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Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

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Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:24 pm

TO DATE THERE aren't any posts about hiking in Lubken Creek in the Eastern Sierra (out of Lone Pine, between Carroll Creek and Diaz Creek). Feel free to add your own TR's.... more to come in a few days.... It's mid April and the road to Horseshoe Meadows is closed, so I'm exploring the creeks as a way to visit Golden Trout Wilderness, Cottonwood Lakes, &etc. during the off season. The creeks themselves are fascinating, each one has it's own look and feel.
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Re: Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:25 pm

ON APRIL 18 & 19 hiked by myself up North Fork Lubken Creek (a.k.a. Lubken Canyon) to the pass just west of Owens Point, then down the stream to Golden Trout Camp. I parked around 10AM in the "lot" on Granite View Road at the Great Space Center sign (Mt. Langley topo, 1680 m) and got to the pass (Cirque Peak topo, 11090 ft) just after dark. Next time, I would try to find one of the 4WD roads off of Horseshoe Meadow Road that actually reach the bottom of the canyon. There are a lot of hardwood trees down below, in particular very large oak trees with about 20 sprouts per tree at the base. Passed the long, arrow-straight couloir (described at: http://esavalanche.org/node/417 ) that ends at Owens Point because it looked easy and uninteresting. In the main canyon, there were remnants of black PVC pipe all over the place, probably beginning at the springs above for summer water supply. The canyon walls were tall, straight and green in color at times. There's a lot of willows of at least 4 different vibrant hues (dark red, crimson, yellow, gold). There are a lot of large pines. There is abundant birch. I found Lubken to be far more interesting than Carroll or Tuttle Creek. Towards mid afternoon, the sun was peeking over the top of the canyon and shining on a small "grove" of maple trees looking like bushes with almost white bark. That made me stop and stare at a type of beauty I hadn't seen before. As it started getting dark, I stayed left after passing the last willows and began using snow shoes to get over some deep spots between the rocks. It was easy scrambling over some big rocks, which avoided ice flows in the center. Last year I was on Owens Point, so it was reassuring to reach the meadow, in the dark, to the SW of the Point. Went between two wooden posts that used to be a cattle gate, went down the left side of the stream that leads to Cottonwood Creek, and veered left to find the Camp.

THE NEXT DAY it was surprising how long it took to get back down. The day before I went up the east side of the canyon following the stream & willows. To get down, I stayed along the west edge of the canyon. Near the top, I did a lot of snow shoeing and glissading and was frightened by some hip-high plunges into the snow without the shoes on and unable to see any of the rocks hidden underneath. The rest of the way down was easy upon reaching the pine "forest". It was nice going on thick soil & needle duff. It was steep, but the stepping was soft and billowy. Three times had to cross streams choked with willows. Why? There's a side canyon to the west where probably very few people have visited. The stream in the side canyon interests North Fork Lubken Creek at 2620 m. The side canyon is 2 miles long and ends about a half mile from the Woolyback (12840') mentioned on Sep 20, 2006 in a Highsierratopix post as "named by Carl Heller" (Cam, the director at Golden Trout Camp summer school from Thorton School called it that, too).

THIS WAS AN amazing hike, and I could go on. There was a picture perfect balanced rock on the left near the top, in the shape of a triangle. I think I will be busy in the canyons south of Lone Pine a lot this year...... Happy trails, one & all.
Love in spirit, Robert Cymbala
(environmental license plate: MT MTMTM on a Yosemite National Park backgrond).
PO Box 150 Topanga CA 90290
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Re: Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby gary c. » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:48 pm

Now that is getting out there and putting in a serious early season hike. I don't like sinking into deep snow when I know whats underneath. Big boulders under snow scare the crap out of me. I sure would like to see some pictures if you have them.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rcymbala » Mon May 28, 2012 10:44 am

Apologies, no photos to share. A few weeks after, I stopped at the *new* inter-agency visitor's center just south of Lone Pine. I talked with an employee who has done a lot of eastern Sierra hiking (young man, maybe a local). He said not many people go up North Fork Lubken Creek. He guessed 12 total over the years. I told him about seeing black PVC pipe all over the place. He said it was probably irrigation for the marijuana farming that they broke up about three years ago. He hinted that sometimes growers carry firearms to scare away hikers who stumble into the "fields" of pot. I'd like to remove those pipes, if anyone is interested in helping.
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Re: Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby rlown » Mon May 28, 2012 11:46 am

A noble cause. First, you should check with local law enforcement like the Sheriff before stepping into a "used" garden. It would never be a good idea to walk around with loads of irrigation pipe strapped to your back unless they know you are there and doing a good deed. Second, boobytraps. They do exist and maybe the law didn't find all of them.

Lastly, there might be environmental contaminates there that they usually clean up. If they didn't, they probably don't want you touching that stuff until they have a remediation plan.
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Re: Trip Report: Lubken Creek (John Muir Wilderness)

Postby richlong8 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:29 pm

That is pretty awesome, Robert. I have driven the Lubken Ck road many times to intersect the Horseshoe Meadows Rd but never considered going up. I have found lower Cottonwood Ck a fun early season hike. You are probably familiar with that trail, and you can actually put in some pretty good mileage, sometimes hitting snow before the road about 5-6 miles up.
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