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Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11

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Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11

Postby Jimr » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:23 pm

We had a great trip! We made Cottonwood Lk #5 in just a few short hours. It was probably the easiest first day I’ve ever had on an extended trip. With so much time left in the day, I decided to day hike toward Old Army Pass to see if it was passable. I really did not want to haul up a pack just to turn around and head to NAP. The only real snow was in the center of the bowl. I could see a faint line of tracks that seemed to connect trail. As I approached it, my suspicion was confirmed. There were faint tracks across roughly 20 yards of snow pack leading to the trail on the other side of the bowl. I have heavy Danner leather boots, so I ventured onto the snow pack cutting the faint tracks deeper so we would have some good footholds the next morning. We had nothing but a ski pole apiece and they were not adequate for self arrest if a slip occurred. After traversing the bowl, the trail was straightforward until the upper traverse, but fortunately, there were a few alternate work arounds that allowed one to work below the upper snow. Near the very top, just below the final rounding, there was one move from the rounded point of a large boulder onto a snow bank that required a 3 ft leap. An easy move as long as you don’t get your head or ego involved, but it went from a balance point to a single footprint in the snow, so it was interesting.

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We headed toward Mt. Langley, and then turned down the drainage toward Upper Soldier Lk. Above the lake, we headed toward the upper boundary of the small forest on the moraine separating the Soldier Lake basin from the Miter basin. Our goal was to keep elevation and traverse around the moraine until we met with Upper Miter basin. As we sat taking a break in the forest, we saw about 15 or so Mule deer working their way down canyon toward Upper Soldier Lake. I couldn’t believe we didn’t see them when we were descending. About 20 minutes later, we saw another dozen or so headed down the same path. Pretty cool.

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We rounded the lateral moraine and kept elevation until we reached upper Rock Creek making our way to the outlet from Sky Blue Lk.; A wonderful cascade. I soaked my feet in the rushing water for a while and relaxed a bit before the final assault to SBL. Once at SBL, we almost immediately found a hardened camp spot against a granite wall with a huge boulder on one side providing wind protection. There was residual snow surrounding the site, but the site was clear. Our tent fit neatly in a flat spot one foot from a small patch of snow.

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The next morning, I fished around a bit and caught a reasonable size golden trout. One more and we’d have dinner. I dug a hole in the snow and buried the fish on ice to keep for later. We then decided to head around the Major General to get a glimpse of Iridescent Lk. The view from the top of the shoulder was amazing. There’s something just awe inspiring about shouldering up to the Eastern Escarpment; such a sublime view. I’m not a religious person, but there is something truly spiritual about the high places with their grand vistas and towering peaks. A site that few people experience as every view is well earned.

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-Continued-
Last edited by ERIC on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: merged topics



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Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby Jimr » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:33 pm

At this point, I suggested to my hiking buddy a change in our itinerary. I told him that we could go back to SBL and watch the sun crawl across the sky or we could pack up camp and head back to upper Soldier Lk. which would give us some options. We could split our return trip into two days instead of one or blast out a day early depending on our desire for good food and a soft bed. When we got back to camp, I noticed my fish was scavenged. Oh well. We packed up camp and headed to Upper Soldier Lk.

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On our way back around the moraine separating the two drainages, we neglected to keep high enough to hit USL directly and ended up cliffed out between the two lakes. We made our way down to the inlet stream of Lower Soldier Lk. and bushwhacked our way to the upper lake. We managed to minimize the bushwhacking through the deer brush by paralleling up along the side through the mushy terrain, then following a game trail across the stream and finally reached USL where we found a nice area to camp just away from the upper meadow area at the inlet side of the lake. While it was a nice campsite, the sceeterz were pretty annoying. To be expected considering the nearby boggy meadow.

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The next morning, we headed back up the inlet to the base of Mt. Langley and dropped our packs for a little peak bagging. It was early and we were well acclimated at this time, so we hit the summit before anyone else. I’m not usually prone to fear of heights, but I gotta say, I had it big time. As I neared the East Face and got a glimpse of the shear drop all around, I stopped short and took a long look at the edge blocks, tested them with one foot, checked them again, then finally scooted out on my stomach toward the precipice. I couldn’t quite get myself to peer my head over the edge, but got within a foot. It was an exhilarating feeling of excitement and pending doom. My buddy is well versed in fear of heights, but managed to squirm out on his belly enough to hold his camera over the edge for a shot. We found the register box and found that someone had put a new notepad in the day before so we signed in and hung out for a short while. Within a half hour, a young couple made their way to the summit, then a group of three, then another group of two. I noted it interesting that when traveling through and camping I enjoyed solitude with nobody else around, but at the summit, I welcomed the camaraderie of others who earned the views just as we did, but now, it was time to leave.

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We decided to blast out and head to Lone Pine for a big juicy burger and plenty of soda before heading home to a warm, comfortable bed. As usual, the trail down seemed twice as long as it was on the way up. It always seems that way. I told my buddy that the parking lot was moving away from us at 1 mile an hour, so if we kept up our pace, we’d catch up to the truck, eventually.
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby KathyW » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:33 pm

It sounds like you had a great trip. I just love Sky Blue Lake and the trek up the drainage to it.
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby bluefintu » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:46 pm

Hi Jimr,

My son and I was there a week before you. What happened to your fish ? I took a raft and trolled the lake for nothing. The raft for us was very usefull to cross a snow bridge to get to the otherside. We caught a bunch of fish using these tube jigs, we kept three fish, one for lunch and two for dinner. Nothing on lures, except for Soldier Lake, good bite on lures. Some of your pictures look like mine. Still trying to post pics.
Thaks for the report !!!
Don
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby markskor » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:11 pm

Nice report, nice pictures too...Brought back some fine memories.

RE - the lost fish conundrum: my guess is a marmot bagged it. Once at Bernice Lake, we prepared a trout feast, the two of us lakeside, soon joined by one of these furry denizens. It hunkered down between us and devoured all the remains thrown its way, bones and all... sat down like one of the crowd - polite. Enjoyed the "company" and made clean-up easy.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby Jimr » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:10 pm

The marmots were out in full force, but no nibbling on our packs. The fish was dug out, but not nibbled on. Once exposed, it was baked by the sun so I offered it up to the locals. At least someone got to eat it. My camera sucks, but I managed to get a few pics. My partner has a better camera, so I'm looking forward to receiving his to add to mine. The camera is several years old and the WYSISYG screen is un-viewable in the high UV rays, so I could never tell by looking into the viewfinder window whether I was washed out or not. I know what I want for x-mas
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby windknot » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:22 pm

Thanks for the report and pictures! Looks like it was a great trip, I need to visit this area some day.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Horseshoe Meadow to Sky Blue Lake TR Aug 8 thru Aug 11 #2

Postby hikerchick395 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:43 pm

Thanks for the report and letting me visit the area through your words and pics. (I had to cancel our trip in the same area that was supposed to start July 24. :( )
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