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Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

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Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

Postby windknot » Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:30 am

I was wondering if anyone here had driven up the dirt/gravel road to the Laurel Lakes near Mammoth and knows whether it's navigable by a stock 4wd (or even 2wd!). Reports I've read online by off-roaders alternately call it "easy" and "moderate", but I've learned not to put too much faith in people who actively seek out big rocks and potholes to give me a good idea of what a road looks like. :)

I'm interested in using that road as a kickoff point to access Ram Lake and environs and if anyone has experience hiking in that basin above the Laurels or even crossing over one of the passes on the Mono Co.-Fresno Co. divide, I'd greatly appreciate any information or advice you might share.

Thanks,
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/



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Re: Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

Postby tomcat_rc » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:38 am

I drive a stock Ford Ranger 4x4 and have no trouble negotiating the easy to moderate level road
mountain hiking is addictive:
I can quit anytime I want - I just choose not to want
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Re: Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:14 pm

Laurel indeed makes the Ram Lake basin closer but the you'll still need to negotiate the last pass over the crest to the Ram Lake basin, which is steep class 2 talus and slabs at its head on the east side (standard class 2 boulders on the upper west side. Nonetheless the Laurel kickoff makes Ram lakes on day 1 much easier than the standard ways of (1) going over Duck Pass and ascending from Purple, or (2) (way I did it with my wife) ascending Convict Canyon then to Edith, Cloverleaf, then over (we did a very fun cut-the-corner going up the Genevieve outlet stream canyon from Convict Canyon). In any case, the lakes on the east side of the gap are boring from a fishing standpoint (Edith and Cloverleaf are overrun with skinny brookies, as is Genevieve), so cutting in there quick is not a bad call. On the other hand, if one goes in over Duck, you have both Duck and Purple which may have some decent fish, before heading up to the Rams.
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: Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

Postby windknot » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:38 pm

Thanks for the feedback on the OHV route, Tomcat. GB, I had seen on your website that you had taken the Convict route to the Ram Lake basin (including the neat shot and description of the Genevieve slot canyon) and wondered about the pros and cons of this alternate entry over the conventional route over Duck Pass; the greater amount of off-trail hiking probably negates any advantage in mileage in terms of hiking time. I had also eyed that gap NE of Pika as another potential shortcut (coming from Coldwater) but the south side of the pass looks dicey. Regardless of the entry point, I'd like to spend at least two days wandering the basin in order to check out the Ram family, the Franklins, Glen/Glennette, as well as Virginia and Amy (DFG name for lake NE of Virginia), and coming over Duck Pass would be more conducive to forming a loop of sorts.

Thanks for the input!
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Laurel Lakes OHV road and potential backcountry kickoff?

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:53 pm

Matt,

I think that coming from Duck Pass maximizes fishing overall and the longer distance vs Laurel is mostly offset by the easier terrain (all trail than very easy off trail working upstream from Purple). As you note, a loop involving Virginia (a worthwhile objective in its own right), is yet another advantage of the standard Duck route. Laurel is probably the shortest in terms of time into the Ram Lakes if one doesn't mind the one steep pass. Convict Canyon is probably the longest in terms of hiking time, even if the distance to the Ram Lakes may be somewhat shorter than over Duck Pass; the off trail hiking slowness more than offsets any slight advantage in distance vs Duck. The allure of the Convict route is basically super scenic off trail hiking as an end in itself. I think the slot canyon is one of the most amazing short cross country routes around the the pass to the Rams isn't bad either.

That said, the next time I go to the Rams and Virginia (I'd say inside of 10 years from now), I'm going over Duck Pass. I've looked at Pika Pass but it looks so bloody steep I'm not sure how much time it saves from Duck to the Rams; probably not much. Whether I go that way will probably depend on my mood when I do it (suspect I will, so as to fish both Duck and Pika, too).
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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