TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
Post Reply
User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A
Contact:

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Rockyroad » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:37 am

Such great trip reports and fantastic photos so far. Here is mine...

Day 1, Sat: After a long drive from the Bay Area, my hike began in Crescent Meadows under partially cloudy skies. By about 2pm, occasional sprinkles fell and thunder rumbled in the distance. The clouds continued to build as the day progressed and rain became more frequent as I arrived at Buck Creek. After I set up my tent, the rain, lightning, and thunder escalated quickly and the creek flow suddenly became torrential.

Image

Day 2, Sun: I had underestimated the day’s hike and struggled up the grade in slow-motion with my full pack. The trail was overgrown in many areas. At Hamilton, I could see that the trail led into the dense clouds/fog up the hill. The day was grey, wet, and dreary. Precipice Lake was enshrouded in fog so I wasn’t even able to see this famous lake. Rain fell steadily as I headed towards Kaweah Gap and I felt relieved when Nine Lakes became visible. I set up camp at the southern shore of the heart-shaped lake. I had planned to meet Oleander at this lake today but as the rain continued to fall, I decided to look for her in the morning.
Day 3, Mon: It was still raining when I woke at 5:30am. I came to the realization that these were not your typical summer thunderstorms that quickly come and go away, leaving clear skies in the morning. I contemplated staying inside the tent all day if it continued to rain. But the rain finally stopped at 6am. I found Oleander camped up the hill at the other side of the lake. Though our plan was to go over Pants Pass to get into the Picket Guard basin today, Oleander suggested rerouting down the High Sierra Trail to the lower Kern where we could enter the Kaweah basin from the east, thus avoiding the steep wet granite of Pants Pass. Even though this would require more miles, it would also get us to lower elevation and hopefully away from the storm. We traveled across the Chagoopa Plateau and down to the Kern, camping at Kern Hot Springs along with many others. I was sad to lose the elevation I had worked so hard to gain, and will have to re-gain. The air was warm and humid in the valley and we did not encounter any more rain.

Early morning at Nine Lakes
Image

Chagoopa Plateau
Image

Great Western Divide
Image

Kern Valley
Image

Day 4, Tue: It was a luxury to be able to soak my sore muscles in the hot springs in the morning. After taking advantage of the first sunny morning to dry some of our items, we continued along the Kern, crossing many of its tributaries towards Junction Meadow. We could see dark clouds looming ominously over the higher basins to the west. As we got on the Colby trail, the rain intensified. Then the hail fell. We sped up the trail, stopped to seek shelter under some sparse trees and finally retreated back down the trail since the cold rain/hail did not relent. We quickly set up our tents on piles of pine needles under a tree. Everything was soaking wet again but we were finally drying off and warming up inside our tents. I did not fire up the stove that night and just had snacks for dinner.

Colby Pass Trail
Image

Day 5, Wed: After another late start to dry off in the welcome morning sun, we headed up the Colby Pass trail again. It was a beautiful trail, taking us up and around a knoll, weaving alongside the emerald Kern-Kaweah River. Our goal was to eventually cross the river to make a southern-bound cross country ascent up to Picket Lake. At our target elevation, we checked the river a few times and found an easy rock hop crossing. This location also had the best views up and down the river so was the perfect place to rest and refuel. We later noticed a cairn indicating that others had also found this to be the ideal launch point for the Picket Creek basin. We followed the easy diagonal tree path up in almost a straight line, resisting the temptation to deviate higher up to the peak, ending up at a small saddle which when crested brought us to the SE end of the beautiful Picket Lake. In my excitement on reaching this lake, I neglected to pull the strap of my Crocs over my heels while crossing the outlet stream and ended up watching my right side sandal float down towards the Kern River. I was a little distressed at leaving behind an article in this pristine wilderness. We then crossed the inlet stream that cascaded into the lake and met Richlong8, who had arrived earlier this day.

Diagonal tree-line up to Picket Creek
Image

Kern-Kaweah River crossing to Picket Creek route
Image

Route to Picket Creek
Image

Picket Lake
Image

Picket Lake
Image

(continued)








User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A
Contact:

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Rockyroad » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:50 am

