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TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

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TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby kpeter » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:20 am

TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area
June 9-11


Getting to the Trailhead

Picked up my permit at the Groveland Ranger Station when it opened at 8am (not really located in Groveland, but down the highway closer to Buck Meadows.) No quotas are in effect, hence no reservations are required for the Kibbie Ridge trail (they are for Kibbie Lake!) From there it took about 45 minutes of driving on paved but twisty mountain backroads to get to Cherry Dam. Crossed the dam and headed up the gravel road to the Shingle Springs trailhead. The last couple of miles of that gravel road are very rough and demanded very slow driving and strategic placement of the wheels of my passenger car to avoid scraping bottom. The worst dip from last year had been filled with fresh gravel, but otherwise the road is unchanged.

From the trailhead to Sachse Springs

The trail is excellent up to the juncture where the Kibbie Ridge trail departs from the trail to Kibbie Lake. Then I departed north onto the Kibbe Ridge trail in a burn zone. Based on reports posted here, last year the Kibbie Ridge trail was cleared of deadfall. I did see evidence of that, with cuts that were not weathered and piles of sawdust still on the ground. However, last year’s storms did quite a number. I lost count over 50 on deadfall. I met a couple of groups of kayakers who were porting their 80 pound kayaks all the way to Cherry Creek, and I can’t imagine they were thrilled about the trail condition. Interestingly, not all the deadfall were “dead.” A lot of green trees were down, and not just the hulks left over from the fire–probably a sign of the ferocity of the wind storms. Nevertheless, I had no problems following this boring, uninteresting, at times ugly trail. It was less bad on the way in than on the way out, since psychologically I had something to look forward to. There was one little stream in this stretch that was welcome on the way out.

From Sachse Springs to Styx Pass

There is an open saddle just before Sachse Springs where things opened up a bit, and from this point on the trail became more interesting to me. There was less burn zone, a sprinkling of grassy tarns here and there, and open slabs of granite. Sachse Springs was wet, but I did not leave the trail to find the actual water pipe or cabin that I read is in the vicinity. The main trail goes into the sedge. Later on, numerous reports warned that the trail gets sketchy as you near Styx Pass. It is true that it is easy to lose it as it crosses granite slabs, but they were mostly ducked and it was easy enough to return to the trail. The last of the trail out of the granite up to Styx Pass was fine. Styx Pass is a interesting place–the trail follows a long, relatively low and forested notch.

Many Island Lake

I went all the way to Styx Pass (marked only by the Yosemite Park boundary signs) and then contoured SSW until I got to an overlook with a magnificent view of the lake.
IMGP2353.jpg
Many Islands lake from before descent

There was also a delightful campsite with this view. At the same point there was a long friction slab at the bottom of a bluff leading down (see photo).
IMGP2356.jpg
Beginning of the descent to Many Island

I thought about camping but headed down to the lake. There I found one woodsy fire ring and camp on the northernmost shore, but it was rather brushy and uninteresting to me. I moved to one of the granite peninsulas in the middle of the north shore and found a magnificent camp with a view and a breeze. There had also been an hatching and from 6 to 7 in the evening the air filled with the drone of billowing clouds of flying insects. Fortunately, none of them were mosquitoes.
The lake itself I found lovely, although I only explored its northern shore. It would have been a blast to hang out there with a raft and explore the labyrinth of islands.
Last edited by kpeter on Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:55 pm, edited 8 times in total.



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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby kpeter » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:20 am

From Many Island to Boundary Lake

I’m not sure if I took the optimal way to get up to the slabs and ridge that divides the Many Island drainage from the 7489 drainage, but it was not difficult. I went due east of Many Island with a small knob as my marker, and dog legged up a draw to the right of the knob. The draw got brushy so I climbed out of it and found myself on easy slabs sloping up to the divide.
IMGP2373.jpg
Tree at the Many Island/Lake 7489 divide

When I got there I looked down on lake 7489 and remembered the advice I had received here about the difficulties getting to the other side of that chain of lakes. Then I looked north to knob 7883 and saw a saddle to its west. It was an easy stroll to the saddle, and I curved around 7883 on its western and northern sides–getting magnificent views of Cherry Creek canyon along the way, and picked my way down the granite to arrive at Boundary Lake on its westernmost shore.

Boundary Lake

This is a large, relatively open and very blue lake.
IMGP2384.jpg
Boundary Lake from my approach

Its eastern shore is hugged with granite bluffs and cliffs, the western shore filled with numerous relatively level peninsulas. I camped near the narrowest part of the lake on the pointy peninsula–it had a few more trees for a little afternoon shade.
IMGP2423.jpg
Camp at Boundary Lake

I did find a fire ring there (in a puddle) and had found other rings on other peninsula. Based on previous reports, I guess people keep making new ones :( In any case, I don’t normally use them. I found the lake rather drab in the morning sun–since the bluffs and cliffs were washed out. But by late afternoon that side of the lake was painted in relief and was magnificent.
IMGP2426.jpg
Cliffs on Eastern Shore of Boundary

IMGP2436.jpg
Sunset at Boundary Lake

The northern parts of the lake are shallower but interesting to explore, but you can tell I was most taken with the views of the eastern granite.
Last edited by kpeter on Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:19 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby kpeter » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:21 am

