TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

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Bluewater
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TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by Bluewater » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:28 pm

Day 5 Continued:

The Finger:
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Vertical wall on the west side of Finger Col:
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View west from Finger Col (click for full size). Cathedral Lake and Midway Lake are below:
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The route down the west side of Finger Col started with a steep and loose scree field that soon leveled out slightly to a long boulder field and eventually to Cathedral Lake.
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West side approach to Finger Col:
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Route down the west side of Finger Col:
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Cathedral Lake:
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Secor recommends following the south side of the creek from Midway Lake to Portal Lake. After scrambling most of the way down I found that the south side ended at the top of a cliff. I found three places where I might have been able to make it down but after my accident a few days earlier I wasn't going to take any chances. I ended up traversing the entire boulder field, crawling between the boulders and frozen waterfalls in the creek. After an hour I finally found a large cairn along a well used route on the NORTH side. For anybody heading this way take the route on the north side of the creek!

On the way down to Portal Lake:
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to be continued.
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TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by Bluewater » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:37 pm

Day 5 Continued.

Secor's route cliffs out on the right/south side. I took the well worn route on the left/north side:
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Meadow below Portal Lake:
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I descended into the trees along the Blackcap Basin Trail. As the sun set in the forest I made it to a large opening where the shallow waterfalls washed along granite slabs and into emerald pools. For my last night I cowboy camped at the edge of the forest overlooking the North Fork Kings River. . .

. . . and woke to clear skies and crystal clear pools in the morning. Morning on the North Fork Kings River:
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Big Maxson Meadow:
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Original cabin in Big Maxson Meadow:
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Cable bridge:
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The trail follows the North Fork Kings River for about eight miles before it ascends toward Post Corral Meadows. The next ten miles meander through mostly mundane densely forested areas with a few beautiful meadows. On the way to Post Corral Meadows:
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To be continued.
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TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by Bluewater » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:47 pm

A rickety wood boardwalk led the way through the last forested section to the trailhead. After hiking along a winding dirt road for another mile I finally made it to the car just before the sun set behind the trees. The finish of another adventure. Boardwalk over Maxson Meadows:
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Overview map:
shoulder season in ionian basin overview map.JPG
Some thoughts about gear used on the trip:

Before leaving on this trip I was continually checking the national weather service (noaa.gov) for the latest forecast. After checking with the local ranger it was clear that a snow storm would be hitting the area right in the middle the trip. Although I was focused on traveling light and fast I was sure to bring all of the gear necessary to stay warm, dry and safe.

The Mountain Laurel Designs cuben Solomid performed well during the 16 hours I had to hunker down during the storm. The only drawback was that snow blew in through the vent at the top. This was only because I had removed the velcro that is supposed to seal the vent to save weight. That was definitely a case of what Andrew Skurka would call Stupid Light. Other than that it was great. The small footprint made it possible to setup in a very small space, which was critical because there was only one small place to setup during the storm.

I have started using the Zpacks waterproof/breathable rain mitts. They kept my hands dry and provided more warmth than I expected. The only other insulation I brought was a pair of lightweight glove liners and together they were enough, except the one night during the snow storm when some down mitts would have been nice.

The only jacket I brought this time was a Dri Ducks rain jacket and left the Patagonia Houdini windshirt at home. At 5 ozs for size large this is my favorite lightweight waterproof/breathable jacket. Unlike my North Face Triumph Anorak it actually breathes well and is reasonably priced at $20 for the jacket and pants.

For cooking I brought the Evernew 400 ml cup and Sidewinder Ti-Tri with a BGET (Brian Green Esbit Tray) stove. The whole setup weighs 2.5 ozs which includes the Evernew 400ml titanium mug/cook pot, Trail Designs Sidewinder titanium windscreen/pot holder, a Ruta Locura carbon fiber lid, BGET esbit stove, a mini Bic lighter and homemade cuben fiber stuff sack. This is the lightest, most packable (smallest), easy to use and convenient setup I have found. It is especially good for someone who just wants to boil a few cups of water each day. It also uses the lightest fuel available. I only use about 7 grams (1/4 oz) of fuel per day, which is nice!

I was using a new internal frame backpack that I designed for this trip. It was made for carrying heavy loads through cross country terrain:
pack.JPG
For more about the pack:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.c ... kpack.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

I brought an updated homemade quilt that I made specifically for the colder Shoulder Season temperatures. For more:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.c ... oidal.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

A gear list:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.c ... -2013.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Thanks for reading.
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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by austex » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:56 pm

I LIKE it! Thanks for sharing; awesome and inspiring. Great pix too!

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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by maverick » Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:10 pm

Thank you for completing this wonderful TR. Love the pictures, the route
outlines, and the gear descriptions at the end. Well worth the slightly extended
wait. ;)
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by balance » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:06 pm

Good trip report. Thank you.

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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:06 pm

Bluewater wrote:Day 5 Continued:
Secor recommends following the south side of the creek from Midway Lake to Portal Lake. After scrambling most of the way down I found that the south side ended at the top of a cliff. I found three places where I might have been able to make it down but after my accident a few days earlier I wasn't going to take any chances. I ended up traversing the entire boulder field, crawling between the boulders and frozen waterfalls in the creek. After an hour I finally found a large cairn along a well used route on the NORTH side. For anybody heading this way take the route on the north side of the creek!
Secor has a peak-baggars distain for class 2 and 3 and has a nasty habit of calling Class 3 Class 2. I have climbed this Finger Col route, I had to use my hands, so therefore it is in fact, Class 3. I went up the route from Portal Lake to Midway lake, a steep stable talus climb (moderate Class 3), and I figured there had to be a better way. And there is. There is an un-mapped trail from Portal Lake to the lakes to the north and if you head that way to just below Chapel Lake, you will find an easy sod slope that really is Class 2 that will take you to Chapel Lake, easy peasy. If you are coming from Finger Col, the XC from Cathedral Lake to Chapel Lake is easier than trails. Take the easy way.

EDIT: Looking back on my notes, it says that the best route to Chapel/Midway/Cathedral Lake is from Pearl Lake. So take the use trail from Portal Lake to Pearl Lake,then the XC to Chapel Lake.
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Last edited by DoyleWDonehoo on Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by tseaney » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:58 pm

Thanks for posting the rest of the trip. I'm planning on doing a similar trip this September sans the Ionian Basin.
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TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by Bluewater » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:08 pm

Thanks for your comments everybody!

Doyle, thanks for your info on the route from Portal to Chapel to Cathedral Lakes. The map really helps. After scrambling down the west side of Finger Col I would have welcomed that route down to Portal and beyond. The 'x/c' between a Cathedral and Midway was enjoyable. I stopped for a long lunch break on the shore of Midway. A beautiful spot.


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Re: TR: Shoulder Season in Ionian Basin ~ October 2013

Post by jmherrell » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:15 am

Re: Midway to Portal Lake

If forced to choose one side of the stream with a pack, I too would want to find a different route. The two times I did it, both going down, the water level was low enough to easily cross a couple of times. The resulting descent was straightforward class 2. One trip was the first week of July in a dry year.

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