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Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

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Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:40 pm

Myself and 3 others just did a loop this past week from Eleanor, to Laurel, to Edith, to Inferno, to Kibbie and back to Eleanor. Not much snow at Kibbie. Still lots of snow from Inferno to about the elevation of Bartlet. The snow lets up some after the saddle between the Kibbie drainage and and Bartlet drainage. The water is very high and we had 3 major stream(many other minor ones) crossings on the trip. The last was at Kibbie and was no problem to walk across at the trail (about knee to lower thigh high). The other two were bigger and we decided to set up zip-line crossings to avoid getting our gear wet. They are cross-able without doing this if you don't mind swimming or crossing a strong current about waste high... also you might want Dry Bags (which we didn't have) if you aren't proficient at setting up rope lines to go over the top of the river.

In case anyone is interested in the GPS route my friend took, as well as the pictures that I took, here they are:

GPS track(I doubt we took the best route, because intel was hard to come by, but it was a fun, albeit challenging trip):
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=212 ... 1,0.090723

(if you download the KML you can see the days together better... I can't figure out how to make the track continuous outside of the Local GPX file that my friend gave me)

Pictures:
https://picasaweb.google.com/bmcorneliu ... ackValley#

If anyone wants a detailed description or has questions, feel free to send me a msg. I know I found it hard to get good intel about the area, as most people's trip reports are often pretty vague (I am good with details)...



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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:03 pm

Hi Bmac

Welcome to HST!
Great trip, and pictures, thanks for taking the time to post this here on HST!

PS PM sent.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:08 pm

Great photos and captions! Thanks for sharing !
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:32 pm

In case anyone is interested, here is a more detailed TR (please excuse any typos):

Day One:
Easy enough for the first 2/3... except for the lack of sleep. We started hiking around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Having started our drive from L.A. around 9:45 or 10:00 pm. By the time we went to bed, around 10:00 pm, I hadn't slept for 30 some hours... and as it turned out the hike was about 13 hours that day...

Our first obstacle of the trip came when the trail crossed Frog Creek, which was more of a big river at this time of year. One of the guys in our group, Ryan, was able to wade across with a Belay around a tree root. It wasn't an easy crossing even without a pack and the rest of us were not comfortable attempting it (Ryan is much stronger than any of us). He wanted to set up a zip line/rope crossing, but we were a bit skeptical, as he had not set one up before. Anyway, I thought we would go x-country from here and find a better crossing above the steep canyon we were currently in; turned out this was not as easy as I had hoped.

We proceeded up the steep side of the canyon through thick cat-claw type bushes and three hours later emerged about 1.5 miles upstream, with a better crossing, but still not good enough to wade across with packs. So we found a spot to camp for the night and decided we would use my built in lay-over day to figure out how to cross the river(I had intentionally built in a lay-over day/wiggle room day to the planned itinerary, as I didn't know exactly what to expect from the terrain. There was very little/no info about the route I wanted to do).

I had to explore for about 20 minutes to find a nice camp spot (a little too close to the river, but there really wasn't many/any other options). We had an overly friendly deer, which we nick named Salt Lick, hang out with us for the night and next morning. Ryan had the kind notion to pee only on rocks, so our deer friend didn’t have to eat dirt to get the salt he was after. We thought we might have a new pet for the rest of the trip. However, as it turned out, he wasn't too keen on following us across the zip line on the following day...

Day Two:
We were all exhausted the next day (30+ hours without sleep), so we took our time waking up. We then explored the river a bit, looking for a crossing. We still were unable to find a viable way across that would not involve getting wet, so we decided to use the day to experiment with a rope crossing. Ryan waded across the river without his pack to set up an anchor on the far side of the river. This involved climbing about 15 feet up a tree. From this perch he ultimately managed much of the crossings though a combination of pulling packs along the rope with a secondary cord and helping each of us down the tree once we reached the other side. Elizabeth came up with the idea to have the end of the rope operate as a pack delivery system from the tree. Ryan would switch the pack over to this secondary line and slide it down to Elizabeth at the bottom. From start to finish (setting up the crossing, executing it and taking it down) took around 4 hours. We then had a leisurely x-country walk to the Laurel Lake.

