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Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

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Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby watsonic » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:20 am

Hi all,

I have about 8 days starting this Saturday to spend in KC. Have a permit for Bubb Creek TH.

Plan right now is to hit Rae Lakes counter-clockwise and bounce up to 60-lakes basin for a night or two.

But I'd like to add an extra interesting twist or two to the trip since I have 2-4 more days than the 4-6 suggested for RL.

Goals:
* breaking free of the well worn trail. significant amount of XC with some Class 2 passes desired.
* visiting beautiful lakes, running water and waterfalls
* visiting well-watered semi boggy meadows (e.g.: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/41943506 )
* avoid annoying shin-busting scree where possible

About me:
* Experienced and fit backpacker, climber and scrambler with limited XC backpacking experience. Very comfortable in challenging physical outdoor situations and looking for new challenges and new skill building. Accompanied by a new-to-backpacking but physically fit, ambitious and very capable lady partner.

One plan is to exit the RL via South Fork Kings River upstream and then ascend next to Kid Creek (HST Map) up to Kid Lakes basin and eventually back down to the TH via Copper Creek trail. Possibly following some of Finch's route here: http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
I am slightly anxious about this as I have not been able to find any report of reaching the SFKR from the Monarch Divide area, except via the Cartridge Pass, further north. Anyone know anything about this route (in bold above)?

I guess one slight alternative would be to follow the JMT up from RL and take these guys' route in reverse (JMT -> SFKR -> Cartridge Pass -> Lakes Basin -> Horshoe -> Copper Ck). But I probably don't have enough days and I'm not trying to make this super strenuous for us. Marjore lake looks beautiful though and so does the Lakes Basin.

An alternative I've also been considering is peeling off early on the coutnerclockwise RL loop to the south and maybe visiting Lake Reflection and/or the Upper Kern Basin (where that photo of the pretty meadow linked to above came from). This area doesn't seem to have as much enthusiasm behind it for XC travel though from my limited reconnaissance.

Thank you for any thoughts and suggestions!

Cheers,
watson



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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:56 am

Somebody here was asking about the Kid Creek route a couple of years ago, and IIRC nobody had any beta. If it goes, it would be a great route--and Kid Lakes basin is one of my favorite areas in the Sierra--but that's a big "if".

Another possible wrinkle might be heading up from Woods Creek into the basin east of Window Peak, then over to Arrow Creek and back down. I'm pretty sure there are some trip reports on that route.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby Electra » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:18 am

I think that was me who inquired about ascending/descending Kid Creek (could have been on yahoo board Tom) into the Muro Blanco. I did not do that route so i cannot comment but i did extensive map research and it seems doable if one has solid scrambling/climbing skills, excellent fitness and a serious adventure streak. Let us know what you find regardless of where you end up. have fun and be safe.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby cgundersen » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:01 am

watson,
If it were me, the loop out to Lake Reflection would probably top the list. The good news there is that if you head up Paradise Valley and do the Rae Lakes loop clockwise, you're already acclimated and lighter by the time you head up to Reflection ( btw Schmalz posted a gorgeous Reflection photo earlier this year). From there, a natural continuation is to go over Longley Pass and loop round to the Sphinx Lakes before coming out. That's a decent amount of serious xc trucking through gorgeous terrain, but you won't burn out on scree/talus. You'll hit patches of boulders and rock but nothing horrible.
The other option would be to hop into Gardiner Lakes basin (from 60 Lakes basin via what I think is referred to as 60 Lakes col). You could then backtrack out the same way you came in, or try looping around via the long abandoned trail over Gardiner Pass (that continues to Charlotte Lake). The Gardiner area is relatively low impact and has a great combination of alpine lakes and meadows.
If you want a serious challenge, ascending Kid creek would do it. The only time I was in that area, my wife & I debated descending Kid creek (rather than pound back down the Copper creek trail), but we chickened out. Coming up could be a major adventure. Think about getting a liability release from your companion....
cg
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:03 pm

