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Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

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Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby flyingzucchini » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:08 am

We're doing the standard North Lake - South Lake route through Evolution and we'd like to camp somewhere between Piute Pass and the JMT Junction, the only section of this trail I haven't done before. We'd definitely like to go further than Golden Trout Lakes, but I'm not sure where there are decent campsites between there and the San Joaquin confluence (which would be too far for us). In 2010 while in Humphrey's Basin I heard bad stories about a dead horse and terrible camping around Hutchinson Meadow - I'm sure there is no longer a horse problem but still not sure about the camping. Any advice appreciated!



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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby windknot » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:33 am

To what extent do you want to stick to the trail? Do you fish, and are you willing to take a slight detour in order to obtain a campsite with better views? I'd head up to one of the sub-basins either to the south (Glacier Divide lakes) or north (Tomahawk, Mesa, Knob, etc.) to camp in Humphreys Basin. This is all pretty easy cross-country travel, and even if you don't fish, the views from higher up in the basin are much better (in my opinion) than down at the trail along Piute Creek.

If you do want to stick to the trail, Hutchinson Meadow seems like the most logical place to me. Haven't been there myself though so I can't vouch for the camping (or if anything remains from the dead horse; probably not).
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby BrianF » Sat Jul 07, 2012 2:33 pm

I have never camped at Hutchison Mdw but I have been through twice and I recall the area as dry and dusty and VERY popular with horsepackers. I would bet that there are some sites along the trail near East Pinnacles creek tho I have no exact recollection of that. I can vouch for Upper Golden Trout lake as a great place to camp, but that would add some miles the next day, albeit easy miles
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby maverick » Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:06 pm

There is a nice spot in Piute Canyon, on a southern-facing cliff about 2 miles downhill
from Hutchinson Meadow.
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby kpeter » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:53 pm

I did the loop last year. On that leg I started at Piute Lake and made it to the Piute/JMT junction where I camped that night. I did keep my eyes open for campsites for future reference along the way.

As you surmised, there is great camping in Humphries Basin and upper Golden Trout lakes is pretty and very campable. It was my home base for another trip when I explored Humphries. It is also probably the most popular camping spot for Humphries Basin and you might see people.

When you leave Humphries Basin the maintained trail stays pretty far from Piute Creek and in the woods, mostly on a slope. I don't recall any nice sites until you get down within earshot of the creek--after you drop below the 10,000 foot line. From then on there seemed to me to be ample opportunities between the trail and the creek, which tends to stay one or two hundred yards away from the trail.

Note I'm including some pictures so you get a general idea of the terrain--not that they are of good campsites.
IMGP2020.jpg
Along Piute Creek shortly after the 10k contour

IMGP2022.jpg
One of many meadowy segments above Hutchinson Meadows

Hutchinson Meadows was very soggy when I was there in late July of a wet year, and did not seem appealing to me. Perhaps it was the weather (showers) or the fact that I had to wade 8 streams to get across--but it seemed pretty woodsy and lacked a view. But then I might be picky about wanting camps with good living room windows.

More opportunities after Hutchinson Meadows, but when you get close to West Pinnacles Creek the canyon gets steep, the trail goes high above the creek, and I did not notice any good sites from West Pinnacles all the way to the confluence.
IMGP2033.jpg
Difficult to camp in the canyon after W. Pinnacles Creek

Actually, I did notice one or two beautiful sites right on the creek--but they were not legal and they were close to the confluence anyway. So my advice would be to stop well upstream of West Pinnacles Creek or not at all until the JMT.
IMGP2045.jpg
Camping at Motel JMT at the confluence
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby slowhiker » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:39 am

My wife and two of my kids (24 and 14 years old at the time) did this loop in 2000. We were not pushing it and completed it in 7 days. As it turned out, we inadvertantly found a great camp site the first night about 200 or 300 yards to the south of the trail below Lower Golden Trout Lake. It had been a very rainy day and the campsite was relatively dry and very clean. As it turned out we stayed the second night near the Piute bridge after another rainy day. That trip we took was really nice, yet over the 7 days it rained 5 days, so it is a great story now, however at the time I was beginning to think that we should have chosen to go to Hawaii and stayed in a nice condo!
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby flyingzucchini » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:24 am

Really helpful advice, all, thanks so much! We're trying to do the loop in 6 days, so we'll be trying to push through beyond Golden Trout lakes if we're up to it, and not go too far off trail. Based on your advice - if we're tired we'll probably start looking for sites below the 10K contour but be sure to find a spot no further than right around East Pinnacles Creek.
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby hikerchick395 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:37 am

We camped at Packsaddle Lake during a Piute/Pine Creek Pass trip. It was nice...
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby The hermit » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:04 pm

I did the loop in oct. 2010 camped at an established site a mile or so above the jmt. I recall being worried about my food being raided in such a popular camp and listening to the Giants win on the way to the world series!
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:11 pm

The Hermit wrote:
listening to the Giants win on the way to the world series!


Welcome to HST! A dedicated Giants fan.
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: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby quentinc » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:50 pm

I did that stretch at the end of last October. No dead horses and no live people in Hutchinson Meadow, where the camping would have been nice at that time. The stretch of trail from Hutchinson Meadow to the JMT, though, is rather miserable.
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Re: Trip Advice - Camping between Piute Pass and JMT Junction

Postby Mike M. » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:30 pm

There is good camping along Piute Creek in Hutchinson Meadow, a little south (maybe 1/2 mile) of where the Piute Creek Trail intersects with the trail going up to Pine Creek Pass. Just leave the trail and wander along the creekside and you will find several excellent campsites. No great views, but very comfortable camping.

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