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TR: Wolverton to (almost) Triple Divide (2009)

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TR: Wolverton to (almost) Triple Divide (2009)

Postby nsmeier » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:04 pm

Wolverton to (almost) Triple Divide loop: 4 days hiking, with 1 rest day, part cross-country.

Maverick noticed that after posting for suggestions a few years back, I never did give a recap of the trip we ended up doing. Well, here is the story to the best of my faulty recollection. We did a mostly cross-country Loop leaving out of the Wolverton trailhead near Lodgepole. After driving from Santa Cruz that morning, we did not get on the trail until about 2pm.

We took the trail to Pear Lake where the trail ended (about 7 miles), considered stopping, (while beautiful, there were quite a few people there) but decided to push on to Moose Lake, another 2 miles. The Trail to Pear Lake was mostly wooded and wonderful views along the way especially as we gained altitude, but that all uphill on the first day is tiring. Getting route advice from a ranger there, which contradicted the advice from the ranger at the station, we headed basically directly east to get from Pear Lake to Moose Lake. Moose Lake was barren, but lovely, though it was nearing sunset when we arrived. Altogether we gained about 3,500 feet that day.

The next day we had planned on getting all the way to Lion Lake, but that turned out to be overly ambitious. Also my partners insisted on heading direct from Moose Lake toward Lonely Lake, which meant a lot more up and down than if we had skirted a bit to the north, as I had planned. We had a little trouble finding Lonely Lake, as it was hidden, but finally figured out our route, but when we got to the ridge past Lonely overlooking Kings Canyon, the weather was getting nasty, and though it was only 3pm, we had only open ridges ahead of us, so we camped by Lonely Lake. It was only about 4 plus miles of hiking, but lots of up and down, and we spent quite a bit of it arguing over where we were and the best route.

The next day we headed down into the bowl just north of Elizabeth pass and then up to Cooper Mine pass, which was snow and scree all the way up. At the top we were right on the ridge, looking for the best way to drop down all the steep scree into Lion Lake. We had planned on going to Lion Lake, and then up the drainage to the next lake above it and over the pass there and down into Nine Lakes Basin. However, it started to rain with lightening and thunder, so we figured we had better get off the ridge ASAP. After a bit of arguing, we went straight down the steep scree to the outlet stream from Lion. We were unsure about doing the pass above Lion. From the views we had it look still snow covered, and our information on how to approach it was almost non-existent, so we then decided to head down to Tamarack Lake, rather then up to Lion Lake. (Later we were told we probably took the more difficult route). We first tried the north side of the stream after the falls, but got stuck, and had to retrace our steps. We crossed the stream at the falls and then headed down pretty much following the stream. When we got to the meadow, and crossed it to the lake, we saw the lake was still at least 100 feet drop below us. We stayed to the north of the lake, and after a bit of floundering, finally found a place to slide down just to the west of the lake to get down to it. It was only 5 miles of hiking according to my Topo, but that was a long hard day of hiking!

Tamarack was gorgeous and we had it to ourselves on that weekend, spending a rest day there. The trout were most abundant and a nice addition to our camp meals. Also some wild onion added some spice up our meals as well. While we did see bear claw marks that looked recent, we never did see the bear.

The following day we headed out the trail for the a long hike out down Lone Pine Meadow, past Bearpaw Meadow Camp and back out to Wolverton (over 15 miles). We went from over 9,000' down to 7,000, back up to 9'000 and then back down to around 7,000' again.

All in all though, it was what we were looking for—solitude, great high country views, some challenges, nice lakes and great hiking, and a loop trial.

For trip photos: ... 826109951/

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Re: TR: Wolverton to (almost) Triple Divide (2009)

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:57 am

Great TR and love the photo's. The descent down to Tamarack Lake is a maze, and
one needs to take there time to do it otherwise you get cliffed out, and then on top
of that if it was a heavy to moderate snow year you'll have the meadow above and
before the lake that turns into a marsh that you have to circumnavigate, but Tamarack
is a beautiful lake an worth the effort.
Thanks again for posting it, and it is never to late to do so. Your post not only gives us
fun reading material but also may help others navigate through this area with more
confidence knowing what to expect.
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:
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Re: TR: Wolverton to (almost) Triple Divide (2009)

Postby windknot » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:38 pm

Thanks for the report! I'll be heading into the Tablelands in late September and am looking forward to visiting this area for the first time.
A few backcountry fishing pictures:
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