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Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

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Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:59 am

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The Plan:
A counterclockwise loop from Roads End to Lake Basin via Pinchot Pass, Bench Lake, Cartridge Pass, then out via Roper's route in reverse. Had a first/last nite res for the lodge at RE to get early start and prevent 5 hour commute on last day of hike. Spent many hours planning, getting scoop from many here and reading Doyle D's account on same trip in reverse. Had permit res in hand, layover days planned, everything set and ready to go. Then two days before I re-read Doyle's account, realized he had an extra day for one leg I'd planned on doing in one day, so sent him an email about his layover, told him my plan. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for responding promptly and talking me out of my idea: He said, basically, I was nuts for doing this thing counterclockwise, go it clockwise up Copper Creek trail. (My original idea based upon a previous trip where wife said she was never going up CC trail again). SO, I showed her DD's email suggesting the switch, and she bit on it. OK w/me as I had lost out on my mantra: I'm never coming DOWN CC trail again. (knees).
Goals:
Make Grouse Lake in one day
Horseshoe Lakes 2nd day
Lake Basin 3rd day for layover time
Lake Marion to Bench Lake in a day
Outside chance of another layover day at Bench
Make our exit date res at RE lodge

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How'd We DO?:
Not very good. We made Grouse in a day...very impressed w/wife...she's a trooper, and we made the reservation for the lodge after a 12 mile, and 4K foot drop day! That day took 3 beers and a handfull of Alleve to forget.



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Part II: Marriage Encounter

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:37 pm

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To give an idea how things were going, we're sitting at Horseshoes Lakes, end of third day, I'm waiting for wife to fix dinner, (yes I help out), and here comes a lone hiker up the slope towards our site far side of lake w/easy access to the hillside up to Windy Ridge. This guy is motoring, 6' 2" or so, ultra light pack, w/Roper's book sticking out a side pocket. I see him b 4 he see's me, so I stop him and we chat for about 3 minutes. He's doing the High Route, planned 20 days (?). I ask him...when/where did u start? He says, RE, this morning, planning on stopping up on WR somewhere. YIKES..and it took us 3 days to get here!
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So, it takes us an extra day to go thru Grey, White and Red Passes, an unplanned nite in SF Cartridge Creek basin, before we finally saw Marion Lake, Lake Basin, and "The Chute"!
Mind u, it takes but a moment to type, read about, all the distances in between, but the anxiety of route finding, the up's 'n down's of the passes, the off trail stuff, wondering what's up 'n over the next ridge/pass, etc. was beyond belief. My wife, the trooper she is, has a beast of a time coming down the untrailed passes, ridges. It's slow going, to say the least. She has real balance issues w/rocks and talus, etc. so I really try to take my time and pick out the easiest routes which oftentimes takes a little more time/distance. Thus the drop down into the creek from White to Red Pass rather than slither along the ridge line. That would have req'd numerous pack off's 'n on's, boosts up 'n down, etc.
(TBC)
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:15 pm

Great post. I can't think of a better thing to read while I watch the rain falling outside. Also, best wishes from me and "Mrs Brookie", given that my wife is my no. 1 all time death march companion. We are currently sipping on some nice Belgian ales while the rain keeps falling here on the western doorstep to the High Sierra. Thanks again for your post.
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: Now, The REST of the Story.....Pt I:

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:27 pm

So, it's the 5th day. We've blown through any thought of a layover day in Lake Basin, any thought of even glimpsing Bench Lake, other than what we can see coming down Cartridge Pass, is a figment of another trips imagination, and even getting out to make our post trip, pre-paid nite at the RE lodge is questionable at this point, since we still haven't gotten to the half way point.
I was frazzled, to say the least. Mind you, I did my homework. I never missed a trail head, a trail depart point, a pass, a ledge to get off a pass, a lake, tarn, whatever. I had my topos, elev points, highlighted critical points of travel, etc. But I was a little weary of what obstacles were around the next point or finger, on the downward side of the next pass or chute, or if we'd end up at a hospitable place to drop our tent when our legs gave out for the day. So when we came to "The Chute", to be honest I had forgotten the write ups about it and even those didn't do it justice. And remember, for anyone who's been down or up it, it's not much for one person's young legs w/good balance and ability to slip, slide, jump or slither down w/good balance and grace. But if you lack that, the 80 top 100 yards of that thing can be a nightmare. Half way down during the encounter w/the rock, I remember Doyle's account where he and his partner did it in shifts due to possibility of falling debris. I didn't have that luxury.
We started out and at the top it's not bad, as is the bottom few yards, but when the loose dirt, rocks and the really steep stuff starts, that's where the wife began to have some misgivings about this little adventure. Our method during these parts is for me to start, go a few steps, reach back grab her hand, guide her along to the point I even tell her where to put her next foot. We were inching along ok with this method, (when she gets tired, she sits, sips some water, and I watch the bugs crawl faster than we move) when I reached behind me to get her hand again, and as she stepped down a rock that was behind her gave way and rolled into her butt/pack, pushed her along and right into me. Fortunately I had a good foot hold and the whole mess stopped against my shin as I braced hard up the hill. So there we were perched. I reached behind her, put my arm and shoulder into the boulder as best I could and we picked a spot off to her right for her to jump/roll/ move to as best she could while I tried to hold that mess from following us. She went, I pushed and for the most part, nothing moved. SO, then I picked a spot that I was going to jump to on the other side of the chute, got out of the way the best I could and jumped to that spot. As soon as I cleared the rock and debris behind it crashed down the hill for about 10-15 yards before disbursing and coming to a halt. After a moment to collect ourselves we finished the drop out w/no other trials, but you can see from the photo...Image
there wasn't a lot of joy in Mudville that day...
The trip up Lake Basin was plesant but disturbin in that I really wanted a layover day there, but it wasn't to be.
TBC....
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Re: Now, The REST of the Story.....Pt II/CE w/Moulekumne Kid

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:52 pm

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We motored up the Basin and when we had gotten around the point that blocks the view up Cartridge Pass, and I could see the pass and had actually talked w/a couple of kids (relatively speaking), I felt a giant relief come over me. I knew that once up 'n over that pass that the JMT was on the other side and for the most part, it was cruise control the rest of the way out.
Back to those "kids". I had spotted some movement up ahead and ventured over to get some last minute intel on what lie ahead. The 2 guys, early to mid 20's probably, had come through the pass the day before, made camp there just below the pass outlet at the upper basin lakes, were just lounging around killing time (?). Come to find out, they were about to do our trek in reverse and had ?s of their own. They pulled out their Harrison map !!! and tried to point out some passes they had "heard" about. (didn't know what they were called, but were referring to Red, White and Grey). Seeing what they were navigating with and realizing our off trail stuff was basically over, I gave them my topo of the area and told them good luck. We always carry the Harrisons of the area which my wife uses to get an idea of where we are in the overall scheme of things, but I also keep the topos pretty close at hand. That one was pretty beat up and worthless to me from that point on.
We were sitting on top of the pass when I spotted the two gazelles in the photo above, (the 2 on the left, I'm the slug on the right), coming up the other, south, side. After some small talk, MK said he was a geologist from Seattle, I made mention of the fact that I knew of one on a forum, who was a PHD in geology at Fresno St, Giant Brookie, and the rest is history...the small talk lasted another 30 minutes or so. It was fun and enlightening...
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we really enjoyed the trip down and the scenery across the way. It made the last few days worthwhile.
TBC....
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby hikerduane » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:19 pm

Great trip report, enjoyed it. Thank you.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby maverick » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:17 pm

Thanks for your TR.
Some beautiful country, to bad you had to rush through it.
Last time I went through the area was back in the late 90's, with torrential rain up at
Horseshoe Lakes, everything was flooding.
I carried a SAT phone back then and remember calling my wife from Marion Lake and
having to jump into the tent after a loud thunder clap right above which after it started
to rain cats and dogs again.
The rest of the trip through the basin down to Bench Lake, and over into Arrowhead
Lakes Basin, and over the shoulder of a peak, and down to the Woods Creek Trail was
mostly rain free.
I hope this experience will not turn you and your wife off from further off-trail adventures.
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Re: The Marriage Encounter, Lessons Learned, & Happily Ever...?

