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Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

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Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby robertseeburger » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:44 am

I did a ten day trip ending last Thursday.

Itinerary was Taboose Pass/Bench Lake/Cartridge Pass/Dumbbell Pass/Amphitheater Pass/Palisade Lake/Cirque Pass/Mount Sill/Mather Pass/Split Mtn/Taboose Pass and out.

Weather perfect...not even a cloud..until the last day. I have now spent 24 days backpacking this summer, with no rain. I don't think this has ever happened before to me... this many days without rain. Mosquitoes were a problem but not terrible.

I camped at Bench Lake. I have always been fascinated by Arrow Peak and Bench Lake. The trouble is how to select one picture to post.
DSC00227.jpg


I then went over Cartridge Pass. Ranger Bob at Bench Lake told me two things. 1) Locate the start of the climb from the Kings River before you start up, and 2) don't get off the trail. Well... I didn't follow his advice. I couldn't locate the start of the ascent so I started up anyway. I got caught up in aspens and eventually figure out I was too far to the west. I came all the way back down and still had some trouble locating the start of the climb. This reminded me of the old Kit Carson quote.."I have never been lost. I have been mighty confused though for a week or two".The 7.5" topo map does not show a creek coming down from the basin under Cartridge Pass when in fact there is one, which contributed to my problem. I eventually located the start of the climb, marked by a large cairn. Once found, the trail up was easy to follow, although quite steep---hard to believe this was once the old John Muir Trail. Here is the start.
DSC00230.jpg


I found Lake Basin Beautiful. Every lake in the basin had rainbow trout. I view south across the lake heading up toward Dumbbell Pass
DSC00244.jpg


I made it to Dumbbell Lake with no problem. I was last there in 1975. Still looks the same after 41 years. It still has a mystical, out of the way feel to it.
I saw no people between Bench Lake and hitting the JMT at Deer Meadow. Here is the view across the large Dumbbell Lake toward Dumbbell Pass.
I can down to the right (where the snow hits the lake) in the photo per other posts in High Sierra Topics and had no problem. All class 2.
DSC00252.jpg


Amphitheater Pass was a little more difficult due the snow cornice at the top. I squeezed thru going down..just barely fit along the edge of the cornice. It turned out to be easy. But a couple weeks earlier it would be necessary to go around. When I did this before it it was in September, so no cornice so I didn't even remember this as an obstacle. What I did remember was that it was a talus pain in ass to get around Amphitheater Lake from the pass, and 40 years later it is still a pain in the ass.
DSC00258.jpg


A note on snow. I did a post from my earlier Sequoia trip in June. I noted the lack of snow further south. Up here on this trip, late July there was still lots of snow. Taboose, Cartridge, Dumbbell, and Amphitheater Passes all had snow on top. The trails were still muddy in places. It indeed felt like a "normal" snow year here. I guess 50 miles north makes a difference.

OK I will stir up some fishing controversy. I knew from HST posts that Amphitheater Lake was targeted for fish elimination and I was prepared for that. I had caught 12-13 inch goldens last time I was there. I did not know that the unnamed lakes above were also targeted. I went back and read the posts, and it was clear that the elimination included the lakes above. Here is a shot looking back toward Observation Peak from one of the lakes above Amphitheater Lake.
DSC00263.jpg

Note the gill net on the lower left. This seldom visited lake had 20 inch goldens at one time. As I said, I didn't know it was targeted when I got there.
I felt extreme sadness and perhaps anger when I got there. I have trouble reconciling why this lake was chosen for gill netting. A pure golden trout sanctuary.
To me, the type of lake that needs to be left alone.
By the way, Amphitheater Lake had plenty of fish in it. (Small)

I was going to go straight up Glacier Creek and camp at the large lake between Cirque and Potluck Passes, but I looked up the creek from Deer Meadow and decided not to do it. I went up the JMT to Lower Palisade Lake instead. I wanted a short route to climb Mount Sill. I have tried to climb Mount Sill 4 times over 30 years and failed. ( Two weather related, and two I tried to climb from too far away and turned around.) From Lower Palisade lake I finally climbed Sill.
What a view! I had always heard people say "best view in the Sierras", and it does certainly rank near the top of the ones I have climbed. ( I would rank Goddard my best view).
DSC00279.jpg


A view descending Sill toward Cirque Pass. I went over Cirque Pass twice this day, and I had no difficulty. I never did any move greater than class 2.
I did do some "meandering" to keep it to class 2.
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I then went over Mather Pass and to the large lake at 11600 feet below the pass. As I approached the lake, I looked for a place to camp and I came upon another backpacker there. We exchanged pleasantries and routes and as I was describing my appreciation for the remote feeling of Dumbbell Lakes, he mentioned that there is a lake to the west at 10,500 feet that is more remote. At this point, I said to myself.. "wait a minute"... and I asked him if he was a member of High Sierra Topix? He said yes. I asked his handle and I was introduced to RoguePhotonic. I introduced myself and told him I enjoyed reading his posts. He indicated that AlpineMike was climbing Split Mountain and Mount Prater and he was taking a day off. We spent a couple of hours exchanging notes and then I went off to climb Split Mountain myself.
DSC00291.jpg


