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Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

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Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby seisner » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:01 pm

Thanks to everyone who posted regarding my recent trip up over Kearsarge Pass. Here is my trip report and some photos.

Day 1 – Onion Valley to Junction Meadow – Spent Tuesday night at Onion Valley campground. Beautiful night with the full moon illuminating the mountains – looked like snow-covered mountains, but in doing a long-exposure photo, the colors came out.

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Got a good sleep and got at least a tad bit acclimatized to the altitude. Woke up Wednesday morning and hit the trail by about 8:30, reaching Kearsarge Pass at about 11:30 (your truly in the blue behind the sign).

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Took a break for lunch and headed down off the pass at about 12:15. Passed Ranger George Durkee just before Bullfrog Lake (whose name I recognized from HST) – he warned us of mama bear and two cubs who had been hanging out at Junction Meadow, and we did make their acquaintance the next morning! Long quad-pounding haul downhill – finally made it to the Bubbs Creek crossing at about 4:30 and decided to stop for the night, leaving the last bit to East Lake for the next morning – 11.5 miles, 2800 ft up and 3600 ft down was plenty for one day. Bubbs Creek was definitely running nicely but was very crossable – 6 of us crossed and nobody went swimming, so that was good.

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Made camp at the obviously oft-used but beautiful campsite right on the edge of the creek where we all got a good sleep after a long day.

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Skeeters were present but not terrible – I’d say a 2.5 on the 1-5 scale (pretty consistent for the whole trip – some members of our group got bit up, but I had no problem – I swear by Ultrathon – 2x per day and only 1 or 2 bites for the whole trip). I really loved the trail – tons of different topography with all the elevation gain and loss, lots of great views, pretty lakes, wildflowers, and Bubbs Creek for the last several miles – couldn’t ask for much more. It was a little smoky today because of the fires in Yosemite, but not too bad and luckily the smoke was gone after the first day.

Day 2 – Junction Meadow to East Lake – During breakfast on Day 2, mama and her cubs wandered into camp to scope out our food. We quickly got everything stashed away into the bear box and they took off pretty quickly – no real threat, mostly because we were well organized and able to get our stuff put away. (I’ve never been at a campsite in the wilderness with a bear box, so that sure came in handy - we never would have gotten everything crammed into our bear canisters that quickly!) We also later got reports of the same bears scoping out campsites lower down Bubbs Creek. Finished up breakfast and made our way up to East Lake, arriving by about 11:00. Beautiful trail – wildflowers in full bloom (I wish I knew more in terms of names but it had to be a dozen different species – red, yellow, purple, orange, you name it they were out). East Creek was thumping and it made for a nice climb to the Lake. Got camp set up on the far side of the Lake (again, much-used campsite with a bear box, but no sign of other human life). Spent the afternoon relaxing, exploring and fishing. Fish were biting big time, but nothing terribly large – lots of Rainbow’s and even a few Golden’s to about 7”. Pretty much only used spinners, with no need to use anything else.

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Weather was great – a little breezy at times, so it went from hot to cool quickly, and definitely frosty upon exit from the lake, but very very nice overall. After and early dinner, I wandered up the canyon towards Relfection Lake to try to catch some good light for some photography – turned out to be more of a scouting expedition than anything else – I just kept wandering looking for fun spots and since I had never been there before and knew I had the next day too, I had fun exploring and only pulled the camera out for a few shots of the creek.

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Day 3 – Layover day at East Lake – I got an early start to catch some shots on the lake.

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After that , while we had planned to day hike up to Brewer but we were too lazy. Most in the group decided to just hang around the lake and fish and relax. I ended up scrambling up towards Brewer with one other person – we spent about 4-5 hours round trip – really just exploring the area and taking in the views as we climbed, but we had started too late and were going at too laid back of a pace to even think about the summit.

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Definitely cursed ourselves for not starting earlier - the higher we got the better we felt about where we were and totally should have planned to go for the top! Again, really pretty wildflowers, lots of snow and water, and just overall gorgeous surroundings. After dinner, I once again wandered up the canyon on my own again to catch some shotes. I was totally fired up to see lots of high clouds all day, looking forward to the colors setting up for some sweet early evening photography.

