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Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby kpeter » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:07 pm

Do be careful of snow. This is the area where, in early October, Charlie Hench got disoriented in a snow storm and fell to a ledge. It was famously made into an episode of "I shouldn't be alive."
http://www.intrepid-optimist.com/content/lost-mountains

Hench was trying to reach Italy Pass from Jumble lake but had little visibility in the storm and went north, tumbling north off the spur of Mt. Julius Caesar where he broke a wrist, back, and lacerated an eye. Fortunately he survived until the weather cleared and he was spotted from a plane. It is quite a story.

Not trying to be alarmist at all. I predict you will have a great trip, especially as you will be traveling in a group and are experienced. Just watch the weather carefully...since there are several risk factors.



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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby Ken M » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:07 pm

Good advice by many.

The only real issue with the route that you've mentioned, is a small trick, in climbing from Lake Italy to Dancing Bear Pass. There is a distinct, although unmaintained trail that runs up from Lake Italy, past Jumble Lake, to Italy Pass.

The trick is to go up much further than it seems like you need to go, so that you can cross XC on the same elevation line. Otherwise, you will have to climb over talus, which is worse the lower you begin. If you go high to cross, it is easy walking, pretty much class 1.

The only other place that presents some difficulty is as you descend from Vee lake. by the time the route turns to go due west, there is no trail, and it is true Class 3 in places. (you have to use your hands to climb up or down.) Last time I was in there, I had to rescue a Sierra Club group that had gotten lost. Personally I didn't think it was that hard (you are in a canyon following a stream), but some obviously do. I GUARANTEE you, you will go very slowly through the area. You will find a section where 1 mile an hour is a good pace. Our group did not find it necessary to raise/lower packs with a line, although the Sierra Club folks did.

Personally, I think this is a superb hike.

Snow will not be an issue, unless it starts dumping this week. I don't think you need worry.
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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby wjb » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:14 pm

Thanks for the replies. Very helpful info all around!

We called the ferry and were told it will NOT be running -- "by then, there won't be a lake to ferry you across."
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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby BigMan » Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:08 pm

Just returned from Bear Lakes.

I wouldn't consider the notch route between lower Seven Gables Lakes and Vee Lake to be class 3, but some of it was class 2. However, you can avoid this notch route and instead use the easy route along the stream to the south. Here's my friend on that route, looking down towards SGL:
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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby BigMan » Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:20 pm

Also, I'd highly recommend going in and out via the East Fork Bear Creek and avoiding the less-interesting Hilgard Branch. This gives you more time at Big Bear, Ursa, Bearpaw, Vee, White Bear and Black Bear. I prefer each of those lakes over Italy, Teddy Bear and Brown Bear.

Also, when I'm hiking a trail in different directions I don't consider it to be the "same" trail. I consider the out portion of the hike to be just a new and interesting as the in portion.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby wjb » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:29 pm

Thanks for the tips about how to get around the Bear Lakes / Vee Lake areas. Sounds like route choice makes a big difference. Knowing to go for elevation will be very helpful.

The forecast seems to have gotten a little more interesting, but not enough to be concerned about, as far as I can tell.

I picked a point near Vee Lake for an NWS forecast, and it has slight (20%) of thunderstorms Friday and Saturday: http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.ph ... BnsgC5dVH3

That doesn't concern me too much. 395 travel seems to be saying about the same: http://www.395travel.com/forecast/?p=36683
Showers and storms possible on Friday. Maybe through Sunday too, though that seems to apply to Mono County, whereas we will be closer to Mammoth Lakes, so maybe not applicable to us. Drying out on Monday and Tuesday -- great.

Mammoth Weather also agrees about tstorm chances on Friday and Saturday, then clear sailing: http://mammothweather.com/2014/09/15/ab ... l-bring-a/

These links have been great, thanks again for sharing them!
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Re: Backpacking Trip Advice: Bear Lakes Trail, Sept 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:38 pm

The way the weather has been this summer and my general experience tells me that you will most likely get a bit of rain from a shower/thunderstorm in that area. I wouldn't be concerned at all though as like you said the weather will turn fairer by the weekend.

Enjoy your trip and post a TR when you return!
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