Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby shan1203 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:15 pm

Day 1: Roads End to Lower Paradise Valley
Our first day was a short one due to the drive in from Southern California. We started at Roads End at ~3PM and made our way up the trail, passing beautiful Mist Falls settling in at Camp Spot #5 in Lower Paradise Valley for the night. We had several visits from the local deer population and settled in for a good night of sleep under a clear sky.

Day 2: Lower Paradise Valley to the JMT junction
Our second day took us through gorgeous Middle and Upper Paradise Valley on our way to Castle Domes meadow. Views from the trail leading into Castle Domes meadow took my breath away. We saw evidence of bears along the way and knew that we will need to practice our best efforts at proper food storage and handling along the way. We hiked for about 6 hours before settling in to a nice camp set against the meadow where again we were visited by many deer, including several fawns.

Day 3: JMT junction to ‘Fjord’ Lake (10840 ft.)
We had an extra lazy morning and didn’t head out of camp until nearly 10 AM - this trip was really starting to feel like a vacation! Rolling hills and a boulder field were encountered on the way to Dollar Lake where we stopped to soak our feet and take a rest. We decided to pass Basin Notch and stay on the JMT until Rae Lakes, since one of our group hadn’t been to Rae Lakes before. After enjoying the scenery at Rae Lakes, we started up the trail to 60 Lakes Basin. 700 feet of elevation gain take you over the hip and then you descend into the basin. Each lake has a beauty of its own and our only regret about not taking Basin Notch is the realization that we wouldn’t get to see as much of the basin. It definitely gives us a reason to come back! The benefit of taking JMT to the trail up to 60 Lakes is the 3/4 circumambulation you get to do of Fin Dome – it is really neat to see this dome from so many different angles. We hiked on until we reached ‘Fjord’ lake which is nestled in the basin at the base of the 60 Lakes Col. We had a beautiful spot right on the lake shore and layered up for the chilliest night of our trip.

Day 4: ‘Fjord’ Lake to Gardiner Knob (~9600 ft.)
Navigating around ‘Fjord’ Lake and the 40 foot catwalk were no problem. There was an easy crossing of the outlet and navigating the ledges leading up to the Col was a good time. There seemed to be any number of ways to successfully make your way up through the lower portions of the ascent up to the Col. We dropped our packs to go check out the highest lake at 11270 ft. before resuming the climb. Once we started back up we found a cairned route up to the top. Views from the top were spectacular and we spent quite a bit of time enjoying the Col. Usually we find ourselves quickly driven from passes due to high winds, but it was quite pleasant and we savored the opportunity to goof around and take lots of photos.

We found the use trail leading down from the Col to the uppermost lake in upper Gardiner Basin. We saw neither trail nor evidence of cairns once this use trail petered out but had no problems making our way through this uppermost part of the basin. We boulder hopped around the first last and then skirted the south shore of the second lake until steep slabs forced us to higher ground. From the ridge we could now get a view down to the lakes at 10500 ft. and were excited to keep exploring. Approaching the outlet can lead you to believe you are about to go over a steep drop, but the grade is surprisingly reasonable. After picking our way down a boulder field, we passed what appeared to be a trail at the 10,800 ft. contour and instead made our way down to the shore of the 10,500 ft. lakes. It was an easy walk across the lakes and we picked up a cairned route a bit offshore at the end of the second lake. We followed this cairned route down until we lost the trail and began to get a bit off route. We ended up too close to Gardiner Creek too soon which resulted in steep drops (still Class 2 or less) and bush whacking. Eventually, we picked up the trail again around the 10,000 ft. contour and followed the cairns to a nice knob along Gardiner Creek around 9,600 ft. where we spent the night. There happened to be a pretty waterfall a short walk from camp and we were about to go check it out when we heard Chris shout “BEAR!” We rushed back to find a black bear moseying down the creek, stopping to drink and rustle some berry bushes along the way. He then made his way across the slope just below our camp and up into the forest on the other side – we have since referred to this as “Bear Camp”.

