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TR: Graveyard Lakes

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TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby CaliCruzer » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:05 pm

This was a trip I did at the end of June 2013. Me and and my buddy were racing on Moore 24s at Lake Huntington for the High Sierra Regatta. After drinking and sailing all weekend we headed up Kaiser Pass late Sunday afternoon under increasingly cloudy skies.

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Our goal was a lake just over the Silver Divide, Peter Pande Lake. We planned to cross a Class 2 pass from Graveyard Lakes over the Silver Divide just north of the largest Graveyard Lake. We hiked in a couple miles until it was dark, then we set up camp between the trail and Cold Creek just before Graveyard Meadows. That night the clouds kept coming, and we felt the first drops of a front that we would get to know very well the next day. When we set out the next day it was raining lightly.

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Despite the mosquitos, Graveyard Meadows was awesome.

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Everyone we saw was leaving. For their car. Everyone also gave us a kinda crazy look when we told them where we wanted to go. As we reached the first of the Graveyard Lakes, about 9 miles from the trail head, the rain got heavier, the air got colder, and the wind picked up all within 15 minutes.

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It began snowing. Hard. Me and my buddy set our camp in case it didn't let up. When the snow began falling the wind stopped, and a heavy silence dominated my senses. I had never experienced a summer Sierra snowstorm.

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About an hour later the wind picked up again and the snow stopped. We got our first views of the valley surrounding us.

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We found a somewhat less exposed camp and pitched our tent. This was the view towards the pass we planned to cross. The Col is where the fog extends farther down the ridgeline above the lake. Due to the worsening conditions we decided against the push to Peter Pande Lake.

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When the snow picked up again, we went into the tent. The next 18 hours we sat and killed time, slept, ate, drank rum, repeat. The wind and hail and sleet pounded my sorely inadequately waterproofed, 15+ year old tent. We were bailing a small lake out of the bottom of the tent by our feet, which by hour 5 was more than 3 inches deep. This was our view.

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The next day was clearer, so we decided to brave a short expedition around the rest of lakes in the drainage. It was one of the most surreal hikes I have ever been on. The fog gave the impression the landscape was changing and morphing before your eyes, with 9000 ft mountains appearing and disappearing by the minute.

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Another shot of the Col, just barely visible in the high left.
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As we made our way back to camp, the sky began to break, and BOOM....sunshine! Problem was, neither of us had any dry clothes, and our sleeping bags were soaked from the night before. We debated waiting another day to see if it continued to clear. My camera lens was fogged up from the moisture.

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We decided to leave that day, mainly because my buddy was flying out to New York in two days, and risking getting stuck in another storm and missing his flight was not really an option. I was kinda bummed we were leaving so soon, but I know I will be going back there this season and hopefully I'll get some sunshine!

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LESSONS LEARNED:
- GLOVES! My Buddy didn't have a pair, so we alternated. And mine were 3 dollar liners from WalMart :\
- When pulling out gear you havn't used in a while, check it thoroughly.
- When EVERYONE you see on the trail is hightailing it out, maybe you should too...


Thanks for Reading,
Alex V

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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby SweetSierra » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:46 pm

Sometimes I would say it's okay to stay when others are high tailing it out. Beautiful photos of a beautiful area. I worked on the Graveyard Lakes trail on a service project for a week in cold, rainy weather. We had a couple of day of sun too and made the most of it. It sounds like you did too. I like your description of the mountains morphing in the clouds.
Last edited by SweetSierra on Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby justm » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:37 pm

Thanks for the TR. Really nice photos, It's exciting dealing with adverse conditions in the normally perfect sierra summer weather. That's a trip I would like to do, although , mosquitoes are always brought up....they don't calm down in a dry late season trip ?
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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby lambertiana » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:59 pm

Sometimes it's nice to see the sierra in a cloudy/foggy/wet environment. It can make for interesting pictures. It reminds me a lot of the backpacking trips I did as a teenager in the Adirondacks in NY.
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TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby camptramp » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:34 pm

I can remember high tailing it out of there - years ago with my 3 kids. Not because of weather, but mosquitos. They were relentless.
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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby CaliCruzer » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:53 pm

Yea the skeeters were pretty bad in Graveyard Meadows, but up at the lakes the wind kept em off us. Hard to say if it would be any better right now or later in September...there is so much water up there, its hard to believe that graveyard meadows dries out much towards the fall.
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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby SSSdave » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:56 pm

You must have bought a new tent by now? (:

Early June occasional winter storm fronts still visit that part of the Sierra. Late June is peak squeeter season. Best time is late July thru mid August. Here's what you would have found on the other side of Silver Fox Pass.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/MinnowCr/minnowcr_0.html
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Re: TR: Graveyard Lakes

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:47 pm

Thanks Calicruzer for the entertaining TR and pictures.

Cali wrote:
Hard to say if it would be any better right now or later in September...there is so
much water up there, its hard to believe that graveyard meadows dries out much
towards the fall.


I would be confident in saying that they would not be a problem at all right now.
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: Graveyard Lakes

Postby CaliCruzer » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:18 am

My buddy just got back from the same area. He said that the mosquitos were minimal and not bothersome, though the whether was more or less exactly the same as when I went, with added lightning.
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