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Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

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Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:53 pm

This trip was meant to be more than just a run up, and over Taboose Pass
onto Bench Lake.
Rather it will hopefully open my fellow backpackers eyes to there environments
while passing through the Taboose Corridor.
While driving towards Bishop (7/26) to pick up a permit for the start of the trip
my travel through Yosemite made my heart drop.
The smoke was heavy bad, even seeing Half Dome from Olmstead Point was difficult
and driving down 395 the Sierra Crest's second tier of peaks were barely visible.
Belief that the monsoonal flow predicted for the next several days would clear
things out did happen, and the trip turned out to be outstanding.
For those who have been up Taboose Pass know that an early start is the key to
an enjoyable experience, otherwise a start after 6 am will turn out to be a hot
and excruciating painful experience, which is one of the reason Taboose Pass get
such a bad reputation, compared to the other 3 big Sierra treadmills (Baxter,
Sawmill, and Shepard).
Let's start with that the thunderstorms in the Owens Valley, and north of it, had
started up all ready on 7/26, which afforded me one of the few opportunities to
capture a lightening shot on this trip, and it was quite a shot with a sun star
and a lucky catch of a bolt in the distance, though the sun star, and the last light
on the desert bush in the foreground was special in itsef, wow!
The trail was beautiful all the way up with lush flower gardens popping up right
next to the trail at 9400 ft.
Let me back track to 8200 ft where the Taboose Creek crossing deserves
This crossing done early enough is a 2-3 on a scale of 5, and it also depends on
your comfort level with rough water.
A later crossing could bump it into a 3-4, and 4 at peak run-off in a heavy snow
season, like this year.
Right above this crossing at about 8400 ft is a good campsite on the south side
of the trail if you need to wait out the creek for the next morning for an exit.
This section between crossing the creek, and campsite, is the only woodsy
area with ample shade that one encounters on the way up, enjoy it.
Now back to 9200 ft where the beautiful flower garden entices you to take
pictures of it, but things are made difficult by the ever persistence breeze
that one may have to wait 20 min's before there is an opportune time to press
the shutter.
At 9600 ft there are about 3-4 campsites that are fairly descent with water near
The rocks, and rock formations in the area are intriguing, and deserves ones
attention, plus this will take ones mind off the ever increasing steepness of the
trail as one gets closer to the pass.
Snow was not an issue at the pass, but one should take the time to climb to the
edge of the rocks to get a look back down towards Owens Valley, and admire the
beautiful peaks, especially the formations on the southern flank of this corridor.
This is where my second capture of a lightening strike during the parade of
thunderheads heading up the Owens Vally towards Bishop could be seen from
the this vantage point, and one that most folks miss by just wanting to get up
to the pass.
The thunder was booming quit frequently by the time I was on the top, and
descending down towards the JMT.
The views towards Bench Lake, Muro Blanco, and the numerous peaks
flanking the northern side of the Muro Blanco, Mt. Ruskin, Marion Peak, and
numerous unnamed ones makes for a glorious view, add in the flowers that
one needs to find south of the trail, which most people miss, and you have
some "Sound of Music" moments.
Nearing Bench Lake it started to rain, and the thunder persisted ever since
reaching Taboose Pass, but once at Bench Lake things calmed down, and the
sun rays started to show.
Colors were abundant in the swirling clouds above, this monsoonal flow was
really going to gift me with some crazy intense sunsets.
After setting up, and eating, it was quickly up and scout for that prime Bench
Lake/Pyramid Peak reflection, with a good dose of alpineglow from a cloud
moving in from the south, wow!
The next morning was when the shot that was posted in the "High Sierra
Photography" section materialized.
The next day it was on to another location, which was a lake south on the JMT
not to far from the Bench/JMT junction.
After some scouting during the day, found a small pond facing due west
which if things paned out, would make for some dramatic sunset photo's.
This was the big lightening, hail, thunder for 3 hours, though not a lot of rain
day (Sat).
As sunset neared it was off to the pond, clouds where still pretty thick but the
west near the skyline was clearing which meant the show was on.
Setting up, it started to sprinkle, and the sun started to set turning the clouds
blood orange-red, fiery yellow, and then the pond was set ablaze with these colors
plus the rain started falling, creating a special combination that one is privileged
to witness, and shoot.
As the rain subsided, looking north towards Upper Basin the sun rays that where
being defuse by the clouds had turned the foreground, and the entire range a
beautiful hue of red, wow!
The next day it was on to Striped Mountain Basin where there are some pretty
little lakes, the big ones are to big for my purposes.
The clouds where building even earlier today (Sun) , and by 11:45 in was raining
and it was raining very hard till around 5 pm.
Luckily my tent was on a series on benches, and the top one drained into the
next one below it, otherwise it surely would have gone above my 3" bathtub
floor, and soaked everything inside.
The sunset reflection was fiery, but unfortunately there was just to many clouds
to get the famous alpineglow on the face of Striped Mountain.
My last night was spent at the camps located at 9600 ft on the eastern side of
Taboose Pass, and there was rain, hail, thunder, but very little rain, but a great
color display towards the east.
Hopefully my TR, and photo's, will entice you to visit this beautiful area, and
not just look at it as a means to get from point A to point B, but get the respect
like every other beautiful location in the Sierra.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:

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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:56 pm

Thank you for the great trip report and (as usual) marvelous, beautiful, inspiring photos. The Marjorie lake basin is possibly my favorite place in the Sierra. When I did Taboose in September 2001, I'd started out in the mid-afternoon and when I got to the creek crossing, decided to stop for the night - a lovely place to camp.
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby oldranger » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:59 pm

Thanks Maverick! Great shots! Glad the storm took a couple of days to reach the west side. I didn't mind being a step ahead as I hiked to my car.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby quentinc » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:11 pm

Gorgeous photos as always. I think #13 is the most spectacular of the bunch.
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby mokelumnekid » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:47 pm

Awesome- thanks for the write-up and pics. Taboose has always been a fave. No Sierra this year- went to Ecuador/Galapagos instead, and some kayaking (where I got my ass royally kicked). We'll be back down next year. Hope to hit the Olympics once the bugs die down....
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby Zoltan » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:19 am

Great report Maverick - and your photos are jaw-dropping. Nice to see how much things have changed in the two weeks since I was there. I've always liked Taboose as an entry point, it really does drop you into an incredible spot in a remarkably short distance.
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:05 am

Those are some great photos Mav!!! Thanks for pics and the great read. I have to admit I have purposely avoided these "treadmill" passes over the years and have only gone down Sawmill and Shepard. I was in the Taboose area only once (South Lake to Sawmill) and we walked right through due to really bad weather that was slowing our "planned" ;) progress. Your post makes me want to go back and enjoy the area at a bit slower pace. Such things fit me just fine these days :D !!
Once in a while you can get shown the light
In the strangest places if you look at it right.

The Grateful Dead
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby Captain Slappy » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:14 am

Terrific photos. The colors and clouds on 13 are very striking. That is a great capture of a what I am sure was a fleeting moment. 21 is just plain magical.
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby windknot » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:24 am

Amazing pictures as always, mav, thanks for sharing!
A few backcountry fishing pictures:
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Re: Taboose Pass Corridor TR 7/27-7/31

Postby richlong8 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:57 pm

Amazing photos. Your pics always inspire me to try and take more time and consideration instead of just point and shoot.
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