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Pine Creek Pass

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Pine Creek Pass

Postby rayfound » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:57 pm

I am planning a backpacking trip in July for myself and some others. The idea is to get in and fish the lakes in French canyon (Puppet, paric, Cheveux, L, Moon, etc...) as well as explore the meadows and French creek.

I have been in the area once before, going in through Piute Pass, going out Pine Creek. It was a great trip, but it was 7 days, and I am planning for a shorter, 6 day, trip. I am also trying to have a minimum amount of required hiking just to get to the next spot - ideally setting up camp for 2-3 nights in the moon lake area. The idea will be more base-camp with short hikes and day-trips for fishing surrounding streams/lakes, visit falls, peak bagging (for some of the group maybe), etc...

Now for the questions: Is pine creek pass overly difficult for inbound travel? Should I plan the first night (which will come after a long car ride) to camp somewhere pre-pass (Bircham Lake? one of the Pine Lakes?) or would it be just as intelligent to try going in a different trailhead, and just come out through pine creek?

The group will be a mix of guys, all in varying stages of fitness. No marathon runners, but no contestants from the biggest loser either.


Thanks,



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Re: Pine Creek Pass

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:57 pm

Pine Creek Pass is not one of the six-thousanders (Taboose, Sawmill, Baxter, Shepherd: passes of greater than 6000' of gain), but it is not one of the easier ones (Bishop, Piute, Kearsarge, New Army), either. If one is looping, I always suggest going in the easier pass, so I still think your original Piute-Pine loop is the way to go. I think that Piute is more amenable to getting to a nice destination (say somewhere in Humphreys Basin) on day 1 without really busting it (my wife and I have gone all the way to Bear Basin via the Pine Creek route on the first day, but that was a tad strenuous). What my wife found destable about the Pine Creek trail was the mammoth height and number of water bars (hand over hand for my wife, who is 5'1"). They are horrible, unless you happen to be rather tall. Worst I've seen on any Sierra trail. Given how you describe your group, I think folks will be happiest if you enter via Piute and leave via Pine Creek Pass (if you are in fact doing a shuttle).
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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Re: Pine Creek Pass

Postby rayfound » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:32 pm

well, I wasn't particularly planning a shuttle trip this time. I was planning on staying on the North side of the Pilot-knob-Four Gables Ridge (Separating Desolation lake are from french canyon - does the ridge have a name?), and as such, Piute pass seems like a longer-than needed route. Getting directly to a destination on day one would be nice, but, from either location, I think that may be asking too much - especially considering I'm not real confident about getting on the trail before noon. (Leave Riverside by 5 am, puts us at the trailhead around 11 if everything is perfect and we drive fast with no traffic.)

My tentative agenda is this, but I am wondering about other interesting day hikes along the way, and if I don't plan a ton of miles the 1st day, if Pine Creek pass would be OK?


Day 1:
• Leave Riverside By 5am
• Pick up permit in Bishop
• Drive to Pine Creek Pass Trailhead
• Hit Trail by 1pm.
• Consider Detour to “Birchim Lake”, just north of the trail between 1st and 2nd pine creek lakes.
o Opportunity to Catch Cuttthroat Trout.
• Set Camp where/when appropriate
Day 2:
• Hike to Moon lake area – set camp near West End of Moon Lake.
• Fish lakes and streams in evening.
Day 3:
• Fish Moon Lake, L lake, and Elba Lake
• Evening fish Puppet Lake
Day 4:
• Fish Puppet lake, Alsace Lake, Cheveux Lake and Paris Lake
• Hike to French creek/falls area – Set up camp and fish French Creek
Day 5:
• Hike and fish French Creek back to Pine Creek Pass.
• Set up final camp – French Lake could be an option.
• Bircham Lake also a good option if Cutthroats are desired.
Day 6:
• Hike out Pine creek pass
• Stop at Bakery
• Grab Lunch
• Drive Home
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Re: Pine Creek Pass

Postby hikerduane » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:39 am

I like your plan. Coming from next to no elevation, staying at Bircham one night then moving is a good idea, time to aclimate if you make it to your first night destination now that we see your plan. Going up from the mine may be a little boring but the view isn't too bad if you look ahead.:) You could be at camp in a couple hours.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Pine Creek Pass

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:37 am

I agree that is a reasonable itinerary. If you are not going to shuttle, then stopping at Birchim sounds like a plan. Although but a short distance off the trail I'll bet few visit that place, in comparison with the number of folks that will be camped at the two Pine Creek lakes, Honeymoon, etc. It looks like you'll have plenty of time to devote to a leisurely fishing exploration of French Canyon too. Sounds like a great fishing trip. I'm envious.
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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Re: Pine Creek Pass

Postby hikerduane » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:30 pm

giantbrookie, one of the few, nice photos I have, was taken at Honeymoon. I was forced to camp in this one spot as I would have crowed others and it turned out to make good material and I saw a Kingfisher close to camp too. I tripped there too, did a near face plant into the mud. A good story.
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