Day 6, Thur: Our hike up Picket Creek to the Kaweah Basin was slow, as we stopped frequently to soak in the beauty and take photos. It was one of the most enchanting places I’ve been to, surrounded by miniature waterfalls, lush patches of grass, and cool streams flowing in various directions and mountain ranges at both ends. Further up the basin, it was an easy hike up to a saddle where we were rewarded with our first view of the Kaweah Basin. It contained more trees and vegetation than the rocky basin I had imagined. Gorges were cut by rivers leading down to Island Lake. We explored much of the lake, looking for an area with enough space for about 5-6 campsites. At the east end of the lake, near the outlet, we discovered an empty tent and assumed it belonged to an HST member so decided to set up there as well. It turned out to be Gazelle’s tent, who arrived shortly afterwards with Hobbes. The five of us explored the eastern drop-off of the basin where the river flowed down the canyon to join the Kern while some discussions ensued about approach options to Island Lake. I was glad to have taken the easy saddle from the Picket Creek basin. Bluewater arrived as we sat around the communal dinner area and the group buzzed with conversations about gear, routes, and just general happiness at being at such a beautiful location. Oleander and I received some valuable intel from Gazelle since she had come in over Pyra Queen Col, the path we were taking out. She identified a nice tarn to camp at and warned us to stay away from below the snow fields due to the many rock falls she had seen. But mostly what stood out for me was “The rocks will show you the way”. Very simple and true. Or maybe complexly philosophical. Just as everyone was getting ready to tuck in for the night, MN2CAPisco and Andrey arrived, drawing admiration from all of us once we learned they had come in from Hamilton Lake over Pyra Queen Col, a massive amount of ground to cover in one day.

Picket Lake sunrise
Image

Inlet to Picket Lake
Image

Picket Creek
Image

Picket Creek
Image

Kaweah Basin, Island Lake on left
Image

Rockyroad, Oleander, Richlong8 at the saddle between Picket Creek and Kaweah basins
Image

Kaweah Basin
Image

Island Lake
Image

Richlong8, Oleander, Hobbes at the Island Lake outlet
Image

Richlong8, Gazelle, Oleander, Hobbes checking out alternative routes to Island Lake
Image

View east from Island Lake
Image

Bluewater, Hobbes, Oleander, Gazelle, Richlong8, Rockyroad (MN2CAPisco and Andrey arrived later)
Image

Day 7, Fri: This was practically a layover day as Oleander and I had planned to just hike up to camp at the upper Kaweah Basin to stage an assault on the Pyra Queen Col the following day. Bluewater had also planned on exiting over PQC with us but he wanted to explore the Picket Creek basin first. We made plans to meet at the tarn Gazelle had identified. The hike up the basin was outstanding. The terrain of streams, trees, willow patches, slowly changed to granite and scattered metamorphic rock with the occasional tarn as we headed up the canyon. After hiking a bit more to catch a glimpse of the larger tarns at the western end of the basin, we backtracked to Gazelle’s tarn which we thought to be the best camping area in the upper basin and put out a beacon for Bluewater. He arrived around dinnertime just as he had predicted.

Dawn at Island Lake
Image

Morning sun on Island Lake outlet
Image


Panoramic of Kaweah Basin (Can you spot Oleander in the photo?)
Image

Lone pine in upper Kaweah Basin
Image

Pyra Queen Col at upper left
Image

Beacon for Bluewater
Image

Day 8, Sat: I didn’t know what to expect from Pyra Queen Col, but I was excited for the challenge. We (I) slowly made my way up the basin, over large talus blocks. PQC loomed over us and we could not identify the actual col yet. Gazelle’s advice was to go up closer to the right side, then start cutting left, even further left than you would expect, and then follow the path right. “The rocks will show you the way.” Oleander led the charge followed by input by Bluewater. As we were nearing the top, Bluewater and I heard a loud whoop from Oleander, who was standing at the top of the col, waving and cheering happily. Shortly after, all 3 of us were at the top, looking down the even steeper scree field on the west side of PQC. We took some moments at the top to rest and take photos before Oleander led the charge down the other end of the col. We maintained a sizeable distance between each other so that any rockfalls created would not take out the person below. Coming down the top of the pass was more fun than frightening for me. But then as I continued to make my way down, it became more tedious. We made a wide zig zag down, avoiding the smooth granite, finally reaching one of the Nine Lakes at the bottom which was surrounded by more talus blocks. The hike along this lake and the next was slow as we still had to hop talus. However, as we travelled, the talus grew smaller and we saw more patches of grass. I was really impressed by the upper Nine Lakes basin area. It seemed so complex, with small hills and valleys and lakes and streams everywhere. Bluewater must have liked it too since he decided to stay at one of the lakes for the night. Oleander and I continued down to the lower lakes and were back on to the HST trail over the Kaweah Gap. We were headed to Hamilton Lake so that our hike out the next day would leave reasonable time to drive home. The trail looked completely new to me since it was dark, rainy, and cloudy on my way in at the beginning of the trip. I was finally able to appreciate this beautiful trail and even see Precipice Lake. Despite being on our feet with full packs for exactly 12 hours today, I was filled with energy from the excitement of the upper Kaweah basin, PQC, Nine Lakes, and a fresh look at the HST.

One of several tarns in upper Kaweah Basin
Image

Rockyroad, Bluewater, Oleander below the Kaweahs
Image

The larger tarns in the upper Kaweah Basin
Image

Panoramic of upper Kaweah Basin
Image

West side of Pyra Queen Col. The actual col is the light colored chute on top.
Image

Black Kaweah
Image

Bluewater picking a camp location
Image

Nine Lakes basin
Image

Night photography from Hamilton Lake
Image

Day 9, Sun: Hike out to Crescent Meadows.

