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TR: August 2010 Sierra Adventure (pt. 2)

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TR: August 2010 Sierra Adventure (pt. 2)

Postby Mike M. » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:39 pm

August 20 (continued)
It was a short, easy walk up to Puppet Pass from the high meadow. The view from the pass is expansive:

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This was our first time over Puppet Pass and we weren't sure what to expect in terms of how rough the descent would be. It's a big boulder field, pretty steep for the first 100 feet, but surprisingly manageable even with a full pack. We scouted out a few possible routes (there are many, including a ramp system to the right (east) of the pass, but opted for the most direct descent and were down to tame ground within 30 minutes. We watched three hikers come up the pass well to the west of our route, with two dogs in tow. Here's what the pass looks like from just below:

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We hiked down to Puppet Lake, then up a shoulder that separates Puppet Lake from "L" Lake. Here's a view of Puppet Lake from there:

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We camped at a spacious treed site near the toe of "L" Lake (the same site I camped at in 2007). Not far from camp, Andrew and Van found a dead mule, covered with rocks and lime, but still very odoriferous. Fortunately, we were just far enough away to avoid the stink, for the most part. While Andrew and I lounged around camp, reading our books (Andrew brought the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I was reading a Craig Johnson mystery called Death Without Company), Van took off with my camera to explore Steelhead Lake. At dusk we were treated to another lovely sunset:

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Saturday, August 21
We woke early to a magnificent sky full of lenticular clouds, the infamous "Sierra Wave" that usually means foul weather is on the way.

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We broke camp early and followed the use trail down to the junction with the Pine Creek Pass trail. From the use trail, the view looking over into the Royce Lakes basin is awesome:

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We left the Pine Creek Pass trail just shy of the pass itself and headed north into Royce Lakes basin. The terrain here is gentle and easy. Soon we were on the ridge just below the first lake.

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Nearing the largest lake:

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We found the "beach" at the largest lake and sought shelter from the blasting wind.

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Van quickly set up his solo tent, but Andrew and I waited to see what the weather would do before putting up our tube tents. Cloud cover continued to build as the day progressed and the winds were ferocious in this exposed camp. We were surprised by the terrain in and around Royce Lakes basin -- I expected, based on the photos I had seen, a gentle, sandy landscape but instead it was rocky and rough, with the exception of a few sandy patches like the one around our campsite. Unfortunately, our site was extremely exposed and had we known the wind would grow and continue throughout the night, we would have moved to a more sheltered spot. But hindsight is 20-20, right?

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Huge waves of wind would swoop down on the lake, picking up the frothy water and sending particulates of water swirling in the air, like miniature cyclones. We watched as these made their way across the lake. The lake itself was churning, with two and three foot waves crashing against the far shore.

As dusk set in, Andrew and I finally bit the bullet and set up our tube tents. It looked like it might rain, but shelter from the gale-force winds was our main concern. Just after it looked like we might miss out on the nightly light show, there was an awesome display of alpenglow, which we had trouble capturing because the winds kept blowing us around:

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The wind blew and blew all night, ripping Andrew's tube tent to shreds and deforming Van's tent poles (my tube tent miraculously survived, but Andrew's was turned into a ground cover). It was a noisy and uncomfortable night, with sand blasting into my tent and sleeping bag. I don't think I slept more than 20 minutes at a time. But the rain held off, fortunately.
Last edited by Mike M. on Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Mike M.
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Re: TR: August 2010 Sierra Adventure (pt. 2)

Postby quentinc » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:21 pm

Those clouds look like flying saucers! I love the Puppet Lake area -- it's fun to read about it.
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Re: TR: August 2010 Sierra Adventure (pt. 2)

Postby windknot » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:29 am

Those are some seriously extra-terrestrial looking clouds. Nice grabs!

Thanks for the shots. Having just been to French Canyon/Royce Lakes last month, it's fun to read along and remember my footsteps as you walk us through yours.

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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