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Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

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Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:52 pm

Hi,

Doing a romp in the basins to the south of Lake Italy this summer.

Which are your favorite of The Bears? There are so many bear names, I cannot keep them straight. Do you have some very favorite lakes, basins, passes among the Bears?

Probably going to do something like this:

Loop in via Piute Pass;
Roper-ish through Puppet Lake area;
Then cross French Canyon directly over to Royce Lakes basin;
Italy Pass and then probably Dancing Bear Pass to White Bear & Black Bear Lakes;
Side trip to Big Bear and Little Bear Lake;
Feather Pass to LaSalle and Merriam Lakes;
Rejoin Piute Canyon Trail and visit a lake basin in the Glacier Divide. (Packsaddle? Goethe Cirque?)

However, that is all just a best guess, it forms a logical loop. How might you do it? I think Royce Lakes is my only "absolutely definitely want-to-see." I've heard the stuff to the west (Vee, Seven Gables Lakes) are incredible, and we've never been there, though am not at all sure we'll have the time to extend this trip any further westbound, as we prefer to move slowly.

We are comfortable up to easier Class 3.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby Flux » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:31 pm

How much time do you have.

I did the first part of that trip last summer, crossing into Royce. But we had some weather and very heavy packs and opted to bail after a night and a day of lightning in Royce.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby rlown » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:38 pm

That looks like at least 9 days of straight travel not including your side trips to Packsaddle Goethe. Or maybe i'm just getting old..
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby maverick » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:01 pm

Are you doing any fishing, photography, are you planning to have any layover days or
just one day in each area, a "romp in the basin" is a little vague without knowing your
style of hiking.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby sparky » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:26 pm

I havnt been there, but if it was me I would go in via pine creek and ignore italy pass/white bear pass and explore other basins.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:10 pm

OK, good reality check.

We tend to do about 9-13 miles/day on trail, and about 6 (at most) cross-country. We do travel very light, and are used to big elevation and big passes and rough x-country and orienteering. Layover days are nice, but we can't always seem to make them happen.

Might be open to coming in via Piute and out Pine Creek.

No fishing. Photography, we just enjoy as we go - we don't scout out particular places for that.

Priority is always high alpine/lake scenery.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:39 pm

Hi Elizabeth,

Have visited most all those areas some multiple times. Yours is a rather lengthy itinerary for what I'm guessing is a 9-day backpack. Fine for those that want to ramble quickly through many well known spots, without lingering much, spending most of the time each day negotiating the routes. I do realise there are significant numbers of backpackers that are all about the journey and not the destination. I could easily spend a week base camping entering from Pine Creek into the Royce Lakes and Granite Park. And then another week just up Bear Creek into the East Fork. And another week in from the North Fork of Bishop Creek about Humphreys Basin and French Canyon bench areas. Those are huge areas with considerable magnificense that just rushing through hardly does justice missing much.

Another aspect of your route is most of it is above timberline instead of being at timberline. Fine if one is a peakbagger, but as a photographer I prefer the aesthetics a bit lower where trees, meadows, wildflowers, birds, and animals are more prominent with the snow dappled craggy peaks above. Most groups visiting the East Fork of Bear Creek journey per your plan of Feather Pass to Dancing Bear Pass without camping lower than the turf and rock barren upper lakes. I find lower areas in the basin more interesting and aesthetic, especially for views of Seven Gables arguably one of the most magnificent peaks in The Range of Light.

The most interesting and enjoyable trip to the East Fork of Bear Creek areas begins at Bear Diversion Dam. One can reach Vee Lake in 3 pleasant days and return to the trailhead in 2 leaving 4 days base camping. The days along the creek are just as worthwhile as days in the headwaters as Bear Creek may be the most beautiful high elevation stream in the High Sierra mile for mile. The second day ought to end below the noname lake northeast of Seven Gables.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby PatrickQuin » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:35 pm

I went on a very similar trip last summer. For various reasons it stands as one of my favorite tramps thru the backcountry to date. I came in Piute, first night at Tomahawk. Day 2 moved on to Royce #4. Day 3 dropped down from Royce #5 and over Granite Bear pass, camped at Ursa. Day 4 Lay over hiking to Vee and the Seven Gables basin. Day 5 over Feather and camped at Puppet, spent another day at Puppet fishing. Day 7 up and out via Piute.

In the Bear drainage area I distinctly remember looking down on the Seven Gables area from the Vee outlet and wishing i was camped there and had more time to spend in the area. But i will have to say, much like the names of the bears, the whole drainage kind of blends together. Just give yourself time enough to explore and you won't be disappointed. Usra was nice to me, some what secluded where i camped (on the East side), and great for swimming.

If you look around here you'll find Granite Bear can be a tough nut to crack on high snow years. It is steep but once I found myself in the upper reaches I realized it was a piece of cake.

As for Goethe, i personally would opt for Muriel or a more camp friendly locale. Then do a day hike around the Goethe's. Packsaddle is a beautiful lake but i was disappointed by the sunlight situation. The sun is quick to set with not much show, and slow to rise in the morning as well.

There was another question about the Bear Lakes zone recently. I'll try to get a TR up soon...

Also, though Bear Lakes (and many of the places mentioned) are off trail, they are certainly not without human presence. I ran into more people on this trip, in the second week of Sept. than i do on many of my on trail trips...
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:23 pm

I did much of this route in the opposite direction in 2009 (leaving out the Puppet Pass/Puppet Lake area due to lack of time). The trip report is here:

http://www.sonic.net/~words/Images/TripReport-8-09.pdf

and the photos here:

http://www.sonic.net/~words/ASITHSTripReports.html

I think this is a route where anywhere you choose to go is something you will not regret as long as you and your group are within your personal comfort zone. Royce Lakes are spectacular - I wish I’d have more time there. Granite Park is one of my favorite places in the Sierra. I recommend a layover in Bear Lakes Basin so you can spend a day exploring and see Vee Lake, Little Bear, and all the unnamed tarns. I camped by the waterfall between Ursa and Big Bear, which is one of my favorite campsites anywhere. But I ended up there mainly due to an impending storm. On my day-hike I saw numerous lovely campsites on Big Bear. Seven Gables is one of the most magnificent peaks in the Sierra. Viewing and contemplating it from varying perspectives is an experience that touches one to the core of one's being. One could spend days exploring the Glacier Divide side of Humphreys Basin. I’ve been there 3 times and feel I still haven’t really seen it (never been to Packsaddle, for instance). I agree with the camping at Muriel to explore Goethe.

I hope you have a great trip.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby rlown » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:33 pm

We camped on the west side of Muriel last Sept to then check out Goethe. It was much better than any campsite you might find near Goethe.

Between Packsaddle and Goethe, I'd pick Packsaddle. Goethe is a LOT of talus work.

Glacial Divide 2012 006.JPG
Goethe 2012 Sept


Glacial Divide 2012 061.JPG
Packsaddle 2012 Sept


Glacial Divide 2012 062.JPG
Other Half of Packsaddle
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby Flux » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:27 am

I came in Piute and went out Pine Creek on our last trip. You will like this for a couple reasons. You'll be carrying the heaviest pack up the easier pass. You also won't backtrack on your route.

There's another pass called Ruskie Pass that you may want to throw into the mix. It leads from the second lake above Merriam Lake over to Seven Gables Lakes. It would put you right in the heart of that area in short order.
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Re: Bear lakes, bear basins, bear creeks south of Lake Italy

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:05 am

rlown wrote:That looks like at least 9 days of straight travel not including your side trips to Packsaddle Goethe. Or maybe i'm just getting old..

How can you be getting old? You're right around my age.

Oh, wait...
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