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TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

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TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby gohiking26 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:07 pm

After college I worked in Lodgepole (Sequoia NP) as a bear technician for a summer. I think I saw everything within 50 miles of my cabin (didn't have a car) and few other spots when I was able to get a lift. My roommate and I would look at maps and dream about northern Kings Canyon because we knew we would never get there with just a couple days off at a time. It's taken 14 years but I finally made it that section of the map.

Sunday, June​ 26
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Temple Crag from Second Lake

Out and back trip on North Fork of Big Pine Creek. Fair amount of haze in Owens Valley and up into lower mountains apparently from fire (one near Whitney and one up north). Hike in was good, some mosquitoes between lakes 2-4 where trail goes through swampy woodlands. Didn't see any people past Fourth Lake. Went to the trail's end by Sixth Lake but came back a ways to camp on a high point with a great view of the Palisades, etc.

Stayed up and got some photos of the night sky.
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Monday, June 27

Hiked back to car; drove to Bishop for next permit. Gave a ride to a PCT thru-hiker back to South Lake trailhead. He had just retired after 25 years in the Great Britain Army. Drove to North Lake trailhead. Hiked the trail to Upper Lamarck Lake then followed the use trail toward the Lamarck Col. Shortly after Upper Lamarck Lake, I passed a hiker who had just finished the loop from South Lake to North Lake and he gave me some tips. I camped up on one of the wide benches short of the Col.

Tuesday, June 28
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view from Lamarck Col

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Sunset from camp just north of Lamarck Col

So, I'm a photographer and I was really looking forward to creating some great images and actually taking a lot of video on this trip. After breakfast, I went to clean my lenses when I realized all my spare camera stuff, including batteries, must have been left at the trailhead. So my battery was already blinking its final warning and I had four more days to go. Total bummer, but the hike is more important than the photos, so I pressed on with a good attitude. Made it over the Col, and headed down Darwin Canyon and Darwin Bench. Both were pretty spectacular. The Darwin Bench is what I had been expected from Evolution Basin. Just beautiful. As I progressed down the bench, a use trail started to become more obvious and I followed that to the JMT/PCT. When I got there, a good thunderstorm was in progress nearby. Northbounders were chugging into the woods coming from Evolution Basin trying to seek cover from the storm up there. Since I was heading up I hung out and waited for things to calm down. The hikers coming from the South were all bug-eyed telling tales of crazy lightning, wind, and hail between there and Muir Pass. I got to Evolution Lake. Those few little lakes just west/north of Evolution were absolutely beautiful. I assume that's what all of Evolution will look like in another month. After Evolution Lake, things were pretty much still all snow and ice. Another storm prompted me to set the tent up before Wanda Lake. The rain came but the thunder remained fairly distant.

Wednesday, June 29
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Wanda Lake

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Muir Hut

The entire trail through Evolution was either a mini river or a snowfield. I was wearing trail runners but my Gore-Tex boots would have actually been better on this section. Brief break at Muir Pass but then pressed on. The trail crosses the river soon after the pass on a big snow bridge. Seemed like there was plenty of snow still but it was still a weird feeling to hear the raging river underneath. I can't believe I considered going off the trail at Muir Pass and heading to Ladder Lake via the Black Divide Crossing. The trip down LeConte Canyon was absolutely amazing. The trail turns and you exit that winter world and descend into a beautiful land of summer with wildflower meadows, waterfalls, babbling brooks, trees, butterflies, and soaring granite cliffs. Those hours descending the canyon were pure bliss. I know the northbounders appreciated it too, but their faces were a little more grimaced after walking uphill for so long. I can't believe how many hikers there were. I probably saw 75 people this day. I like solitude, but I didn't care; we all just looked at each other and smiled knowing how amazing it was that we were sharing this special place. Made it all the way down to the trail intersection at the Golden Staircase. Had a beautiful campsite by the river and actually dried my shoes and feet by a fire. Several deer came by to visit. I had planned to visit Hester Lake and climb Langille Peak if I arrived at the LeConte Ranger station early enough. I did, getting there around 2pm, but more thunder above convinced me to stay low for now.

