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Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

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Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby bbayley80 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:58 pm

Hi all-
am deep in planning mode for the upcoming season and was hoping to get some opinions.
am looking to do a three day trip in early August and was wondering what locale would provide a better base camp to explore surrounding areas- either Dusy Basin-via South Lake trailhead- or Charlotte Lake-out of Onion Valley.

any info would be greatly appreciated.

thanks!



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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:16 pm

I'd say go with Dusy Basin. The hike in is beautiful and you have a large area to explore. The hike up Bubbs Creek is mostly uneventful. It certainly has nice things to see but not on the level of Dusy Basin. I also don't think you have as many areas to explore from there.

Both areas are generally high traffic.
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby lambertiana » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:36 pm

That's a tough question. Dusy Basin is nice with plenty of places to explore, and you could always go up Agassiz on the day you exit.

But from Onion Valley to Charlotte is also a nice hike, and from Charlotte you can do day trips to Rae Lakes or Gardiner Basin, both of which are spectacular.
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby Wild Bill » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:03 am

Roguephotonic is correct about both being high traffic areas.

Over the years I have had to park in the hiker overflow spot down the road from the parking lot at the Bishop Pass Trailhead. Lot fills up frequently. You will encounter many people on that trail. It's been my experience that the lower lakes in Dusy Basin get more traffic. I'm partial to Lake 11,393.
Maybe you can find your way over to Palisade Basin.

My stop at Charlotte Lake included:
1. Beautiful scenery; and an enjoyable swim!
2. A trail crew that partied loud like a bunch of chimpanzees;
3. Helicopter shuttle in and out for the wilderness ranger. It landed right on the edge of Charlotte Lake.

Maybe I just had bad timing. I'm willing to give her another chance.

I like camping at Kearsarge Lakes the first night. Bear boxes there are handy.

Flip a coin. After all it the High Sierra!
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:11 am

I prefer Dusy Basin, IF you get off the trail and camp at any of the off-trail lakes. A day hike over Knapsack Col to Barrett Lakes is spectacular. Plus there are lots of nice lakes on the east side too. Gardnier Basin from Charlotte Lake is not an easy day hike. If you go over Gardnier Pass you are on the west side, OK for fishing but not the spectacular side. Gardnier Lakes via 60 Lakes Basin from Charlotte Lake is much more than a day hike. Kearsarge lakes are spectacular, but there are camping restrictions. I never thought Charlotte Lake that spectacular. The east side right out of Onion Valley is also pretty and has lots of day-hike potential. Everyone seems to forget this as they try to zoom over the pass. Both are good so you are choosing between good and better. Can't go wrong.
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby quentinc » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:12 am

I'd also vote for Dusy, which is spectacular and you can find relative solitude if you try. I don't find Charlotte Lake very appealing (Kearsarge Lakes are much more scenic), and the hike from the JMT down to the lake is one of the most annoying in the Sierra (it's less than a mile, but it feels like 5).
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:04 pm

Welcome to HST!
Hands down Dusy Basin! Hopefully you plan on spending a night east of the pass at one
of the lakes to acclimating to the elevation, unless you have not problem going straight
to areas above 11000 ft for the first night.
Dusy Basin easily has enough to offer for your short trip.
Lake 11393 would make the best basecamp, and offers intimate views of Mt. Winchell
which can be very impressive when bathed in the suns golden rays at sunset.
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: http://reconn.org
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby SSSdave » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:34 pm

Responders may have missed that you related a "3 day" trip and are posting ideas like you have a week. The hike in and out for either area is moderately strenuous enough that you aren't likely to be doing all that much after arriving on day 1 and at best on day 3 might climb Aggasiz on the way out. So would have one layover day thus one good daytrip during that day.

Charlotte Lake is further, less interesting locally about that lake, and less scenic locally. Actually for three days would not bother considering going beyond Kearsarge Lakes. And you would not need to GO SOMEWHERE on your layover day as I doubt you would even have enough time in one day to visit each lake in the chain but briefly. Of course you could climb University or Gould if scrambling be your thing.

Even better idea for a 3-day trip is to not even bother grunting up over Kearsarge Pass and instead go offtrail over the easy divide (actually has a trail though not on topo) to the basin immediately south of no name ponds from Gilbert. Pleasant place, fewer people, with better fishing. Then on layover could climb up to Bench Lake or University Peak or any of the other several lakes. That way more time to do something beside lugging your pack.

And if going to Dusy, likewise you would not need to GO SOMEWHERE beyond that basin either for the same reason. Even larger zone of lakes and many more peaks that there is no way you are going to see much of the basin with just one layover day. A place you probably ought not waste going to on a 3-day trip because it really does deserve a week.
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby bbayley80 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:11 pm

thanks for the welcome Maverick.
been having a great time reading posts, viewing pics etc. a great resource to be sure.

thanks all for the great insight on my inquiry.
much appreciated.
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Re: Dusy Basin or Charlotte Lake?

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:56 pm

Maybe you should read this, and then we can recommend other area's accordingly.
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205

If you have 3 nights max, and do not want to be wasted, then maybe the Minaret
area or some place up the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek (Lake Sabrina area) or the
North Fork may be better.
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: http://reconn.org
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