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Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

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Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby oleander » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:46 pm

We're heading into the Miter and then to Crabtree Lakes. Some questions:

1. Favored way into Miter from the south? We will be approaching from Cottonwood Pass. I guess one can go into the Miter by first getting into the Soldier Lakes basin and then contouring over; or, by following Rock Creek straight up from where it intersects the trail. We could do either. Is Soldier Lakes basin (presumably the Upper Soldier Lake) especially worth seeing and exploring; or would you suggest instead investing this explore-time strictly in the Miter basin? (We will already have one layover day in the Miter basin; wondering if we should have more.)

2. Favorite lakes in the basin? Limited research suggests Iridescent Lake is gorgeous (but may not have great camping); Primrose does have some camping. Or we could set up camp right at Sky Blue Lake; but it seems counterproductive to set up there the first night and then to backtrack to see Primrose and/or Iridescent on a day hike. Maybe we will just set up camp in the lower Miter on the first night, explore the above-named lakes, and then move camp to Sky-Blue.

3. Crabtree Lakes string: Favorite lake for camping? We'll be going over Crabtree Pass and then descending all of the Crabtree Lakes.

Thank you,
Elizabeth



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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby rlown » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:52 pm

what is your timeline?
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby oleander » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:48 pm

Russ,

We have 7 days. Our itinerary is: Cottonwood Pass Trail; Miter; Crabtree Pass; Crabtree Lakes; contour from Lower Crabtree Lake to Timberline Lake; JMT to Guitar; now off-trail again to Arctic Lake; Whitney-Russell Col to Iceberg Lake; down the mountaineering route via the Boy Scout Lakes to Whitney Portal.

We want to move pretty slowly. On Day 1 we'll get a very late start and probably only make it to Chicken Spring Lake. On Day 7 we will have a long drive home so will probably want to be positioned to start that day from Upper Boy Scout or at least no farther from the trailhead than Iceberg Lake.

Priority (as usual for us) is big-mountain/lake scenery. No fishing or super-serious photography. Comfortable to easy Class 3.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby Ska-T » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:13 pm

1. Not to overdo a simile, but entering Miter from the northwest corner of lower Solder Lake is like a quickie. It is the faster of the two ways to go and the scenic grandeur is sudden. Entering Miter from Rock Creek is like making love when the kids are at grandma's. The scenery builds slowly and progressively. That said, the Rock Creek route involves a substantial loss of elevation that you have to regain, so that may not be desirable to you. On the other hand the headwall at Solder Lake is fairly steep. I like both routes.

My feeling is that you are better off giving time to explore Miter Basin than upper Solder Lake.

2. "Maybe we will just set up camp in the lower Miter on the first night, explore the above-named lakes, and then move camp to Sky-Blue." That is a good idea.
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby Jim F » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:03 am

Hi Elizabeth,

(1) This trip is awesome. Nearly every segment will have spectacular and interesting terrain.

(2) I concur with Ska-T. Upper Soldier Lake can be missed this time. The only time I have passed
by it has been after descending the old trail from Mt Langley to get into the Miter Basin.

(3) Excellent campsites exist at the west end of the first lake you reach after crossing Crabtree
Pass.

(3) When you contour cross country from Lower Crabtree Lake to Timberline Lake, stay high to avoid dropping into a canyon about .5 mile east of the Crabtree Ranger Station.

(4) It has been some time since I have been there, but as I recall going through the Actic Lake area can involve a great deal of boulder hopping (= slow progress).

(5) I went up Mt Whitney yesterday (Sunday August 4) by the Mountaineers Route. There were campers at both Iceberg Lake and Upper Boy Scout Lake (as one would expect). If you seek more solitute, perhaps try Girl Scout Lake. It is between Iceberg Lake and UBSL and drains into Clyde Meadow.

Jim F
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby BrianF » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:04 pm

There are campsites in Miter basin near the creek in the section well below Sky Blue but in the basin proper that would allow side trips before you go over the pass without backtracking. Both routes into Miter basin are nice. There is a use trail from Rock creek that is easy to follow, and there is a use trail leading up to the ridge above Lower Soldier, that I lost at the top of the ridge, but it is easy X-country down to the basin from there.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes

Postby Hobbes » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:21 pm

If you are stopping @ Chickenspring the first night, then you are perfectly positioned to just continue through to SBL the next day. (It's only 7.5m from CS.) Both Soldier lakes have nothing in particular to recommend them, other than as watering stops.

