TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13 | High Sierra Topix  

TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13

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TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13

Postby cloudlesssky » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:02 pm

My brother Will, John Shillings and I took a trip around the North Lake - South Lake loop out of Bishop on 18-21 Jul '13. We had planned to come out on 22 Jul '13 so we missed most of the nasty weather that started the evening of 21 Jul '13 (except for a a brief bit of hail/rain near Saddlebag Lake on the way out). Skeeters were low to med depending on location (more on that later).

I hadn't been over Piute or Bishop Pass so I was really looking forward to the trip. My brother and John hadn't been on most of the trail, so they were really excited to see Evolution Valley.

The first day we picked up the permit and parked cars at the exit and entry trailheads. We were on the trail by 1030. The hike up Piute Pass was beautiful. It was my first overnighter for the year, so I was getting used to my pack weight (32 lbs - I packed way too much food).
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Looking back towards South Lake on climb to Piute Pass


We stopped at this inviting pond on the way to the summit and really wanted to jump in. The temps were relatively high and the cool water looked inviting, but we had many miles to go before nightfall.
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Nice pond with waterfall near Piute Pass


We ended up camping just west of the Pine Creek Pass junction in a large open area with many tent sites. A good thing as we could spread out and avoid each others snoring. The stretch of Piute Creek nearby was perfect for cooling off the feet, and Will caught a small Golden. The skeeters were relatively low at this spot.
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Piute Creek near Pine Creek Pass Jct


The next morning we hiked down to the PCT/JMT junction. The Piute Canyon is much more spectacular than I thought it would be. It would be worth the time just to hike along more slowly and enjoy that stretch more. There are incredible waterfalls.
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Piute Creek drainage


At the junction we headed south into Goddard Canyon. I like this section of the PCT/JMT that follows the San Joaquin River.
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San Jauquin River in Goddard Canyon


We climbed up into Evolution Valley, waded across the creek (no issues - it's low) and headed towards McClure Meadow. We stopped at a nice campsite just south of the ranger station, but the skeeters were heavy so we moved on to just north of Colby Meadow. After a little scouting we found a great campsite that was nearly skeeter free (and remained that way). We did all experience odd no-see-ums at night on our faces inside our different tents (kind of like a miniature skeeter landing on your skin but no bites). I suspect there was something in the water we used to clean up with.
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Colby Meadow - Evolution Valley


In the morning, we climbed up to Evolution and Wanda Lakes on the way to Muir Pass. The weather was near perfect and we ended up on Muir Pass with several other hikers and some real aggressive marmots. An ultra runner also stopped for a few minutes to talk. He was running the same loop in a day, or at least he planned to finish in a day. He didn't even have a headlamp - hope he made it.
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Evolution Lake


I saw this rock art along the trail towards Wanda Lake. I love this stuff!
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Happy Rock art


We hiked down the south side of Muir Pass into LeConte Canyon thanking those hearty soles who built the trail: its pretty rugged terrain. Eventually we stopped near a small lake about 4 mi south of the pass at about 10,500 ft. The campsite was awesome: small area surrounded by low pines near a creek. There were zero skeeters.
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South side of Muir Pass


In the morning we broke camp early and head into LeConte Canyon. One of Will's feet were hurting and he was interested in hiking out early if he could make it, so we decided to take it one section at a time and got underway. We hiked down through LeConte Canyon past Big Pete Meadow and the Ranger station and then turned to head up the climb towards Dusy Basin.
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Big Pete Meadow in LeConte Canyon


The climb up to Dusy Basin was a certainly "a dusy". But we came to lake 10742 and I was in awe. The Dusy Basin is beautiful. I guess I was expecting some alpine, boulder-strewn set of lakes with little vegetation. I was certainly wrong. I'll be going back there for a longer stay some time. In any case, we rested for a little while and then headed towards Bishop Pass. The clouds were starting to build and my brother was getting that "horse to water" feeling so we pressed on out to South Lake in an extended push. We caught a little rain/hail near Saddlebag lake but not much and it didn't slow us down.

In all it was a great trip. It was fun to hike with my brother and John. I'll be revisiting some of those areas in the future and I'm sure I'll have a pole next time.

As a side note: I was trying out a couple pieces of new gear that seemed to work well: an Enlightened Equipment Revelation X quilt (30 deg but that was even too hot for me); and a Zpacks cuben pack cover (more testing required, but boy is it light at 1.5 oz!)



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cloudlesssky
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TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:52 pm

Thanks for the trip report. I can't get enough of the Evolution area! I have always wanted to camp near Helen Lake just south of Muir Pass. Did you take any photos of your camp on the south side of Muir Pss?
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Re: TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13

Postby cloudlesssky » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:14 am

I did get some pictures.

The campsite coordinates are:

N 37 deg 06.849'
W 118 deg 38.233'

The trail drops down along the treeline in the picture below to skirt around a nice little meadow area. There is a lake on a bench beyond the meadow just out of eyeshot to the left in this picture. You can't see the lake from the trail although you do see a small waterfall leading to it.
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Meadow just above campsite


This is a view of the campsite location from the trail. It is on a slight rise ringed by these small pines which are about 6-10 ft tall and help block the wind and shield the site from the trail. The ground is course/sandy and should drain well. The are sites for 3-4 tents.
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View of campsite from trail


There is a use trail from the campsite to a creek (~100 ft). The use trail is nearly level. And the stream has spots with a sandy bottom if you want to take a dip (which my bro did), but its fully exposed to the trail.
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Creek by campsite


A couple deer joined us in camp during dinner. We were talking and they just walked right in, munching on grasses for a while. They didn't seem to care if we got up and walked around either. The next morning I saw a buck with an impressive rack up close, but I had TP in my hand instead of a camera, so I didn't get a pic.
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Deer in campsite


The site has a few flat-topped rocks positioned for stove cooking/sitting and a log for sitting. And there were NO skeeters.

Re camping at Helen Lake: I wandered around Helen Lake last year looking for a campsite. There wasn't anything obvious to me, but I was really tired (hiked from about a mile south of MTR) and uninterested in scrambling around too much, so I eventually slogged on another couple miles to a nice spot downstream.
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Re: TR - Classic North Lake - South Lake Loop 18-21 Jul '13

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:26 am

Thanks for the details on that camp site. I camped on the ridge just above there in 2011, had dinner while watching the sunset from above the lake. I wish I had known about the place down in the meadow. Next time!

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