A view of Split across the lake. Great spawning ground here.
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Upon return, I met AlpineMike as well. We had a jolly chat that evening and the next morning before I fished a little and then departed, and they went off to climb Mount Bolton Brown. It is always fun meeting someone you know or want to know on the trail. They are on quite a trip. Of course we had fun getting in some barbs at each other as well. They told me I was dumb for trying to climb Sill in the past via Scimitar Pass. ( I agree it was dumb.) Of course I then told them that camping at the remote lake on Ragged Spur was pretty dumb too!. And they were about to go down Muro Blanco...which I had heard bad things about. Oh well, we will see how they report this. In any event it was good meeting fellow HSTers...


Some fishing notes... this was a rainbow country trip. ( no big goldens).
Playing a big one..
DSC00207.jpg


And the largest of the trip, a 19 incher.
DSC00212.jpg


Overall a great trip! Great weather, climbed Sill ( after many tries) and Split, caught a 19 incher, saw beautiful country, and met RoguePhotonic and AlpineMike.



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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby Pulpit » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:48 am

Awesome trip report, looks like a great 10 days! I'll be near Sill next week, but we're gonna try Middle Palisade instead (from east side). Thanks for sharing the TR, the view from Sill looks spectacular in that picture.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:10 pm

Very enjoyable TR and pictures Robert. :thumbsup:

Amphitheater Pass was a little more difficult due the snow cornice at the top. I squeezed thru going down..just barely fit along the edge of the cornice. It turned out to be easy. But a couple weeks earlier it would be necessary to go around. When I did this before it it was in September, so no cornice so I didn't even remember this as an obstacle. What I did remember was that it was a talus pain in ass to get around Amphitheater Lake from the pass, and 40 years later it is still a pain in the ass.



Surprised a little bit about the size of the cornice on Cataract Creek Pass, thought it would be a little smaller.


I was going to go straight up Glacier Creek and camp at the large lake between Cirque and Potluck Passes, but I looked up the creek from Deer Meadow and decided not to do it.



The ascent up Glacier Creek or the creek emanating from Barrett Lakes is not that bad, the one up to Barrett is little touch more difficult.


I wanted a short route to climb Mount Sill. I have tried to climb Mount Sill 4 times over 30 years and failed. ( Two weather related, and two I tried to climb from too far away and turned around.) From Lower Palisade lake I finally climbed Sill.


Congrats on finally climbing Sill! :thumbsup:
Brewer has a great view too.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby cslaght » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:38 pm

Beautiful! That sounds like an excellent trip indeed.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby Jimr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:00 pm

Nice TR. Split Mtn. is a fun and easy 14'er from that lake. I did it in 1995. When I was there, that lake had brookies, golden and rainbow. Average 12 to 14 inches with a few larger thrown in for good measure. I hooked up almost every cast. It got ridiculous at some point (granted, it took some time to get there).
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby sekihiker » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:12 pm

Nice rainbow. Sad to hear about the goldens.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby rayfound » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:20 am

Terrific TR. Nice Rainbow.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby windknot » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:00 am

Great report and those are some serious fish. Thanks for sharing!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby Cross Country » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:05 am

This was one of my two favorite areas (the other - upper kern). On two trips with my two sons we did almost all of your trip. I too felt very remote at Dumbell. The other lake more remote I went to on another trip into that area and it is more remote (the lake west of observation peak). I felt more remote fear at Dumbell because I was with my two boys. I knew if somthing happened to me there that they would be in trouble. The day before a Ampatheater I had no such feer nor the day later at Lake Basin. I was almost sure they would get out safely from those two places. I was at the other lake alone.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby robertseeburger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:30 pm

A couple of comments..

Apologize for calling Cataract Creek Pass incorrectly Amphitheater Pass..my bad.

I thought I would add to my comments about going up Glacier Creek and Maverick's reply. Here is a shot looking down Cataract Creek, across Deer Meadow and up Glacier Creek. I assume the correct route would be to stay left, and weave in and out. Maybe some day.
DSC00265.jpg


Definitely gotta climb Mount Brewer. My bucket list is Milestone Mountain, Brewer, Ritter, And Tyndall. I think I am going to give up on North Palisade
and Mount Humphreys..probably beyond my capability now. Maybe Darwin. When I was talking to RougePhotonic and Alpine Mike we discussed "the best view".
And they brought up Darwin. ( Not saying that was their choice..we never got there). But they scared me with their description of the ascent of the final summit pinnacle.
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Re: Trip Report Kings Canyon 7/19 to 7/28

Postby toejam » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:17 pm

I'd love to do this exact trip. High on my list for next year.
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