from a regular on how to find the trail towards Harisson Pass.

Day 5: Left early and stashed most of our gear at the old Harrison Pass trail junction and headed up to the base of the pass for a quick look. Great fun, run into two parties coming down Harisson. Looks like a long climb to go over from the North. We head back down, retrieve our gear and head down to Bubbs. We camped down low somewhere along Bubbs. Found out the fire ban had been lifted and had a small fire our only one of the trip.

Day 6. Hiked to RE and arrived by 10AM then hitched a ride to Cedar Grove after an hour's wait and walk along the road.Thank you nice couple who took us down. Setup in the campground. Ate, showered and met up with resupplying friend. It rained all night and snowed up high.

Day 7. Repacked and headed back up the road to RE to start the SHR. Long hike up the Copper Creek trail to Grouse Lake where we had lunch. Made it all the way to Glacier Lakes for the night. Lovely evening, coyote yipping all around, heavy frost in the night and solitude like I haven't felt in a long time. Loneliness too after having spoken to my family the night before when at RE. Realizing there is still almost a week left of hard walking before I will see them. Lots of uncertainty about following the SHR causing some anxiety too.

Day 8. Trail and cross country travel along the SHR to Marion Lake. Easy day, at Marion Lake by 2PM. Relaxed and again wished for a rod since the trout are everywhere. We try to make a hook from materials on hand but we have no luck catching anything. Lots of old rusting trash around from the old days here. But a beautiful spot.

Day 9. Traverse Lake Basin and cross Frozen Lake pass. Amazing place. Later I find Chiura Obata's famous painting of this area. What a perfect rendering of how it felt there.


Frozen Lake Pass is more fun than expected once we get on route. Not for the first time we curse Steve Roper. Down to the JMT and back south to camp at Bench Lake. Weather changing. Cold and stormy and we camp under the tarp for the second time on the trip. The rain never comes and instead we punch a hole in the tarp. Note to self, Cuben under tension is fragile, keep away from tree limbs. Both my cameras die within a couple hours of each other. No more pictures.

Day 10. We cross Pinchot early. The views are stunning.Looking south towards Twin Lakes and upper Woods Creek in the crisp early morning light is my favorite vista of the trip. Really regretting the loss of the cameras while in this spot. I linger for a long time to make sure I memorize the view. We hike on to a camp at Arrowhead Lake where we share a meal with a nice Kiwi hiker. Again weather looks to be changing. I patch the cuben tarp and we put it up again. Very carefully this time.

Day 11 Sept 26th. Early departure and breakfast at Rae Lake Isthmus. Beautiful mist rising everywhere, ducks and ice on the Lake's edge. Eerie clouds and light. I grew up in Northern Canada and I can smell snow well before it starts to fall. It smelled like a storm that morning. We stash gear and head up towards Sixty Lakes Basin to poke our heads in. Storm clouds brewing all around us once we get up high. I start getting nervous about exiting today and being able to drive out over Tioga if it starts to snow. Memories of the long drive to Reno and Tahoe in Fall of 2009 when we were snowed in come back to me. We pick up the pace and climb over Glen Pass and out over Kearsage arriving at Onion Valley TH shortly after lunch. A couple hours later we are soaking in Keough hot springs before a hot meal in Bishop. We drive over Tioga Pass in driving snow and camp at Crane Flat that night. An appropriately long day to close out a superb September adventure.
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Last edited by themappist on Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TR: Huge Kearsage loop Sept 2013

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:53 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write up this enjoyable TR, the "aplenglow above
Marion" and the "Frozen Lakes Pass" photo's are cool. Sorry to hear about both
camera's dying, frustrating to say the least, especially when you see something
special that you would have liked to capture soon after.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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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