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South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

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South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby larroyo33 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:54 pm

Hi, I am new to this forum and this is my first post.

I am planning on taking the week of the 4th of July off from work (6/30-7/6), so I wanted to go on a backpacking trip in the Sierras (particularly, the Eastern Sierras if possible) that week. I was looking at the South Lake to North Lake hike (Bishop Pass to Muir Pass to Piute Pass) and it looks amazing. But, I am not sure if the week of the 4th of July is too early in the season for that hike.

My guidebooks recommend doing this hike between mid-July and September, so I wanted to see what people here thought the trail conditions would likely be like in early July. I don't mind hiking through some snow, as long as it is manageable with a pair of microspikes on my boots. I wish I could try to do this hike later in the summer, but the first week in July is the only full week I can take off this summer. If this hike is probably not doable at this time, any suggestions for a different 4-7 day (10-12 miles per day) backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierras would be appreciated.

My backpacking experience is between a 2 and a 3. I have done some cross-country travel, but I am not very comfortable with it yet. My interest is in landscape photography and just enjoying nature.

Any advice would be much appreciated.



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Re: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby Mike M. » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:11 pm

I think you'll be fine this year. You might encounter a few patches of snow on the trail, but nothing that will require special equipment. Watch out for skeeters -- they are likely to be out in force. Stream levels might be high, depending on how far along the melt is that week. The only dicey crossing you would face is at the western end of Evolution Valley, where you ford the creek just before the switchbacks going down to Goddard Canyon. If the water is high there, move upstream a ways and find a more placid place to cross. And, of course, there will be many people on the trails around the holiday weekend.

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Re: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:16 pm

I think it depends on how comfortable you are with hiking over snow. Bishop Pass will probably still have quite a bit. For Muir Pass you may run into snow well below Helen Lake, obscuring the trail. You'll probably have to do post holing from Helen Lake up to Muir Pass. Are you confident in your navigation skills when the trail is completely covered? The stones at the crossing of Evolution Creek above Evolution Lake may still be under water so you may have to wade across. The Evolution Creek crossing below Evolution Valley could possibly be a little dicey. As I said, it depends on your comfort level. If snow and possibly dicey creek crossings don't bother you, then, by all means go for it. Going that early, you may not get the crowds one runs into later in the season. If you go, it should be a great trip.
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Re: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby tim » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:11 pm

If you look at last year's trip reports (viewtopic.php?f=34&t=7563&p=56679) for a similarly low snow year, you'll see that Muir Pass was clear of snow by mid June. So I wouldn't expect any problems (other than skeeters) in early July this year, especially given the warm weather we've had so far this spring.
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Re: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:55 am

Hi Larroyo33,

Welcome to HST.
You should have a great trip. There may be some snow in Evo Basin but not a big
deal, and definately nothing technical. Creek crossing may be an issue, but look
around for a dry crossing or wade accross with safety in mind.
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: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby kpeter » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:29 pm

I did the loop in the last week of July in a wet year, and I imagine it had somewhat similar conditions to what you will encounter in the first week of July in a dry year.

I had to/chose to wade a couple of dozen streams along the circuit, and while it was inconvenient, there three that were tricky.
1) W. Pinacles Creek in Piute Canyon
2) Evolution Creek. I chose the meadow rather than the stoney crossing.
3) Crossing Dusy Creek below the bridge (appx. 9700).

I have trail conditions posted here for that year:
viewtopic.php?f=34&t=6282&start=156

People who went earlier than I did had some real issues with W Pinacles and Dusy Creek. The water is turbulent so you cannot see the bottom. You must feel your way with poles and cross on the downhill side of the trail where the water has not scooped out a hole. There were all kinds of strategies posted as people sought ways of getting past those two crossings.
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Re: South Lake to North Lake in Early July?

Postby larroyo33 » Thu May 02, 2013 10:21 pm

Hi all,

Thanks so much for the info. I did not realize the snow level was comparable to last year's. That makes me feel a lot better about doing this hike in early July.

Kpeter, I looked at your trip report, and it definitely got me more pumped up to do this hike. I liked the info about going over Table Mountain to make it a full loop. I haven't hike to George Lake or Tyee Lakes before, so I am considering adding that section to my itinerary.
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