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Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

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Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Enuf2B » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:07 am

Info needed please. I am packing for a 30 day trip that starts Friday out around Tahoe (PCT to Tuolumne) and will end at Mono Hot Springs (Tuolumne to Merced Lake, Isberg Pass, Bench Canyon, Devils Postpile, Iva Bell and Graveyard). I have spent months staring at maps, reading blogs and yes, lurking here. I will be solo and am concerned about finding a decent route from the end of the Stevenson trail coming up from Hemlock Crossing (Twin Island Lakes) and over to Thousand Island Lake. Has anyone been through this area recently who can provide route guidance. I would like to avoid the risk of injury inherit in boulder hopping. Have 40+ yrs backpacking, reasonable skills map/compass and a GPS. Thanks in advance
"It's enough to be on your way,it's enough to cover ground, it's enough to be moving on." James Taylor



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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:12 am

I can only tell you that from Lake Catherine to Thousand Island Lake is reasonable...and there is a use trail for part of that.

But Twin Island Lakes to Lake Catherine will be the challenge.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:18 am

Here is a route I took a few years back. It is not the standard Roper's High Route. I found an old use-trail to that valley between 3000 and 3100 m elevation. There are old cables up there - left over from an old mining operation. The use trail continues north on the east side of the stream - perhaps goes to an old mine farther up the drainage. At 3200 m you have to leave it and traverse over to Ritter Lakes. The squirrely route around Ritter Lakes was just to see more lakes. Then just go over North Glacier Pass. Depending on your experience, you may find the off-trail portion of this route difficult. You may want to read about it in Roper's High Route guidebook. It is easy to get off route and into some class2+ terrain. My main problem with the route when I did it was steep snow piled up in the Ritter Lakes. I doubt this would be the case this year.

It was about five years ago, but the trail from Hemlock Crossing to the upper valley east of Twin Island Lakes was in pretty good shape. You do not need to go to Twin Lakes, although it is a nice side trip and a scenic place to camp. The upper cirque north of Twin Island Lakes is worth a day to explore. There are small fish in the stream above the northern Twin Island Lakes.

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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:27 am

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: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Enuf2B » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:02 pm

Thanks Balzacomm, Wandering Daisy and Maverick for your info, maps and links. I have Ropers book and will do some more reading on the links Maverick provided before deciding what to do. Thanks again.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Pietro257 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:46 pm

I have done this route twice in the opposite direction, from Thousand Island Lake to Twin Island Lakes.

It's a steep drop from Lake Catherine to Twin Island Lakes (for you, a steep climb). I took this photo at Twin Island Lakes looking up toward Lake Catherine. Mt. Ritter appears in the upper-right of the photo; I think that's peak 3518-7 on the left. You can make out a stream in the middle of the photo. I can't imagine following that stream down or up, as Wandering Daisy suggests, although she is much better mountaineer than me and for all I know you are too.

Leaving_North_Twin_Island_Lake.jpg
View looking east from Twin Island Lakes to Mt. Ritter


You will have to do a lot of talus hopping no matter what. From the point of view of the northern Twin Island Lake, go north up Roper's "U-shaped" valley (north east of the Northern Twin Island Lake), and then head toward his "reddish cliffs." From there, contour your way around (south of) peak 3518-7. The terrain gets more forgiving (less talus, more green plants) the closer you get to Lake Catherine. In this route, you stay north of the stream and the cliffs and sort of circle your way up.

This is the view from the head of the "U-shaped valley." The trail from Hemlock Crossing ends at the bottom of this canyon.

Head_of_U-Shaped_Canyon.jpg
Head of Roper's "U-shaped canyon"


Here is the view of North Twin Island Lake that you'll see after you climb a few hundred feet above the "U-shaped canyon":

View_of_South_Twin_Island_Lake.jpg
View looking east from Twin Island Lakes to Mt. Ritter


It's easy to find North Glacier Pass from Lake Catherine, and the hike down to Thousand Island Lake is easy to navigate, since you can see the lake from the top of the pass.

Inbox me if you want more info. BTW, have you considered adding Bench Canyon to your trip? There isn't much snow in the Sierra this year, so you can cross the North Fork of the San Joaquin above Stevenson Meadow and get to Bench Canyon. I took the trip last year (I wrote a report about it here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8190). It's about a day trip Bench Canyon to the Twin Island Lakes.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby obxcola » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:42 pm

Wow Pietro those are some interesting photos. I camped above the Ritter Lakes this past September and took a lot of photos from that vantage point looking west/southwest while I tried to visualize the route. I can say for sure that Wandering Daisy's route up to the south end of the upper Ritter Lake from the first tarn below the upper waterfall in the outlet from Catherine ( North Fork San Joaquin? ) is the easy way to get up to the Lake Catherine level. I'll try to post some of those soon to give you a view from the east.

I can say 2 small tips I picked up. Better to stay up near the headwall traversing the north side of Lake Catherine instead of down by the water.... more occasional dirt and less big talus.

Also the drop down toward Thousand Island...... better to stay east/south or from above, to the right. Same thing... more dirt less big talus. Nothing like having the ground under foot ;)
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:00 pm

You do not follow the stream. It is one big waterfall! There is an actual use-trail that angles up that hillside and hits the stream at the top, where there is actually nice camping and a few trees. The use-trail is quite distinct and looks like at one time it was actually constructed. Once you locate the trail, it is easy to follow.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:08 pm

There also is a good use-trail from North Glacier Pass to Thousand Island Lake. It is quite hard to find but if you find it at the top it is quite easy down. When I did it, the use trail ended in a large snowfield (it was a high snow year). So I do not know just how distinct it remains under the snow. At any rate I found the trail near the lower saddle (not the higher one with the label "North Glacier Pass"). It skirts around a steep buttress and then stays on the left side of the prominent ridge that drops to Thousand Island Lake, staying well east of the creek. Once you get down to about 3150, you cross the creek to the west side.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:20 pm

Image
The approximate location of the use-trail
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby chrisdiercks » Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:02 am

I just did Twin Island lake to Thousand Island a couple weeks ago. Apparently (or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention?), the use trail is easy to miss because I did not see it. I admit that I was not looking for it. On WD's trail marked version of that photo I was close to the same line until the headwall just north of the waterfall. Here I contoured around to the base of that headwall and followed the waterfall to the trees. Standing on the same outcrop as the photo was taken from, it seemed to me that there are many different possible routes to take to get to the pass/Lake Catherine. I had four possible paths in mind when I decided I wanted to edge along part of the waterfall. It was easier than I thought it would be. I think with your experience any way you choose go it will be an enjoyable 2 to 3 hours off trail. Spending the night at the Southern of the Twin Island Lakes definitely worth it, btw.
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Re: Twin Island Lakes to Thousand Island Lake- info needed

Postby snowblind » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:18 am

Both times I hiked this section (N-S), I took a more direct path from Lake Catherine following Roper's route. I found this section easier to follow than from Twin Lakes to Bench Canyon, but I suspect doing it in reverse from Roper makes things a little harder.

SHR-1.JPG
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