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North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

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North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby HikingGeek.com » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:26 pm

For those that have been in the area, I have some questions. Here is a link to the route I've mapped out:
http://www.hikinggeek.com/2015/09/28/tr ... creek/#map


1. What’s a good spot to watch sunrise from? We plan to start early Saturday.

2. The route I have planned out has a short (1/2 mile) cross country section between Summit and Black Lake. Have any of you done this? Cross country is fine, but I’m not interested in bushwhacking with this group.

3. Is there an alternative route you’d recommend? What are your favorite spots to visit in this immediate area?

4. I have estimated that the 13 mile loop I mapped out would take us
less than 8 hours. Does this seem reasonable? The last hike this group did was 9 miles RT with 2600 feet of elevation gain and we finished in less than 4 hours.
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Re: North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby bbayley80 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:42 pm

HIkingGeek.
HikingGeek.com wrote:1. What’s a good spot to watch sunrise from? We plan to start early Saturday.


i'd say probably the best place to view sunrise, also doubles as the most iconic/photographed spot in this area. that'd be the view of Temple Crag from Second Lake. from just off trial id park yourself on the rocky perch on the northeastish corner of the lake(can't miss it) or push onto the rocky cliffs above either Fourth or Fifth lakes, for views of Mt Robinson, Mt Gayley et al. Calitrails posted some great shots on a trip of his from these areas-worth a view for sure.

HikingGeek.com wrote:4. I have estimated that the 13 mile loop I mapped out would take us
less than 8 hours. Does this seem reasonable? The last hike this group did was 9 miles RT with 2600 feet of elevation gain and we finished in less than 4 hours.


i would say so. especially if you tackle just the Big Pine Lakes loop. to hit Second Lake for sunrise, you'd probably want to do this loop clockwise. and once you get up past the turn off for Sam Mack and around Fourth Lake the trail levels out(not that its too steep/tough before that) and then cruising down from Fourth to TH is almost all downhill.

the climb to Sam Mack Meadow will get your attention. short, but steep. the meadow is nice however, with great rocks, slabs etc in the outlet stream from Sam Mack Lake perfect for soaking up some sun. the hike to the Palisade Glacier is awesome as well. nice use trail most of the way and easy off trail when no trail. up close view of the Palisades is your reward!

i'd tackle that as your side trip-save Sixth and Seventh for another time- and then access if you have enough in the tank to close the loop, or simply return the way you came-back past, Third, Second, First Lake to the TH. either way its gonna be great. one of my favorite spots. should be some nice color up there too! some really nice groves along the South Fork, and further up along the North Fork trail. enjoy!
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Re: North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:30 pm

I did Summit Lake to Black Lake. Some steep sections, some talus, a little bit of minor bushwhacking. Not a piece of cake, but moderate off-trail travel- at least nothing technical- just a bit unpleasant. You need to stay on the north side of Black Lake - the west side is very cliffy.

I did a trip report of about the same route, a few years back. (mid-Aug 2013).

I missed when you were planning on doing this trip. I just got back from Sabrina Basin today- very overcast this morning and forecast is for a bit of rain coming in the next few days- could be a bit snowy up high. Check the weather!
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Re: North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:18 am

Also, be aware that this time of year the sun is low and with the large deep canyons, daylight comes really late. Sam Mack Meadows is very "shadowy" not getting sunlight much of the day in the fall. Pay attention to sunlight when selecting your campsites. It is a personal thing- do you prefer sunlight in the morning or evening?

Assuming you mean this weekend, (Oct. 3-5) weather report looks "iffy"- 20-50% chance snow at night. However, you have no big passes to go over and the trails are large and easy to bail-out if needed. I would not plan on the off-trail to Black Lake if the weather is poor. The steep parts would be quite slippery if wet. Fishing is moderately good at all lakes except 6th and 7th lake (frog lakes). Fishing is something you can do if weather is poor and you instead base-camp at one of the lakes and do day hikes instead of doing a loop.

Do not know how big your group is, but there are limited campsites at Third Lake.
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Re: North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby SSSdave » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:45 pm

In October the sun rises a few degrees south of due east. Highest elevations of crest peaks will receive sunrise light but the large areas between the tops and the lakes will be all boring shadows. Mt. Alice at 3540 meters or 11600 feet will fully block Temple Crag and is considerable higher than all those lakes in that basin. However upper areas of Two Eagle Peak at 12.9k and to a lesser extent Mt. Robinson because they stick out on ribs from the crest, will be in early sunlight that is best viewed from Fifth, Fourth, or Summit. Note during summer the Sky Heaven Ridge blocks all that basin so generally the upper Big Pine Basin areas are a poor choice for early or late light.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.12303,-118.46682&z=14&t=T
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Re: North Fork of Big Pine Creek, Advice Needed

Postby kpeter » Thu Oct 01, 2015 6:27 pm

Here is my trip report from a couple of years ago. We did virtually the same trip. We did not do the summit to black lake route, though, and I confess that I found those lakes much less interesting than all the others. They lacked the glacial coloration that is so typical of this chain of lakes.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9842&hilit=kpeter+fifth

We did come down a slot directly from sixth lake to fifth lake. Steep but not unreasonable and good footing the whole way. A couple of talus fields by the lakeshore to hop across. I loved the view out from sixth lake over fifth lake. WD posted some spectacular sunrise pictures from up there, as I recall.

One of the prettiest morning views, I thought, was from the ridge north of Fourth Lake looking south across the lake and its green shores with the crags in the background. There is a photo in my thread.

I would prioritize the hike to Sam Mack and the Palisades over other daytrips. However, I don't know what Sam Mack will be like this late in a drought year. Its charm was the babbling stream and the putting-green meadow. I wonder if it is dry and brown by now. But seeing the glacier before it has completely disappeared should be a priority, and the views down the lake chain from the trail are worth the hike.

Good luck!
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