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A Purple Creek

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A Purple Creek

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:05 am

A couple of us will be doing a 4-day 3-night backpack from the Coldwater Creek TH at Mammoth Lakes over Duck Pass and up into the Purple Creek basin. I've always wanted to see purple water and in fact there is a Purple Lake there that must be a real sight all purple. (: Of course at this time of summer most of the Inyo NF quota trailheads are all reserved for Saturdays and Fridays as one can see at the recreation.gov site. Noticed there are still 3 open permits for Thursday August 7 so am giving a heads up to anyone, M or F, on our board that might want to independently visit that basin too and tag along as much as they want.

My own timeline is as usual rather unusual versus what normal backpackers do as I always have detailed photography plans requiring being at specific locations at best times of each day and generally making efficient use of my time. My bros interest is mainly fishing so in that spirit I'll also be carrying my rod with some #16 Adams and Kastmasters to hopefully fit some fishing time in too supplementing our protein. Note will be lugging up the Gigapan Epic 100 robotic head with my A6000 instead of the usual much heavier 4x5 sytem as the former was productive making some huge PS Photomerge stitched images on my recent Kearsarge Pass trip,.

Accordingly we will get the permit from a nightbox on our drive up Wednesday evening probably getting to the TH between 10pm and 11pm. Then get a jump on the trail by hiking for an hour till after midnight when we can legally say we are camping on Thursday. Will get a short night's sleep then be up at sunrise and quickly on the trail by maybe 6:30am. Duck Pass at the 3.6 mile point is a 1700 foot effort so that ought to leave us less than 900 feet to get over the pass by 8:30am or so. Yeah and I always hike slow with every waist height boulder and log along the trail our friend. Then will ramble down to the Duck Lake outlet at the 4.5 mile point where will spend a couple or three hours tossing out lines giving ourselves a mid-hike rest. Then late morning will continue on to Purple Lake that is mostly level traversing on the PCT/JMT highway at the 7.5 mile point. Probably reach there by early afternoon and go the half mile around to the backside of the lake for a camp spot with a few hours to enjoy at the end of the day.

So next morning Friday will rise at early dawn, pack up, and be off by sunrise for the short one mile and 700 feet or so up to the upper basin where by about 7:30am will find a camp spot and work morning photography. Next day Saturday, will pack up in the afternoon and after afternoon photography will leave by about 6pm, moving back down the trail to the PCT junction at Duck Creek. Never seen a creek of ducks instead of water either? Then Sunday morning will get up about sunrise, pack up, and probably toss lines in awhile at Duck Lake before climbing the pass and returning to the trailhead.



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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:18 pm

Well am kissing as down a rat hole the $16 for the trailhead reservation I made at recreation.gov this morning. Was not at all aware of the French Fire in the San Joaquin River canyon below Mammoth Pool until later in the morning when I belatedly checked the fire sites. That fire apparently started earlier this week and did not see it in any media reports since they've been more tuned to the El Portal and Sand fires. Live and Learn, burned a small piece of charcoal out of my hide. Of course probably some others on this board also have plans for those areas. Be sure to check the fire smoke map. Note I now see Mav posted something this afternoon on our Conditions, Wildfire thread so beware.

Decades ago as a young man exploring our Sierra's, smoky summer wildfires were uncommon and skies were a beautiful clear blue more often than not. With the huge population explosion and endless insane growth and development in the state, August has increasingly been a lousy gamble for trip planning and overall the air clarity even over the highest areas is often disgusting.

Well instead of packing gear this weekend will go down to the beach for sun and surf since water temps in Monterey Bay have actually climbed into the low 60s, the least chilly in several years.
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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby schmalz » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:24 pm

I planned my big trip for this year in mid july partially due to what I expected would be a bad fire season. I think it will unfortunately become part of my planning process as the years go by. August, which traditionally has had the best conditions in the Sierra, is no longer a reliable time to visit the mountains in California.
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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:36 pm

Hi Dave,

Been reporting on this fire at: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=10963#p82817
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: A Purple Creek

Postby markskor » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:52 pm

Just a heads up on Mammoth visibility today Friday, 4/01...there isn't any.
Heavy smoke and a red/brown pallor over all peaks.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:34 pm

I'm sorry to hear about all the smoke; I've got about a week and a half to two weeks before I have a good window to give Mammoth area a try myself. Thanks for bringing this up; I've managed to avoid smoke the past handful of years. We'll see what happens between now and then.

Yeah, SSSdave, I was at Sunset State Beach last Sunday and was amazed by the warm water. For once it didn't feel like ice being poured over my head and no wetsuit was needed. If this weekend brings decent waves (unlike last), I'll have to go to a beach again! The horror! ;)
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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:57 am

Speculating, we can thank some person possibly an urban person escaping the Central Valley heat, discovering what car camping is about down this little spur road for the fire. Instead of using the Rock Creek Campground at the Minarets Road Junction where newbies ought to practice being in the outdoors, they decided to disperse camp where they could act stupidly playing Daniel Boone in private. After a awhile they ran out of beers so had to make store run back down at North Fork.

Although lightning caused fires are common they are more often at higher timberline elevations where landscapes have thin forests and are not likely to burn large acreages. On the other hand, human caused wildfires at low elevations like this at 4000 feet in the canyon are more often started by clueless ignorants.

Snippet from:

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4013/

An investigation has concluded that an abandoned campfire near the Rock Creek Campground was the cause of the French Fire. The abandoned campfire was located towards the bottom of Rock Creek Road, near the San Joaquin River. Investigators are asking for the public’s help for information about anyone who was seen in the area of Rock Creek Road near the San Joaquin River during the afternoon or evening of Sunday July 27. The French Fire will continue to produce large amounts of smoke...
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Re: A Purple Creek

Postby cgundersen » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:40 pm

Hi Dave,
I just had to thank you for all the kind words you directed toward the person(s) responsible for the French fire; it sounds like a pretty similar scenario to the one that led to the huge Yosemite fire last year. And, like you, I had been unaccustomed to planning trips around smoke plumes and the smog floating out of the San Joaquin, but those increasingly have been major factors over the last decade. The other big difference is the amount of monsoonal moisture in August. I mostly got washed out of a trip last year, and just returned from Gardiner basin where my compatriot and I spent 30 hours in a tent getting continuously bombarded by rain and hail, wind, lightning and thunder. Great drought relief, but lousy for those of us more interested in basking in alpenglow. Given the mild winters, it may be time to think about spending new year's day in Ionian Basin?
cameron
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