Day 5: Gardiner Knob to Lake below Gardiner Pass (10,540 ft.)
In the morning, we decided to prank Chris and tell him that we found his bear bin far from where we left it…we’d also considered hiding it and saying we couldn’t find it ;) He quickly called us out and we had a nice breakfast. We spent a little time bouldering before heading out. We followed the cairned route out which we had followed in the night before and found routes on either side of the creek. One was very well trodden and cairned, the other seemed to be a fainter route, we took the less traveled of the two and again found ourselves bush whacking a bit. This time we left the forest covered in orange pollen, but luckily came out at a beautiful stream crossing where we washed it all off. Until them, the bees were fairly interested in me…We realized we had bottomed out at the 9,100 ft. contour and were excited to find the well cairned route that had been eluded to. We didn’t find it for the first 200 feet, but did manage to find a nice, yet steep and narrow deer track that somehow intersected a well -trodden trail which took us back onto the cairned route. From this point on, we were able to follow this cairned trail all the way from 9,300 ft. up to the higher lakes, over Gardiner Pass and down all the way to Charlotte Lake. On this day, we followed it up to the gorgeous 9,500 ft. lake where we had a snack and plotted out the rest of the day. We decided to get up to the highest lake below Gardiner Pass and stop for the night. We got to the 10,540 ft. lake at 2:30 and chose to finish early, take a dip in the lake, drink apple cider and have a relaxing night – with dessert! We did spend a bit of time to hike up to the next lake and scout out the potential route up to the pass. We went to sleep confident that we could successfully tackle the last real challenge of the route – Gardiner Pass.

Day 6: 10,540 lk. to Before Jnt. Meadow (west of bear box)
The morning started with a lesson in Weird Al’s “Grapefruit Diet” lyrics and a hearty granola breakfast. Scouting from last night helped us to quickly regain the trail and continue along it all the way up to the pass. The views from the route were increasingly beautiful over Lower Gardiner Basin. The route continued to snake up increasingly steep terrain. We passed what appeared to be evidence of a barbed wire gate and at one point a pile of bones was visible from the trail a distance below. We were quickly up to the final steps and viewed the Class 2 scramble along the way with the tin can pinched under a boulder at the top. We spent a long while enjoying the many good vistas from the top of Gardiner Pass. The view in every direction was spectacular.

We again scouted the trail before taking off and followed a network of use trails in the tracks of the historic trail by keeping track with the GPS, we also confirmed that we were continually on route by following the distinct line of cairns. The route took us down the slope, through the burn zone and across the bowl to quickly descend down the east side of the burn zone to again resume the actual trail – all well cairned. After some time following markers through the forest, we came out onto slopes that were increasingly higher than Charlotte Creek but traversing right along with it. The slopes broke out into intense colors – yellow/gold of the manzanita, green of the trees, blue of the sky, grey of the granite, white of the clouds – it was an incredible bit of scenery. Looking back at Charlotte Dome was inspiring. We made our way to Charlotte Lake – the walk to it was considerably more taxing than I expected it to be, even though we were on a trail. We took a nice break at Charlotte Lake; where I soaked my feet and we make the decision to press on to shorten the distance we would have to cover the next day to get out. We stopped short of Junction Meadow at a site west of the last bear box just past the JMT junction. A beautiful waterfall was again a short walk from our site, this one even more impressive than the last. I took an accidental nap while setting up the tent – and woke a bit stiff after having slept directly on the granite slab! We enjoyed another night under a colorful sunset and pleasant sky.

Day 7: Before Jnt. Meadow (west of bear box)
I woke excited to complete the trip and happy for the great weather, enjoyable company and spectacular scenery that we had all along the way. The steep walls and tall granite made impressive scenes all along the hike out. Bubbs Creek quickly lost elevation in several spots by cascading down impressive waterfalls. We saw many hikers and horseback riders heading up the trail along the Rae Lakes loop or up to East Lake. We found the climbers trail up Charlotte Creek and spied the impressively steep trail up to Avalanche Pass from Sphinx Junction. As we descended we gained more and more respect for those we had passed, realizing how much elevation they’d gained to get there – my knees were tender after having gone down it…We savored the last bits of big mountain scenery on the way back to Roads End and celebrated our success at the trailhead after reporting in with the ranger.

The addition of Sixty Lake and Gardiner Basin to the Rae Lakes Loop was a great idea. I’m so happy we decided to take on the additional challenge and experience some cross country adventure. We are thankful for all of the information we got from this site. This trip gave us inspiration for many trips to come!

