Pine Creek Trail to Royce Lake 11656 and Royce Peak (13280+) | High Sierra Topix  

Pine Creek Trail to Royce Lake 11656 and Royce Peak (13280+)

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Pine Creek Trail to Royce Lake 11656 and Royce Peak (13280+)

Postby KathyW » Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:53 pm

On Saturday I got up early and started up the Pine Creek Trail and headed over Pine Creek Pass and then up to Royce Lake 11656. Bruce started out a little later in the day and caught up to me at the lake. The wind was blowing pretty good on Saturday night, so with all the noise of the wind and our flapping tents we didn't sleep much. When we got up yesterday morning we thought about just heading out but then decided to give the hike to Royce Peak a try thinking we could do Royce Peak and still have time to hike back out to the trailhead (we didn't want to spend another sleepless night in the wind). I moved pretty slow because I had a touch of altitude sickness - that always happens to me when I sleep high. It took me a little over 2 hours to get up to Royce Peak from Royce Lake 11656 and Bruce patiently waited for me as I crawled up the mountain. Although the smoke from the fire in Santa Barbara affected the view from Royce, it was still pretty nice. After getting down from Royce Peak we packed up and headed out - we were back down at the trailhead around 6 pm yesterday. It was surprising how much water was still flowing along the Pine Creek Trail - it's a beautiful area as long as you start up the Pine Creek Trail early because it's a hot one for the first couple of miles.

Here are pictures and a map from our trip:

http://kathywing.smugmug.com/gallery/3336483#185862713



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Postby will_jrob » Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:52 pm

Kathy,
Nice report and pictures. Even a small breeze in that basin would make for a wakeful night..nary a shrub anywhere. The size of the snowfield in the col is startling... no need for an ice axe this year.
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Postby KathyW » Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:00 pm

Thanks Will. I had heard from someone that was up there recently that we should be able to skirt around the snowfield if the snow was hard when we went up, so we decided to leave the axes/crampons home. We were glad to find out that we could get around the snowfield in the morning when it was hard - just a couple a steps on the hard snow in a fairly safe place. When we came down the snow has softened up and we were able to boot-ski down the snowfield. The sun hits that snow pretty early, which is nice.
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Postby quentinc » Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:27 pm

The wind was ferocious Sat. night and all day Sunday up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek as well. Caused us (and everyone else camped at Finger Lake) to abandon all hope of climbing Middle Pal on Sunday. Kathy, good for you braving it up to the top of Royce!
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Postby KathyW » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:25 am

Larry: If Royce and Merriam had not been right there in front of us, we would not have done either one of them on Sunday. As it was, we decided to just do the taller one (Royce), which was just about a 1600 feet climb - it was pretty windy on top.

Middle Palisade - that's one I want to try next year; so I'll be looking for your report when you get it done.

Kathy
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Postby madeintahoe » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:51 pm

Kathy...Congratulations on Royce! That is really a pretty area! the info about the Tungsten Mine is interesting.

The morning shots are awesome!

Looks like you had a really nice time...I would love to one day get up that trail!
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Postby SSSdave » Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:37 pm

Kathy the same time you were on that trip I had turned around while driving south on US395 at Conway Summit after seeing how disgustingly hazy the Owens was from weeks of smoke inversion despite the passage of the dry front and all its wind. I had planned to go over Bishop Pass again. Remember that is where I met you climbing up the pass in 2004 when I guess you were climbing up Agassiz? Instead drove north to Tahoe then backpacked 4 days up in Desolation Wilderness where it was also windy though the air was crystal clear. Interesting your comment about the wind noise making it hard to sleep. I'm a light sleeper and not only dislike wind noise but also being near noisy water cascades. Thus always bring along some ear plugs. And if I forget those, tissue spitwads work well. I've camped at Royce Lake #4 a few times in the past. There are some large boulder talus camp spots both at the northeast pass and on the southeast shore that offer some protection from winds. ...David
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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:38 pm

El fantastico! I love the starkness and topography of Royce Lakes Basin, and I love the beauty and sandy beach of Merriam Lake. Great report and pics!
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
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awsome pics

Postby dpmach » Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:59 am

great pictures and sounds/looks like a great hike too. What was the temperature when you guys were up there?
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Postby dpmach » Wed Aug 29, 2007 11:28 pm

Hi kathyw. that was a wonderful trip. My family and friends are planning to visit and hike the exact same trail you've just did. Hope you could give us some advice. first off, how do i get to the beginning of the trail from hwy 395?
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Postby KathyW » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:34 pm

Thanks everyone for taking a look at my pictures - I love sharing them.

dpmach: This is how you get to the trailhead:

Go north of the town of Bishop on US 395 10 miles to Pine Creek Road, turn west and drive past Rovana approx. 10 miles to the Pine Creek Pass Trailhead at a signed area next to Pine Creek.

There is a pack station at the trailhead.

If it is a warm day, start early because the first couple miles of the hike can be very sunny and hot. There is plenty of water along the trail, so that is not an issue.

I think that it went down into the 30's at night, but not below freezing (unless you count windchill).

SSSdave - Yes, I was on my way to Agassiz when we met in August of 2004. You were coming out with all your camera gear when I met you near Bishop Pass. I don't blame you for not wanting to head in when it's hazy - not a good situation for picture taking. Yes, I also do the tissue in the ear thing when I don't have ear plugs. I don't sleep well above 11,000 feet; so it probably wasn't only the wind that was the problem. I have spent the last week in Colorado hiking and exploring and even after a week spent mostly at higher elevations (between 7,800' and 14,300') I still didn't sleep last night at 11,300'. The nights I slept below 10,400' I did sleep pretty well.
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Postby dpmach » Sat Sep 01, 2007 10:42 am

Kathw. thanks for the info on how to get there on the 395. I had also wanted to ask if you have gotten your permit(s) prior to the trip or at the ranger station near the trail?
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