Taboose to Dumbbell: Kings Canyon NP | High Sierra Topix  

Taboose to Dumbbell: Kings Canyon NP

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Postby quentinc » Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:17 am

GB, it looks like you're the winner in the "near death experience" sweepstakes. :) I consider my experience a bit of a fluke, since I don't intentionally seek out risky situations. There are climbs I'm sure I could do that I've passed up because of the "what if" factor.

Still, it certainly makes one appreciate life a lot more. I had a significant health scare over the summer around the same time as my Mt. Russell trip. Having gotten past both (I think!) serves as a reminder that "a good day is any day that you're alive."



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Postby Jeremy » Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:36 am

Great trip report and photos, thanks. This definitely looks like a place I'd like to visit.
Are you ready boots?
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Postby Cloudy » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:41 am

Very nice trip report and photos. Your "Sierra Weasel" looks like a Pine Marten which I saw once near the Minarets. As an aside about "near-death" experiences, I'll add my .02. While I generally do not do much of the serious off-trail hiking that you folks do, I had followed Cloud Canyon to near it's head and climbed up over the top to descend to Tamarack Lake. I essentially glissaded down the scree near the top until I tripped on a rock. I had a huge 65 lb. unbalanced pack that extended far above my head and it pulled me head over heels so that I somersaulted forward and ended up on my back sliding quickly to a cliff with a drop that would have probably killed me. Fortunately, I had retained hold of my bamboo hiking staff and was able to dig in to arrest my slide not all that far from the edge...

This was many years ago near the start of my backpacking adventures and I took a number of lessons to heart :)
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Postby peninsula » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:44 am

Thanks Jeremy and Cloudy.

Cloudy, there's another good reason to have a staff! Bamboo makes for a fine one at that... just like mine. A Pine Marten, thanks for information. I was only speculating when calling it a Sierra Weasel.

And giantbrookie, you were indeed a kamikazi sort in your youth! Man, I'm glad you're still with us.
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Postby Cloudy » Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:08 pm

peninsula wrote:there's another good reason to have a staff! Bamboo makes for a fine one at that... just like mine.


I'll second that. I carried that Black Bamboo staff until it was destroyed by a mule that it happened to be strapped on top of. Fortunately I still carry it's twin which I had picked up at the same time (over 20 years ago). Rattan also makes a pretty good but much heavier staff.
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Postby madeintahoe » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:43 pm

Thank you..Very beautiful pictures and I loved the trip report! What a nice trip it looks like...very cool you saw the weasel..so sweet and cute! :nod:
Arrow peak is a beauty!
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Postby peninsula » Sun Aug 26, 2007 5:23 am

Thanks madeintahoe,

That little weasel was one of those unexpected thrills you never know might be around the corner. After I unzipped and pulled out my rather massive digital camera, I was really surprised the little fella hung around for me to snap his picture at such a close range. After I took three shots, and he ducked back under the rock, I moved in about 18 inches closer for another photo, and he never came back up!

I looked into the Pine Marten ID, and it turns out he or she is not a Pine Marten as this little fella is too small, measuring, by my estimation, only about five inches in body length. Any other ideas on the ID?
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Postby giantbrookie » Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:25 am

madeintahoe wrote:
Arrow peak is a beauty!

Yes, the view of Arrow over Bench has long been one of the classic High Sierra scenes and justifiably so. Arrow from the north is also very impressive. The "reverse" views from the top of Arrow are also very fine. When you look from Arrow back over Bench Lake to Taboose Pass and Split Mtn. it is as if looking from a plane. Arrow as climb, however, is very easy if one takes the easiest route (over saddle to its east then up eastern slopes). By that route it is entirely class 2 talus and scree. I liked Arrow because it is an attractive peak and the view is wonderful, but my wife called it "boring", which means the climb didn't have any of the class 3 which she likes so much--(I guess we should have done the Bolton Brown arete route).
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
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Postby SSSdave » Sun Aug 26, 2007 10:29 am

penninsula, that is a - long-tailed weasel, mustela frenata. I've probably see an average of one every summer even though I don't look for them. One will most often see them in high country meadows. They are small and thin in order to fit into the same hole as their prey which can be mice, shrews, chipmunks, pikas and other really small mammals. Once saw an incredible chase right at South Tufa that lasted a couple minutes with the weasel chasing a chipmunk up down around over an area of tall tufas. Finally the weasel caught the munk right out in a flat open spot in front of me.

Pine martens are on the other hand are a lot more rare. In all my years, I've only seen one and that was a half mile out on the Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake trail.

------------------------
I've had a 9-day late July Taboose Pass trip charted out on a spreadsheet for a few years now. Would not be going over that pass in just one day though given my huge weights haha. So just to contrast the way penninsula went about it I'll offer my own strategy for tackling the Sierra monster. First unlike his trip once up over the pass, as a base camper, I would stay in that general area because that is where all the most interesting peaks are with craggy peaks and colorful metamorphic rocks.

