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Gardiner Basin?

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Gardiner Basin?

Postby CapnPaul » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:24 pm

Hello HST Crew,

I'm a new forum user and longtime 'packer, and I have a question for you.

30 years ago I did a trip from Zumwalt Meadows > Junction Meadow > Rae Lakes > Baxter Lakes > Baxter Pass > Lone Pine. My group had transportation arrangements, so we were able to do it as a thru-hike. I would like to visit the Rae Lakes area again and take my new wife (also a solid 'packer), only this time it will have to be as a loop. I am considering 2 possible routes, and would like to hear your input and advice on them.

The first option is Zumwalt > Jct. Meadow > Bullfrog Lake > Rae Lakes > Castle Domes Meadow > Paradise Valley > Mist Falls > Zumwalt.

The other option is Zumwalt > Jct. Meadow > Bullfrog Lake > Rae Lakes > Gardiner Basin (via off trail pass due south of Mt. Cotter) > Gardiner Pass > Charlotte Lake > Jct. Meadow > Zumwalt.

I am attaching a map. Each color is one day. It's a pretty relaxed pace as I'm in no hurry, plus I like to have time each day to fish and explore. Has anyone been over that pass into Gardiner Basin? Do the Gardiner lakes have fish? Can you recommend one route over the other? I'd be doing it later in the season, like August/September, possibly as late as early October...

Any input is welcome. Thanks!
Paul
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby CapnPaul » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:18 pm

BTW.... I just discovered that Bullfrog Lake is closed to camping, so I'll probably go to Charlotte unless someone has a better idea.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:43 pm

It is not that far to the northwest (outlet) end of Lake 3321. In spite of the crowds at the lakes to the northeast, the outlet is usually empty. There are some really great campsites too. I just went off-trail north of the drainage and it was not bad. Kearsarge Lakes are a lot more scenic than Charlotte Lake, in my opinion. Fair fishing too.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby CapnPaul » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:15 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:It is not that far to the northwest (outlet) end of Lake 3321. In spite of the crowds at the lakes to the northeast, the outlet is usually empty. There are some really great campsites too. I just went off-trail north of the drainage and it was not bad. Kearsarge Lakes are a lot more scenic than Charlotte Lake, in my opinion. Fair fishing too.


Daisy, thank you for the tip. :) Is this where you are referring to?
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:53 am

Yes, that is it. The campsites are closer to the outlet stream. You can also camp at the next small lake down, but it is not as scenic.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:07 pm

Hi Paul,

Welcome to HST! Looking at your map, you indicate that you would like to stay at Mist Falls, according to SEKI NPS
you can only stay at a designated campsites in Lower Paradise Valley: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/r ... s-loop.htm
Agree that Kearsarge Lake is much more scenic then Charlotte Lake.

Like your Gardiner Basin route better since the highlights in that region are Gardiner, Sixty Lakes, and Rae Lakes Basin. No fish in
Sixty Lakes Basin, under 12" in Gardiner, try Dragon Lake for fishing in Rae Lakes Basin.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby SSSdave » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:28 pm

Zumwalt to Junction Meadow is about 10.5 miles and 3000 feet up. Most people in moderate physical condition tend to go as far as Charlotte Creek at 7.5 miles at 2300 feet up. From there most go to East Vidette Meadow at 5.5 miles and another 2200 feet up. And to continue on day 3 over Glen Pass is 2400 feet to reach the Rae Lakes areas.

An option on day two would be to continue up to the bench just southwest of the trail at 3140 that would be 6.5 miles and 3000 feet. That would make your following day only 1800 to get over Glen Pass. A place we camped at but where few others consider. Views from just above at the 3200 foot elevation south towards the canyon and East Vidette and Center Peak are impressive.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby CapnPaul » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:27 am

SSSdave wrote:An option on day two would be to continue up to the bench just southwest of the trail at 3140 that would be 6.5 miles and 3000 feet. That would make your following day only 1800 to get over Glen Pass. A place we camped at but where few others consider. Views from just above at the 3200 foot elevation south towards the canyon and East Vidette and Center Peak are impressive.


