TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby Herm » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:21 pm

kpeter;

Thanks for a neat report and photos from a great area. I too climbed the trail to Black Lake, in the afternoon of a very hot summer day. My wife and I circled around from Black Lake to Third Lake, where we endured the most intense Sierra thunderstorm I have ever encountered. While pea-sized hail fell in abundance, lightning sparked and thunder crashed off the high ramparts of Temple Crag, and house-sized blocks of rock rolled from the heights near Contact Pass. It was a day I might never forget, for all of the sound and fury, followed by a serene and beautiful sunset, so typical of the range of light.

It is nice to see the flowers that do seem to thrive in even a dry year like this.
Herm
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby Turtleggjp » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:03 am

Thanks for the report, kpeter! I was up in that area myself back in late June, so it's pretty fresh in my mind. While it wasn't my first time to the Big Pine Lakes (1-3), it was my first time getting to see 4 & 5, as well as going up the glacier trail. Looks like you didn't go any closer to the glacier than the overlook ridge, and neither did I since I had my dog with me. Sam Mack Meadow, while not all that big, I found to be a beautiful place to lounge around in the afternoon after a trip up to see the glacier. Glad to hear you got to enjoy it as well.

Matt
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:13 pm

I just got back from almost the same trip! I think you got better photos than I did. I had trouble because everything is SO close that I could not fit it all in one frame! I do think the area is overused and given the heavy impact, I wish the FS would do something about it. There are unofficial "use-trails" everywhere, tons of illegal campsites, and trash all over the trail. It was only when I got up to Sixth Lake where there are no fish, that I really felt I was in the wilderness. I kept bumping into a Boy Scout group of 15 people, who seemed to always be lost! As I was fishing in Fourth Lake, I heard someone puking (too much booze night before) at a big packer camp. It looks like you avoided such. On my return, a huge family was marching down the trail (day hikers) with the father leading everyone in shouting marching songs at the top of their lungs! Nevertheless, a really beautiful area. Not much of a wilderness feel, but stunning scenery.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby kpeter » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:36 pm

WD,

I just found this post after I already commented on your own trip report. It would be fun to share notes and impressions. Yes, the area was very heavily used. Even climbing to the glacier we saw several groups of people at the top. But it is heavily used because of the stunning beauty, no? And I was convinced that YOU got the better pictures!
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:35 am

I will answer questions from both posts here.

When you take 300 pictures, a few turn out good! I think a lot has to do with being at the right place at the right time. I find this area difficult to photograph. Particularly Temple Crag. The lighting is always tricky.

The area is used a lot by climbers as it has short weekend accessibility to major climbs. Add the fishermen and the day hikers and it can be a zoo. Like LYV in Yosemite, I think exceptionally scenic easily accessible areas perhaps would be better off if de-classified as "wilderness" and some facilities (solar outhouses) and with camping more restricted. At least a number of "no camping here- restoration in progress" signs need to be placed. It appears that a number of unofficial trails have been made by horse packers. The trails are just too big to be foot trails.

From Sam Mack Meadow, if you go to the trees at the upper end, and then wander through the boulders, you eventually (near the upper end of the lower boulders) find a use-trail. This takes an improbable and steep route up the cliffs just east of the creek that tumbles down from the east end of Sam Mack Lake. It is not much of a trail - would not want to carry a fully loaded pack up it!

Yes, Sixth and Seventh Lake have been gill netted. And yes, they are full of frogs! I found it interesting that there were frogs in all stages from full grown to little tadpoles. I think that without fish, the lakes have been able to avoid the heavy use, such as big fisherman's trails around them and over-camping. I think most people just day-hike up to these lakes.

I accessed the upper drainage (one upper branch goes to Jigsaw Pass, the other to the glacier that I went to) from Sixth Lake. It looks tough to get to the hanging valley from Fifth Lake, mainly due to brush. In my opinion, these upper drainages are not very nice for day-hiking unless early season when the talus is snow covered.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby kpeter » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:30 pm

Thanks so much WD!

Let me follow up on the Sam Mack lake excursion. I had one poor photo of that end of the meadow and I have marked it up to help with my questions.
IMGP3276 marked and edited.jpg
Far end of Sam Mack meadow marked up

The Red arrow points to where I think Sam Mack lake is in this picture.

The Blue arrow points to the area I think you mentioned in your described route--East of the stream leaving from the East side of Sam Mack Lake. But this certainly looks intimidating!

Is the Purple circle where you indicate you pick up the use trail?

The orange route was what I was contemplating when in the meadow--but I did not investigate it.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby polemonium » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:41 pm

I was in the Palisades last year in August and spent some time in Sam Mack Meadow. I did not go to the lake, but as I understand it, the route to the lake is to the right as you face up-meadow, roughly where your orange arrow is. The steep drainage near the blue arrow was packed with an overhanging mass of old snow at the top (as I understand it, this is typical in summer) and I wouldn't recommend going near it.

I agree that the N. Fork area suffers somewhat from overuse, but I really enjoyed it. The area around the back of Fourth Lake was not very occupied and there was a great view from a large clearing above the lake (an old camp location), and Sam Mack Meadow is beautiful with not as much traffic, possibly because the packers can't access it.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glacier Aug 4-7

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:29 pm

I was giving directions without looking at the map. The yellow line is basically the location of the use-trail. The red line on the map below is the use-trail. The blue line is what I feel is a better route. The trail to Sam Mack Meadow crosses a boulder field. At this point leave the trail and hop up the boulders (or you could scramble up solid rock left of the boulders) to the ridge. At the top of the ridge there is a prominent joint system with a grassy slot that goes up. At the top, near Sam Mack Lake you again have to hop rocks. This route is much less steep. The only difficulty is rock hopping.

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