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TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

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TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby schmalz » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:26 am

Marissa and I had a blast on our first backpacking trip of the year, and our first time to the Palisades area. The weather was perfect, with highs topping out around 70 and the nights staying in the mid-forties. Mosquitoes were about as expected, manageable for the most part, but occasionally overwhelming at a few points in the day. Headnets were used around camp a few times, and we spent much of the evening on the fourth in our tent watching the light change while mosquitoes crawled around the net trying to eat us. We made it up as far as 6th lake, and the area was pretty much completely thawed out up there. From pics I've seen, it seems like the area melted extremely fast!

This was also my first backpacking trip where I took a more serious photography kit. This added over 10 pounds to my pack, which used to be fairly UL... not anymore! I'm finding integrating serious photography into an already tiring activity to be a new learning curve, but I think I'm getting the hang of it and will be fully on my game by the end of summer! Here are a few pics of the area:

Marissa chilling at 2nd Lake.
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Sunrise over 3rd Lake
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Reflection on 4th Lake
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The last gasp of light on the Palisades Ridge, far above.
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The tired photographer, overlooking 5th Lake from an off-trail cliffpoint.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:49 pm

Very nice, hopefully this well wet your appetite for many more backpacking
adventures.
If you really enjoy photography than the pounds added will be quickly forgotten by
the beauty that the Sierra range offers.
I to am in the ultra light end of things, but am right back into the mid range with
the 3 lenses, camera, tripod, RRS Pano Gear, and numerous accessories, which I
would could not live without.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby copeg » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:37 pm

Thanks for sharing the tr and pics. I know how the pounds can quickly add up with photo gear
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby schmalz » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:49 pm

Thanks a lot guys. I've a big fan of your photos, and I hope that my work will help inspire others someday as well.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby smythet » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:55 pm

Beautiful photos! I have been thinking about going backpacking in the High Sierras above Big Pine and seeing these pictures basically just sold me on the whole trip... Some friends and I conquered Mt. Whitney last August in about 12 hours and are itching to head back up to the mountains this summer. We are very respectful to the environment and are smart campers. The trail you took in these photos looks absolutely amazing. I do have some questions though..

Which campground/trailhead did you start at?
Is it legal to backpack up past these lakes and set up camp in a non-campground-designated area?
If camping is allowed, would we need permits to camp?
How many lakes are there and what is the elevation of the highest/lowest?
What is the mileage from the trailhead to say.. the highest lake?

I appreciate your response.. looking forward to enjoying the Wildnerness. :thumbsup: :rock:
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby schmalz » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:47 pm

smythet - Thanks for the kind words. A big reason why I take pictures and post them online is to inspire people to seek out some of the beauty that I run into, or go find their own... I'm glad I could have a bit of that effect on you.

Which campground/trailhead did you start at?
The trailhead is pretty hidden. There is a road out of Big Pine, CA called W. Crocker St. that eventually turns into Glacier Lodge road. You basically take this all the way to the trailhead. There are a couple small campgrounds and some cabins up there.

Is it legal to backpack up past these lakes and set up camp in a non-campground-designated area?
Yep, you can camp wherever you want, as long as you follow normal Sierra rules (100 ft. from body of water etc.)

If camping is allowed, would we need permits to camp?
Yep, you need a Wilderness Permit from Inyo NF. They shouldn't be too hard to come by. Walk-up permits are a good option.

How many lakes are there and what is the elevation of the highest/lowest?
The area has around 10 lakes. Not all of them are glacial though. I think it's about 3000 feet to the highest lake, which is around 11,000 feet. The lowest lake is about 2200 feet up from the trailhead, a little over 10,000 feet.

What is the mileage from the trailhead to say.. the highest lake?
Not too bad. Somewhere around 9-11 miles would be my prediction, I'm at work and don't have a map handy.

The big glacial lakes that I saw were 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. 5th is the furthest from the trailhead and is probably about 7-8 miles from the trailhead.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby texan » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:53 pm

Thanks for sharing the nice pics.

Texan
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby smythet » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:25 pm

Schmalz, thank you for all the useful information. I can't wait to go up and see all this stuff with my own eyeballs.

One concern I do have is the bears vs. food thing. Obviously we want to make the most of the trip by bringing food other than Clif bars, which will undoubtedly attract bears and other critters. I was told that we can rent bear canisters which we will do.. What did you do in order to keep our furry friends away while camping?
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 7/3-7/5

Postby schmalz » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:37 pm

We use a bear cannister that we own for all of our Sierra backpacking trips. I'm pretty sure the ranger station where you'd get your wilderness permit would rent one to you. That said, there weren't very strict bear regulations in this area, and you are allowed to still hang your food in a bag on a rope in a tree. I always recommend a bear cannister though if you can pull it off.

The main thing you want to do with a bear cannister is not keep it too close to your site when you aren't using it, especially overnight. General strategy would be to keep the cannister a couple hundred feet from your site, making sure that your site is not downwind from it. I normally try to move diagonally away from my site (move uphill or downhill a bit, but also to the side so it's not directly up or down from you) so that a bear is least likely to cross my path when moving towards the cannister or away from it.

Glad I can help someone take the plunge into such a fun activity. Make sure you have some protection from mosquitoes, since you will not have the same type of refuge you are used to.
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