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Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

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Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby oleander » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:50 pm

Hi,

I usually go to the Sierra with just one other person, but this summer we'll be a group of 8 hiking into Dusy Basin.

Both times in Dusy, I have camped at the first big lake you get to coming down the trail from Bishop Pass. But I have always wondered about the uppermost lake, 11393. From a traverse we did from Thunderbolt to Bishop Pass, that lake looked gorgeous, but it was impossible to tell, from that high, what the camping might be like. Easy to find a space for 2 people/1 tent, but what about 8 people/4 tents?

We might also just camp at the third lake down, as I remember the terrain around that one is flat-ish (= more campsites?) and it's a more logical jumping-off spot for a dayhike over Knapsack Pass. I do not think the group we have will be able to handle Thunderbolt Pass.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:59 pm

Hi Elizabeth,

You'll easily find places on the western, and northern parts of the lake to accommodate
your group.
It is my favorite lake in that basin when conditions are right, especially after a big storm
at sunset when the whole ridge line above the lake will be basking the some gorgeous
alpenglow!!
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby SSSdave » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:35 pm

Good plan to avoid that first lake below the pass along the trail and the further away the better. Everytime I'm about that zone it has been crawling with tents and groups. Ironic how there are so many people that will hike miles and miles through terrain relatively devoid of tented groups only to end up plunking down in these little lake side communities. No doubt some must wonder why wilderness areas seem so crowded. Guess given our gragarious nature, there are a fair number of folks that don't feel comfortable being "too" alone.

As Maverick noted there are some used camp spots however they are exposed out among the glacially scoured landscape as are most in the upper basin as the few whitebark pine are stunted. Of course the whole upper basin can be breezy especially in afternoons and at midday one has to work to find shade. As a photographer I find lake 11393 too close to the big crest peaks to be able frame their shapes so we always have camped back towards the rim that drops down to the middle bench of the basin. There are more stunted trees near that rim too. More centrally located for usual day hiking unless one is a peak bagger. The bench below has good numbers of whitebarks and turfy meadow areas and is a pleasant zone on windy days though one cannot easily see the big peaks. The lower chain of lakes that drains the Columbine Peak and Potluck Pass area has even more pines, full views of the crest peaks though is a bit far away for my aesthetic sense and the back lakes have a lot of pan sized trout.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby oleander » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:16 pm

Hmmm, I can't really tell what you mean by "the rim." Would that be the ridge between the right-off-the-trail lake and 11393? Or would that be further downstream - just west of all 4 of the upper lakes?

I'm curious about the very lowest lakes (down at 10,750), because they provide possibly the best take-off point for Knapsack Pass. However, I too thought it looked like the photography and the view of the crest would not be as good from there. The further south you wander along those lower lakes (and the further from the trail), the more Isosceles and Columbine Peaks would obscure your line of sight to the crest.

I wonder about the second lake down - 11388 - its north side. I wonder if that could be a good compromise in terms of wind exposure, line of sight to the crest, not camping on top of a bunch of other groups, and access to Knapsack.

We will have a group of people with mixed abilities. We have a layover day. I want to take the more ambitious half of the group over Knapsack to the lower Barrett Lake and back. Ideally we'd return to Dusy Basin via Thunderbolt Pass. In that case our loop-hike would be about the same distance regardless of where our camp is based. However, if there is even one person who becomes scared of Thunderbolt and prefers a return over Knapsack, it would make a lot more sense for our Dusy base camp to be located closer to Knapsack rather than at the highest lake.

The other part of the group - more scared of heights, not in as good shape, want to take it easy, etc. - can do a dayhike, either exploring around Dusy Basin, or maybe down the trail switchbacks to get a good view overlooking Leconte Canyon. I can't recall how far down it is to that giant juniper, or to the waterfalls. The waterfalls may not be much of a spectacle anyway, given that we're talking Labor Day weekend in a low-snow year.

We are not interested in fishing - really just alpine scenery. And we'll have one, maybe two professional photographers among us, so maybe I'll be persuaded to camp exactly where sssdave tells me ;)

- Elizabeth
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby maverick » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:49 pm

If using pano gear, and/or shooting portrait mode with a wide angle from Lake 11393
the ridge can be photographed just fine.
The wind can be an issue as Dave mention, that is why with all photo's one needs to wait
for the right condition for the optimal moment which sometimes does not happen.
Lake 11388 also works quite fine too, but the lake southwest of it has much of the
ridge blocking the views.
The lower lakes views of the Winchell area is indeed blocked, but the view southeast
towards Knapsack ridge area are quite nice too, and there are some nice meadows
and small creeks with lush green gardens, some good wild flowers to be found, though
these vary from year to year.
The view from about 10400 ft, near where the creek from the lower chain of lakes
in Dusy Basin crosses the trail you'll find a great views up towards the north into LeConte
and beyond.
Here is an older shot towards Thunderbolt Pass, across Lake 11393 at sunset:
http://wildernessapertures.com/img/s3/v ... 4707-4.jpg
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby SSSdave » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:24 pm