Thank you for that, Dave. :thumbsup: :nod: Little gems of info like that are just what I am looking for. Please keep 'em coming! I really like the idea of setting up for Glen Pass like you suggest. My wife and I are both in excellent shape and have low pack base weights, but even so, the altitude will getcha when you live at sea level.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby CapnPaul » Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:53 am

Dave, is this the bench you're talking about?
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:27 pm

My strategy was to drive to Roads End (takes me 5.5 hrs) and go up to the Sphinx Creek camp (first legal campsite) the same day. Yes, it is a bit hot, but it is not far and the campsite is shady and I had plenty of time to relax. And although you gain some elevation, it is still fairly low, so altitude is not a severe problem. Next day I went over Glenn Pass and camped just above Rae Lake, because a huge storm was coming in and I found a good spot. Within minutes of setting up the tent, the skies opened! Had it not stormed I could have made it to Rae Lake. I then went into Gardiner Basin for two nights, back to 60 Lakes for one night. I took that off-trail (use-trail) short cut to Arrowhead Lake. Sorry, but cannot remember the name of that little pass. Then up to Window Peak Lake. Day hiked up to top and back to Castle Dome Meadow last night. Out next day. Many young folks go much faster than that (hey, I am on Medicare!). Everyone has different goals. Mine was to see a lot of country quickly. Yours may not be. And if you go off-trail, your speed will depend on your experience.

If it is later in the season, and you have done some recent trips to be acclimated, are in fair shape, and you keep your pack light (mine was under 30 pounds starting), I see no reason you cannot reach Rae Lake in 2 days, unless you simply WANT more time to gaze around and do side trips, or fish. It is a really good, well graded trail. The only part that is not in the best shape is near the top of Glenn Pass - more rocky.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:50 pm

As for the pass from 60 Lakes to Gardiner Basin (Sixty Lake Col), route finding is a bit tricky and there is a lot of talus to hop. Depends on how fast you go on talus or how good your route finding skills. From about half an hour above Rae Lake I went to Lake 3477 - a short day because weather was bad and it was storming by 2PM (snowed that night). Next night at Lake 3214, with a day hike to Lake 3223. Again it stormed really bad by 5PM (4 inches of rain in 2 hours then froze solid). Next day I returned to 60 Lakes and camped at the high lakes at timberline northeast of Mt Cotter. It is a good idea to have a bit of contingency for poor weather. If the talus is wet and slippery in the upper part of Gardiner Basin, it will slow you down. Once below Lake 3477 talus is not a big issue. I have not done the lower part of Gardiner Basin - others here have and they have written trip reports. I have never gone in via Gardiner Pass. I caught a few fish in Lake 3214 - quite easy to catch but small. I did not try to fish Lake 3477 - it was really windy and I was fly fishing. The lake surface never was calm so if there were rises, one would not know due to all the waves. I did not try to fish the lake basin containing Lake 3223 and did not see fish rise, but it was in the middle of the day (and quite windy) so does not mean there are no fish. Most if not all of the lakes in 60 Lakes basin are barren due to gill netting.
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Re: Gardiner Basin?

Postby SSSdave » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:28 pm

CapnPaul wrote:Dave, is this the bench you're talking about?


Yup. Vaguely recall from mid 90s after crossing the creek there, we noted some tentable spots but thinking there would be something better above continued up and ended up about 3200 as the foxtail pine forest is more open with views south optimal. But then we had a bit further to walk to get to the small stream. We'd spent a few days below Ericson's Crags then camped at East Vidette Meadow where the famous bear that chewed through fat branches to drop food bags paid a visit and would have gotten are food if we had not thrown rocks. Next day we just had a short hike to this bench then base camped there a couple nights before doing Charlotte Creek crosscountry to Bubbs Creek in order to see the dome. But rather difficult route.

The nose of the ridge to the west at 3420 has one of the best afternoon views in that region of the Siera (including Rae Lakes Basin) although its the kind of noname place that isn't a summit that almost no others have probably noticed much less climbed up to. An interesting climb from the north along the drop off. Last year was camped east of Bullfrog at the no camping boundary line and was climbing up there but didn't reach the top before lightning chased me back down haha. Superb foxtail pines forest.

David
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