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Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

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Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby norak » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:50 am

Hello,

My husband and I are planning a 5-6 night trip out of Rock Creek at the end of July. We'd like to hike over Mono Pass and explore the lake basins and recesses beyond. We're Class 3 backpackers, mostly class 2 terrain, some cross country (We've hiked from Wanda over to the Davis Lakes, and from Dusy Basin to the Palisade Lakes over Knapsack pass, etc.). We're comfortable with up to 10 miles per day, but this is a trip where enjoying and exploring new places is more important than covering ground. A layover day or two with day hikes would be ideal. We're most interested in scenery, lakes, and solitude. We're considering the Pioneer Basin, Hopkins, and Laurel Creek trails, as well as some of the recesses and would like to choose two or three to explore over six or seven days. Any recommendations and tips would be greatly appreciated!

Nora



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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby LMBSGV » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:27 am

Pioneer Basin is ideal for layover days and dayhikes. There are several unnamed lakes one can explore and cross-country travel is relatively easy in the basin. Also, Fourth Recess Lake is worth a visit on the way in or out. Laurel Creek trail, Laurel Lake, and Grinnell Lake also offer a lot of possibilities though dayhikes (Rosy Finch and Bighorn Lakes, Grinnell Pass) would be more class 2 versus the class 1 of most of Pioneer Basin.
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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby manny » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:37 am

I'll second the Pioneer Basin recommendation. It's a beautiful place with spectacular scenery and easy travel in the basin. The entire trip from the Mosquito Flat TH, over the pass, and down the Mono Creek drainage offers plenty of great Sierra views.

Looking forward to the trip report!
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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:18 pm

If you can get 6 nights then Pioneer Basin for 2, Lower/Upper Mills Creek Lake
and/or Grinnell Lakes (Laurel Lake).

Pioneer Basin is fun with a lot of lakes to visit and good fishing, the ones to the
far east near Huntington Pass are really nice, and rarely visited.

Mills Creek Lakes is really pretty and the hike up Mills Creek is pretty, especially
if the wildflowers our out in force.

The Grinnell Lake area is excellent, with outstanding scenery, and the alpenglow
one the ridge behind the lake is second to none at the right conditions. Laurel
Creek can have outstanding wildflowers and the scenery is beautiful, including
Laurel Lake.

Forth Reccess Lake Falls is very pretty, but with the drought it will be less
spectacular than other years, or earlier in the season.

Lower Hopkins Lake is also very pretty, but with your time limitations, the other
areas should head your list of places to visit this trip
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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby norak » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:06 pm

Hello,

Thanks for all the great info! I think we'll definitely spend 2 nights in Pioneer Basin and 2 nights in the Grinnell Lake area, then maybe a night somewhere in Second Recess and a night at Fourth Recess Lake on the way out. Is there a use trail to the Mills Creek Lakes? If not, how difficult is the cross country and does one just more or less follow the creek?

I will definitely try to post a trip report this time. Our last few trips have just been sections of the JMT and the route felt a bit run-of-the-mill to report on even though the actual experience was anything but. :)

Nora
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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby SSSdave » Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:36 pm

From the Mosquito Flat TH to the largest Pioneer Basin lake is a long single day hike of 9 miles and 2.8k of uphill vertical. By Wilderness Press ratings, that is strenuous. And note the topo shows some areas of switchbacks as straight trail lines so the actual mileage is longer that the map tends to indicate. Thus most people carrying usual modest backpacking loads are not going to be doing much on the hike in day or hike out day. If your trip is 5 nights and 6 days then that leaves 4 days or 3 nights. Given the long hike out many instead spend their last night at either Fourth Recess Lake, Trail Lakes, or Mono Pass. Another strategy on the hike in is to just hike to the lowest lake known as Mud Lake the first day which is only 8 miles. It is a favorite with photographers. Then the second morning one can easily continue on to the largest lake and spend time finding a good camp spot without being so tired one just drops at the first spot. I could easily spend a week base camping in Pioneer Basin and find interesting new places within that basin and its surrounding ridgelines and peaks to explore every day.

From the largest PB lake to Lower Hopkins Lake is 5 trail miles. It is a hanging valley bench on the canyon so small area though very scenic in the afternoon. The notion of also going to either Lower Mills Creek Lake or Grinnel Lake is in my opinion misplaced and would create a real beater itinerary if added to what I noted above. But then that is just how some spend their time in the backcountry pounding trails and routes all day without spending much time at any. Each one is about 10 trail miles from the largest PB lake including considerable uphill vertical. Those are better reached on their own trips from Edison. A classic that includes LMC is a loop over Gabbot Pass into Italy branch of Bear Creek. And a classic for Grinnel Lake is a loop over Bighorn Pass into the NF Mono Creek. Note from the largest PB lake to the Laurel Creek junction is 7 trail miles alone.
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Re: Trip Advice: Rock Creek TH

Postby norak » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:43 pm

SSSDave,

Thanks for your comments - yes you're right about the first day being strenuous, especially since this will be our first trip out this year. We do have six nights so I'm thinking we'll do as follows: 1st night 4th Recess Lake, 2nd & 3rd nights PB (and yes it will allow us to find a really nice camping spot as you say), 4th & 5th nights Grinell lake. (I do want to see this area), 6th night somewhere between Hopkins Cr and Mono Pass. The hike from PB to Grinell is long but it will be the 4th day of hiking and by then we'll be in shape and our packs lighter : )

Thanks again.
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