Elizabeth, the rim of the upper basin from the north where the trail crosses is the 11320 elevation. To the south it rises to 11440 then drops to 11360 below lake 11388 before dropping down to the Columbine bench where views of the big peaks are blocked. From the rim, terrain drops off to the middle bench. Walking along the rim one can look at middle bench at the 11080 to 11230 area that has lots of whitebark, the lower lake chain, and Black Divide beyond. Except for spectacular afternoon views of the crest, I haven't seen any camp spots in the upper basin I'd rate above mediocre in terms of being pleasant. Lower down well away from the trail are many nice camp choices within clumps of whitebark including many that are rarely if ever used.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:42 pm

One suggestion based on your wanting to do Knapsack with part of your group.

The lake below Knapsack after 11,338 (on my Topo software map there's no elevation - its the large one north of Columbine Peak). Knapsack Pass is a short hike away. The cross-country travel is pretty simple to the lake. I've camped there twice with my family in the area a little above the outlet creek. We never saw anyone else either time. If you walk out a little ways to the edge above the lower lakes, the view is spectacular. Here's a photo of the lake.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby tomba » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:36 pm

Similar view of lake 11280+' (the one below lake 11388'), showing more of the surrounding area, taken on 2010-09-04 (click for a larger version):
IMG_1875-small.jpg
Last edited by tomba on Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby hikerchick395 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:26 am

In 2006, I camped at the lake closest to the pass and trail (because my hiking partner just couldn't make it any farther.) Windy and busy, but still, it's Dusy and beautiful. We explored most of the other lakes the next day.

In 2007, I camped, meeting up with a group of 5, at the lower Dusy Lakes, at about 10700'. Plenty of room, no one else around and good views.

In 2008, my husband and I camped at 11393'. I'd say that there is limited camping...you'd have to pitch extra tents on the meadows in the location that we camped. But it is a big lake...I'd imagine there'd be some other sites. A group of 7 came up over the ridge after we arrived and they moved on to 11388'. The next day, we saw that they had a nice camp for their group and a close up view of Isoceles Peak included with the highest peaks.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby oleander » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:11 am

Hmmm, lots of good info.

Both of my visits to Dusy have been in September, so there was not much wind and not too many people. Both times, it was sunny and very warm, so we were not too worried about exposure. We can make fun of that first lake next to the trail, but it does provide spectacular sunset photos spanning all the way to North Palisade.

This year, if it's sunny and warm we may go for 11,388. If we are more concerned about exposure we can camp in the next lake down - I do remember that lake and its outlet, it's fairly flat ground (thus I did hope/suspect there is a lot of camping there). I forgot that it does have a rim-of-the-world view down towards Leconte Canyon. I think this lower lake gets more traffic than it used to, though, because it's right on the main route to Knapsack Pass; we walked right past it last year and saw some others doing the same ahead of us.

And we always have the option of going off into the whitebark pine area that sssdave suggests, finding some pond or stream and a lot of solitude.

We are not actually hiking all the way into Dusy on the first day, we're starting in the afternoon and just going in to one of lakes before Bishop Pass. I was thinking something off the trail to get away from the crowds, maybe Ledge Lake? Or the northwest side of Saddlerock Lake? Anyone been there who can comment on whether we'd find a good spot for 4 tents back in there?

- Elizabeth
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby SSSdave » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:41 am

oleander wrote:...We are not actually hiking all the way into Dusy on the first day, we're starting in the afternoon and just going in to one of lakes before Bishop Pass. I was thinking something off the trail to get away from the crowds, maybe Ledge Lake? Or the northwest side of Saddlerock Lake? Anyone been there who can comment on whether we'd find a good spot for 4 tents back in there? - Elizabeth


As you are aware from your own experience there, its a moderately strenuous haul all the way over BP in one day with a weighty pack especially for larger groups that might have a few folks in less than optimal condition. I learned long ago with most mixed groups its best to not beat people up and instead have a conservative itinerary that keeps everyone happy. We've camped there at Ledge for that same strategy. Your group ought to enjoy it. Well away from the trail, lots of stunted whitebark to find cosy spots, metamorphic geology about, and open scenic views.
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Re: Dusy Basin, Lake 11393

Postby Timberline » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:07 pm

Yep, Dave's right. Ledge Lake offers many possible overnight campsites in a beautiful setting.
And the Ledge is an interesting curiosity, too. Enjoy!
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