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:49 am

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MK, I never did find that duck u referred to, so we bottomed out and did the talus fans, another, and mostly final irritation for the wife. It was a long day for us, and that first talus fan proved to be about the only point in the trip where we got anything close to snippity w/each other. She takes FOREVER on that stuff...so I scurried across, dropped pack went back, grabbed her pack and ventured on across. She was actually doing a little better, she had gotten irritated w/me and being a bit miffed, she was motoring along better than she ever had before on talus. In any event we found a camp spot in between the farthest two fans and called it a day.
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The trek up to and down from Pinchot Pass proved worth the price of admission. After the quiet, solitude and unique saneness of off trail travel, getting back to the thoroughfare of the JMT was quite unique in it's cruise control travel and the encounters of various characters. We rec'd a sounding ovation when we got to the group on top, most had passed us huffing and puffing our way up the pass, and any who's done it knows that sitting up there you can watch those arrivals w/snail like progress zig zagging along like a turd of hurdles. But once there we met Landon, (also name of my grandson who's 2nd birthday party we went to in amongst writing this adventure today), Cricket, and Purple Hat...the guy who's doing the book about "swimming the JMT". We heard all about their various trials and tribulations, swimming adventures and even offered my wife, a retired civil service accountant and deputy comptroller of 33 years, a "smoke" behind the rocks, of all places.
But 2 days, 23 miles or so, and 7,000 feet lower we were out of the Sierras, finally. To be honest, I was done, through, finished. Had it. No more off trail, no more adventures more than one day in, a day to rest and one day out. It was horse back for me...YUCK! I carried too much weight, hated the site of our bear cannister and vowed to never take it out of my car again. It was there only so I wouldn't lie to a ranger while getting a permit....if I ever got a permit again. All the way home the next day driving and reflecting, still didnt' change my mind. I'd had enough. I couldn't seem to plan a trip that gave us enough time to be comfortable and enjoy what I'd set out to do. This trip was ok, we'd seen better scenery, but in places this was pretty special, too....just tough.
But you know, that was August. This is December. Time has a way of doing that. Erasing the bad stuff, magnifying the adventures and the good memories. IN the end, we were better for it, tougher individually and as a couple. Each nite as we hit the tent, we played our cards, reflected on our aches, pains, accomplishments of the day and planned for tomorrow. Basically those 8 days taught us once again that we can handle just about anything that we need to in order to survive and be successful in our adventures together.
So, as it rains all day and probably tomorrow too, my maps are starting to call to me. It won't be long that I'll start to plan something for next summer, maybe two again, who knows. But, I really want to thank all of you who in your own way contibuted to my planning, trip and route selection and little hints and suggestions along the way. And I really want to thank Doyle Donohoe for talking me into going around the loop clockwise. I really don't think we would have come close to makng it in 8 days going counter clockwise.
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby hikerduane » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:35 pm

At least you have a bping partner, I go solo and the tough parts/days are tougher. I'm not quite as old as you yet. I keep forgetting, that my most enjoyable days were with Pooch when he was still alive. I cannot get another dog at this time, so I may take up car camping or motorcycle camping, we'll see. Now where did I put that skein of yarn?
Piece of cake.
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby Timberline » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:50 pm

Yes, a great TR!

I empathized every step of the way, from the excitement of planning, the anticipation of shouldering packs for those first steps from the road, the thrill of reaching so deep into the high country where everything seems still so pristine, and finally the enervation of keeping one foot in front of the other when you ask yourself if its just all that wonderful anymore! Your photos do it justice too - - some of the best landscapes the Sierra has to offer. Thanks!

Now, we're all waiting for you to do it again, so we can share in the next TR! ;)
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby maverick » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:27 pm

Hi Timberline

Get a lot of snow this past week?
My sister lives up in Placerville and said this is the most snow they have got in several
years!
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Re: Lake Basin Death March or Marriage Encounter From Hell

Postby rlown » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:38 pm

Take-a-Hike,

Kudos on getting her out there. I gave up on that long ago; other battles easier to fight or more spouse-friendly activities to enjoy. I now only do the "guy" trip. We're not afraid to be honest with each other and there are no lingering hard feelings that need to be smoothed out later.

hikerduane,

There's like 100's of people who would go with you. I don't think we do a good job on this site of telling people where we're planning to go and seeing if someone wants to join up on a trip. True, it's hard to get a group all synched up to go during a certain time, but i've always found it worth the trouble.

Great TR!! hope your editor (wife) read this first before she stumbles across it.. :evil:
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