Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR | High Sierra Topix  

Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:41 pm

Well, I finally ventured into a Yosemite backpack, and it was mostly wonderful. We went on the Benson Lake loop out of Twin Lakes, scrambling up the Matterhorn along the way. The biggest negative was the trails -- I've never been on such purposelessly meandering trails. Endless side to side, up and down, all for nothing. I'm used to things like excessive switchbacks (particularly on newer trails -- why I'm not sure -- I guess in honor of the obesity epidemic?), but I've never experienced anything so serpentine.

The first 4 miles to Benson Lake were dull, but then we reached this:

Image

Although beautiful, the place was overrun by people with dogs, not an experience I'm used to in the Sierra. There's a lovely meadow after the lake, but this was when the trail really started to go off-kilter, rising at least 150 feet through awful talus above the meadow to keep people away from it (the trail then loses all 150 feet).

[url=http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2867103450096743830dYFjUh]Image[/url
Last edited by quentinc on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.



User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop, cont'd

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:48 pm

Shortly after this point I ran into a family that was clearly on either acid or mushrooms. The guy wouldn't stop talking at me, even though nothing he said made much sense except that they were looking for another member of their party-party. Well, lucky for me, I ran into him. He was walking down the switchbacks carrying a machete. Although I was with a group, we were spread out at this point, and I was wondering if I hadn't somehow wandered onto the set of Deliverance.

Fortunately, I survived to make it to Peeler Lake

Image

Immediately after Peeler, the trail enters Yosemite (it starts in the Hoover Wilderness). Remarkably, from this point on, we saw virtually no one -- just a few tents on the far side of Smedberg Lake. I didn't run into a single person (outside of our group) on the trail until we were almost back. The first day ended at Arndt Lake, just past Kerrick Meadow, pictured below:

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop (cont'd)

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:53 pm

As Maverick had mentioned, there were some lovely lakes near Seavey Pass the next day.

Image

Benson Lake is known as the Riviera of the Northern Sierrra (I'm not sure where the Riviera is in the south). It was nice, but I guess I'm a bit jaded about sand, since I live 3 miles from the beach.

Image

The trail then winds (and winds and winds and winds....if I were ever to do this hike again, I'd x-country up the outlet stream from Smedberg Lake) up to and around the base of beautiful Volunteer Peak.

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:59 pm

In fact, the trail wound around so much I somehow managed to lose it (I figured it headed down to Smedberg, since there was 400 feet to descend, but it managed to go up at the very time I was heading down). This resulted in about an hour of scrambling up and down increasingly difficult granite slabs and talus looking for the trail. I finally retraced my steps, found the trail, and turned the wrong way on it (the correct way was heading the opposite direction from Smedberg). Finally, I made it to the lake.

Image

The route to Benson Pass was somewhat tragi-comic and only part of that is due to the terrain. There is a series of insanely steep switchbacks, which lead not to the pass, but to a ledge upon which you then traverse an entire bowl, losing significant elevation in the process. When you finally reach what looks like a pass, it turns out to be a false pass, leading to a meadow, which then leads you to another insane (but short) climb to the real pass.

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:05 pm

The next day was sublime. Matterhorn Canyon is quite lovely, and narrow enough that the trail builders apparently felt constrained to laying down a relatively straightforward route. Views of the Sawtooth Ridge are increasingly superb.

Image

Looking back down the canyon was lovely too.

Image

There were some amazing cloud streaks over the peaks of the Sierra Crest, looking like jet trails.

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:11 pm

But the view from the top of the Matterhorn was the climax of the trip. Although it was still a bit smoky from the Big Meadow fire (I think it was completely extinguished the next day), you could see all the way to Mt. Lyell and Half Dome. The Matterhorn itself bares little resemblance to the one in Switzerland, but it pretty dramatic from the top.

Image

Image

Image

One of the coolest features on Sawtooth Ridge is the so-called Doodad

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby quentinc » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:15 pm

The last day was the hike out, over Mule Pass, past Crown Point, which possesses a rather remarkable pinnacle below its peak.

Image
Crown Point in totality if pretty impressive too.

Image
As are some of the lakes below.

Image

And then it was back to Bridgeport for a terrible post-trip meal. :) Rest of the photos are here[url]: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/574599218IfmjeR[/url]
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:11 pm

Nice report and photos of a nice area. I figure I'll ask this question before Mark does.... Did you happen to make any casts into those lakes?
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby markskor » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:18 am

Quentinc,
Agree, a nice report to an great area seldom visited. Good job - nice pics too!
You are right on about the @#%^! switchbacks too in this area, particularly the one trail up out of Twin Lakes to Barney...sucky route selection at best. Have to ask who designed it and why.

I too have done this same trip a few times myself and saw nobody. I paused a spell at Benson but was not that impressed as it is a relatively "lower" lake...great size but other than the nice beach, hard to get to the water. I did see otters there though...only time in the Sierra for that rare sighting - very cool. As it is a warmer lake, the fishing gets slow in the later summer months. I did great up at Smedberg though - even included it as one of my "favorite" lake designations.

Brookie writes:"I figure I'll ask this question before Mark does" about fishing...have to laugh a bit here.
Am I getting that predictable?
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 2048
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby Rosabella » Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:26 am

I really enjoyed reading your trip report, Quentinc! The pictures are all beautiful!!

I'm already starting to think about where to go for my Sierra trip next year, so it's nice having all the trip reports available. I don't know if I want to deal with all those "@#%^! switchbacks" , though. :D
User avatar
Rosabella
Founding Member
 
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:58 pm
Location: Washington State
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby copeg » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:07 am

Awesome! Thanks for the report and pics :thumbsup:
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Benson Lake Loop-de-Loop TR

Postby calipidder » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:45 am

Nice trip report - brings back memories. I did it in the opposite direction as a 3-nighter last Labor Day weekend. I was really pleased with the lack of people back in that area given the holiday weekend. Kerrick Canyon was one of my favorite places - like Lyell but without the throngs of people.
User avatar
calipidder
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 204
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:00 pm
Location: Above 10k
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mello and 6 guests