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TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

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TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

Postby BufordT » Sat May 07, 2016 9:27 am

Lake Edison is a great launching point from the west side. For this trip, the route began at Vermillion Valley Resort with a boat ride across Lake Edison, up Mono Creek (using Secor's 'wrinkle'), up Laurel Creek, over Bighorn and Rohn passes, down to Tully Lake, through Tully Hole to meet up with the JMT, then over Goodale Pass back to the parking lot near Vermillion Valley Resort (http://www.edisonlake.com/).

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General Route


To avoid an afternoon start, we chose to rent a tent cabin at VVR the night prior to beginning. That way we could wake up, have a hearty breakfast, and catch the first ferry across the lake with a minimum amount of hassle and maximum amount of rest. I have hiked the trail along Lake Edison before and for me, the ferry is a much more pleasant alternative - the trail is just up and down for several miles with no views. All utility. VVR adapted to the drought last year and used small metal fishing boats in lieu of the pontoon Edison Queen. This allowed the ferry to drop off as far to the east as possible, which still required about 3/4 of a mile of a walk on the exposed lake bed.

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Just when you thought the ride was over...it kept going


On the trail up Mono Creek, we split off from the trail where it turns uphill toward Silver Pass. This kept the route along the Creek and met up with the trail about a mile later, saving a bit of distance and unnecessary elevation gain. It's described in Secor's book.

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Secor's "wrinkle" along the Mono Creek trail


From there we continued to Laurel Creek, abeam the Second Recess, and ascended the Laurel Creek trail.

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About half-way to Laurel Lake, looking toward the Silver Divide


From Laurel Lake, we took an immediate left (westerly) to ascend Bighorn Pass. In a previous TR, a party described going to the pass via a route that went around the east side of the lake and traversed the headwall to the north. Maybe conditions then were different, but our direct route worked fine.

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Laurel Lake, looking north


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Looking back down to Laurel Lake from our direct route to Bighorn Pass


Once on Bighorn Pass, we were confronted with descending down to Rosy Finch Lake or traversing off to the north to avoid elevation loss to get over to Rohn Pass. Both routes have been described. We chose to descend to the Lake. In hindsight, we're happy we did - that traverse route looked miserable.

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Rosy Finch Lake from Bighorn Pass


From a brief foot soak at Rosy Finch, we took the obvious route over to the ridge east of Bighorn Lake, and traversed from the there to Rohn Pass.

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Bighorn Lake


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The way to Rohn Pass


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Descending Rohn Pass


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Descending to Tully Lake supervised by Red Slate Mountain


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Laurel Lake to Rohn Pass cross country route


From Tully Lake we finished the trip all on-trail, so I'll forgo posting pictures and adding descriptions. This was a three-night trip and the cross country travel was enjoyable with no more than Class 2 terrain.

Looks like some of the photos loaded other than upright - I'm at a loss on how to fix that with this iPad. Hopefully less than perfect recon is better than no recon at all.
Last edited by BufordT on Sat May 07, 2016 1:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

Postby maverick » Sat May 07, 2016 11:37 am

Thank you Buford for sharing your TR and pictures, to bad about the smoke.
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Re: TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

Postby SSSdave » Sat May 07, 2016 12:03 pm

Thanks for the report, enjoyed the read. You didn't indicate dates or camp locations?

The red leaves of vaccinium caespitosum in one of your images says a trip after late August when last year it was record dry. And after late July it was also the smokiest summer yet all through the range as your skies show.

B >>> Once on Bighorn Pass, we were confronted with descending down to Rosy Finch Lake or traversing off to the north to avoid elevation loss to get over to Shout-of-Relief Pass. Both routes have been described. We chose to descend to the Lake. In hindsight, we're happy we did - that traverse route looked miserable.

The traverse route I lead a half dozen others on in 1996 to SoR neither had steeps one needed to use hands nor unpleasant footing. But as many have described the route finding is not obvious unless one has well studied the topo. For the majority of cross country visitors who tend to navigate by sight alone, dropping down to the lake edge is advised even though one ends up having to climb uphill significantly more.

Shout-of-Relief Pass is:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.47329,-118.87335&z=15&t=T

That image and red map line shows you at Rohn Pass and you describe then climbing up to SoR. Those that descend to RFL climb up to the pond north of RFL then swings around east up to SoR that merges with the normal BP SoR traverse. Also your image you describe as descending SoR looks very much to be RP that is class 2 usually requiring some use of hands. The top of SoR is not as steep and is not monolithic granite but rather a channel of scree between bed rock that after the snow melts is a class 1>2.

I submitted a request about a week ago for 3 of us going over Rohn Pass mid July on a 9-day semi-base camping trip. Waiting for the mail back still. We will go up NF Mono Creek that is quite a bit shorter with less vertical. The first day tentatively only plan to go as far as 9.5k or a mile short of Mott at 10k, just a leisurely 2.2k day. Second day at dawn we begin working our way slowly towards Rohn. Last year had come in via Duck Pass but the strongest summer snow thunderstorm I've ever experienced chased us and lots of others out haha.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2016_Trip_C ... les-0.html
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Re: TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

Postby BufordT » Sat May 07, 2016 1:26 pm

Actually the smoke was a bit of a bummer, but very tolerable. Still had a lot of worthy views and breathing wasn't hard. We rolled the dice with the conditions and got lucky.

Shoot, great catch on Rohn Pass. Hadn't revisited this trip since I did it, suppose the memory was off. Corrections have been made. A bit embarrassed...

I included 09/15 in the subject. Actual dates were 09/01/15 thru 09/04/15 I believe.

Camp sites were about 2 miles south of Laurel lake, Tully Lake, and Squaw Lake - not really planned ahead, just worked out that way.

Enjoy Mott Lake. That's the first place I visited in this area. What had you planned on doing from the base camp?
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Re: TR: Western Silver Divide - 09/15

Postby SSSdave » Sat May 07, 2016 3:59 pm

Sierra NF phoned as my Saturday entry date was quota filled, but Friday was available so will start then.

I've camped at Mott lake a few times in the past. On our second day leaving at dawn ought to reach Mott a bit after sunrise where I may bother to take a reflection photo from the east shore if it is calm. But not a particularly scenic lake as it is down in a hole.

The glacially somewhat level plateau west of Tully Lake is The Plateau of Ponds. It has one of the best collection of aesthetic shallow timberline ponds in the range with fine peaks in most directions and by late July wildflower filled grassy meadows between. We will base camp at 2 idyllic locations over 5 nights, one on the plateau and another beyond both with fine views and well away from any others. Most visitors to that region, both backpackers and equestrian visitors focus on and camp near popular Tully Lake with the rest of that zone outside trails rather empty. One bro is an avid fisherman and there is much to keep him busy in every direction with some hiking though the plateau ponds are of no interest.
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