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Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

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Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby HikerDee » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:00 am

Hi. We are planning to backpack out of Pine creek a week from today, making it as far as we can the first day (for flatlanders). WE plan to spend a a day or so in Granite Park exploring. The Morey and White, Sierra South guidebook makes the cross country route to Royce Lakes connecting with the Pine Creek Pass Trail sound pretty straight forwrd. The map seems to indicate this as well. Would anyone suggest this route for cross country novices? We are very strong experieinced hikers, (JMTx2, HST, North Lake South lake last year, Whitney x several, Pionneer Basin last year, multiple backpacks in NH, VT, NY, Wyoming, NM.......). The thing is we have VERY little off trail experieince (at least not on purpose). The few cross country trips I have made has been following someone experienced. After Royce lakes (if we do this part) we would like to go cc to French lake, or alternatively hike down Pine creek trail and cut off to Elba, moon an L lakes. Then on to Merriam lake, back down to Hutchingson Meadow and out, possible with a last night at Desolation lake. Any thoughts, comments, additions, advice? We are goinhg for the scenery, Lakes and high mountains. This will be the firs trip we will not be trying to knock off a designated number of miles per day...we want some kick back time (ya, wer'e getting to that age). We have 9 days Thanks in advance for your help!

Dee



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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby windknot » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:52 pm

Hi Dee,

I actually traversed most of your proposed route last week, including the pass from Granite Park to the Royces (although I did this in reverse, going down from the highest Royce Lake to the largest Granite Park lake). The routefinding is pretty straightforward and the terrain from the largest Granite Park lake up to the pass is doable I think even for hikers inexperienced with cross-country travel, but the pass itself is covered in several feet of snow (it's a notch between big stone slabs). I walked across the snow and it didn't give at all, but I'm not sure how it'll be two weeks later. Probably still fine, but you never know.

Here's a view of the pass from the Royces side, pass at just right of center:
Image

And a closer view of the snow-filled notch with Granite Park in the background:
Image

The rest of the cross-country travel in your proposed route is pretty mellow, and should be a lot of fun!

Hope this helps,
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:11 pm

Hi Dee

You will not have any problem with Royce Pass, it is a very easy route up just
west of Golden Lake to the pass, and then down to Lake 11725.
Going cc to Little French Lakes head east from Lake 11656 towards the un-named
lakes then drop down a few hundred feet following the outlet creek to about the
11500 ft level and from there shoot for Pine Creek Pass.
Just make sure you drop down enough from the un-named lakes before heading
east otherwise you'll run into some cliffs.
Then head down to LFL at the 11200 ft level and then towards the lake when you
get near outlet creek.
Merriam Lake is nice and not hard to get from French Canyon.
You will have a lot of lakes, and great scenery to enjoy on your trip.
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby windknot » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:41 pm

Oh, I guess I should add that I didn't go over Royce Pass proper (the pass between the second-highest Royce Lake and the Pine Creek drainage). I went over the pass between the highest Royce Lake and the largest Granite Basin lake. Royce Pass is very easy (almost nonexistent) from the Royce side, and looked pretty easy down to the Pine Creek trail.

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:50 pm

Yes, that one is a class 2, and even though it is not difficult you should stick
to the class 1 above Lake 11725.
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby HikerDee » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:43 pm

Thank you all...and especially for the pictures.....I'm a very visual person so these really help. I am excited, my gear is spread all over the living room, and it looks like cc is worth a try. We are from NH so snow travel is very familiar to us, I even think it's fun unless the conditions are totally lousy. My husband and I have a saying when we find ourselves approaching potentially dicey situations, "Let's not find ourselves in the back pages of Appalachia." (Mountaineering and concervation mag put out by the AMC which always includes a somewhat scathing assessment of accidents in the local reagion. Very bad form to be sited there.) It's threat has kept us out of some situations throughout the years. Thanks for your help.

Hikerdee
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby SSSdave » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:29 pm

My sister's nickname is Dee too. Honeymoon Lake is very popular (in all the guidebooks and the standard horse packer camping area) but far from the most scenic zone in the basin. The zone along the trail at 11000+ where a round pond shows is much better. The impressive avalanche chutes of Peak 12470 and class 1 Royce Pass:

Image

From north of the trail in Granite Park looking south southwest across two of four unnamed ponds at 11320+ towards Feather Peak. Nicest campsite IMO is downstream across the stream from the trail south at the first of two small ponds amidst whitebark pine. For dawn/sunrise rise early dawn then wander up the trail to the pond at 11560+, then climb southwest up the modest slope to "The Baseball Field" at 11680+ where the maps shows a marshy pond area.

Image

Many of the Honeymoon Lake campers will by late morning be seen in a chain of groups heading for Italy Pass and Lake Italy. Don't consider any notion to join them haha as Granite Park is vastly more scenic. The most scenic part of Royce Lakes is actually above the lake #4 shores at Royce Pass. French Lake is rather barren of trees and wildflowers are rather sparse. More trees and enjoyable at the other lakes southwest.

David
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby rayfound » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:46 am

Dee, I have told this to many friends, so I will copy this verbiage verbatim from an email to a good friend who is in the area at this moment.

Royce Falls: Hike to the falls... when you've hiked as far as you can without serious rock-climbing, the falls cascade down the mountain and you can get right up in them. Its big enough to be impressive as hell, small enough to be intimate. There is a patch of Grass with a rock in the middle. Sit on that rock an eat your lunch. Its amazing. Comfortable, great view, waterfall spray... amazing. From the bottom you can only really see about the bottom 1/3 of the waterfalls... its really quite a plunge overall.

Image

(See the rock I am talking about? You can't tell from the picture but that is shaped like a PERFECT lounge-chair.)
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Re: Pine Creek-North Lake Backpack

Postby HikerDee » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:11 pm

Thank you all for the great advice! The waterfall and lounge chair are on the list. We leave tomorrow and I am really happy to get to the mountains again.

Dee
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