Happy Hiking,
Shannon



User avatar
shan1203
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:54 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:50 am

Thanks for the report. Do you have photos? Here is my favorite photo. Did you camp or walk by this little unnamed lake? I day-hiked the set of lakes above the lower trail- it was a dismal cloudy day so my impression was a bit bias - I did not think they were that great. The upper basin below Gardiner Peak is more spectacular.

Image
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2606
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby shan1203 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:14 pm

Beautiful photo, Wandering Daisy! We hiked both Upper and Lower basin, but did not make it into Middle Basin. Many others agreed that it is especially beautiful there.

Here is a link to my photo set:
https://plus.google.com/photos/11401181 ... 2023668625

I was hoping to include some of the photos within the trip report, I may edit it and do so soon.

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
User avatar
shan1203
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:54 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:37 pm

Was waiting for the photo's, now the TR is complete. :D
Cool photo's and TR, thanks for taking the time to come back and post
them Shannon. :thumbsup:
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby jeremy1701 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:09 am

Hi all,
Here's a video compilation of our adventure.

User avatar
jeremy1701
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:51 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby richlong8 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:06 pm

I don't know if you remember, but I think I might have crossed paths and chatted with your group of 3 on the trail when I was headed up to Lake Reflection, and you were coming down. I expressed a little bit of envy at your destination, and you were telling me that there really is still a trail in Gardiner Basin that can be followed. Awesome trip report. Thanks for sharing.
User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 687
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby shan1203 » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:10 pm

Hi richlong8,

We do remember chatting with you! You seemed pretty excited about the prospect of getting up into Gardiner Basin :)

Hope you had a good trip, too! I remember being envious that your trip was just beginning and ours was ending...

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
User avatar
shan1203
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:54 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby richlong8 » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:46 pm

Gardiner Basin has been on my short list for awhile, especially after reading about in in Phil Arnot's book, "The High Sierra". The middle basin has always looked on the map like one of those really out of the way seldom visited spots. Who knows what fish might lurk in such a place(the grass is always greener!). The trip report mentioned a GPS. Did anyone in your group happen to record a track of the trip?
User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 687
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby shan1203 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:21 am

richlong8,

Yes - we do have GPS tracks! I will add them to this trip report once we get them online.

Also, thank you for mentioning Phil Arnot's "The High Sierra" - I hadn't heard of this book before and just found one and ordered it. Sounds like a good book! Any other book recommendations for the Sierra Nevadas? I have Secor's book and the standard Falcon guides for YOSE and SEKI.

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
User avatar
shan1203
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:54 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby richlong8 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:37 am

Shannon:
These books are 4 must haves for High Sierra hikers that can be quite useful hiking guides in my opinion:
Sierra South: 978-0899974149
Sierra North: 978-0899973968
Kings Canyon: 978-0899973357
Sequoia: 978-0899973272

This site has some prime info, but you have to search for the nuggets. That is why posting trip reports is so appreciated, including your recent report. That reminds me, I have got to get my Lake Reflection report posted. It was great seeing fellow High Sierra Topix members on the trail. Perhaps it would be good if there was a High Sierra Topix button available to purchase that folks could have pinned on their hat or backpack and it would help expand the community aspects of this great site. Eric? Maverick? any thoughts? I have a couple of ideas on how to implement something of that nature, if the idea has any merit, or is of interest.
User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 687
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby shan1203 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:08 am

richlong8,

It took some time, but we've uploaded our tracks from the trip and you can view them here:

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3012650

What an awesome set of tracks. I'm happy to have a reason to reflect on this great trip :)

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
User avatar
shan1203
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:54 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Trip Report: 60 Lakes Basin/Gardiner Basin

Postby Cross Country » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:43 pm

The 2nd time I went to Gardner (solo) I started from Roads end at 4:30PM up Bubbs Creek and camped on the creek at a place that had a bear cable. The 2nd day I hiked cross country up Charlote Creek and arrived at my destination - the small lake just above the largest lake and by 2:30 was fishing the lake in my chair. I thought this was really cool that I could be fishing in Gardner Basin less than 24 hours after starting my trip. I hurt my arm in a fall hiking up Charlote Creek. It's not an easy hike. Just before I was going to leave (1 day early) 3 women arrived and I stayed another day. They were pleasent and good company. "Saint" Diane was at home taking care of the little ones. I missed her on that trip as I always did when our kids were too young to backpack with me.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSNbot Media [Bot], socal_brian and 7 guests

cron