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Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:35 pm
by gary c.
I'm planning on taking my wife backpacking for a weekend to Big Pine Lakes. It will only be her second time out and I don't want to take her too early before the snows have cleared. I'm thinking about the last weekend in June should be OK but I really don't know. I thought I'd ask the experts and see what you guys thought? I've never been there myself so any other information on the area would also be appreciated.
Gary C.

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:49 pm
by Aviprk
I was at the South Fork of the Big Pine 2 years ago in mid July (after the heavy snowfall season) and it the snow was around 11,000ft. It should be similar this year. Are you planning to take her to the North Fork Lakes (#1-7) or the South Fork? (Brainerd and Finger) Brainerd was a very nice lake but Finger was incredible!

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:24 pm
by gary c.
Planning on the North Fork, it seemed a little easier and we can make it somewhat of a loop. I'm trying to keep these first treks easy with lots of scenery to get her motivated for something more adventurous.
Gary C.

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:05 pm
by maverick
Hi Gary
You might be able to do 1st-2nd-3rd-4th and Black Lake loop without to
much snow.
Other areas that are great for intro to backpacking is Little Lakes Valley
and 20 Lakes Basin, both give you big mountain scenery with minimal amount
effort, but you'll have to call the specific rangers stations for info on snow levels.

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:08 am
by SPeacock
North Fork is nice.

My family always tried to get a good trip in on Father's day (mid June) into eastern Sierra. There was always snow on the trail from about 11,000 (for example, Cottonwood Lakes out of Lone Pine with the kids). ... ize=l&s=50

Usually snow at Long lake (on the trail over New Army Pass) and there were sometimes a few snow berms across the trail near the lakes well. No big deal, except that the snow is wet and post holing is not that much fun if you try to push higher into the snow. You will have plenty of options for camping well before about 11k feet on most eastern trails. You will have some exciting views of cornices still hanging on the higher passes or ridges. There would be waterfalls where there are none a month later; all the creeks are running full. On trail at 8AM or so and you will have lunch at the lakes. Time to set up camp at perhaps Muir Lake and explore.

My most favorite trip at that time of year or a tad earlier even, is up toward Bishop Pass. You should be able to make Long Lake (from South Lake) or drop down into the lower Treasure Lakes below for camping. ... &layer=DRG
(South Lake is to the North, Bishop Pass to south)

Spectacular high running water from the 13,000' ridges surrounding you. Snow up high and the trail a bit damp perhaps but probably mostly snow free to Long Lake.

A great and WOW day hike is up toward Shepherd Pass to Mahogany Flats for late lunch and return. Some breathtaking scenery when the water is high and pouring off the high hanging valleys. A few wet crossings of Simmes Creek at the very start of trail, but don't let that deter you. If you have enough energy it is worth getting to the next 'bench' above the flats via the mile long switch back. Everything is grandiose there including altitude gain on the trail.

An easier entry would be end of road west out of Toms Place about 15 miles south of Mammoth on US 395. The scenery starts from the hubcaps at the parking of Mosquito Flats ... &layer=DRG

and the altitude gain on the trail is minimal. There are lakes about 3 miles in and lots of opportunities to explore. A bit of a drive up Rock Creek and LOTS of Forrest Service camping areas for car camping as well.

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:16 am
by gary c.
Thanks' for the replys. Thats why I love this site, I'm fairly new to backpacking and this site has a wealth of knowledge.
The better half says that June would not be a good day for her because of work schedule so it looks like July will be it. I don't think there is anything to worry about in July.

I bought my 10yr old grandson a pack for Christmas and plan on making his first BP trip to Little Lakes Valley sometime this summer. I have had him there for day hikes before and I think I'm more excited than he is about geting him started. I know that I'll have to carry most all of the wieght this year but by the time he is 18 I plan on carrying nothing but my sleeping bag and fly rod :D Thats if he is still willing to hang out with an old guy :\
Gary C.

Re: Big Pine Lakes question?

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:52 pm
by SPeacock
We had our kids in a pack by around 6/7 carrying their clothes and a trail snack. The latter was usually gone in minutes, however.

By 10 they were carrying their clothes, most of their personal stuff, sleeping bag and a book they picked out to read. My son had the bravado to carry the stove (a SVEA and pot). But between the two of them they were eating more than they were carrying.

By 12 both had packs that they could be self sufficient for at least an overnight. We'd base camp someplace and they would take off on an overnight and return the next day. That was the highlight of their early backpacking experience. Take out on their own over a pass to explore.

After that it really got to be fun to have them along. Built in Sherpas and slave labor using minors.