Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

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cgundersen
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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by cgundersen » Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:06 pm

Kpeter: at the risk of flogging the proverbial beast (and inspired from the other posted photos), I thought I should refer you to the photos I posted along with a description of the ridge route from Mace to Warrior (on the 2nd page of the "Off-trail passes section of HST; it's the Mace-Warrior ridge post). Not that I'm recommending that route, it's just that the photos clearly show the nice granite ridge that projects out from Mace (and overlooks Hortense), as well as the great distant views you get both of Red Slate as well as the distant Minarets.cameron








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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by wildhiker » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:53 pm

LMBSGV wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:23 am
The lakes on the plateau above Tully are off the beaten path, and worth a visit, too.
I second this. This is one of my favorite areas in the Sierra. Wandering around the various tarns and small lakes can occupy a day. I suggest camping at the north end of Cotton Lake.
I second LMBSGV's suggestion. Here was the view from my camp on the north side of Cotton Lake in late August 1998 (a very heavy snowpack year):
98-20f09-CottonLake.jpg
There were also good views of the Sierra crest and big mountains to the north.
-Phil
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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by SSSdave » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:38 am

windknot wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:17 pm
I just came back from over McGee Pass on Saturday. I intended to camp at Red and White, but not finding any suitable campsites and with a thunderstorm approaching I retreated and stumbled across a tiny, unmapped tarn at about 10640+ on the ridge separating Fish Creek from the Tully Lake drainage. I scrambled to set up camp there, and after the hail subsided I was treated to great views to the west. As a fisherman and not a photographer, it wasn't quite as good as being able to fish. But it was close. I recommend this general low ridge area as a great spot to camp/take photos in the evening if you're in the Fish Creek area...


Have base camped at that "Flower Pond" meadow a few times. Decades ago some horse packers intending to fish Red and White Lake would rope their horses to the one whitebark pine there that would then trample within the beautiful pond. Recall sending a complaint mail to INF at the time. Using that pond makes sense if one expects to fish R&W Lk but as it is 360 feet above the creek or Tully, is not really optimal for exploring other areas of that zone.

A better centrally located spot to site a layover day camp is down in the shaded forested strip at 10720 where one is above the squeeters of the marshy lower meadow at 10600 while the creek is nearby and one has direct afternoon views of Red Slate, one of the Sierra's most colorful and beautifully shaped peaks. Over a small glaciated granite divide east is a second smaller stream up against cliffs and talus that is always full of Coville's columbine. The whole basin below that sw face of Red Slate has fascinating rock and flowery greenery to explore.

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=37.4915 ... &b=sat&a=c

From there Tully and Plateau of Ponds is a minor hike. A good afternoon hike is to climb up through the 11040+ foot saddle with a tarn sw of point 11652 and then traverse nw and with some route work down (traverse at 11070) class 2 to pretty Lee Lake with its striking rusty red rock and Red Slate.

The other scenic place to site a layover day camp would be in the whitebarks west of Cotton lake that has great views both morning and afternoon. Just exploring all the Plateau of Ponds takes time. From Cotton, peak 11422 is "The Bowling Pin".

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by windknot » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:28 pm

Dave, funny you mention the horse packers would use that pond decades ago. I think I found one of their old water pails.

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by freestone » Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:04 am

I was in the Lee and Cecil Lakes basin several years ago and also noticed a lot of evidence that it must have been a popular destination for packers that included a makeshift stock coral, but no longer as the whole area is now all but forgotten. What was also obvious was why the area has such a bad mosquito problem, the basin is dotted with dozens of small tarns, most of them dried up since I was there very late in the season.

On the same trip, I visited R&W as well. It was one of those exceptionally dry years and the lake was very low as a result. As I walked along the dried up sections of the lake bottom, I picked up several fishing lures that had gotten snagged on the rocks, some of them simple spoons and others were huge, probably imitating small trout with treble hooks at both ends. Hmmm....
Fram...

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by kpeter » Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:38 am

This has all been fantastically useful and will take me some time to absorb. Lots of good advice on the lakes south of Fish Creek. Is it worth taking the time to go around the corner to the JMT and Lone Indian,Warrior, Squaw, Chief and Papoose Lakes, or should I spend all my time exploring the Hortense, Mace, Isaac Walton, Cotton, Tully, and Red and White lakes?

I am not sensing a huge amount of enthusiasm for going north of the creek to Lee and Cecil lakes.

I get that Grinnell is spectacular, but I think that will wait until I get into Mono Creek on its own trip.

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by robertseeburger » Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:50 am

I would add the view across Peter Pande back to the crest is quite nice. Olive is a gem. And I found Wilbur May a fine lake as well.

I dont like the Lake of the Lone Indian/Warrior/Squaw etc myself just because of proximity to the boulevard.

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by Rockyroad » Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:15 pm

I'm sure you've realized from the responses and enthusiasm that there are no wrong choices in this area. All of it is spectacular.

Another option for including Grinnell and Laurel Lakes is to exit at the Mosquito Flat trailhead in Little Lakes Valley. I did the reverse for the HST meetup in 2018 and added my write-up with photos in the Meetup thread. You can also find it here. https://sites.google.com/site/mytrailmi ... nnell-lake

What to expect at Laurel Lake. But hopefully without the wildfire.
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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by cgundersen » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:51 pm

kpeter,
If you do go for the plateau above Tully (Cotton, etc), the traverse from there to Isaac Walton, Mace and Hortense is pretty easy. Otherwise, if you do aim directly for Hortense, getting up its outlet creek is the best approach. And, though I agree with Robert about the boulevard effect, there are a couple tiny tarns above Warrior with great distant views, and I'm sure you'll leave the confusion behind.Cameron

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Re: Advice for exploring over McGee Pass

Post by giantbrookie » Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:00 pm

cgundersen wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:51 pm
kpeter,
If you do go for the plateau above Tully (Cotton, etc), the traverse from there to Isaac Walton, Mace and Hortense is pretty easy. Otherwise, if you do aim directly for Hortense, getting up its outlet creek is the best approach. And, though I agree with Robert about the boulevard effect, there are a couple tiny tarns above Warrior with great distant views, and I'm sure you'll leave the confusion behind.Cameron
I second this assessment as well as seconding the opinion that this is a very nice place to wander. Hortense is a particularly beautiful place. For a TR that traversed some of this area in 2018 see: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=18658
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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