IMO, the route through the gap is much preferred over taking trail down the switchbacks to Rock Creek and then having to (semi) bushwack up the drainage. The gap is easy and as another poster noted, it presents you with a full panorama when you emerge at the top.

I wouldn't worry about skipping any of the side lakes this year - take a look at these photos taken by Richard P in late June:

http://www.whitneyportalstore.com/forum ... #Post95627

I was shocked at how low even Chickenspring was last month when we rolled by, so it makes sense that these lakes are practically dry.

From SBL, you are set up to head over the pass and on to the Crabtree lakes the next day. It's only 4.5m, so you'll have plenty of time to explore the area. If you find the terrain to Guitar too wooded to contour (ie views are blocked, making it mostly an exercise), you might decide to just follow the trail down (that starts between #2 & #3) to the meadow and then head back up the JMT to Guitar.

Not to throw a monkey wrench in your plans, but if you like climbing, you could consider hitting Langley on your way. In fact, with your late start and plans on only walking the 4.3 miles to Chickenspring for night 1, why not head up to Cottonwood #1/2 which are 5 miles from the TH. The next day, you could hit Langley from Army, head down the shortcut to upper Soldier, go through the gap and still hike to SBL for night 2.

I did this route last year - it would be 11 miles vs your 7.5 for day 2. I made Guitar the next day, and then out Whitney/portal day 4, but you'd have a chance to rest up at the Crabtrees on your 3rd day and be plenty fresh for the rest of your trip.
Last edited by Hobbes on Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby tim » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:25 pm

If you go up from lower Soldier Lake (the route we took) then its worth the 10 minute detour to the top of the outcrop on your left (south). That gives a wonderful view of Miter Basin:

Miter Basin.jpg
View of Miter Basin, July 2011

To get into Miter Basin just follow the broad ridgeline above lower Soldier Lake (right hand side of the photo above) until the trees end and you enter the basin with the minimum of elevation loss. If you don't want to climb all the way to Sky Blue lake, there are some good options in the trees at the head of the basin.

Miter Basin flowers.jpg
Head of Miter Basin, July 2011
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby Ska-T » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:37 pm

More on Miter . . .
Following Rock Creek into the Miter is longer and more work, but you get to cross logs ...

Image


walk beside beautiful Rock Creek ...

Image


stand almost in a cascade ...

Image


and wade ice cold Rock Creek ...

Image


Once you are in the Miter, Sky Blue Lake isn't always blue ...

Image


and sometimes uninvited guests drop in for dinner.

Image
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby tim » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:34 am

Ska-T wrote:Once you are in the Miter, Sky Blue Lake isn't always blue ...

Image

Looks like you were there almost the same time as we were (below is our photo from Sat Jul 2, 2011) or maybe a day or two later? I don't suppose you were in the group we met at Sky Blue Lake that day?

Sky Blue lake.jpg
Frozen Sky Blue Lake
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby Ska-T » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:53 am

Looks like your two snow bunnies were having fun!!

Yes, we were there in 2011, but a couple weeks earlier (June 18). The snow even in lower Miter was deep. My photos of Carol above were also from June 18, but in 2006.
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Re: Miter Basin and Crabtree Lakes: Questions

Postby KathyW » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:54 pm

Dry, Dry, Dry - that's what it is like this year (nothing like 2011 as far as snow goes). Although, maybe that rain last month helped a bit.

I was up in that area near the end of June and the trout were almost swimming on the top of Rock Creek because the water was sos shallow.

Just the same, it is a very beautiful area.

I prefer to go down to the junction near the tarn along Rock Creek than going over the hump from Soldier Lake. There is a good trail on the west side of Rock Creek starting near the tarn. The elevation difference is minimal between the two routes.

I only went as far as Crabtree Pass - my turn around point was McAdie east of the pass.

Some pics from over a month ago:

http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... Cottonwood

We went up the North Fork Trail from the Portal on Sunday as far as Clyde Meadow/Upper Boy Scout Lake before turning off toward Russell - there is plenty of water along that route, and I agree that Upper Boy Scout Lake would be a nicer place to camp with less traffic than Iceberg Lake.
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