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Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

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Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby oleander » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:57 am

I have a permit to access the Island Pass area from Rush Creek at the beginning of July. Hoping to see the famous paintbrush bloom at Davis Lakes, and ideally to see Marie Lakes as well. Always wanted to see these basins.

Any suggestions for these two places? (Places to camp, easy offtrail exploring.) I am level 4 but we may have someone in our group with more like level 2 skills.

We have a permit for 3 days, but may have to cut it down to two days owing to work obligations. I know, two days is tight. If it were just up to me, I'd do some big miles and be sure to see both Davis & Marie basins and maybe hike up to one of the cols overlooking Bench Canyon. But there might be time for only one basin. If you had time for just one, which might you pick?

We are seeking high alpine scenery, nice lakes, and solitude. Not fishing. Oh, and the skeeters may be out at that time of year - so we might want to avoid grassy/marshy lakes.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:49 pm

Davis Lakes Basin for sure!
If we do not get any significant late snow fall in March or April than your timing
would be right, otherwise they would usually start to bloom in late July through
the middle of August.
You want to stay close to the lower lake (9954) because this is where there is a
meadow on the southern end of the lake were the Indian paint brush is the most
dense.
As with all wildflowers there are a lot of variables. When visiting this basin over
20 years ago it was one of the most spectacular displays I have ever seen, and the
other 2 times since then, it has come no where near that.
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:22 pm

I prefer Marie Lakes. If you camp at the outlet, it is a windy but the view is good. I have camped at the upper lake. Marie Lakes is a bit more work to get to because it has more elevation gain. The basin below Marie Lakes is also quite pretty. I did Davis Lake the same trip and for some reason I preferred Marie Lakes, probably because I spent more time there exploring. If you are after the flowers, then Davis is better. If you are after the surrounding mountain scenery, I prefer Marie Lakes. If you are after the best overall expansive views, then Lost Lakes are the best.

I recall an early season difficult river crossing, but cannot remember if it was crossing Rush Creek or the creek from Davis Lakes. Marie Lakes is higher elevation so may have snow early July. Last year early July it was solid snow above Gem Lake.

Another set of nice off-trail lakes are the Lost Lakes. It is pretty easy open forest walking from the west end of Waugh Lake to Lost Lakes. Go up past an unnamed lake at 10,400 just north of Point 10857 to get to the upper lakes. From the lake at 10,400 you get really nice views of the Minarets and Koip Crest.

If you go to Davis Lake you can return via Thousand Island Lake and Agnew Pass.

Too bad you do not have more time. Two days is really rushed. All you can do in 2 days is go to one of the lakes and just come back.
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:57 pm

Getting to Davis will be long enough for an over night stay, and even though
Marie is nicer, but if your main objective is to see the wildflowers as your first
noted, than go visit Marie when you have more time.
You mention that you had someone at a level 2 in your group, can they handle
hiking to higher elevations in one day.
It is 10.7 miles with a 2674 ft elevation gain in one day, and altitude sickness could
be an issue.
Marie Lakes is 12.5 miles with a 3576 ft elevation gain.
For some of us this is not an issue, but for others it can be a major issue.
The southwestern end of 1000 Is Lake has a garden that can be almost as impressive
as Davis Lake, when the conditions are right.
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby Ikan Mas » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:31 pm

Here's a few photos of Davis Lake from August 2011.
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby tomba » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:19 pm

Photos from September 24, 2011. Click for larger images.

Lower Marie Lake:
IMG_4096-marie-lks-1-small.jpg
IMG_4097-marie-lks-2-small.jpg

Sunrise at small irregular Rodgers Lakes, between Davis Lakes and Marie Lakes:
IMG_4051-rodgers-lakes-small.jpg
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby oleander » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:31 pm

Wow, the photos are helpful. Davis Lakes looks more garden-like, kind of an extension of Island Pass. Marie Lakes looks higher, rugged and more desolate. Both good. Doesn't one of them have a waterfall?

I have never seen the paintbrush bloom at Davis Lakes in spite of having visited the Ritter Range at least 6-8 times. We have always been there in September (to avoid the crowds) or, in one case, too early for the bloom. Yeah, we're making a guess that the bloom will happen around July 1 this year, but of course it's a crapshoot. Once our trip rolls around, is there a good source to find out if the bloom is peaking? The ranger station in Mammoth or Lee Vining?

Thank you for mentioning Lost Lakes, too. I remember glancing up that watershed one time and thinking, "Must be gorgeous up there."

We are definitely aiming for 3 days; that's what is on our permit. Sounds like there is much to explore and it'd be a great 4-5 day trip.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby maverick » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:38 pm

Elizabeth wrote:
Once our trip rolls around, is there a good source to find out if the bloom is peaking? The
ranger station in Mammoth or Lee Vining?


Besides someone posting a trip report to the area, the ranger station at Mammoth will be
you only other source.
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: Davis & Marie Lakes (Ritter Range)

Postby SSSdave » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:10 am

oleander wrote: Once our trip rolls around, is there a good source to find out if the bloom is peaking? The ranger station in Mammoth or Lee Vining?...Thank you for mentioning Lost Lakes, too. I remember glancing up that watershed one time and thinking, "Must be gorgeous up there."..- Elizabeth


Hi Elizabeth,

Very unlikely to see any posts on web boards about Peirson's paintbrush, castilleja peirsonii, beyond vaguely referencing wildflowers were out. Wildflower information in the Sierra's beyond specific location information tends to be vague and unreliable in part due to the considerable variations with elevation, exposure, geology, moisture, and general vague species familiarity of most visitors.

That species tends to come out somewhat late because it often grows about higher elevation turfy area flats above 10k that are usually wet earlier in summer due to snow melt drainage. The Ritter Range has several excellent areas just like the area of Davis Lake especially if one hikes crosscountry near the base of the peaks where avalanches clear trees off and seepage drains down from higher snowfields for weeks. The east end of Thousand Island Lake has several massive areas of them. Just south, the Fish Creek basin also contains many excellent areas of that species. During a normal year the species peaks between late July and mid August. From year to year those paintbrush vary considerably in the degree of bloom. That is something this person has not clearly figured out as I have struck out during trips when I was confident conditions should have been optimal.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/images/print_04-q3-2.html
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