Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

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Lumbergh21
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Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Lumbergh21 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:37 am

I am planning a short 3 night trip in mid August starting at the Pine Creek Pass trailhead and hiking up to Honeymoon Lake to camp the first night. From there, I am uncertain where I should go. I would like to do some exploring in Granite Park, but I would also like to check out Humphrey's Basin. I'd appreciate any suggestions for focusing on Humphrey's or Granite Park or a little of both (my current plan). I pack light, not ultralight, and hike anywhere from 15 miles to 20+ miles per day on trail depending on terrain. Off trail is fine so long as there is no Class 3 or higher stuff. Once up there, I will have 2 full days, but I need to be back to Bishop by 2 on the last day, so my final night's camp site needs to be within 10 miles of the trailhead just to make sure I make it out with time to spare.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by maverick » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:40 pm

My recommendation (photography biased) would be to spend your second night at Granite Park (take a hike to Italy Pass), then spend your 3 night in the Royce Lakes area, both of these areas have a lot to offer scenery wise and why not take the time to explore, instead of just zooming thru the area. Do a separate 4-night trip dedicated to Humphrey's Basin which also has a lot and even 4 days is just scratching the surface of that very large basin.
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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Ska-T » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:12 am

I agree with Maverick that you don't have sufficient time to visit Humphrey's Basin from Pine Creek/Granite Park. But, from Royce Lakes you could cross French Canyon and take a quick tour of the lakes between Elba and French before heading over Pine Creek Pass on your way back to the car.

Snow & ice permitting, I like the following plans better. The morning of the second day drop your pack in Granite Park near where you want to sleep the second night. With day pack, thoroughly explore Granite Park and/or climb Mt Julius Caesar from Italy Pass. Or, cross over Granite Bear Pass, which is due east of Black Bear Lake. The west side of the pass has a very gentle slope that eases you down to the lake. From Black Bear Lake visit Big Bear Lake, Ursa Lake and Bearpaw Lake, or just head directly to White Bear Lake. From White Bear Lake head NNE over Dancing Bear Pass and then over Italy Pass and back to your backpack. The crux of this little day hike loop is Granite Bear Pass and how much snow and/or ice there is at the time of your visit. If it is beyond your level of comfort, then turn around, enjoy the view and head back down. If you make it over Granite Bear Pass then the rest won't be a problem. As Maverick suggested, explore Royce Lakes the next day.

However, from your description of how far you are willing to hike each day, you could do a backpack loop all the way through Bear Lakes Basin and Granite Park and have an excellent off trail adventure. A dozen years ago my 50 yr old GF with almost no backpacking experience did this loop in 3.5 days. We started and finished at the Pine Creek trailhead. Day 1 was over Pine Creek Pass, down French Canyon a ways, and camp was on the plateau east of Merriam Lake among the tarns. Day 2 was over Feather Pass and camp at White Bear Lake. Day 3 was over Dancing Bear Pass, Italy Pass (summit Mt Julius Caesar) and camp at Honeymoon Lake. Day 4 was back to the car. Twenty years before that trip I did the same trip in the opposite direction.

Another alternative for a nice 3.5 day trip is to start from North Lake and explore Humphrey's Basin, but that wasn't your question.
Last edited by Ska-T on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Lumbergh21 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:44 am

Ska-T wrote: Another alternative for a nice 3.5 day trip is to start from North Lake and explore Humphrey's Basin, but that wasn't your question.
That was my original plan, but there were no permits available for the day I need to start, so I looked at the Pine Creek Pass trailhead and snapped up the next to last permit. I'm doing this sort of as a prelude to the hike I already planned out of Horseshoe Meadow. I couldn't get a permit for there until Thursday, August 17, so I had to cut out a few days from that hike and decided to see if I could add a short hike in before the longer, but trimmed down, 280 mile trip finishing in Yosemite.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Lumbergh21 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:52 am

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, I realized that I couldn't do both areas, at least not properly, but I couldn't decide which area to visit. Whichever I don't go to this year will get included in a future trip, probably in 2018 (unless I finally go hiking in the Sawtooths in 2018).

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:27 am

Honeymoon Lake can be quite crowded. People are packed into here (pack station at trailhead). With an early start, you could make it at least part way up into Granite Basin for more solitude and better views.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by LMBSGV » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:10 pm

I concur with WD’s suggestion. There are a lot of places to camp above Honeymoon Lake by the creek, lakes, and tarns, all of them lovely. This year, especially, Granite Park in August should be wildflowers, abundant water, and magnificent views. I first went through Granite Park in late August 1998, another heavy snow year. Every step I took above Honeymoon Lake felt like I was walking in a fairyland and Italy Pass still had a lot of snow.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by notis » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:27 pm

We did a trip last summer that you could adapt to your starting trailhead. North Lake - Piute Pass - Humphrey's Basin - Puppet Pass/Carol Col - Pine Creek Pass - Granite Park - Royce Lakes - French Canyon - Piute Pass - North Lake. We did it in 4 days. Like I said, you could do a similar lollipop from Pine Creek Trailhead.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Lumbergh21 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:58 pm

Thanks for the further suggestions. I will be driving from a little over 300 miles away and won't be at the trailhead until about 4:00 PM. That's why I was thinking Honeymoon Lake. I could find a place to camp near Pine Creek Pass as well, if I were going that way as suggested by the Bear Basin itinerary. I understand that the trail is steep, so I'm figuring 1.8 to 2 mph with around 3 hours of daylight. As far as crowds, at least it will be a Sunday not a Friday or Saturday.

Keep the suggestions coming, this will be a new area to me. Thanks.

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Re: Pine Creek To Honeymoon Lake Then...?

Post by Ska-T » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:01 am

After driving 300 mi and with a starting time of 4 PM (or possibly later if things go as they usually do) I would be satisfied camping at Pine Lake or Upper Pine Lake. However, if you make it to Honeymoon and it is too crowded there you can find solitude and a flat spot to camp by heading up toward Italy Pass. About 0.5 mi beyond Honeymoon Lake there is a level area off to the right with a couple of tarns. The next morning, if it pleases you, follow the stream coming down from Chalfant Lakes, which are actually part of Granite Park. At the highest of the Chalfant Lakes, the tiny one, it is fairly easy to head SSW over the ridge and make your way into Granite Park proper.

Or from Honeymoon Lake heading toward Pine Creek Pass there are levels places to camp in less than 1 mi.

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