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South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

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South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby Knute » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:32 am

Hello, sorry I only post every few years with questions, but my Wife and I can only make it out to the Sierra every few years at best.
OK here's our situation: we doing this route starting September 7: Bishop Pass Trail to JMT to Piute Pass Trail. We have 6 days/5 nights to do it, so we figure on a full day somewhere to explore or bag a peak (maybe both?). We are both pretty strong hikers with some but not a ton of off trail experience. I figure about 12 mile days. We like the big mountain scenery and mountain streams.

Any suggestions for lower elevation campsites that have some wow factor but maybe not tons of people. I know that areas like Evolution Lake are very popular so we will avoid the really famous spots for camping if we can. Are there any campsites on the Bishop Pass Trail right before you get to the JMT? That area would be ideal for a first night at altitude (we are staying at 9,000 ft for a couple of nights before we hike) and put us in a nice spot to hit Muir Pass. Evolution Valley would be the next logical area, with a possible side trip to Darwin Canyon. Piute Canyon area would be the next possible camping area, and then probably somewhere on the west side of Piute Pass.

I'd love any suggestions for campsites and for stuff to do on our layover day. Bagging a peak would be fun, but something class 2 or maybe 3 with fairly easy route finding would be best.

I hope I included all the things you guys need to know. Thanks so much for any and all suggestions.



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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby kpeter » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:27 pm

I discuss my campsites in this trip report:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6758&hilit=north+lake+south+lake

You will be going the reverse of my direction. Once you get over Bishop Pass there are scads of interesting, off trail camps in Dusy Basin. If you stick on trail and go further, there is a camp after the bridge and then the ford of Dusy Creek on the way down. It has a view but is barely off the trail.
IMGP2226.jpg
View from the camp near Dusy Creek, half way up the canyon.

Anywhere along the JMT part of the trail you simply have to get off the trail a ways if you want privacy. All the near camps fill up like motels on a freeway offramp. But just going a couple of hundred yards is usually enough to leave the JMT hikers behind. Davis Lakes and McGee Lakes are popular off trail stops, as is Darwin Bench. Once you get to Humphries Basin you will have many choices--like Dusy Basin. Give yourselves enough time to enjoy Dusy and Humphries basins--some of the more interesting areas on the loop.
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby rayfound » Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:38 am

We have 6 days/5 nights to do it, so we figure on a full day somewhere to explore or bag a peak (maybe both?).


Consider going up french canyon instead of Piute - you can daytrip the outlet falls from royce lakes (just follow the water up from the confluence with french creek... keep going, will require some scrambling (though no more than 5-8ft walls to get over), but is REALLY worth it.

Then you could go XC to Elba/Star/moon/puppet lakes area, and rejoin your loop by going over Puppet Pass (aka Carol Col).

FWIW - French Creek is prettier than Piute anyway. And if you fish, it is almost all goldens, Piute side is mostly brookies.
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby BigMan » Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:21 pm

You say you're OK with Class 2, so I recommend shortening the loop by exiting Lamarck Col. That way you could spend more time in all the great areas along this route, as well as Darwin Bench/Lakes and Lamarck Lakes.

There's a site near the northwest shore of Wanda that may offer some solitude, as well as one between Evo Lake and Darwin Bench, but...

How far from other campers do you want to be? You're willing to sacrifice time at scenic wonders like Dusy Basin and Evolution Lake? It's easy for campers to spread out at these places. I love solitude but I couldn't give up these places for it.

At Evo, there are sites up on the knobs.
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby Knute » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:16 pm

I don't have to be in total isolation, but prefer to stay away from groups of campers. So the Piute Pass trail isn't all that, huh? I'll see if I can talk my partner into some more off trail...
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby rayfound » Sun Aug 07, 2016 3:56 pm

Piute pass trail is fine...great even... But just following the standard loop.forces you to miss so much in the area that's more exciting. Royce falls are no joke.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3146
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby Knute » Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:29 pm

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm starting to get a pretty good idea of our options. Now to narrow it down...
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby Knute » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:41 pm

rayfound wrote:Royce falls are no joke.


Will they still be spectacular with early September water flow? It looks to be a 2 mile detour from Piute Pass Trail so I was thinking of doing a quick trip up there from the trail...
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:51 pm

Will they still be spectacular with early September water flow? It looks to be a 2 mile detour from Piute Pass Trail so I was thinking of doing a quick trip up there from the trail...


September will be nothing like July. Oh, and if you exit via Piute Pass consider climbing Pilot Knob. :nod:
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Re: South Lake/North Lake Loop Questions

Postby rayfound » Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:52 pm

Knute wrote:
rayfound wrote:Royce falls are no joke.


Will they still be spectacular with early September water flow? It looks to be a 2 mile detour from Piute Pass Trail so I was thinking of doing a quick trip up there from the trail...



You know, I am not sure. No, they won't be like June. The thing is, they are very prominent in the canyon, so from any of the lakes on the bench (elba, puppet, L) you should be able to just look across and see. If it doesn't look rad, don't bother.
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