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Sphinx Lakes TR 6-14-07

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Sphinx Lakes TR 6-14-07

Postby Aviprk » Sun Jun 17, 2007 12:51 pm

On Thursday me and two other friends left for Sphinx lakes area. The original plan was to allocate 4 days to do the loop from Sphinx lakes and go over Longley pass and down to East creek rejoining the trail and end where we started at Roads End. However, our plan was cut short since we had to make the trip in 3 days instead and we decided to turn back before the pass at Sphinx Col. This was the first trip that entailed a lot of off-trail hiking and navigation. We did much better than we thought!

The first day we wrongly thought we had passed the first Sphinx lake so we thought we made good progress and decided to call it a day. However, when we reached the first lake we thought it was the second Sphinx lake; that was till a look at the topo map along with a good look at our surrounding made us realize we had just reached the first lake.
It was quite a disappointment since we had worked ourselves almost to death just going up to the point where we camped for the first night which was actually just before the first lake. It was a beautiful meadow with Sphinx creek running through it and boulder fields surrounding us on both east and west. Night time temperatures only got to about 48F since a high front moved in that day according to the weather report

The next day we made slow progress up to the Col where we decided to head back down the way we came. At the third and fourth lakes (the twin lakes) we met the only people during the whole trip up Sphinx Creek. It was three people - a dad, mom, and son. They were camped for 4 days and it was their last when we met them. It was quite inspiring when the man told us he's been backpacking since the 1960's and told us his story about climbing North Guard instead of Mt Brewer. Reciprocally, they said we were also the only people they met during the their trip up the creek. The son's backpack and shirt had been chewed by a marmot the previous night. We shared a few good laughs and took off for the higher lakes till we turned back at the Col. We ended up camping exactly where we met the family earlier that day and went back down the day after.

Last day, I woke up early around 5:30 and headed out towards Cross Mountain straight across from Lake #3. Secor describes it as a easy class 2 climb. I might have taken a wrong turn but I encountered class 4 that I couldn't climb and had to go around a class 3 headwall that was much more manageable and less risky. I timed myself to turn back by 6:30 but by 6:45 I was still 20-30min from the summit. I decided to turn back at that point. For one thing I ran out of water and the other I really had to relieve myself so I rushed down the slopes and got back down in 40 minutes. I found an easy way down to the far left (heading towards Francis Farquhar) and it was mostly rotten tree barks and dirt making the decent pretty fast.

Snow was negligible but all creeks were running in full throttle. We stuck to the west side of the creek most of the way up and down. There was some bushwacking but nothing too bad. It was pretty similar from both east and west sides but most of the boulder fields which avoid the bushwacking were on the west side but either side seemed manageable although our campsite the first night was in the east side of the creek which we accidentally crossed over a log.

Also, we found several use trails here and there. There were plenty of them which made navigation much easier and the occasion ducks when we hit the boulder fields or headwalls.

Day 1: We hiked up to just before the 1st Sphinx lakes.

Day 2: Up to Sphinx Col and back

Day 3: Back to Roads End.

Thanks all for your genuine interest when trying to help me out planning this trip and I'm sorry I couldn't complete the loop that I asked for so much help in the past months.

Btw, pictures will be posted shortly.

David.
Last edited by Aviprk on Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:30 am

Glad to hear your first major off trail adventure was successful. Off trail travel is certainly the ticket to the more secluded and choicer places in the Sierras, such as the Sphinxes.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby copeg » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:26 am

Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing
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Postby Shawn » Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:55 pm

Looks as though you had a good time regardless (isn't that what really counts).

Last year I was up there with Harry L., but my body failed to cooperate on day two so our plans were unfortunately stalled (here are my pics btw:
http://www.theradioroom.org/Sphinx/Sphinx1.htm).

Even though we do not know each other, I'll bet you a dollar you'll be back up Sphinx Creek in the future. :D
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Postby Aviprk » Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:57 pm

Thanks Shawn

I read your report on radioroom before we left and it helped us a lot. If I ever do go back to Sphinx lakes it will be from Sphinx Col hiking down to Sphinx creek and not up!
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Postby KathyW » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:36 am

Great report Avipark and I'm glad you had a good time - I typically overplan when I backpack - I'll always plan more than one excursion to a peak in my trips and then I'm happy if I just get to or near one. The info will help me on my June 30th trip. I'm looking forward to your pictures.
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Postby Aviprk » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:05 pm

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