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Palisade Basin TR

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Palisade Basin TR

Postby gregw822 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:57 pm

Four of us headed for Bishop Pass on the morning of 7/26. The hike was routine, and we camped at one of the off-trail lakes in upper Dusy Basin. Up early, we made an easy crossing of Knapsack Pass and headed down and across magnificent Palisade Basin aiming for Potluck Pass. It was a LONG way across that basin. There's a ridge you see early on that you would swear is the easy side of the pass, but once you get up there, you realize it's a false lead, and there's still a long way to go. Nevertheless, there were no difficulties in reaching Potluck late in the afternoon. The descent, however, was not easy. We missed whatever class II route there is down Potluck, and we ended up doing quite a bit of class III scrambling before we reached our second camp at Lake 11,672.

We were on the west side of the lake 11,672, so we had to circle toward the outlet stream before we could climb to Cirque Pass. We rounded a blind corner and were dismayed to see a large snowfield at the point of the lake. It was steep snow, and a fall would have dumped us right in the lake, so we added most of an hour to go around the snow.

The climb to Cirque Pass was very straightforward, with snow patched here and there, but mostly good clean rock all the way. There was no class III rock at any part of the ascent. All three of the off-trail passes were relatively easy climbs. From Cirque Pass we started down the drainage from the highest point of the saddle. Contrary to everything we had read before the trip, we found it best to go left to start the descent rather than to the right. After going down for a couple hundred yards, we did a sharp traverse all the way to the right side of the drainage. The little lake on the bench below was in view all the while, and it gave us a target to shoot for. This left-then-right route led us down to the little lake (pond, really) with nothing but class II terrain. Again, we started down and left from the high point of the saddle, not from the right edge. After a rest at the "lake" we continued down, staying as far right as possible. All went well until we reached the banded cliff a few hundred feet about the JMT. In this last steep section we had to pay careful attention to find the easiest route down. For us, it was a not-so-obvious slot between a couple of grassy shelves that unlocked the route. I'm not sure I could find that slot again if I did the route tomorrow. Overall, we had a couple of class III moves coming down from Cirque. For us, the descent of Potluck was more challenging than getting off Cirque.

Once we hit the JMT, we cruised down the trail to Deer Meadow, looking forward to casting flies in Palisade Creek. Up that high there wasn't a lot of holding water, but everywhere we could find soft water we caught small goldens. We fished until dark and spent a luxurious night camped there in Deer Meadow.

Day 3 took us down Palisade Creek. We had our fly rods in hand, and we dropped the packs every couple of hundred yards to fish. The water improved as we moved down stream, and we caught those beautiful little goldens by the dozen. Actually, most of them were golden/rainbow hybrids. It was interesting to see the transition from goldens to hybrids to mostly rainbows as we dropped in elevation.

We started up LeConte Canyon and camped at Grouse Meadow. It was a treat to fish the meandering middle fork through Grouse. What a spectacular day! I must have caught a 100 little trout between Palisade Creek and the middle fork. All them went back in the water.

The rest of it involved a climb up Dusy Branch, a last night of camp in Dusy Basin, then back over Bishop Pass. No need to report on that well-traveled bit of trail. Except, on the way back to trailhead we passed six people hauling kayaks toward Bishop Pass. They were headed for a complete descent of the middle fork over several days. Later, we passed a pack train hauling helmets, paddles, food and gear. Wow! I've seen the middlem fork for up high and down in Tehipite Valley. Those kids must have been world class paddlers. That decent seems like a death wish to me.

Overall, that was one of my best backpacking trips ever. Usually I go solo, but this year I had three friends with me. It was nice to have company, but it did feel a bit crowded. Maybe I'll have to head back for a second solo trip at the end of the summer.

Pics here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2 ... d2346eca39



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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby gary c. » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:14 pm

Sounds like you covered a lot of ground, it must have been an awesome trek. Afew pictures would sure be nice though. :unibrow: Thanks for the report.
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby gregw822 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:22 pm

Check the link at the bottom of the report. Does it work?
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:05 pm

The link works! That area is beautiful! One of my favorite trips! I'm short, and we had to lower packs down one section of Potluck Pass. We went over 10 passes on that trip years ago. I heard about the kayaks from someone else too. They couldn't believe one of the women said she carried it up.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


http://snownymph.smugmug.com/
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby gary c. » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:21 pm

gregw822 wrote:Check the link at the bottom of the report. Does it work?

The link works fine, I just missed it. Your pics are great and you are right about the lack of shade, hope you had your sunblock.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:16 am

Great TR- you can find info on kayaking the MFK over at the 'Other Wicked Sierra Sports' forum and online. It is extreme for sure!
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby Jimr » Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:39 am

Great area. I did the Palisade basin in 1995. The same trip except we headed south from Palisade lakes over the pass into Upper Basin and out Taboose pass. One of my more memorable trips. I too find 4 hikers a bit crowded. I prefer one buddy and anything over 4 I call gang hiking. That's why I don't do Sierra Club stuff.
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby maverick » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:38 am

I to recall some one mentioning people kayaking that section of the Kings.
Thanks for the TR and pic's of a beautiful area.
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:55 am

Mostly off-topic but if anyone is interested I posted a new piece on a Sierra kayak (scary!) experience (Rush's Swim: Cherry Ck) over at Wicked Sports forum.
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby quentinc » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:35 pm

I once saw a group of guys who literally were carrying their kayaks, heading down from Lower Dusy Basin to Big Pete Meadow. That's when I decided I'd never complain about my 55 pound pack again.
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby snusmumriken » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:12 pm

Greg, I think we ran into your group on the trail, working our way up the switchbacks towards Dusy Basin. We are two women who were doing the North lake to South Lake - in over Lamarck Col out Bishop pass - route.

We exchanged some trail stories and everybody in your group was very excited about your trip with one guy saying it was the most challenging backpacking he'd ever done, but he said it with a smile on his face, so I figured it had gotten hairy but all ended well.

Nice to meet you!
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Re: Palisade Basin TR

Postby gregw822 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:53 pm

Oh yes, I remember talking to the two of you several times! I watched for you in Dusy Basin on Friday evening, but didn't see you. I was hoping to talk to you again. One of our guys was on his first backpacking trip ever. It was quite an initiation. He loved it. He would walk down the trail saying. "This is it! This is the real deal! This is amazing!" He's already talking about next summer. I'm from EUgene, OR, and only get in one Sierra trip every year, but I make sure it's a good one. It was a pleasure to meet you.
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