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

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:53 pm
by KathyW
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:

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:52 pm
by will_jrob
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.

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:00 pm
by KathyW
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.

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:27 pm
by quentinc
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!

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:25 am
by KathyW
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.


Posted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:51 pm
by madeintahoe
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!

Posted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:37 pm
by SSSdave
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

Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:38 pm
by Buck Forester
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!

awsome pics

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:59 am
by dpmach
great pictures and sounds/looks like a great hike too. What was the temperature when you guys were up there?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 11:28 pm
by dpmach
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?