We found a nice camp spot here, with a fire ring, and made our first fire cook system (we got better and better at this over the course of the trip). We didn’t bring a back-up stove (oops) and didn’t think to check if Ryan’s fuel can was compatible with my stove (it wasn’t), so we had only what was left in my small canister for the whole trip. Given this, we decided to save it for an emergency and instead cook everything with a camp fire. We set up three stones in a triangle pattern to place the pot atop. We then would have the fire off to the side to create coals. We then shoved coals under the stone platform. The triangle set up gave airways that we could blow through to make the coals white hot. It wasn’t a very fast system, but it worked well and was a lot of fun perfecting.

Day Three:

This day was our first full x-country day. It involved a lot of bushwhacking into Kendrick Canyon. The route finding was challenging and at time frustrating. We resorted to finding faint animal trails through some of the Manzanita and cat-claw. The beginning and the end of the day involved a lot of slab, which was much more enjoyable, albeit tiring. We found a really nice little waterfall about 2/3 of the way through the day, which helped to refresh our energy and spirits. We finally made it to Edith Lake around 6:30 pm.

There was a small, but nice camp site about halfway around the lake that we stayed at. We played with long night exposures and headlamps; it was pretty fun.

Day Four:

By far our most epic day. There was steep slab, lots of snow, a bog crossing, another roped river crossing (which went much more smoothly, due to a better set-up and practice from the previous one), a bear sighting, 3 rattlesnakes hanging out together, a beautiful waterfall, and of course, some more bushwhacking(though not as bad as the previous day). It is hard to explain how varied the terrain was this day, so I will leave it at the above basic description. I will just add that when the bear finally noticed us it took off at a sprint across the bog and scrambled up rock, slab and brush. It was so fast, which really brought home the advice that there is no point in trying to outrun a bear; it wouldn’t even be close.

We ended up at Inferno Lake, which was completely frozen and found a little granite island in a sea of deep snow. We were all a little bummed at first, but it turned out to be a really cool camp spot, though not overly comfortable (it wasn’t exactly what I would consider to be “flat”). We had another nice fire, which required Ryan climbing up a dead tree and knocking off a bunch of dry/dead branches. It turned out to be one of the best firewood sources of the trip. Elizabeth and I set up the fire while Ryan and Pru found a water source under the snow and ice.



Day Five:

This day was almost completely across snow. We did our share of post holing through thinner parts of the snow (I won that contest, being that I was leading most of the way, so I got to “find” all the thin spots). Overall the snow made the first part of the day easier, evening out much of the otherwise incredibly rough and varied terrain.

When we dropped low enough to get out of some the snow, our progress slowed significantly. We did the most difficult path finding of the trip the last 2 miles or so to Kibbie Lake. Lots of smaller river crossings, steep rock scrambles with full packs, only to have to climb down again 100 yards later… It was an adventure. We spent about an hour going around half of the lake along steep slab, dense bushes and stream crossings. We found a beautiful camp spot on a rock outcropping with about a 100 foot vertical drop into the lake.

Ryan and I dropped our packs and went far enough around the rest of the lake to ensure that it was actually possible to traverse (it was; just.) About 40 minutes later we got back to where we dropped the packs and decided to save the last 1/3 of a mile around the lake for the next morning, knowing that we would have all trail after we reached the far side of the lake.

Day Six:

We spent about an hour going the final distance around the lake. It was some of the thickest and steepest bushwhacking of the trip; luckily we were all experts at it by this time. At the far end of the lake we had to work our way through yet another snow melt bog until we found the trail. We then came across one final river crossing, which wasn’t too bad. We just had to wade across about knee high through some moderate current. From there out it was some pretty chill trail walking. We passed the somewhat mundane trail time by playing word games (for probably about 3-4 hours). We did come across one more rattlesnake on the trail, but he seemed much more used to people and we were able to walk right passed without it bothering him at all.

