TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15 | High Sierra Topix  

TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

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

TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:20 am

After giving the weather a couple of days to settle down, we were back at North Lake to spend four days exploring Humphreys Basin.

Image

It’s easy to understand why this is such a popular trailhead. The first half of the climb up to Paiute Pass is through forested slopes along the side of a creek. But it gets more serious as it nears Loch Leven, with sections of big stone steps. Because of the rains of the previous days, we were often stepping from one large step to the next trying to stay out of the puddles of water in between.

Not so much fun.

Image

The small alpine ponds above the lake were charming ©http://backpackthesierra.com

But the views from Loch Leven onward were lovely, and as we climbed we could see the string of lakes and smaller tarns stretched out behind us into the morning sun.

Once above Paiute Lake, the views were even better. And when we got to the pass, the whole Western slope came into view—including just a peek at the top of Mt. Humphreys. Later on, the whole mountain came to dominate the landscape. That's it's at the beginning of this post.

Image

On the far side of the pass the trail is gradual and in better condition, so we were able to wander into Upper Golden Trout Lake in the early afternoon and set up camp on a sheltered rocky knoll just east of the lake itself. From here we had great views of Humphreys and some of the lesser peaks of the Glacier Ridge. I fished the steam with success for smaller brook trout and a few brilliantly colored golden trout, and then we ate dinner and enjoyed the evening show. This was a nice first day.

The second day we decided to do some exploring. We headed up cross-country to Wahoo Lakes, two small lakes sitting on a bench a few hundred feet higher than our campsite. And from there we continued cross-county to Muriel Lake, closer to the pass.

Image

Muriel Lake with M in the foreground

Then we hiked straight up the ridge to see the last two lakes in this chain—the smaller has no name, but the larger lake at the back is Goethe, after the German scholar. These last two last were incredibly blue, and seemingly barren—only rock and water. But we’re been assured that there are trout in both of them. We didn’t see any. But we did see the route up to Alpine Col---a rough trip over big talus that would get you into Darwin Canyon on the west side.

Image

Alpine Col is at the extreme right of the photo...

On our way out, we met three intrepid guys who planned on hiking over Alpine Col and climbing a few peaks before hiking out over Lamarck Col.

The trip back to camp was easy and beautiful…and we finished up just around lunchtime. Then it was time for a nice siesta on our z-rests under the trees. After lunch we spent some time fishing and relaxing around the lake, then enjoyed a nice dinner and the usual sunset show in the High Sierra.

Image

That night we had very heavy condensation on the tent, and we noticed a few other campers dealing with the same issue. Since we were staying another day, we just let everything dry out in the sun and hoped for the best for the next day.

Day three was dedicated to the north side of the basin, and we started by hiking up past Lower Desolation Lake to Desolation Lake itself. There’s an easy use trail for this trip, and it took us to the eastern shore of the upper lake. It was cold, blue and windy up there, and we decided to have a bit more fun on the return trip.

Image

We hiked over to the outlet stream, where we saw some large trout in deep pools between the rocks, and then followed the stream downhill---stopping from time to time to fish, admire the flowers, take a few photos, eat lunch, etc. What a great way to spend the day. The cross-country travel could not have been easier, and the stream kept us entertained at all times.

A great way to spend a day.

Image

By the time we got back to camp, it was time for another shady siesta, and the some fishing and exploring down to Lower Golden Trout Lake. No camping is allowed within 500 feet of this lake, and while it was larger than the Upper Lake, it also seemed a bit less welcoming—with more rock along the shore.

The last night was lovely, and we took even more photos near the end of the day. From our campsite we had a really nice view of Pilot Knob further down the canyon. There must have been an article about Pilot Lake recently, as many of the people we met on the trail were either headed towards Pilot Lake, or coming from Pilot Lake.

There was a big different in the appearance of Mt. Humphreys. When we arrived, the recent storms had left it nicely powdered with snow. Now there was very little snow to be seen. Here's the first day:

Image

And four days later

Image

The last day we packed up and headed out over the pass early in the morning. It was a wonderful day for a hike, and we sailed up to the pass quickly.

But then we hit that same old combination of mud wallows and high stone steps—now augmented with plenty of horse manure from pack train that had come over the night before. If you didn’t like this trail on the way in, you were going to like it even less on the way out.

Image


We were at the trailhead by lunchtime, and drove down to Aspendell for a quick bite at the café before getting into the car and driving back to our cabin above Sonora, filled with some pretty nice memories of a beautiful part of the Sierra.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1291
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:09 am

Nice trip report as usual. One of these day maybe we can get together for a hike around Emigrant, though right now my time is very limited.
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
User avatar
MountainMinstrel
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: Sonora
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:09 am

That would be fun! And what kid of musician are you? I gave concerts as a classical guitarist 35 years ago...not I just play for fun and frustration...grin

BTW--here are the rest of the photos from that trip:

https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/ ... sBasin2015
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1291
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:23 pm

Those are awesome photos!

I play guitar and sing everything from old folk songs to Pink Floyd. Been playing a lot in Sonora. Second Saturdays at Sonora Joes, and I will be playing there for Magic of the Night Friday August 7 from 6-9PM. Stop by if you're around and say high.
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
User avatar
MountainMinstrel
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: Sonora
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR Paiute Pass Humphreys Basin July 11-15

Postby rlown » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:11 pm

A very nice report.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5350
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 3 guests