I started my trip at Taboose Pass trailhead. I wanted Sawmill, but it was closed because of the pot bust in the area. This just put me further north than I had wanted, but whatever. It was very hot going over Taboose. I made the pass in 8 hours, arriving at the top about 2pm. I've done it faster, but I'm getting old and fat! I could see that I was going to get wet soon after heading down the other side. Bench Lake and the area to the south of it were getting hammered. It was shortlived, maybe 30 to 45 minutes of wind and rain. It was a nice way to cool off. I camped by a small lake just to the north and below Lake Marjorie. I saw that the NPS moved the backcountry ranger station again. It's not at Bench Lake anymore, but near the trail junction instead.
I climbed Pinchot Pass in the morning. It's pretty easy compared to some. I made my way down Woods Creek to the Window Creek area. I stashed my pack, wrapped it in my rainfly and carried only what I needed to have with me. The climb up to Window Peak Lake was very steep and rocky. Since the creek was mostly dry at this point, I followed the creek bed as far as I could. It's downright gorgeous up there. Virtually no sign of people. The fishing looked to be good. The mosquitoes also liked this area and I must have tasted good. I didn't stay too long since the rain was coming back in. By 5pm I was back to my pack and heading towards Paradise Valley. I camped along the river about a mile down from Woods Creek Crossing.
On day 3, I had about 10-12 miles of downhill ahead of me through Paradise Valley. There were a lot of people to be seen through here. It's a really popular loop (Rae Lakes Loop). It was really nice though. I reached the river crossing to Sphinx Creek and Bubb's Creek at about noon. It must have been at least 90 degrees. Hot and at 5600 feet. I got in the river for a bit and started up the switchbacks out of the canyon away from Cedar Grove. I was warned of a bear with two cubs at the Sphinx Creek bridge, but I never saw them. I camped along Bubb's Creek.
Day 4 was cool. I was eating breakfast along the river and watched a black bear make his way along the talus slope above me. Very cool. I got pictures, but he wasn't very close. I watched him with my monocular. After getting back on the trail, I came upon a sow and a cub. I'm not sure if they even saw me, but they wandered off into the thick trees after a minute or so. Last I saw them, I saw brown going up a tree, probably the cub goofing around. They went crashing through the thick forest and then I never saw them again. Also got a couple of shots of them. It was uphill all day. I stopped at Kearsarge Lakes for the night.
Day 5 pretty much consisted of getting up, packing up and heading over the pass and down to the truck. I came down from the pass with a guy I met (Carl) who didn't have such a great time and just wanted to get down to town and get some "real food" and call his wife to come and get him. I dropped him off at Subway.
All in all, it was a fun trip. It was too hot and the the elevation changes made it tough, but I'd do it again. I picked some of the better pictures out and there is a link below.
http://picasaweb.google.com/RobBaffrey/ ... yKearsarge
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I was at Charlette creek on the 28th and though I saw no bears, I saw some big sign. The reports were that they were bad at Junction Meadow. That was confermed by the reports I got from poeple who had camped there.
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
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