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TR - Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake day hike (7/11/15)

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TR - Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake day hike (7/11/15)

Postby rams » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:29 pm

A little over a year ago, a friend and I made a failed attempt to climb University Peak that ended up being an 18 hour day hike that took us from Onion Valley to Center Basin to Bullfrog Lake to Onion Valley (posted a TR here somewhere last year). Given that much of our hike was in the dark (from Bubbs Creek through the end of the hike), my friend wondered what he missed out on during the miserable (but strangely beautiful with stars and moonlight) march back to the car. Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago, when we returned to Onion Valley with an easier goal in mind - Mt. Bago. The weather forecast all the way until Friday evening was calling for mostly sunny weather, so we were confident that we could make the summit. When we got to the trailhead, the skies were cloudless. Within 30 minutes, though, they were building up.

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building clouds


Well, the forecast said 0% chance of precipitation so we'd probably be good, right? We marched right on to Gilbert Lake, where the clouds were still growing and starting to engulf University Peak. No worries, forecasts are always right.

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Gilbert Lake


By the time we reached Kearsarge Pass and Big Pothole Lake, it was looking like winter on the east side of the pass, though it was nice and sunny farther west. Surely it would stay sunny on the west side. Surely.

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Big Pothole Lake


A few minutes later, clouds started advancing westward and partially concealing our view of the sunny expanses to the west. They'll burn off, right?

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Kearsarge Pass


Descending from the pass, we saw a strange white substance. It reminded me of snow, but it couldn't have been. I mean, it stopped snowing in the Sierra back in 2011.

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July snowfall


So on we went to one of my favorite views, and the one I wanted to show my friend the most. I've been on this trail 4 or 5 times now, and this view is the only reason I don't refuse to go on it another time. The "mostly sunny" skies were quite reassuring. Surely we'd bag Mt. Bago with so few clouds.

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Bullfrog Lake


As we made it to the foot of Mt. Bago at Charlotte Lake, the mostly sunny skies just kept getting sunnier. In fact it was so sunny over Mt. Bago that we decided to just turn around and save it for another time. I didn't take a good picture of Mt. Bago itself, but the skies looked a little different over the peak than the skies above the lake in this picture.

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Charlotte Lake


We were worried about lightning crashing from these mostly sunny skies based on horror stories that backpackers had been telling us regarding the preceding week. The views of University Peak and the Kearsarge Pinnacles with totally cloudless skies helped pass the time as we hurried on back towards and over the pass.

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University Peak and Kearsarge Pinnacles


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Kearsarge Pinnacles


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Kearsarge Pinnacles and Deerhorn Mountain


Not wanting the day to be a total failure, we took a detour on the way back to head to Matlock Lake, which I had never been to. At least I got to see something new. I snapped a few pictures of Matlock and another lake right next to it that I can't find a name for (not Slim Lake). The reflections were gorgeous and I wanted to stay longer, but we were starving.

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University Peak reflection


I stayed back to take pictures while my buddy headed down. I followed shortly after (maybe 15 minutes) and tried to catch up but could never see him ahead. Meanwhile, the mostly sunny skies started down-pouring, but it actually felt good. I kept going towards the trailhead as fast as I could, hoping to catch up to my friend. I made it to the car in record time only to find that he wasn't there. No matter, he probably went to hang out by the creek. I'll look around for him. After an hour, I started to get worried and asked people returning from the trail if they saw him. Turns out he did the greatest magic trick. He teleported from the parking lot back up to the Matlock-Gilbert junction and re-hiked the last portion so I wouldn't feel slow. Or he did a disappearing act as I somehow passed him on the way down without seeing him (and vice-versa). Either way, it was a great magic trick. Relieved to find each other, we hurried down to Lone Pine to make it in time for some much-desired calories. This hike was only 10 or 11 hours as opposed to last year's 18 hours, so it felt like we had quit a little too early. That is, until after we ate, at which point sleep was not hard to find. Good night.



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Re: TR - Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake day hike (7/11/15)

Postby The Other Tom » Wed Jul 22, 2015 4:18 am

Great report, thanks for posting. I enjoyed the "dry" humor :)
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Re: TR - Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake day hike (7/11/15)

Postby Shawn » Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:06 pm

Really nice photos and fun TR; thanks for posting it up.
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Re: TR - Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake day hike (7/11/15)

Postby tie » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:49 pm

Haha, great trip report. I can relate, too. I was up at Kearsarge Pass the other day, bailed on my primary plan in favor of Mt Bago, and still had 14 miles of rain on the way down. But I got the same view of Bullfrog Lake, just great.
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