TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

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TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby bbayley80 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:32 am

DAY ONE

I had the chance to take a few friends out for our usual early October trip to bid farewell to the Sierra for the year and it did not disappoint- of course. As is the norm on this annual trip we looked to make it a fairly relaxing, easy basecamp type of affair- and Muriel Lake would fit the bill quite nicely. We grabbed our permit at White Mountain Ranger Station and were off. Driving the familiar road up to North Lake enjoying the Fall color as we went-some gorgeous bursts of color-although I think we may have just missed the best of it by a few days. Shouldering the packs we made the nice warmup walk from the lot to the trailhead and were soon chugging up the trail. Ive come down from Piute Pass-but had never gone up- and I recalled some pretty good stretches of ‘Sierra steps’ on the trail leading to Loch Leven- not my favorite. However, that section was brief and I really enjoyed the nice engineering and stone work of the trail (I guess ‘day one’ legs can appreciate a few Sierra steps more than ‘last day’ legs ;) . We fished and snacked at Loch Leven for a bit and repeated this soon after along the shores of Piute Lake-holding true to the relaxing nature of the trip. The trail was fairly empty-except for the groups of hunters and the pack trains that followed with antlers strapped tight atop! “You guys are brave!! You got anything red to wear?” hollered the lead packer to us. “there’s rifles popping off all over the basin. Best stay high..” OK. Well noted on that one.. id never thought or heard of hunting out in John Muir Wilderness-and would have thought it not allowed? But in any case it didn’t present any issues for us on the trip-just caused us to change plans a bit. After cresting the pass we hit the well worn use trail to our Muriel Lake home. The temps were cool, wind was light but when it did blow, man it cut through your layers pretty good. Fall to be sure! We explored a bit, hiking up to check out Goethe Lakes before heading back to make a nice warm meal-and have a bit of bourbon. We were all in the bags and tents early after enjoying a fiery sunset light up the lake and Mt Humphreys behind us. What a treat!

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I've always loved the snow survey hut along the shores of Piute Lake

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Small tarn next to Muriel Lake-our home for the next two nights. Muriel Peak stands guard

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Fiery sunset on night one.


DAY TWO

We all played the game of ‘who’s going to unzip the tent first’ in the AM. Lazily staying in the warmth of our bags until the sun hit our camp at about 730. After breakfast and a few cups of coffee- and with the packer’s warnings fresh in our heads- we decided that our intended plan of a nice off trail fishing trip across Humphrey’s Basin to its lovely lakes was perhaps ill advised. No need to get taken out by some hunter with poor vision-but of course I had back up plans. We decided instead to tackle Muriel Peak by way of Alpine Col and its Southwest ridge. I had a print out of all necessary info on the route-thanks of course to HST- and the crew was into it, so we headed off around 930 on a perfect crisp, blue bird day. We were soon back up at Goethe Lakes hiking along their western shores over large talus-terrain I quite enjoy. We fished the lakes as we hiked-hooking into a few. My buddy caught the biggest brookie ive ever seen out there! We enjoyed watching some real monsters swimming carefree close to shore before stashing the poles and getting down to business. In reading up on Alpine Col it seemed there would be a fair bit of talus involved. Haha! Yeah, a bit. We followed Rogue’s nice right up on the Col and made our way to the base of the cliff band easy enough and elected to take the more direct- yet steep- route up a sand chute- which abutted a nice slab that we tried our best to stay on to gain the top of the cliffs. From there it was easy enough climbing through the massive boulders to the top of the Col. What a view from the Col! I wasn’t really prepared for how awesome it would be. Lake 11910 (crazy to me a lake that nice doesn’t get a name) sat far below in a jumbled rock cirque, views across to The Hermit, Mendel and Darwin were amazing-cool to see them from a new perspective having been through Darwin Canyon and Bench a few years back. We recharged with some snacks before heading up the ridge. This route was very straight forward and seemed well traveled-that presented the biggest issue however as with the traffic the best route was reduced to slippy gravel and scree that was a little sketchy in some of the more exposed areas. We found it best to try to stay just above or below the worn route to stay in some more stable rock. Coming to the last 35’ or so we all took pause as it seemed the best way to Muriel’s flat summit plateau would require a few airy steps. It would amount to nothing more than a quick scamper up a slab-with real nice hand holds- but still above 12900’ that type of stuff gets your attention. After gaining the plateau we marveled at the view across the basin and to Mt Humphreys as we hiked to the Northern-and higher- of the twin summit rock piles. We enjoyed a completely calm, windless summit for five minutes or so before retracing our steps uneventfully to both the Col and to Goethe Lakes. We really spent a good amount of time fishing along the shores on the way down to camp and generally enjoying ourselves and the perfect weather. The evening was spent relaxing, chatting and watching the sunset again with a nice hot meal then it was off to bed as soon as that sun went down! Temps were nice again that night-maybe dipping just below freezing, but not bad at all. We had caught a nice warming trend for the weekend.

