questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

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frozenintime
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questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by frozenintime » Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:35 pm

hey all

a couple friends and i are continuing to chip away at the high route this summer. i've planned what looks to me like a good route but i'd appreciate feedback, especially on the far less traveled second half of the loop. 

we'll be going during the first week of september and are budgeting 7-9 mile days (though knowing the group, we may end up going faster than that).

our plan roughly:

devils postpile > 
SHR from nancy pass to blue lake pass > 
tour of the lakes at the headwaters of lyell fork >
harriet pass and on down long creek to hemlock crossing >
iron creek to iron lake pass >
devil's postpile

or in caltopo form: https://caltopo.com/m/6THC


1: broadly, is there anything that jumps out that you'd change about the route? are there campsites you wouldn't miss, etc?

2: how crossable is the lyell fork between lake 10217 and the trail that heads up the ridge towards harriet lake etc? should we plan to be on the south side of lyell fork before descending too far? how is the camping down in the flats around 9200 ft?

3: is the san joaquin typically crossable by early september in places other than the hemlock crossing bridge?

4: iron lake pass has only been mentioned a few times here, mostly by maverick. he doesn't make it sound hard, the topo doesn't look particularly steep and it would be a fairly ideal spot to cross back over the ridge -- but considering how rarely it's used, i thought i'd check if anyone has thoughts on or experiences with it.

:)
thanks!








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wildhiker
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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by wildhiker » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:15 am

I've only done parts of your planned route, but here are some thoughts on what I do know.

You show a campsite at Blue Lake at the upper end of Bench Canyon. This is a rather austere area. I like camping a bit lower down among the meadows and scattered trees near the ponds below the word "Bench" on the topo map.

On my trip into the Lyell Fork Merced River (from Tuolumne Meadows) in the first week of September 2016 (see viewtopic.php?t=15812), I had no trouble crossing the Lyell Fork at the outlet of lake 10217 - it was basically flowing underground in a big boulder field. On another trip in late August 2007, we had no trouble crossing the Lyell Fork at the High Trail crossing, though I do believe we had to wade across.

I went up and down the Lyell Fork on the north side without any real trouble. The best campsites were on the north side at the two big meadows on either side of the junction of Hutchings Creek, a bit upstream from where you show a campsite. These give you a good viewpoint for the sunset show on Mt Ansel Adams and nearby peaks. See my trip report for some photos.

-Phil

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frozenintime
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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by frozenintime » Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:09 am

thanks phil! i had missed your report until now, thanks for alerting me to it. all good ideas.

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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by oldranger » Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:04 am

Disagree with Phil about your proposed Blue Lake campsite. Actually one of my favorite sites in the sierra.Different strokes for different folks? Also love long creek.For some reason it has stayed off the radar.
lower Blue Lake.jpeg
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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by wildhiker » Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:11 am

Well, I agree with Oldranger that Blue Lake is a beautiful spot -- I just don't like to camp in such high exposed areas, particularly if there is any bad weather. The photo below is of the area I mentioned lower down Bench Canyon where I have camped a couple of times. It still has a good view of Mt Ritter.
-Phil
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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by lvray » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:33 pm

I have camped at upper Blue Lake and it is quite nice. But so are the meadows below. Really can't go wrong either way.
You will find camping in the lower lyell fork where you indicate, but the upper drainage is nicer. In September of what is probably a low snow year, crossing the lyell fork lower should be OK. I was there in July 2017 and traveled on the north side and would not have tried crossing it low then. At that time, even Hutchings Creek was high and required a well place tree to cross safely.

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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by frozenintime » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:50 pm

thanks, that is great info to have. since there's a trail that crosses lyell fork around 9k, i'd have to assume it shouldn't be an issue in september of an extremely low snow year (currently, at least). if nothing else, it should be slightly different than july 17!

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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:24 pm

I think upper Blue Lake is more scenic. The lower meadow would only be better in a storm if you were able to find a flat site under trees. If you are out in the open, not much difference. It is an easy walk down the meadow so you can make that decision when the time comes. The southern Twin Island Lake also has some nice camping. Old Ranger- are there fish in either Blue Lakes or Twin Island Lakes?

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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by frozenintime » Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:21 pm

thanks WD. we definitely plan to camp at blue lake. i actually didn't even ask about that myself, wildhiker brought it up in his initial reply! ;)

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Re: questions on a mammoth area hike (SHR / lyell headwaters / long creek / etc)

Post by kylekuzma » Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:56 pm

Hey frozen, you ever do this loop? I was using your first 3-4 days as a base for planning a Mammoth -> Yosemite Valley hike and wanted to know your thoughts on some of the passes. Thanks!

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