TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

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MRrogers
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TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by MRrogers » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:58 am

This TR was previously posted but reposted in its now final form.

Our initial plan was to do the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow over Pants Pass, through Picket Guard Lake and the Kaweah Basin and to go over Forester Pass and to exit at Onion Valley. We opted for our plan B route due to the trail blowout above Hamilton Lake.
Our plan B route was to enter at Florence Lake, head north on JMT over Selden Pass, then up the Seven Gables trail to Vee Lake, then into the Bear lakes Basin, then continue north following the Sierra High Route until rejoining the JMT north of Silver Pass and then ending at Lake Edison. We wound up changing this plan on day 4.

Day 1. Easy 4 miles from Florence Lake ferry drop off point to a campsite near Muir Trail Ranch. Good to get acclimated to the 50 pound packs!
Prior, we dropped our car at VVR and took a car shuttle to Florence Lake. It was cool to see VVR and all of the JMT hikers contemplating their next moves (food, hygiene, quitting, proceeding, etc).
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Day 2. Made it up 3k feet and over Selden Pass on the JMT. We stopped at Sallie Keyes Lakes to soak feet and dry out the socks. In fact, we did this activity usually once per day during our lunch stop break. The section of trail between the lakes and the pass was very scenic.
The view from the pass is a Sierra classic and did not disappoint.
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Found a great campsite at Marie Lake. The lake was pretty crowded but there are many great campsites. Heard the horror stories from some JMT’ers about their difficult hiking over Muir Pass days before due to the monsoonal weather that caused them two straight days of rain and hail. Timing is everything!
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Grizzly did his usual by catching many nice rainbows before dinner.
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Night skies were clear.
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Day 3. Headed north on JMT to the Lou Beverly Lake side trail to avoid the big Bear Creek crossing on the JMT.
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Forded the first of the Bear Creek tributary crossings easily with water shoes on. Forded the East Fork Bear Creek crossing which had serious flow on a downed log. From here until the established trail ended, we found the trail somewhat easy to follow but still relied on our View Ranger app to help guide us. There was one section of trail that required some down climbing and other sections of boulders. Once the trail ended the route finding began. Had to really use good route finding and an old trip report to find the correct route up through a notch that leads to Vee Lake. Almost followed a wrong route up that was too early which could have caused major backtracking and even with the help of View Ranger we at one point found ourselves off course by only about 15 feet, but the correct route was about 200 feet below our current position!
Sights getting closer to Vee Lake
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The final climb over boulders through the notch that leads to Vee Lake was not overly difficult.
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The initial views towards the lake and the outflow in the opposite direction were both stunning.
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Of course, since it is so difficult to get to Vee, it was just myself (Day Hike), Grizzly and one marmot there the entire evening.
Here are the evening and morning views. They probably don't need words attached to them.

