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TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

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TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby Rockyroad » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:23 pm

For the past many years, my backpacking photos and stories have received tepid enthusiasm from my 2 now college-aged daughters. Both have a great appreciation for the outdoors, nurtured through family camping trips and outdoor-focused vacations throughout their lives. But the transition to backpacking was a wide chasm that no one in my family had a desire to cross. Imagine my surprise when one of my daughters asked to come on a trip with me this year. This would ripple to my other daughter as well, but stopped there as my wife wished us a good journey.

With an opportunity to introduce my daughters to a new experience that would hopefully lead to more backpacking adventures together, I searched for the ideal location. My goal was high alpine drama: a backdrop of snow-capped mountains feeding clear emerald lakes, overflowing into crystal clear streams that cascade and weave through lush green meadows, mixed in with healthy doses of granite staircases and patches of both snow and wildflowers. It also had to have mileage and elevation gain manageable for 2 backpacking newbies. Throw in an iconic waterfall and the obvious conclusion was the Sabrina Basin.

But there was a wrinkle. The late June schedule for this trip is near peak mosquito swarming season and Sabrina Basin is one of the most heavily skeeter-infested basins in the Sierra. Our glimmers of hope were the area's high elevation and a few late season snow storms which may have delayed the mosquito hatch. I hoped for snow at the upper basin, but then worried about slippery travel over snowfields and sloppy boggy trails. For a few weeks leading up to the trip, I monitored daily snow and mosquito reports, forecast maps, and satellite photos, everything a concerned father would do for reassurance of a safe and enjoyable trip. But I knew there were no guarantees.

On our way to Mammoth Lakes to acclimate, we passed by a fire at Lee Vining. I was glad that we did not go with my Plan B option - a trip from the Virginia Lakes trailhead.

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Along our hike up, the intel we received from various backpackers on their way out were: Mosquitoes were heavy at Dingleberry and Midnight Lakes, Sailor Lake had many nice campsites and no mosquitoes, and Hungry Packer Lake was meh. My daughters were duly impressed by the camaraderie amongst backpacking strangers.

Crossing the logjam at Blue Lake’s outlet
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Settled in at Blue Lake
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On the rocky trail towards Dingleberry Lake the next day
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We walked through a few swarms of mosquitoes on the way up with the highest concentrations around Dingleberry Lake and the meadows past the junction to Midnight Lake. However, with head nets, long sleeve shirts and pants, the swarms did not take away any of our enjoyment of the area.

Submerged rock crossing at the Dingleberry inlet
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Picture Peak in the background
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Moonlight Falls
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After a visit to Moonlight Falls, we set up camp at Sailor Lake and enjoyed the high alpine scenery I had sought out. We also had an added bonus of solitude. In fact, we hadn't seen anyone in the upper basin all day. The breeze at Sailor Lake allowed us to sit outside without head nets and watch the stars come out at night.

Sailor Lake
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Last view of Blue Lake
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby gary c. » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:48 am

What's not to love about Sabrina Basin. Thanks for your report and pictures. It brings back some great memories.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby hikerdude87 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:57 am

Thanks for the report. Beautiful pictures!
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby Jason » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:01 am

That looks fantastic! I hope you all had a good time and they're willing to head out with you more often. Thanks for the report.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:00 pm

Thank you for the wonderful TR and pictures! How were the wildflowers around the Sailor Lake area? That lake is perfect for taking pictures of Picture Peak on a windless day at sunrise. :nod:
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby kpeter » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:51 pm

I never get tired of vicariously enjoying Sabrina Basin, my favorite location. Thank you for taking me back one more time.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby Rockyroad » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:31 pm

maverick wrote:Thank you for the wonderful TR and pictures! How were the wildflowers around the Sailor Lake area? That lake is perfect for taking pictures of Picture Peak on a windless day at sunrise. :nod:


The lakeshore had some nice flowers. My kids aren't early risers and this was a really leisurely trip for me so I slept in each morning and missed sunrise pictures. In sort of a contrast to the other thread about thru-hiking, I started thinking how I really enjoyed the lower mileage and slower pace for a change, especially when I was already in a nice place and didn't need to get anywhere quickly.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby Matthewkphx » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:36 am

Very nice trip report! Thanks for sharing it. I'm looking forward to visiting the area in a couple weeks.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:01 pm

Nice report. So, I guess the most important question is: what did your daughters think of the trip? Will they ask to go on another backpacking trip with you? Looks promising.
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: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby Rockyroad » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:14 pm

giantbrookie wrote:Nice report. So, I guess the most important question is: what did your daughters think of the trip? Will they ask to go on another backpacking trip with you? Looks promising.


They both enjoyed the trip. I think it was the perfect length in terms of physical exertion and days away for them plus they got to see a prime area of the Sierra. They said they would like to go again next year but maybe a bit later in the year, past the peak mosquito season.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:02 pm

Rockyroad wrote:... In sort of a contrast to the other thread about thru-hiking, I started thinking how I really enjoyed the lower mileage and slower pace for a change, especially when I was already in a nice place and didn't need to get anywhere quickly.


Indeed why spend all one's waking hours like a pack mule when one could be free of one's weighty load hehawing in a meadow chewing soft fresh green grasses and dainty wildflowers, while sipping cold clear water in the fresh stream all day.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin, June 25-27

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:25 pm

Rockyroad wrote:
giantbrookie wrote:Nice report. So, I guess the most important question is: what did your daughters think of the trip? Will they ask to go on another backpacking trip with you? Looks promising.
They both enjoyed the trip. I think it was the perfect length in terms of physical exertion and days away for them plus they got to see a prime area of the Sierra. They said they would like to go again next year but maybe a bit later in the year, past the peak mosquito season.

That's outstanding. Best wishes to future trips. I hope my kids will want to backpack with me when they grow up.
Regarding mosquitoes, whereas they tend to be more numerous early in the season, the local weather at the time of the trip is crucial, too. I've found the keys are nightime temps and wind. In early season, even in otherwise mosquito infested areas, relatively cool nights and a constant wind will keep the mosquitoes away. I've been in seemingly dry areas during times of warm nighttime temps and still air during the day and been swarmed, whereas I've walked through areas that are normally mosquito hell with a stiff breeze and not been bothered at all (the intimidating name of Big Wet Meadow in Cloud Canyon was an example of a surprisingly mosquito free experience owing to a nice breeze when passing through). I check the NWS (NOAA) weather site and click on the specific areas I plan to be in to get some idea (of the night temps and wind) as well as the usual reason for checking (ie chance of afternoon thunderstorms etc.).
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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