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=37.01078&lon=-118.34112&datum=nad27&u=4&layer=DRG25&size=l&s=50

The trailhead is at 5,440 feet and the pass at 11,570 for at total of 6,120 feet. Thus when planning that effort some unusual strategy was needed. Sunrise at that time of summer is right at 6am. I readily night hike. Outdoors I tend to wake up and get going most every day at dawn or somewhat after 5am so getting up an hour earlier is no big deal. Thus I might start the hike at maybe 4:30am and hike until reaching the creek where forest is shown at the 3 mile point just below 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) or maybe 1,900 feet uphill. I'd expect it to take about 3 hours going slow and stopping alot. That would then be about 7:30am. Carrying 75 pounds as I do, I know from experience if I kept hiking I could probably go another 500 feet before really starting to drag and would only end up stressing myself too much that would limit what I did later. So would probably stop by the creek in a shady spot below trees and eat breakfast and nap for an hour.

By 8:30am it would however tend to be warming up. I'd then go another 1,000 feet even more slowly that is somewhat less than a mile along the rather open exposed slopes along that creek until finding a pleasant place with some shade. Even though it is brushy without many trees, I'd expect to find at least some small boulder shade. That would put me a bit below 9,000 feet and half way to the pass at maybe 11am where I'd bivy for several hours taking a dip, napping, eating lunch, napping, eating, more dips in the creek, and likely reading a paperback. One key is 9,000 feet is usually quite a bit less hot than 8,000 feet more so than 8,000 is from 7,000. Then late in the afternoon at maybe 6pm, I'd continue up. Key is having the patience to rest long periods as a hiking strategy to revive one's body because the mental tendency is to not to wait around in the middle of a day. Something I've learned to do in order to in the past get my medium format 6x7mm and now my 4x5 view camera up mountains. That area of course goes shady early so I'd hope to reach at least the 10,000 foot area another mile ahead by 8pm or about 3,850 feet for the day. The last two years I've done 3,300 foot days while stopping midday only 3 hours. My experience stopping 6 hours is that if I have rested well, and haven't stressed my body earlier, that I can add some surprising more vertical and mileage though not anywhere near like after a full nights sleep. The body simply takes time to repair and revive itself.

Although the fishermen's attitude like penninsula may be that camping at the 10k elevation along Taboose Creek is likely rather useless, just the opposite is the case for this serious photographer. I've spent a good amount of time looking up at the pass area from down in the Owens and the colorful rusty metamorphic rocks about that area look fabulous and very craggy. Nothing to work during the first day but rather the next morning due to its east facing orientation.

The next morning would be up before dawn and by time sun hit all those gnarly cliffs, I'd have climbed up several hundred more feet and had time to survey something most worthy to set up my view camera for in order capture some decent warm early light on that rock maybe with some of the creek and some wildflowers in the foreground. And before the early morning got too harsh, I'll have reached the pass zone 1200 feet or so above where I camped that also looks like a rather promising photography zone with several small ponds and likely interesting wind scoured tundra conditions. After a good rest at the pass I'd expect to easily continue onto the east Mt Ruskin basins where I plan to work and camp the next couple days. After that I would be making short base camping moves around to Bench, Marjorie, and west Striped Mtn. Oh and I would want to bring at least minimal fishing gear haha. ...David
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Postby Cloudy » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:02 am

peninsula wrote:Thanks madeintahoe,
I looked into the Pine Marten ID, and it turns out he or she is not a Pine Marten as this little fella is too small, measuring, by my estimation, only about five inches in body length. Any other ideas on the ID?

Five inches? The critter looked much larger than that! The animal that I identified as a Pine Marten was perhaps 18" or so, looked similar but had a dark head.
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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:13 pm

AWESOME trip report and photos! I'm eager to get back into Dumbell Basin as well as the lakes west of Obersvation Peak. Three years ago I took a trip into Lake Basin and we only saw one other party the entire time in there. We had Marion Lake to ourselves, as well as the other lakes in the basin. We also had Bench Lake completely to ourselves for three days. Not one other person around, it was incredible! I love that area! I'm glad you packed your camera and tripod, the images are more than worth the effort! Many of the fish I caught in Lake Basin were 15"-17", mostly from the "L" shaped lake between Marion and Cartridge Pass. We also did well in the Cartridge Pass lakes. Apparently you knew beforehand that Bench Lake had browns in it... I didn't know it had browns and I was amazed to catch them in such a high backcountry lake. And I saw a pine marten at Bench Lake... all around amazing trip!
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
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Postby peninsula » Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:01 pm

Thanks Buck,

Sounds like you had much more solitude! And bigger fish. I camped by the L-shaped lake where you caught some nice sized fish. I only saw and caught 10 inch fish. Either these lakes are getting overpopulated or you are the better fisherman.

I was surprised when I first heard about Brown trout in Bench. I have a friend who caught a nice Brownie near 10,000 feet on the Eastern side of Kearsarge Pass, but this is the highest I've ever heard of Brownies in the Sierras.
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