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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Bluewater » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:49 pm

This trip was originally planned to be an 11 day SHR section hike from Merriam Lake to the Silver Divide and back via the PCT. I had planned a few layover days to enjoy Lower Mills Creek Lake and Bear Lakes Basin. . . but by the time I finished a few last minute gear projects (a new backpack, sleeping quilt and stove) the plan was compressed into an 8 day loop with no 'zero' days.

So with a new more comfortable internal frame backpack and 8 days of food I headed up the switchbacks from the Pine Creek trailhead. The first 2,000 feet to Lower Pine Lake made for a steady but reasonable climb. I enjoyed a nice breeze and long lunch break along the outlet creek.

For the rest of the day the bugs chased me through Granite Park.

Overview map.
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Muggy bug heaven in Granite Park.
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The first night I made camp in upper Granite Park.
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Looking back toward Mt. Humphreys the next morning on the way to Italy Pass.
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South side of Italy Pass.
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Snowfields along Lake Italy.
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Lake Italy.
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The second night I camped on the shore of this beautiful tarn just below the south side of Gabbot Pass.
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Easy snowfields on the north side of Gabbot Pass.
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The snow was still melting into the tarns on the north side of Gabbot Pass.
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By the afternoon those clouds would bring hours of thunderstorms with heavy winds and hail. . .



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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:02 pm

Was looking forward to this TR after you post about the mosquito conditions
in the area. Very pretty pictures and really looking forward to the Upper Mills
Creek Lakes installment since that is one of my favorites in the central Sierra.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:34 pm

in place of the taboose S&R effort (RIP larry)
i may very well head for 2'cd recess via mono pass with my kiddo for some R&R.
undecided.
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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:09 pm

Can't wait to read the rest. Headed up into the Second Recess next week.
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:00 pm

The clouds, tarns and waterfalls on the way down from Gabbot Pass were pretty but a heavy storm was coming.
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By the time I made it down to Upper Mills Creek Lake the storm hit. I tried to make it down to the next lake but the hail made the boulder fields slick. I ended up spending a few hours tucked into a granite overhang/cave. . .
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. . . and finally backtracked and camped near the upper lake before the next storm hit.
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The next morning was clear and beautiful and made for a fun hike down to the Second Recess. Lower Mills Creek Lake.
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Roper calls this area of creeks, meadows and slabs 'classic sierra'.
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Eventually I wandered down to the Second Recess. The water was crystal clear.
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The next morning I looped back via Bear Ridge.
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. . and took a long lunch break along Bear Creek.
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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:16 pm

I followed the trail along Bear Creek to the Lake Italy Trail junction.
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The Lake Italy Trail is visible in this meadow section, but much of the time it is basically cross country.
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I made camp along the creeks and slabs just below Lake Italy.
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Although the bugs were crazy this made for a beautiful spot to just chill for a day.
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The next day I headed up toward White Bear Pass.
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Brown Bear Lake.
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Although White Bear Pass looked steep from the bottom it was a fun scramble over granite slabs and even some small meadows.
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The view north from White Bear Pass.
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This is looking down at the top of White Bear Pass. The small snowfields were melting fast.
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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:36 pm

I had been looking forward to seeing Bear Lakes Basin, and it was amazing. Beautiful lakes, granite peaks and even some sandy shorelines. The meadow and creek leading to White Bear Lake were typical of the early season conditions.
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Granite Bear Pass, Mt. 12,918, Feather Peak and Feather Pass.
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Black Bear Lake.
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The north side of Feather Pass was almost snow free. I met a hiker who had just come over Feather Pass who said it was easily passable (for him at least).
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New life.
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After a short stay I decided to hike out that day. I think the bugs chased me all the way to the car. The view of Gemini and Seven Gables to the west from Dancing Bear Pass.
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The tarn at Dancing Bear Pass was almost dry.
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On the way to Italy Pass more thunderstorms started rumbling.
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The view south into Granite Park from Italy Pass. Mt. Humphreys dominates the skyline.
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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Mradford » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:39 pm

Looks like it was an amazing trip. Great photos. Thanks for posting!
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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby schmalz » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:42 pm

Awesome trip. You've made me want to check out the Mills Creek area, so thank you.
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TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:49 pm

Granite Park in the afternoon on the way out.
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This is a beautiful area, I'm looking forward to going back sometime in the later season.
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Classic Sierra scenery.
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Honeymoon Lake at sunset. This is the last photo I took on the way down the mountain, and it was a quick shot as I was almost running along this section. I hiked in the dark for the last hour, but the cheeseburger and shower in Bishop were worth it!!
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I noticed that all of the camp sites along the lower lakes were vacant, it was a ghost town. I think everyone knew to stay away. I re-applied Deet a few times a day and wore a head net but it was still a challenging trip. I'm taking off tomorrow morning for another 6 days so it must not have been all bad!
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Re: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:12 pm

Thanks Bluewater for all the additional beautiful photo's, well worth the short wait.
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: TR: Mono Divide/SHR Loop - 06/26 - 07/02

Postby EastSideClimb » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:59 am

Simply magical, a trip I've ALWAYS wanted and will do. What a great year to do it too with a less than stellar snow year. Great photos. Man...I hate my cubicle right now.
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