Thursday, June 30
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At the top of the Golden Staircase

Worked my way up the Golden Staircase, then headed north when the JMT/PCT turns south toward Mather Pass. The route gets a bit steep not too long after leaving the trail. Made it over pass one but had to pause at the large lake before Potluck Pass because a storm had popped up and threatened to come over my way. Eventually it drifted south so I was able to get up Potluck. Maybe I didn't choose the best route, but it was pretty challenging. I had to take my pack off at one point and boost it up to a ledge I was trying to reach. Got over and made it down to the largest Barrett Lake to set up camp with North Palisade towering over me. Enjoyed my last night out in the wilderness.

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At the lake south of Potluck Pass waiting to see what this storm was going to do

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From Potluck Pass

Friday, July 1
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Camp below North Palisade

Made it over the final pass (Thunderbolt Pass?) and worked my way over to Bishop Pass to join the trail. The trail down from there was really nice and would make a great day hike with all the beautiful lakes and mountain views. As I approached the trailhead I passed two younger (college aged) girls with packs on. They asked about my route because they had been told that Bishop Pass was too snowed in to cross. They were planning on doing the South Lake/North Lake loop, including the Lamarck Col option at the other end. I told them there were just a few small snow patches with good footprints to follow up to Bishop Pass but they would encounter plenty of snow before their trip was over. Got real lucky with a hitch/ride to my car at North Lake with a nice family that camps up there every summer. They said they always drive up to North Lake to check it out so this was their excuse. Wouldn't even take gas money. Got my car, found my camera supplies, and headed back to Vegas to catch my flight back to Florida. It was an amazing trip and hopefully that will satisfy my mountain cravings for a while.

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Dusy Basin



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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:26 pm

Thank you for coming back and posting this wonderful TR and pictures. Saw your first picture with Temple Crag and was like where did this person start from talking about North Lake to South Lake, maybe using Jigsaw Pass to get to Bishop Pass. :)
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby Ska-T » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:30 pm

Beautiful photos!! ... and I enjoyed the text, too, especially the pleasure you got from the altitude change descending Muir Pass.
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby hikerdude87 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:48 am

Wow amazing pictures and thanks for the TR. I've been thinking about doing the North Lake to South Lake loop one of these days.
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:17 am

Nice read and fine images. Thanks for making the effort to created a report.

Some of the places you passed through are worth more time. In your future, you will find many of those areas even more aesthetic by the end of July after most of the more exposed snow melts and landscapes green up to their summer peak.

David
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby vhsvhs » Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:11 pm

Awesome trip report! This is probably my favorite part of the Sierras, and your excellent photographs inspire me to return ASAP. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby gary c. » Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:34 pm

Amazing pictures and great report. Thanks for posting.
"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."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby gohiking26 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:32 am

Maverick, my original plan was to start in Big Pine Creek and take Jigsaw Pass over then continue the loop but I didn't really like what I read about it. It also complicated getting a ride back to the trailhead. But I loved the photos I saw of those Big Pine Lakes so I really wanted to get there.

SSSdave, I could definitely see how a lot of these areas warrant more time and exploration. As a Floridian who hasn't been to this area for many years, I'm not sure when I'll get back so I kind of wanted to cover as much trail as possible and at least have an experience in each area.

I don't really post on here but I got a lot of good info from this site so I figured a trip report was the least I could do. Glad you all enjoyed it!
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:06 am

Looks like I will in fact be in Dusy Basin for 4 afternoons myself over the Labor Day holiday period. Despite the fact Bishop Pass has been quota filled solid for weeks.
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby cslaght » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:25 pm

Great work. I've had the same with the camera issue before too. It's amazing that it sucks at first then you realize that you're at a place like this and it melts away. Creating those "mind photos" for sure. Excellent stuff!
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby Pietro257 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:20 am

Wonderful photographs. Thanks.
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Re: TR: North Lake to South Lake 6/26-7/1

Postby rayfound » Thu Jul 14, 2016 5:25 pm

Great report. Itching to get back out now.
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