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Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

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Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby oleander » Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:07 pm

So this summer may finally be the time we make it to Ionian Basin. We have a permit for Bishop Pass. 8 days in August.

Background: OK to easy Class 3. Daily trail miles 10-13, daily x-country optimally around 5 miles. Priorities are high alpine scenery, lakes, solitude. (We do not fish or peak-bag.)

Approach is Bishop - Leconte Canyon because Echo Col sounds like too much crazy. Drop into Ionian via Black Giant Pass. Ultimate exit route is probably JMT/Darwin/Lamarck.

From our drop-in to Ionian via Black Giant Pass,

Version A = Travel west through Ionian to Martha Lake; then north and east, probably landing at the JMT at Wanda Lake having crossed that easy pass from Davis Lakes. If we do this version, here are my questions:

1. Goddard Creek Pass, or Goddard Col? Why?
2. It's a long way from Black Giant Pass to Martha Lake. If someone has posted a logical route snaking through there, I'd like to see it.
3. Pace. Is this stuff super slow-going compared to most x-country? Most indications are "Yes." We may go less than 5 miles/day.
4. Camping. "You're going to camp in Ionian?" someone asked me skeptically. OK, so it's really rugged. Where are some good or even passable spots? Where should we not even bother looking?
5. What is the route from Martha to the north and east and back to the JMT? I seem to recall reading that the route goes around the north side of the Davis Lakes. That is a lot of miles. Is there a shorter/more direct route that is just as scenic (and not too exposed)?

Version B = No Martha Lake; instead we take our time exploring only the eastern half of Ionian basin. Exit via Wanda Pass.
1. Do you have specific recommendations for a few days in eastern Ionian? Do we spend a day exploring down Disappearing Creek without our full packs, or is this ("Enchanted') Gorge scary travel even at its upper end? Other places to explore? From Lake 11,592 (our launch towards Wanda Pass), is it worth taking time to go see the upper lakes immediately to the southwest, and then backtracking?
2. Same camping question as above.

Thank you,
Elizabeth



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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Rockyroad » Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:12 pm

Wow, you have a lot of trips planned this year. I'll be watching this thread as I have Ionian in my sights for next year.
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:07 pm

As you can probably tell from my posts I am not one for pre-programmed routes, but there are a few things about Ionian Basin to note. This is certainly country for those that like very rugged off trail travel. Those of us who like it, like it for its somewhat austere ruggedness--the contrast of dark blue lakes against jagged metamorphic rocks with very little vegetation. Topo maps don't tell the entire story about Ionian basin because there are many small drop offs that are too small to see on the topo. It has been said that there is nothing flat in Ionian Basin and this is pretty true, although there are certainly big enough flat spots to camp (campsites are really not an issue). Ionian Basin takes more time to get through for the amount of distance and elevation gain than most off trail regions in the Sierra, but with some care the routes can be kept to class 2. This year because of the dry winter (and those that preceded it) the issue of steep snow slopes and cornices blocking various routes is a non factor by now (in contrast to when I was through there with my wife). My route went from Wanda L. via Wanda Pass and then into the basin. From there we descended to Lake 10212 before heading over Reinstein Pass to Martha L. The most difficult part of this is descending to 10212 because there are many blind cliffs. With some zig-zagging and ad libbing this can be kept to class 2 and the scenery is glorious. Reinstein Pass from 10212 to Martha is easy class 2.

As far as the approach goes, I like the Lamarck Col-Darwin Cyn approach. Without doing too crazy days this gets you into Ionian Basin on day 2. Our trip went over Lamarck Col to Darwin Bench on day 1 and then through Evolution and over Wanda Pass into Ionian Basin on day 2. Of course one needn't rush this and 3 days allow one to soak up the beauty of this approach more.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:50 pm

Try using the "search" feature first, there have been numerous threads on that area, with specific's questions asked about routes and camping. Once you have read these TR's and have further questions, please come back an ask those question that you have not found answers to Oleander. :)

Here are just a few:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11787&hilit=camping+in+ionian+basin
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10772&p=81581&hilit=camping+in+ionian+basin#p81581
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10763&p=81530&hilit=camping+in+ionian+basin#p81520
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8672&p=96179&hilit=camping+in+ionian+basin#p96179
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Jimr » Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:01 pm

In 1985 I came out Nietzsche col, then North right to the Muir Hut. You could hike in from Black Giant and out Nietzsche. Other than thunder and feared lightning strikes, this was a straight forward class 2 pass from the East end of the lake below and West of Mt. Solomon.
What?!
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:00 pm

I think the easiest/shortest route to Ionian Basin is to take the ferry across Florence Lake and then to up to Martha Lake. From here you can get into the basin several ways (and climb Mt Goddard if that is a goal). I have gone nearly to Martha Lake in one day. The only reason I stopped short is getting caught in a storm. It is a good trail all the way. In my opinion, getting to Darwin Bench via Lamarck Col on the first day is pretty rough with the heat (no shade at all for quite a ways) and altitude. Then you still have to go over a major pass.

