Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

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avizzini
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Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

Post by avizzini » Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:52 pm

I've not been to the Little Lakes Valley area of the Eastern Sierra before and given its apparent low-effort, high scenic reward benefits, I wanted to backpack this area before it gets overly crowded come mid-summer. I was thinking it'd be a possibly good candidate for a late spring backpacking trip, maybe in May or Early June. I'm figuring the snow, and possibly longer approach from the sno park might keep some away, especially mid-week.

I was wondering what, if any, river crossings could pose a problem, between Rock Creek Lake and up around Gem Lakes. Are there streams/rivers that the trails cross, that are prone to flooding and crossing challenges? I'm also not sure if there are any foot bridges to count on?

Looking at satellite maps, there appears to be bridges over the creeks that flow into Heart Lake, I can't tell if there's one over Rock Creek where it crosses near Long Lake. Can that creek be crossed easily in spring?








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Re: Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

Post by LMBSGV » Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:36 pm

Since it is over 10,000 feet the snow could be pretty deep in early June. It’s a little early to predict. But getting a permit for Little Lakes Valley should be pretty easy for early June so you could wait and see on conditions.

Early season, the Rock Creek crossing below Long Lake can be rather dicey. The current can be nasty and depending on the flow, it can be thigh deep or higher. The last time I did it a couple of years ago, there was a somewhat precarious log left of the crossing which I saw a couple of people successfully use. The easier, but longer crossing is to follow the use trail on the right (west) side of the creek up to a just below Long Lake where there is a wide stretch of the creek and the water is much more shallow. The wading there is much easier due to the creek being much wider. The use trail ends at the crossing so it's easy to find that right place.

The trail to Morgan Pass crosses the creek just below Gem Lakes. You can avoid that crossing by staying on the west side of the creek and heading up to Gem Lakes.
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avizzini
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Re: Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

Post by avizzini » Tue Jan 26, 2021 10:36 pm

LMBSGV wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:36 pm
Since it is over 10,000 feet the snow could be pretty deep in early June. It’s a little early to predict. But getting a permit for Little Lakes Valley should be pretty easy for early June so you could wait and see on conditions.

Early season, the Rock Creek crossing below Long Lake can be rather dicey. The current can be nasty and depending on the flow, it can be thigh deep or higher. The last time I did it a couple of years ago, there was a somewhat precarious log left of the crossing which I saw a couple of people successfully use. The easier, but longer crossing is to follow the use trail on the right (west) side of the creek up to a just below Long Lake where there is a wide stretch of the creek and the water is much more shallow. The wading there is much easier due to the creek being much wider. The use trail ends at the crossing so it's easy to find that right place.

The trail to Morgan Pass crosses the creek just below Gem Lakes. You can avoid that crossing by staying on the west side of the creek and heading up to Gem Lakes.
Thanks for the details, looking at the satellite map I can see where there's a few spots where there's log jams in spots, hard to say what benefit they'd be with varrying water flow...I'll keep the possibility of a detour for a wider/shallower crossing in mind.

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Re: Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

Post by SSSdave » Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:18 am

The Long Lake stream crossing at 10.5k in a narrow shady ravine is more likely to still be covered by snow early June so a walk across. Take your ice skates to Gem Lakes. Long Lake June 28, 2017:

Image

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Re: Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes, early spring river/stream crossings?

Post by avizzini » Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:27 pm

SSSdave wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:18 am
The Long Lake stream crossing at 10.5k in a narrow shady ravine is more likely to still be covered by snow early June so a walk across. Take your ice skates to Gem Lakes. Long Lake June 28, 2017:

Image
I look forward to seeing this area in the late spring/early summer. I love the Sierra when it's at this transition period where greenery begins to show, while the peaks and high elevations still have tons of snow and the lakes are a blend of ice/snow and clear blue water... The only down side is how wet it can be...

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