Boundary Lake to Little Bear Lake and knob 7787

To see more of the area I dayhiked south of Boundary Lake to take a look at Little Bear Lake and see if I could get some views of the other lakes in the vicinity. Little Bear Lake was pretty enough, with interesting peninsulas, green sedges, trees and granite mixed into a pleasant combination, though it lacked the dramatic granite of Boundary Lake. I did not explore its eastern shore. There is a semi-ducked use trail that takes you over some cliffs that efface the NW inlet so you can continue down the western shore.
IMGP2400.jpg
Little Bear from the use trail


The outlet was barely flowing at all and easy to cross. This outlet is rather a key junction for exploring the area. From this outlet you can
1) continue easily down the outlet to the Bartlett Creek lakes
2) contour W and then N to lakes 7489 and 7458
3) head E and then SE to visit Spotted Fawn lake
4) (what I did) head due S to climb knob 7797

Knob 7797 is an easy walk up. When you approach it from the north there are some slabs and broken granite that almost seem like a ready made staircase. From the top you can see ALL of the lakes in the vicinity and much more.
IMGP2412.jpg
Bartlett Lakes from point 7797

I returned to camp at Boundary Lake the way I came.

Boundary Lake to Cherry Creek

I descended the use trail from Boundary Lake to where it meets the main trail going from Styx pass to Cherry Creek. The use trail to Boundary actually showed some signs of maintenance–with a deadfall recently removed and some duckting across the granite. From the lake, the trail can be found by foing to the very NW tip of the long hooked inlet of the lake. It heads over a “lip” and kissed the SW end of the little tarn below Boundary before heading across granite to the intersection. I found the trail pretty easy to follow and find–but I was coming down it rather than up it, which is a significant advantage. At the intersection with the main trail there was no sign, but a couple of ducks. If coming into Boundary from the main trail, probably the hardest thing to do would be to find the turnoff, particularly if those ducks were gone.

I took the main trail the rest of the way down to Cherry Creek to take a look at it. I was rather desperate for the sound of running water–I have never been on a trip before where there were fewer streams and babbling brooks than this one. Cherry Creek was nice, but the water there was low and I was a little disappointed to find that it was mostly pools and relatively few falls and rapids in the vicinity where I touched it, coming out of Lord's meadows.
IMGP2461.jpg
Cherry Creek

It was pretty and soothing, and I rested a long while in the shade next to it. Perhaps I have been spoiled by recent years that were filled with roaring water. I doubt that you will find that anywhere, this season, and Cherry Creek was placid.

Cherry Creek to Styx Pass and Home

The trail from Cherry Creek up to Styx pass is well groomed and nicely engineered and I traveled it uneventfully, looking back for some nice views of the canyon.
IMGP2465.jpg
Cherry Creek canyon from Styx pass trail

From Styx Pass I trudged the 11 miles out in 4 and a half hours, helped by a lighter pack, acclimated lungs, knowledge of the trail, and burning desire to get past the uninteresting part of the trip.

Reflections on the Trip

Positives: I found the lakes very beautiful–among the most interesting lakes I have visited. Their settings were not as dramatic as those in the high Sierra, but the shorelines and multiple islands were fascinating. I also enjoyed the bits of cross country travel which I found easy to negotiate and rewarding. And one of the best features of all was that I was, so far as I know, the only backpacker visiting ANY of the lakes I saw. It was complete solitude, save for the kayakers porting their boats to Cherry Creek.
IMGP2419.jpg
A trailside companion

IMGP2456.jpg
Some of the few wildflowers


Negatives: I missed the lack of running streams and the total absence of snow. It was relatively hot, compared with higher elevations, and I found the midday heat and unremitting sun to be a bit demoralizing. I get the feeling that I would have enjoyed this trip that much more in mid May rather than mid June for this year. And, of course, as everyone warned, the first six miles of the trail are as dull as any I have experienced.
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby venturefar » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:39 am

Nice report. Great pictures. Looks like you had a great trip.
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:07 am

Thanks KP for taking the time and effort to post this very enjoyable TR. Was
kind of surprised, but happy to read about the lack of mosquito's in an area
that can get quite bad at the height of the season.
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: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby neil d » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:41 pm

Thanks for the report and wonderful photos!

I recognize many of your photos from a fateful trip 20 years ago. The plan was to hike from Cherry Lake to Twin Lakes over the course of 8 days. We got to Huckleberry Lake on Day 2 before abandoning all hope due to the massive clouds of skeeters. In retrospect, we should have merely crawled out of the drainage and maintained the high ground, but teenagers ain't that smart.

Kibbie Ridge is indeed boring. I can't imagine portaging kayaks over that stretch.
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby Ikan Mas » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:55 pm

Thanks! I was a Kibbie a couple of weekends ago, and my interest in the Styx Pass area was already picqued. Now I will make a trip out there.
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:33 pm

Great job!

We did this hike about three years ago, and loved the solitude as well. Quite beautiful!
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR: Kibbie Ridge to Boundary Lake Area June 9-11

Postby kpeter » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:29 pm

Well thank you Balzacom! I read your trail report on Boundary lake carefully when planning this trip and deciding whether to do it and what to do. In fact, I printed paragraphs from your report and many of the other comments from people on this site and took them along. At times I was sitting in camp at Boundary Lake reading these paragraphs while planning the next day!
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