Being fit does not necessarily translate into being ready for extensive off trail travel. If your partner is a "beginning" backpacker, I would hesitate to do some of the suggested off-trail routes. Perhaps an off-trail day hike is in order to see if off-trail is your partner's cup of tea. Not everyone enjoys off-trail. The route into Gardnier Basin from 60Lakes involves LOTS of talus hopping. The best of Reflection Lake can be seen by just taking the trail up to the lake and camping at the outlet. There are other nice side trips that do not require lots of off-trail travel. In 60 Lakes Basin there are many more lakes to see that are less than a mile off the trail. You could also continue north and go to Bench Lake, or take the trail towards Taboose Pass and then go off trail (before the pass) to the lakes under Striped Mountain. How about a day-trip up the Vidette drainaige? Day hike in Kesearge Lakes area? If I were taking someone out who had not done off-trail before, I would do off-trail day hikes before I would expect them to haul a pack off-trail.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby watsonic » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:47 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for the ideas and thoughts so far.

I am leaning towards the Kid Ck adventure, partly to have something interesting and unique to share back to the community here. Also just because I haven't felt the draw to the south by anything other than Lake Reflection so far. And TehipiteToms report of the Sphinx route sounded pretty annoying.

Even though it would only be for 2-3 miles to get to Kid Ck, here is one concern I have about heading upstream on the South Fork Kings River toward Muro Blanco from Paradise Valley, however: bushwacking. Secor suggests that bushwacking can be intense from the Woods/SFKR split up Muro Blanco for about a mile and a half, other reports also say talus can be rough and these guys (with one injured member of the party) actually opted to head north and follow the JMT to Woods Ck (much longer route) after entering Muro Blanco from Cartridge just to avoid the southern stretch of Muro Blanco: http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-r ... 78140.html

Almost makes me wonder if we should do JMT -> Muro -> Kid Ck -> Kid Lakes instead. Is that upper section of MB that much easier to warrant this?

Thanks for the Arrow Lakes Basin suggestion, that does sound like a well loved and under-traveled route, though someone mentioned that the mossies are bad back there. Taking this suggestion under consideration.

Wandering Daisy: thanks for the cautionary note. We have done off-trail without packs together and I know she is capable and loves this kind of stuff. Still, I think we will test the waters a bit by dipping back into the 60 lakes basin with packs on before committing to further XC. I've looked around at shots of the Gardnier Basin and concluded there seems to be quite a bit of talus, as you suggest. I suspect our efforts and frustration would be better spent elsewhere on the trail. But that is just an intuition based on little evidence at this point. I will investigate your other suggestions. Thanks!

I have until tomorrow morning to decide on a final route. Please let me know if you have any other thoughts / comments!

Cheers,
watson
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:49 pm

I really doubt mosquitoes will be bad anywhere. You're at the tail end of a very dry season.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby Electra » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:04 pm

Oops, I didn't read well enough and did not notice you have a less experienced partner with you. My bad. You know what you guys are capable of (or you will know by the time you get there) so be careful and assess as you go...
Last edited by Electra on Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby fourputt » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:23 pm

The bottom of Kid Creek drains into what is generally recognized as the worst brush of the Muro Blanco ... which is saying a lot. Lower mileage -- and raise exasperation -- expectations in such country.

I descended the Muro Blanco twice (in the same summer, a dubious distinction) and both times it took a most of a day from a mile above Kid to Upper Paradise. That was a wet year ('93) and I've heard that you can avoid a lot of the brush by sticking to the river bed late in dry years. I also remember that looking up Kid Creek appeared to be a sea of thick brush for a ways.
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Re: Interesting Additions to Rae Lakes + 60 Lakes

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:26 pm

I'd take the extra days and stay in the lake basins and explore. Soak it up. They are outrageous places in their own right. How often does one have luxury of a few extra days to soak up the glory of those lake basins?
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