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At 7:30 I had the shot I wanted all tee’d up and ready to go but I knew that it was too early. The clouds behind the peaks were great then, but they were moving fast and the light on the peaks (and clouds) would not be ready for 30-40 more minutes. Unfortunately, as my luck would have it, by the time the light was perfect, the clouds were gone. Still got a nice shot (or at least I like it), but not as nice as it would have been with some background colors in the clouds!

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Still – a great way to spend a couple hours before nightfall – just hanging out on my own halfway up the canyon wall watching the colors change and the night roll in. I’ll take that any day of the week over the day job!

Day 4 – Left East Lake at about 8:00 and headed back out the way we came. One last view of the lake and wildflowers before heading out.

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Considered a hard-core exit over Deerhorn Saddle and into the Vidette Lakes Basin, but most of the group was not up for it and we decided to just take it mellow. Saw 3 deer grazing before crossing back over Bubbs, and then after crossing we had our first sighting of other human life since Day 1. That was a nice long stretch given that we were basically on trail the whole trip. Pretty easy hike out to Kearsarge Lakes, even in light of it being basically straight up – it was such a pretty day and a great trail with awesome views, so we barely noticed the uphill (OK – slight exaggeration but it sounds good!). Lots of fish again at Kearsarge Lakes, but even smaller here – nothing more than 5-6” – biting about 2 seconds after the power bait hit the water. Got a couple of really pretty Golden’s. By about 7:00pm the fish were flying up out of the water nonstop (killing the reflection of the peaks but I guess that was OK – no complaints).

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A little bit more buggy here, but still no problem for me and no new bites. That night was beautiful – I woke up around 1:00 am and the moon was lighting up all the peaks around the lakes – the shimmering of the moon off the lake surface was cool. It was totally warm out too, so I just hung out taking it all in for about an hour before signing off for the night.

Day 5 – Pretty short day – back up and over Kearsarge and in the car by about 11:00. Big juicy burger at Mt. Whitney Café in Lone Pine and then back to reality in LA by about 4:00.

Overall it was a great trip. Thanks to everyone here for the advice – it had everything we wanted and was just perfect. I could definitely see how a West Side entrance from Roads End could be a little easier, but I really like the trail going out over Kearsarge and I enjoyed the rigor of the up-and-down. Now I just need to figure out how to finagle another trip before the summer / fall ends!
:D

Thanks again and best wishes to everyone for a fun and safe summer camping season.



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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby trav867 » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:19 pm

Great TR and amazing photos! What tripod do you use?
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby STRETCHMAN » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:15 am

Great pics! Thanks for bringing the mountains into my office. :bear:
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby copeg » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:48 am

Great trip report and great photos. Appreciate you taking the time to post and share.
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby Shawn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:17 am

Fantastic report and beautiful photos.

I've been up to East Lake a couple of times and after seeing your report wish I had made more time to explore the area more.
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby Mike M. » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:09 am

Beautiful photos! It looks like you timed your trip perfectly, avoiding the crowds and heavy skeeters.

Mike
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby cvr » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:07 am

Great report and pics! I love seeing new areas and reminiscing about previous trips to known areas. You just made my Monday at the office much easier to take!
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby seisner » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:17 pm

trav867 - this was my first time using the Joby gorillapod (the one spec'd for heavy SLR use). I was very happy with it - it gave me enough support to feel like it was doing the job yet was very light weight and the design is certainly flexible when trying to get the camera set up on rocks and the like. I've experimented with a lot of support options on previous trips and this was the first time I really felt like I got the right combination. I would definitely recommend it as a workable lightweight solution for backpacking.
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:36 pm

Thanks you for the great memories of East Lake I really enjoy that area!
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby rrivera » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:24 pm

great pics...what camera did you use?
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby taegello » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:31 am

Awesome trip report. We are thinking about this trip in August. Do you need to carry bear Canister for this trip? or can you just go by using bear boxes. Also where are the bear boxes along this trail?
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Re: Kearsarge to East Lake - 7/8-12 Trip Report and Photos

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:32 am

Hi Taegello

Short answer is yes there are bear boxes.
http://climber.org/data/BearBoxes/AllBoxes.html Lists all bear box locations in the
Sierra with gps waypoints, elevations, and the type of lockers.
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