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View down on camp from Goethe Lakes. Humphreys Basin sprawls out below-stay low deer..stay low! :(

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Muriel Peak summit view. worth every talusy step and boulder hop!



DAY THREE

A real lazy morning saw us hit the trail at almost 10 AM after packing up and bidding farewell to our awesome Muriel Lake home. Seemed to be a lot more people on the trail enjoying the weather than a few days prior. One of those hikers was a woman with whom id shared a nice chat and a snack halfway up Feather Pass a month and a half prior! What a small world! It was nice-if not SUPER random- to bump into her again. We quickly retraced our way down to the car, stopping only briefly to fish Piute Lake one last time before putting our heads down and getting out to the car. I think everyone had Mountain Rambler Brewery on the brain and was picturing a cold pint and a burger! I know I was… and soon it was a reality and another great trip was in the books. Thanks as always to this great resource-as it is a huge help in planning trips like this. Most appreciated.

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heading out. Goodbye for this year Sierra!! until the next.



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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby frozenintime » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:03 am

looks like you had a great time :)
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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby windknot » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:48 am

Thanks for the report! Beautiful sunset shot.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby jgaffney » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:53 pm

I met several hunters while walking out of the Ansel Adams Wilderness to Fernandez. Make a lot of noise and talk so that you won't be mistaken for a deer. The hunters were nice so I gave them my map.

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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby 559Hunter » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:54 am

Beautiful pics and well written report! I've been wanting to make this trip for a few years now to fish and deer hunt. Sounds like I wouldn't be the only hunter in the basin if I did so. How long did it take you to get from the trail head to the pass? I'm thinking I'll try to make this trip next year.
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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby bbayley80 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:23 am

windknot wrote:Thanks for the report! Beautiful sunset shot


youre welcome. thank you!

jgaffney wrote:Make a lot of noise and talk so that you won't be mistaken for a deer.


oh yes! for sure. just in case the whole walking upright on two legs thing left any question for the hunters :paranoid:

559Hunter wrote:Beautiful pics and well written report!
559Hunter wrote:How long did it take you to get from the trail head to the pass? I'm thinking I'll try to make this trip next year.

thanks! appreciate it.
not long at all. Piute Pass provides pretty easy access to beautiful country- just under 6 miles from the overnight lot to the pass and only gaining around 2200' or so, and with many awesome rest/fish stops along the way. even a night short of the pass at Piute Lake would be nice too. lots of fish! we took our sweet time getting there, not even sure how long it took honestly-but with a reasonable AM start and moving well you'd be on the pass by noon. take about 3 hrs of hiking time.
go for it! October is lovely weather/light crowds and the deer hunters looked to be successful too! hauling out a fair bit of meat.
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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby 559Hunter » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:46 pm

bbayley80 wrote:thanks! appreciate it.
not long at all. Piute Pass provides pretty easy access to beautiful country- just under 6 miles from the overnight lot to the pass and only gaining around 2200' or so, and with many awesome rest/fish stops along the way. even a night short of the pass at Piute Lake would be nice too. lots of fish! we took our sweet time getting there, not even sure how long it took honestly-but with a reasonable AM start and moving well you'd be on the pass by noon. take about 3 hrs of hiking time.
go for it! October is lovely weather/light crowds and the deer hunters looked to be successful too! hauling out a fair bit of meat.



Sounds perfect. Thank you for the info. :thumbsup:
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Re: TR: North Lake to Muriel Lake via Piute Pass Oct 7-9

Postby rlown » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:27 pm

Next year is a good call. My opinion, it all depends on the weather. Sept is better.. Still a nice TR.
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