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PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

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PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby cgundersen » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:08 pm

The original goal of this trip was to enter via Piute Pass and visit lakes of the Glacier Divide that my wife & I had not seen before (beginning with Ramona and working our way counterclockwise). Once below Snow Tongue pass (at Lake 11,092), we planned to work our way to, through and out of McGee basin and loop into Ionian basin. Although we managed to achieve big chunks of this itinerary, the combination of smoke over the first five days and rain plus electrical activity (which, came by late afternoon of the 5th day and proceeded to kick in earlier and earlier the next four days; indeed, it rained most of the day and ALL night plus most of the morning of our 8th night out) seriously constrained what we did and where we went. In spite of this, there were enough glorious moments, particularly in the Ionian Basin (still as pristine as we remembered) that made it worthwhile. Since I figure that most folks are plenty familiar with the areas closer to the trailhead, as well as Evolution Valley, I selected ~20 of the better shots my wife made of the less highly traveled areas of the trip. These photos depict not only the lakes/peaks that we could see, but the smoke’s effect on diminishing the views (and our ability to do anything; certainly, the combination of elevation and smoke can be a bit rough). Anyway, judging from the Sierra webcams, it’s remained a similar situation in the high country since we came out on the 17th of July: some good days, some bad days. This last fire by Mariposa has definitely been bad for all concerned!
The link to the photos is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10845599@N ... 438363836/
CG



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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:01 pm

Thanks for the TR and pic's. I like the shot of Charybdis from Lake 11592.
I saw a peek of Chasm Lake did you go down that far to get a shot of the opening
of the Enchanted Gorge?
The shot towards Reinstein is my favorite.
Smoke is quite evident in some of the pic's, which is one of the reasons for my
delaying any trips to the sierra, at least till Sept.
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby cgundersen » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:07 am

Hi Maverick,
No, we did not get down to Chasm Lake (tried to get better views to the South from the ridge above Chasm, but there were too many clouds). Still, Enchanted Gorge is still on my list, but as you know, the backside of the Kaweahs (which I may get my wife to do in Sept, if the smoke has abated) and the lakes of Black Divide are higher on that list. And, I'd love to get to Blue Canyon, too, but that's probably at least a couple years off (so, it'll be great to see your photos whenever you make it there). Regardless, given the conditions on this last jaunt (we're really a bit reluctant to aim for high ridges when black clouds are swirling; I just don't think I need a 100,000 volts of DC), we were still tickled to have gotten back to Ionian basin. Frankly, I'd be thrilled to have an excuse to get back there sooner than later, which is why I may try for an Ionian/Blue canyon duet someday. Sierra dreamin'......anyway, here's hoping for no more fires and some more cleansing rains. After those 5 days of intermittent-to-steady rain, it really was gorgeous and we were sad that we simply had to just steam to get out!
CG
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:12 am

Nice pics, even with the smoke.

Lake 10,907 looks like it's well worth a visit. How was the pass between there and Lake 11,236?
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby copeg » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:19 am

Great shots. Love that last photo. Despite the smoke and rain, it sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby cgundersen » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:27 pm

Hi TT,
Regarding the 10,907 to 11,236 hop, as one can tell, it's a pleasant walk on the West side, and pretty benign going down to 11,236. However, I did have to scout a little to make sure we were not going to hit something undesirable; in other words, it's easier to see the correct route from the 11,236 side (curiously, there were none of the rampant cairns that often litter such routes!). Both lakes are worth a visit, and in better conditions the view from 11,236 would have far surpassed my expectations. Plus, there's that expansive meadow below 11,236 that's pretty unusual at that elevation. We reckoned that 11,236 could be reached in one long day from Florence, but one would not want to go anywhere for a while (and, would not need to).
CG
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:31 pm

Excellent! I definitely have to get up that way.