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Day 4. Day of days.
We knew we were in for a bit of a difficult day. This would be our first real full day on off trail, cross country passes with snowy conditions. We left camp with an open mind that we may need to change course at any time if conditions were not safe.
We left Vee Lake and headed towards the pass that leads to the Bears Lakes Basin. The east end of Vee Lake is stunning and the views back towards Vee and Seven Gables were magnificent!
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We managed to get up and over the first pass which gave us views of the first two of the Bear lakes, Ursa and Bear Paw Lake.
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We then headed down to Big Bear Lake to continue our route towards White Bear Lake and Pass. We eventually found the correct way to the pass. Views up the pass and back to the west. Pics.
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There was a difficult snowy section after the pass, but we managed to get across it.
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This lead us the overlook of White Bear Lake. Here is where our plans had to change. Our notes stated to follow a route on the north side of White Bear Lake to avoid a difficult class 4 section on the south side. Our visual surveillance of the south side confirmed that we would not be going that way. No way.
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Our view of the north side however was no better due to a steep section of snow. We both decided that that option also was too dangerous which caused us to quickly consider any other options. We headed back a few hundred yards to a group we had just passed that was camping nearby that said that they arrived through a different route to the area via Italy Pass and another pass that they called Jumble Lake Pass. Jumble Lake Pass turned out to be our only option now other than turning around. The group confirmed that Jumble Lake Pass was doable and passable. We managed our way up the steep first trail less part that leads to an easy plateau section that passes an upper unnamed lake. Now for the fun part. The next few hours to get down to Jumble Lake and ultimately to Lake Italy consisted of a difficult section of steep snow followed by a difficult section of steep boulders followed by a difficult section of snow and boulders followed by a very long section of boulders that were next to the lake. Exhausted we finally emerged from the boulders and made our way to the south shores of Lake Italy. Jumble Lake Pass turned out to be Dancing Bear Pass (after we searched it on the way driving home).
Jumble Pass Plateau
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Jumble Pass(Dancing Bear Pass) leading down to Jumble Lake. Our route down to Jumble Lake.
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Final approach to Lake Italy
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Since our ultimate destination was Gabbot Pass, we needed to continue on around the south side of the lake to the north side of the lake to ultimately access Gabbot Pass. Well, we traversed the first south side lake snow field but then ran into another one that we partially tried to cross but turned back due to its steepness. We did not anticipate any difficult conditions around Lake Italy. Now we were stuck. We pretty quickly gave up on Gabbot Pass and continuing north following the Sierra High Route and decided that we either had to find a higher route over the snow field or we would have to go back the way we came. We knew this was a possibility since we decided not to bring crampons and ice axes. We decided we would scout a higher route above the snow in the morning so we could get to bed and rest our bodies and minds. Our two tents barely fit into an area on the south side of the lake. The accommodations are very sparse on the south side.
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Day 5. We woke up refreshed but still concerned about a route out. We made coffee and then did some packing but quickly left our camp to go scout for a higher route without packs above the snow.
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We quickly ran into a cairns and a trail! However, to ensure that there was not more unpassable terrain beyond the snow field, Grizzly went ahead around the next ridge to see what else was ahead. And he found clear trails heading down the Hilgard Branch Trail. So, we were back in business. We headed back to camp, packed up and started on your new route back towards the JMT.
We decided to forego heading any further on the Sierra High Route based on the limited terrain we had just covered, thinking that only more difficult terrain may lie ahead. Therefore, down to safer trails we went. The trail down to the JMT was not nearly as challenging as the one leading up to Vee Lake. We enjoyed excellent creek scenery and wildflowers.
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We headed north on the JMT and found an awesome campsite alongside Bear Creek. Grizzly managed to catch two brook trout in the creek. We cooked them over a campfire and they were delicious!
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Day 6. Got on trail early again. Made it down the steep and never ending switchbacks on Bear Ridge by around noon but we still had almost 3k feet uphill and 6 miles to go to reach Silver Pass Lake. The afternoon sun was very hot and the climb up was tough. Made it to the Silver Pass Creek waterfall by mid afternoon. Quite a sight!
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Continued uphill to Silver Pass Lake and arrived by very late afternoon and set up camp and rested my eyes before dinner.

