TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009 | High Sierra Topix  

TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

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TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby Mike M. » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:30 pm

. . . long delayed continuation of my August hiking trip report. Part 1 can be found here:

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Day 7 ended at Davis Lake, where we enjoyed another gorgeous sunset before bedding down for the night.

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We awakened the next morning to a cloudless sky.

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Our route took us back over Davis Lake Pass, past Wanda Lake, and up to Muir Pass.

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By the time I reached the pass, Steve and the boys had already taken off for Mt. Solomons. I kicked back at the pass, watched their progress up to the summit, ate a snack, and visited with other hikers.

Mt. Solomons from Muir Pass (you can see the boys at the top):

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Wanda Lake from the summit, taken by the boys:

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Ionian Basin from Mt. Solomons:

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When Steve and the boys returned, we hiked down the trail past Helen Lake to a favorite campsite at the head of Le Conte Canyon (dubbed the "Moonsite" because, if timed right, the canyon walls frame the rising moon; our timing was off this trip).

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Day 9 was sunny and warm. We broke camp early and headed down the canyon, enjoying our first full day of trail hiking.

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We took a water break at the Dusy Basin junction, then headed to beautiful Grouse Meadows.

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Inspired by the promise of a nice swimming hole and the first fire of the trip, Steve and the kids rocketed ahead to our destination for the night, the JMT/Simpson Meadow junction.

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I gave my jeans and shirt a bath, then strung up a clothes line and dried things out in the hot sun.

There is a magnificent stand of big trees in this area.

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Despite the fact we were camped at a major junction on the John Muir Trail, there was surprisingly little trail traffic. We were visited by a group of deer, which Andrew tried rather unsuccessfully to photograph (lots of blurry photos in the waning light). We walked up the trail and checked out the site of the washed out bridge leading to Simpson Meadow (I'm old enough to have been over that bridge many times).

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On the 28th, our 10th day on the trail, the morning dawned bright and blue, but soon light wispy clouds began to appear high up in the sky. Uh-oh, This didn't bode well. We broke camp and headed up the trail to towards Palisade Lakes. Despite the fact that Michael's cheap Coleman hiking boots -- purchased new for this trip -- were disintegrating, providing little more support than bedroom slippers, the boys loped up the Golden Staircase with seemingly little effort.

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The cloud build up helped keep the temperature down, making what could have been a long, uncomfortably hot grind a pleasant walk. The Golden Staircase never ceases to amaze.

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We found a nice place to camp alongside Lower Palisade Lake, right where we would need to leave the trail the next day as we headed off toward Cirque Pass. The boys obsessed about food, fished, conned Steve into cleaning and cooking the fish, and wolfed down a big meal, then obsessed more about food. As a precaution, we once again pitched our tube tents but, despite a heavy cloud build up, little rain fell.

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As the clouds dissipated, we were treated to another colorful sunset.

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The next morning (the 29th) was cloudless but hazy, as if there was smoke in the air (we didn't smell any smoke and never heard any report of a fire). Although the wind picked up and windy conditions continued for the next few days, the hazy sky persisted also.

Cirque Pass is a route finding challenge and my memory of it from previous solo trips, always coming down from Lake 11,672, was that it took patience to navigate benches and ledges and cliffs. In the past, I always had to resort to lowering my pack down by nylon cord at least a few times. But thanks to Steve's route finding skills, we found an easy class 2 route all the way to the pass.

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Lake 11,672 and North Pal from Cirque Pass

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Potluck Pass from Cirque Pass

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We found a nice place to camp at the outlet stream to Lake 11,672.

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The next morning (still windy but hazy), Michael and Steve took off for Mt. Sill, following the basin that drains Polemonium Glacier.

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They followed a chute up to the summit.

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Summit Views

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Looking down the chute they had come up . . .

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While Michael and Steve climbed, Andrew and I lounged around, reading and exploring a bit. We had to seek shelter from the wind, which really picked up as the day wore on.

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Then the conquering heroes returned . . . what a great day!

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Our objective on the 31st, our 13th day, was Dusy Basin, via Potluck and Knapsack Passes.

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Potluck was harder but shorter than Cirque Pass. We elected to navigate the right (east) side of the pass because it appeared to give us more options. It didn't take long to find an easy route that involved one class 3 move (with limited exposure) all the way to the top. With more patience, I think we could have avoided the one class 3 area, but we were eager to get going. The guide book suggests that the left side is the better option.

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The north side of the pass is easy. We worked our way down towards Barrett lakes, with massive North Palisade looming over us.

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Steve and the boys bounded on and for a while I got separated from the group. We finally reconnected at a high lake near Knapsack Pass. A big cloud build up was developing and Steve and the boys raced to the top of the pass, impatient to end the day. I plodded on, at least 30 minutes behind.

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The others had to wait, since I was the one who knew the area. Slowly, I guided us down the pass and up to a camp I like at a high lake near the base of Isosocles Peak. The sky looked ominous, but it never rained and the clouds disappeared after sunset.

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The 1st, our last day of the trip, dawned bright and clear and windy again. We all slept in for some reason and didn't get on the trail until about 9:30.

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We lost some time picking our way through the jangled terrain, trying to find a route that would intersect with the Bishop Pass trail without giving up too much altitude. Once we found the trail, Steve and the boys, lured by the promise of big burgers and other real food, shot up to the pass and I didn't see them again until I reached the South Lake trailhead. I thought I was making good time!

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Clearly, Andrew was happy to be back in civilization:

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I was on the top of the pass by 11:00 and made it to the trailhead a little after 2:00, after a short water and lunch break at Long Lake. Once at the trailhead, I had to rustle up a ride to North Lake. After a few minutes of fruitless inquiries, I finally found a ride to the junction with the highway, then was quickly picked up by another good samaritan, who drove me all the way to the backpacker parking lot at North Lake. The old van started up at first crank (I was worried because on the way in, the van had struggled up the steep incline leading up to North Lake) and I was back at South Lake by 4:00 to load up the rest of the crew.

It took the boys all of two minutes to plug back into civilization . . .

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What a great trip with great hiking partners! Can't wait to get back . . .
Last edited by Mike M. on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby maverick » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:32 pm

Thanks Mike for taking the time and effort to post the second half of a great trip
report, and pictures, from some of my favorite areas.
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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:35 pm

What a great trip--and trip report. Thank you for taking my mind off the January blues and carrying me up to the Sierra!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby Shawn » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:58 pm

Wow, great trip, great report, great photos (oh, and those lousy boots!).
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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby hikerduane » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:05 pm

Hey, thank you for the report and great pics. The old phone lines make viewing the pics, slow, so I only saw a few.
Piece of cake.
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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby Mike M. » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:10 pm

You know, about those lousy boots -- Michael never complained and couldn't understand my concern. He and Andrew were bounding up and down the roughest territory and all I could think of was a turned ankle or worse. He's a stud! Andrew's cheap Hi-Tech boots survived their second season but I think he's finally outgrown them.

Mike
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Re: TR -- Part Two -- 14 Day Hike Out of North Lake -- Aug. 2009

Postby Cross Country » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:16 pm

it was a pleasure to see yor trip. i've been to very few of these locations on my trips to dumbbell lakes and some unnamed lakes south of mac clure meadows.
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