North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

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2020hiker
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North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by 2020hiker » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:10 pm

As the title suggests, I have a permit for north-south lake loop starting July 1-July 5 (4 nights 5 days). Given the early season start date, I'm concerned about snow, and alternative plans I can make on the fly or ahead of time.

Obviously the passes will be packed in with snow. Will they still be 'passable'? Will this entire route likely just be all snow you think? We can surely cancel and do something else...
I've had an idea that maybe (even though I technically don't have a permit for it) I could go up Lamarck col first, then down to evolution and out Piute. This would cut the distance down considerably, however I highly doubt Lamarck col is doable for a normal backpacker this early in the season. Thoughts?

I haven't seemed to find any mid-trip 'outs' if let's say, we get to something like evolution area and decide we'd like to go back or another way. Besides the lamarck col, is our only option to go back the way we cam from Piute/North Lake?


Last question - With the south lake road construction, I'm concerned about the loop situation. Less cars on south lake means less hitchhiking. I haven't gotten shuttle passes yet. Should I do that asap? In normal times, will I be able to find some kind of parking at the north lake parking lot midweek? I start on July 1 (wednesday). I'm concerned we'll get all the way out there and not even be able to park due to its popularity.


Itinerary
(Mid wednesday) North Lake to Hutchinson Meadow.

Hutchinson Meadow to Evolution Meadow.

Evolution Meadow to Evolution Basin.

Big Pete Meadow to Dusy Basin.

(Sunday) Dusy Basin to South Lake.








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kpeter
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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by kpeter » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:58 pm

I did the loop in the last week of July in a wet year, but would that translate to the conditions you will have in the first week of July in a dry year? Maybe, or maybe it is just so dry this year that it won't be too bad. I am going over Mono Pass to Pioneer basin at the same time you are headed for your loop, so I am hoping it won't be too bad.

On my North to South lake loop I had to/chose to wade a couple of dozen streams along the circuit, and while it was inconvenient, there were three that were tricky.
1) W. Pinacles Creek in Piute Canyon
2) Evolution Creek. I chose the meadow rather than the stony crossing.
3) Crossing Dusy Creek below the bridge (appx. 9700).

As for snow, I walked across six miles of deeply sun cupped snow getting up and down Muir Pass. Doable, but slow. What helps is the sheer number of people who do it, breaking down the cups and creating a path of sorts. Also, take traction and do that part of the hike early in the morning and it will give you a firm surface at least.

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by Bishop_Bob » Sun Jun 07, 2020 5:36 am

I bet you won't have much snow on the N Lake - S Lake loop starting July 1. I have a permit for July 4 over Lamarck Col and am not worried about snow. This past season was so dry!

For reference, I was at Lamarck Col for a day hike in the 3rd week of July last year, which followed a very wet snow season. The only snow I negotiated on the trail was at the pond that hugs up against a rock face (37.2108, -118.6448) and at a short ascent a little further along (which I think is located at 37.2094, -118.6456). Neither of these crossings were difficult, and I brought no traction. Snow was not a problem before or after these points.

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by kpeter » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:33 am

Keep monitoring this Sentinel Hub site. On June 5--the last time the free image was updated-- it looks like there was snow cover from the end of Evolution Lake until you get to the south facing slope coming down into LeConte canyon, and Sapphire Lake and higher lakes are still frozen over. We could use a hot spell to peel that back before your trip, and while there will certainly be progress in a month, how much we get by early July will depend on how hot it gets.

https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel- ... ates=false

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by GGC23 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:29 am

I've recently dayhiked both Bishop Pass and Paiute Pass. You'll be fine when it comes to snow. Paiute had some patchy snow, but it was at worst annoying...nothing that approached technical or dangerous. The switchbacks before Bishop Pass were still holding snow. I got around it with a combination of microspikes and scrambling, so that could pose an issue for those who may not enjoy that kind of hiking. That said, I would bet a lot of money that all the snow I encountered will be gone by 7/1. You will definitely not be hiking over snow for your entire trip, so don't worry about that! There may be some snow fields around Muir Pass, but they should be well trod. In fact, given this year's dry winter, I think that 7/1 is the perfect time to do this loop. Any snow that remains will be manageable and creeks will be easily crossable, but things won't be dead and brown yet.

Regarding the South Lake Rd. construction, the parking lot at South Lake is open again, and I don't think that traffic has slowed that much on the road due to construction. I was up there yesterday, and there was a steady stream of cars up and down the road. I'm not sure what's going on with the ESTA shuttle this year due to COVID, but if you can't hitchhike or don't feel comfortable doing so because of COVID, that shuttle is a great solution. No need to buy passes for the shuttle in advance. I've taken it a few times, and generally, 80% of the seats are empty. The South Lake parking lot does fill up, even when they're not doing construction. If you run into that problem, just park at North Lake. The parking lot there is massive. I've never seen it full.

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by JMTKaren » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:15 pm

Thank you for the info on Bishop Pass. Heading to Dusy Basin in two weeks and the snow info is very helpful.

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by 2020hiker » Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:38 pm

JMTKaren wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:15 pm
Thank you for the info on Bishop Pass. Heading to Dusy Basin in two weeks and the snow info is very helpful.
Please let us know how that goes! Happy trails

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by kylekuzma » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:47 pm

2020 Hiker,

I have access to the weekly high res aerial shots and i just looked at lamarck and the snow seems to be melting really fast. I wouldnt be surprised to see your route virtually snow-less a few days before your departure. You should be all good. Happy trails!

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by cdevine » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:21 am

kpeter wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:33 am
Keep monitoring this Sentinel Hub site. On June 5--the last time the free image was updated-- it looks like there was snow cover from the end of Evolution Lake until you get to the south facing slope coming down into LeConte canyon, and Sapphire Lake and higher lakes are still frozen over. We could use a hot spell to peel that back before your trip, and while there will certainly be progress in a month, how much we get by early July will depend on how hot it gets.

https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel- ... ates=false

I thnk you are fine. We were like 60-70% of normal snow pack this year. (at best). I'm going over KOIP in late June and I expect snow but nothing crazy. Do you know how often they update Hub Sentinel? I like that site as well. Good luck!

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Re: North-South Lake Loop Starting July 1

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:36 am

cdevine wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:21 am
Do you know how often they update Hub Sentinel? I like that site as well
It's roughly every week, although it seems like they'll skip days that have heavy cloud cover.
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