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Day 7. Spa day. Slept in! Fished for Goldens in the morning with little success then headed up to Silver Pass with just day packs!!!! Found awesome views to the north at the pass.
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Hiked down to Warrior Lake and caught about 15 brookies in only one hour! Great fishing lake!
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Chatted with a bunch of JMT hikers back at the pass while having lunch. Cooled off at the beach area at the north end of Silver Pass Lake with one hundred thousand nats and fished that end of the lake without success.
Headed back to fish the south end of the lake and Grizzly was able to bag a beautiful golden trout!
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Hung out at camp, had our last supper and listened to some John Muir book on the phone and took some more nights pics.
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Got up super early to ensure we would make the 6.5 mile journey to the Lake Edison VVR pickup point by 1 pm for our reserved ferry. We made it in time and so did 25 other hikers. There was one large Sierra Club youth group. We all fit onto the ferry, barely.
Morning views of Silver Pass Lake
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Views on JMT hiking southbound towards VVR
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Seems at though my camera was ready for the trip to be end. Here are some of the last photos taken from the Lake Edison ferry pick up area.
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Hit up the VVR store for victory beers and burgers and wrote down all of the trip stats. VVR shower water pressure was too low at the time, so had to resort to wet wipes to clean up before getting into the car. Didn’t help much. Car smelled like us (combination of sweat/fish/smoke), not pretty.
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Grizzly
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Day Hike
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Ride home back to Bay Area was easy after getting down to Huntington Lake on the infamous Kaiser Pass Road.
We totally lucked out with the weather. Clear skies almost the entire week. Mosquitos? Probably a 3 out of 5. They don’t seem to bother me so they may have been worse. I hate deet so I tend to treat my killing them when they are on my arms while hiking as an extra sport to pass the time.

Lessons learned/reinforced
Get up at 6 am and get in trail by 8 am to maximize trail time.
Go to bed by 9 am so you can get up at 6 am.
Soak feet and dry socks on trail at least once per day on trail.
Use View Ranger app when off trail or when finding faint trails is difficult.
Put on suntan lotion each morning before starting to hike.
We used a Geiger rig under pressure and gravity that made 3 liters of water in about 5 minutes instead of using the sawyer style squeeze bags. This allowed us to have hands free to do other tasks or to rest and increased our consumption of water because making water was so effortless. Drank about 6 liters per day.
Always pound about a half liter of water when making water before starting to hike again and leave with full water bottles. We only carried one liter due to the abundance of water everywhere.
Dip your cap in the streams to cool off.
Make sure you stop for lunch to ensure you get the calories into your body early in the day.
Bring delicious pre dinner snacks. Our go to is smoked Gouda with pistachios.
Coffee in the morning is a must. We use the jet boil with coffee press.
Off trail, high elevation cross country hiking to twice as hard as on trail hiking.
Consider to make up and bring a hiking pole repair kit. I would not have wanted to do this hike with only one pole.
Always remember to bend the fishing lure barbs so you can easily get fish off the hooks without killing them.

Until next time, may all of your trails be marked!








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freestone
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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by freestone » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:10 pm

Thanks for the report on this area, always interesting to hear about this area especially after such a high snow year. Nice Image of fish in the shallows, Did Grizzly have any luck there?
Fram...

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grampy
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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by grampy » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:57 pm

Beautiful photos, and a story well told. Sounds like a tough (but memorable) trip.

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MRrogers
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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by MRrogers » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:15 pm

Here is a link to a time lapse video from this trip. The video is make from 200 pictures taken from Vee Lake looking west towards Seven Gables.
https://youtu.be/P2nqMd2kqpk

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zacjust32
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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:12 am

Nice trip! When I did the JMT a couple years ago I remember this section being not as dramatic or interesting as Kings Canyon and Sequoia. Boy did I remember wrong! This area is now definitely at the top of my list. Thanks for the awesome report.

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Bishop_Bob
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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by Bishop_Bob » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:16 pm

Nice! Many thanks.

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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by xcountry rider » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:14 pm

Thank you for the trip report and pictures! Great report. The Florence to Edison route has a special place in my heart. That is the first backpacking trip my dad took me on when I was 11 years old. I have been hooked ever since. That was 35 years ago.

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Re: TR Florence Lake Edison Lake Loop 7/27 - 8/3/2019

Post by CAMERONM » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:12 am

I instantly recognized the picture of White Bear Lake which I encountered while on the SHR in mid-August 2017, the big late-snow year. I ended up taking a route below the lake (red track), it was not class 4 and was a bit of a pain, but thought that going even higher up and over on the usual route (blue tracks) was probably also possible but would take even longer. However, someone walking immediately after me did take the sketchy route along the lake, in the photo you can barely make out tracks in the snow, in my mind way too close to the lake edge. At this point in the route I had stopped carrying crampons.
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