I will dig up some maps showing my routes and post these when I find them.

Camping is limited if you have more than one tent to set up. I suggest that if 2-3 people go take a tent suitable for all instead of each having single tents. This is also one area where a bivy sack works well because you do not need much space. Travel is not necessarily that slow if you find the right routes, but you can get messed up easily and end up on a cliff.

I also have only been in the Ionian Basin in high snow years and both times brought and used an ice axe. The basin tends to build up large steep cornices and lots of smaller snowfields block routes around the lakes. I would not count on ALL snow being gone this year, but it certainly would be less than most past years.
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:51 am

Here are the routes I have done. Not saying these are the best routes. Many of the apparent indirect lines were to avoid snow. A snow cornice builds southwest of Lake 11837 in high snow years. Many north facing slopes along the lakes have snowfields.


Route that includes a loop south to Tunamah -Blackcap Basin and return via Confusion Pass. This trip I came in from Florence Lake. I went from about 1 mile below Martha Lake to the camp north of Scylla in one day. Then day-hiked the loop shown. The traverse from the pass to the lake north of Scylla was quite slow going.
Image

Route from Davis Lakes- west and east parts
From the unnamed lake where the route line starts, I climbed Goddard and then moved to Chasm Lake in one long day. On this trip I also traversed in from Lamarck Col, left the trail west of Wanda Lake and traversed the south shore of Davis Lake (not recommended- use the north shore). I exited via Black Giant Pass then out via Dusy Basin to South Lake (hitched back to my car).
Image

Image
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby oleander » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:19 pm

After reading through some posts and perusing the maps again, I guess the most burning and relevant question is:

How slow is the going from Martha Lake to the northeast side of Davis Lakes (assuming we don't climb Goddard)? Is it typical x-country slow, or is some of it fast walking, or is much of it extremely slow and rugged such as Ionian Basin itself.

It's a long distance.

The crux of our decision will be whether we have time to return that long way around (Western Ionian, Martha, Davis Lakes); or whether we should just stick to Eastern Ionian and exit Wanda Pass. Saving the Western Ionian basin for another time (presumably with a west-side entry).

My hiking buddy hates those westside entries (Wishon, Florence Lake, etc.). However, if that's what it takes to give Western Ionian, Martha, upper Goddard Creek, etc. an adequate visit, then maybe I can talk her into doing the westside as a future trip.

This year's trip however will definitely be starting from South Lake.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby WarrenFork » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:29 pm

oleander wrote: Do we spend a day exploring down Disappearing Creek without our full packs, or is this ("Enchanted') Gorge scary travel even at its upper end?


The upper end of Enchanted Gorge below Chasm Lake isn't scary. But once the snow melts out it's unrelenting and unstable talus walking and not especially scenic. This stellar photo by Rogue from the summit of Charybdis provides a bird's eye view of what to expect. When I made an early September trip down the gorge it probably took five hours to work my way down that two-mile stretch of talus. Here's what it looks like up close and personal:

Image

I was by myself and taking extra care not to twist an ankle, but still. Plus all that dark rock holds the heat in so it gets pretty oven-like down there on a hot day. Unfortunately the more interesting parts of the canyon are farther down than most people would want to go on a day trip.
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby tim » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:45 pm

Did you check out this TR on the Martha-Davis Lakes route?
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10042

We went through Davis Lakes basin 2 years ago (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9921). The easternmost part from the pass to where you cross the peninsula to get to the northern side of the lake is very tedious (though mostly pretty flat) talus that you have to hop across very carefully. It took us roughly 2.5 hours. After that it was quite a lot faster along the northern edge of the lake and down North Goddard Creek. Its a really beautiful location, especially the campsite at the head of North Goddard Creek.
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:36 pm

I have not been over Wanda Pass. I thought Black Giant Pass was quite easy. Why not go in one and out the other? I do not see why you cannot day-hike to the lakes in the western basin and base-camp at the lake south of Wanda Pass. That would give you an east side entry route that also visits all of the basin. It is quite windy here, but if you drop down a short distance there are campsites on flat benches out of the wind.

I would not go part way down Enchanted Gorge. I agree that the effort is not worth the scenery. There are a lot more rewarding side-trips to do.
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Re: Ionian Basin: Lots of route questions

Postby Sierra Miguel » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:44 pm

oleander wrote:What is the route from Martha to the north and east and back to the JMT? I seem to recall reading that the route goes around the north side of the Davis Lakes. That is a lot of miles. Is there a shorter/more direct route that is just as scenic (and not too exposed)?


We hiked/climbed around the south side of Davis Lakes last week. You could do the reverse. Where it says "loose talus" above and south of Lake 11160+ is serious stuff. We shifted to scrambling up the rock. You might do better by looping around the north side of that lake; I didn't examine that.
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