So, if you don't mind me pumping you for route details...did you traverse from Ramona to 10,907? And from 11236, did you drop down to Evolution Valley to get to McGee Lakes Basin, or did you stay high and traverse east?
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby Buck Forester » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:33 pm

Whoa, great trip and photos! I know the effort required to get to those kinds of places, whew! Did you happen to fish the lakes on the SW side of Glacier Divide? I've had my eye on those for a while now to visit and fish.
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckforester/page9/
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby cgundersen » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:42 pm

To TT & Buck,
Regarding the route: yes, we traversed around from Ramona to 10,907; interestingly, someone had done a great job of "cairning" that traverse and it was easier than it looked like it might be (from the map). And, it had some of the best columbine patches I've seen in the Sierra. Still, we botched the final descent to the lake (and had to do some "pack" lowering); there's an easy way down almost directly below where the photo was taken, but it entails a long traverse on a ledge that I did not follow far enough. Again, in the reverse direction (10,907 to Ramona) the route is obvious, especially leaving the lake. C'est la vie.
For McGee, our original plan was to drop into Evo valley roughly below where Snow Tongue pass goes over Glacier divide and then head into McGee basin, but owing to weather constraints, we traversed to Darwin bench, caught the JMT and entered from the East (and then got blasted by rain/hail not long after we reached the lake shown in the pre-storm photo).

Buck: as for fishing, my wife used to catch & eat, then she switched to catch and release, now she just waves (at the fish). The bad news (as for a lot of lakes where we remember there being great fishing) is that none of those big lakes (Ramona and the other big lakes of that part of Glacier divide) had any fish. Definitely grounds for disappointment if one had hoisted gear up there expecting relatively virgin fishing turf. Sorry to bear negative tidings, but maybe others can clue you in to remote spots with big fish (the last place we saw and my wife caught some monsters was at Three Island Lake near Selden pass).
CG
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:44 pm

Wow, what a creative trip and route! The photos are great and I especially like the Charybdis series: savage and alpine at its best! By the way, the Reinstein photo isn't Reinstein, it's actually Finger Peak (which I just climbed this past Friday). I'm also jazzed to see you going on these adventures with your wife. My greatest off trail adventures were with my wife from 1988-2000 and they included a trip we called "Astride the Glacier Divide" in 1997 that hit some of these spots and another we called "Ring Around the Goddard" in 1994 that hit others. I was thinking of her while on my own big trip this past week. She won't leave our young kids for more than part of a day (up and back dayhike while they're in daycare is fair game, but no more than that). She's still in such phenomenal shape, and I wished I could have beamed her to the locations I was climbing and fishing this past week.

Buck, I can throw in some info on those lakes in addition. Ramona is tempermental, but it apparently has big goldens (hide n seek like many big golden lakes)--I've received at least 3 independent reports in recent years. The others (W of Ramona) are indeed fishless as is 11236. Additional notes on the pass north of 11236. In addition to getting to the lakes on the north side of it, you can also make a class 2 descent all the way to Piute Creek (part of our Astride the Glacier Divide trip). If heading north from the pass there are some vanishing points and we had to do short retreats once or twice when we got cliffed out. Accordingly, I think it is easier to pick out the optimal routes N to S (but the ascent from Piute would be a bear).
Last edited by giantbrookie on Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:55 pm

Hi GB,
I'm sure this won't be the last time I mis-identify a peak. Thanks for the heads up on Reinstein really being Finger. I'll have to do some flickr-editing!
As for the fish situation, I'm prepared to believe that Ramona may have some lurking lunkers, but we did not see a hint of anything hitting the surface (and there were plenty of bugs), nor was there anything visible along the shore. As they say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but I think you'd have to work hard to find fish in Ramona (if they're still there).
Concerning the wife: yep, we've been visiting nooks and crannies in the Sierras since the late '70s and I continue to be amazed at her enthusiasm for leaving creature comforts behind. We're both mid-fify-something, so I'm guessing that age should not be an impediment for you to coax your wife back into the woods once your kids get a bit more independent (and either join you or spend time tormenting the grandparents). The Sierras provide such tangible and intangible rewards that it's really worth loading up the pack and getting out there!
CG
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Re: PiutePass-Glacier Divide-Ionian Basin: Smoke & Rain

Postby hikerduane » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:05 pm

Thank you. Another area to hit, I was eyeing my map on my trip for future trips.
Piece of cake.
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