We made it back to our car around 2:30-3:00 and had plenty of time to drive the Valley, eat dinner and set up our luxurious car camping sites in the Valley. We did one 8 mile hike up to Nevada falls, which felt like a rest day, compared to what we had done. There was a lot of water, not surprisingly, so the Merced River was bursting at the seams. It seemed to be rising about 6 inches a day!
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Cross Country » Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:05 pm

As I've been saying for weeks here, these places (Edith and Laurel) are a much better choice at this time of this season and for the next 3 weeks. Imagine how much snow, frozen lakes, post holes and general frustration some would have to deal with at 1-2 thousand feet higher. Several experienced backcountry travelers on HST have actually suggested to people going THREE or FOUR thousand feet higher which would be snow camping, which is something anyone could have done a month ago at 10 to 12 thousand feet -- Winter like backpacking. This trip report lets me say a big "I told you so".
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:02 pm

Cross Country wrote:As I've been saying for weeks here, these places (Edith and Laurel) are a much better choice at this time of this season and for the next 3 weeks. Imagine how much snow, frozen lakes, post holes and general frustration some would have to deal with at 1-2 thousand feet higher. Several experienced backcountry travelers on HST have actually suggested to people going THREE or FOUR thousand feet higher which would be snow camping, which is something anyone could have done a month ago at 10 to 12 thousand feet -- Winter like backpacking. This trip report lets me say a big "I told you so".


I would say the snow was anywhere between 5 feet to 10 feet at Inferno Lakes. Would have been snow camping without the rock Island. I wouldn't dissuade people from the trip; it was fun. Just required some problem solving and comfort with slab, ropes and basic climbing skills. Oh, and I guess some wet feet, since our shoes were not exactly waterproof.

I would note though that a couple weeks from now might be far more dangerous in the 7.5-8k range as the snow will be much thinner and liable to collapse under foot.
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby windknot » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:27 pm

This sounds like it was a great trip! Thanks so much for the detailed report and pictures. You guys didn't happen to do any fishing, did you?
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:48 am

windknot wrote:This sounds like it was a great trip! Thanks so much for the detailed report and pictures. You guys didn't happen to do any fishing, did you?


Nope, none of us are fisherman. There were plenty surfacing in the evenings though, at least around Edith. Didn't notice any in Laurel, but my vantage wasn't as good. Kibbie also had evening feeding. Most of the other lakes were frozen :-).
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby vinhboy » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:35 am

Bmac, thanks for the awesome TR.

Not sure you went here, but do you think we would have zip line across any water if we hiked from Cherry Lake to Kibbie Lake?

Thanks!
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:35 pm

vinhboy wrote:Bmac, thanks for the awesome TR.

Not sure you went here, but do you think we would have zip line across any water if we hiked from Cherry Lake to Kibbie Lake?

Thanks!


No. There are some very minor creek crossings on the trail up from Cherry. The outlet stream from Kibbie has a lot of water, but was not problem to walk across where the trail crosses (see the following picture: https://picasaweb.google.com/bmcorneliu ... 2523565186 )

Alternatively, you could just stay on the NW side of the river/lake and do a tiny bit of x-country to the lake, starting at the point the trail would cross Kibbie Creek. I think that side of the lake has better camping options anyway. The east side that we were on is quite rugged, and while beautiful, not the easiest place to access.
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Cross Country » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:23 pm

I crossed Frog Creek several times at high water. I never waded it. Each time I hiked along the creek looking for a log jam. Fortunately I always found one. That creek's a log jam waiting to happen.
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Re: Eleanor>Laurel>Edith>Inferno>Kibbie Lakes TR

Postby Bmac » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:00 am

Cross Country wrote:I crossed Frog Creek several times at high water. I never waded it. Each time I hiked along the creek looking for a log jam. Fortunately I always found one. That creek's a log jam waiting to happen.


You found full span logs this year? we searched quite a ways for a full span log jam prior to roping up; but we never found logs that spanned the full width (one came with about 7-8 feet, but those 7-8 feet were the fastest/deepest spot in the river).
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