These 9 days were highlighted by pristine wilderness and meeting new friends who share similar interests. I cherished every moment, the cold wet hailstorm as much as that first glimpse of Picket Lake, because those are the moments that make you feel alive.

If any of you fish the Kern and hook a brown size 9 Croc, please send it to me. I'll pay the shipping. :)
Last edited by Rockyroad on Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
Posts: 766
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by richlong8 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:59 am

Really interesting trip report and great photos rockyroad(michael). They really convey the cloudiness of the storm. A pleasure meeting you. May your semi conductor pnp junctions always conduct. or not.

User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1120
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Experience: N/A
Location: The OC

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Hobbes » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:11 am

Great TRs Richard & Michael. Here's a philosophical question: is it better to have good, then bad weather, or bad, then good weather?

Perhaps the initial bad weather will morph into classic type II fun, where memories will fade but the adventure aspects will continue to increase. Already, I'm romanticizing being forced to stick out the storm right below the Shepherd crest. I'm forgetting the reality of actually being under my tarp, but recalling the black clouds, hard rain, rolling thunder and flashes of lightning with fondness.

Later than evening after 10pm, I was awoken by headlamps coming down the trail. (I had set-up camp maybe 10 yards max right off the trail next to some willows in a little hallow - a paltry effort since I was above treeline. Still, the Pothole is like the moon littered with boulders and talus, so this little zone is all there is.) As they came by, I realized they had summitted either Williamson or Tyndall, got caught in the storm, and had to make an emergency bivy somewhere up above.

I recalled passing a tent left back @ Anvil, so I figured it had to be them. Now, imagine for a moment getting caught in that storm on a mountain, having to make an emergency bivy, then deciding to hike down in the dark on wet granite/talus? I mean, that upper section of Shepherd is bad enough in broad daylight (especially since the hard rain washed some of the scree trail sections away), so imagine the motivation to just go for it anyway to get back to a nice warm tent.

And yet, perhaps whatever terror they might have felt will fade and it will be re-counted years from now as that "fantastic adventure". LOL

User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1120
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Experience: N/A
Location: The OC

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Hobbes » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:30 am

Not a very good photo, but it does sort of capture the nature of an impromptu gathering to study maps & discuss route options. RockyRoad, being an engineer, had printed off a bunch of high resolution images from Earth from different angles & perspectives, of which Gazelle & Oleander were studying:

Gazelle, Oleander, RR (behind branch) & Richard:
Image

User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
Posts: 766
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by richlong8 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:03 am

For me, of the 2, I prefer the bad weather at the beginning. The weather almost always changes back to good weather if I am on a long trip, and it cheers me up and keeps me there for the long haul when it gets sunny again. On the other hand, If the weather turns sour, after being good the first several days, I tend to want to bail out and go home. The worst part of bad weather for me is the inordinate amount of time I have to spend in shelter to keep me and my gear from getting too wet, and too cold which leads to the dreaded "h" if you are not careful. I think the more ultralight a person's gear, the more careful they need to be, to stay dry and warm. Even though I had an Iphone with me with some books to read, I really enjoyed having a Louis L'Amour thin paperback to read during the bad weather. It served as great kindling to start a fire, and dry kindling was hard to find, even under large trees, during this trip's early days, because it was so wet.

User avatar
Jimr
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 1980
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Redondo Beach

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Jimr » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:20 am

Great reads everyone! Rich, I was thinking about you on Monday wondering how you fared in Miter/Crabtree through the storm. I have the exact same shot of lower Crabtree Meadow that you took. A very picturesque place indeed. Last year, Schmalz and I stood on top of Crabtree Pass with Rob and Laura, the back country rangers from Crabtree and Rock Creek (husband and wife). They were sitting on the top spending some time together on their day off and gave us suggestions for the route down (to the left) the staircase to Upper Crabtree lake.

What a fun thread. I've rarely read such awesome reports. The enthusiasm screams out in the details. Hobbes, I agree. The uncomfortable (miserable) fades and leaves some epic and romanticized memories. Sort of like having kids. When you're in it, it can be quite a bit of misery, pain, fear, etc. but as time goes by, it fades leaving fond memories to last a lifetime.

One strange thing that happened to me (of minor interest) is that I lost all desire to carry the hard stuff in the back country. I brought along a 5th of spiced whiskey, took one sip and poured it all out above the Kern Hotspring. It became more burden than bourbon. I'd rather be carrying a travel guitar.

Can't wait for next year.
:rock:
“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

-John Adams

User avatar
richlong8
Topix Expert
Posts: 766
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:02 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by richlong8 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:52 am

Jimr, I told the group when we were gathered for the evening meal that I was daydreaming about you showing up with those fish for dinner, and there was near unanimous consent! You were missed, and your fish. It looks like I am going to get one more good trip this year. About 8-10 days entering and exiting via Shepherd Pass built around the Labor Day weekend time period. Visiting and fishing the lakes on the south side of the Kings-Kern Divide, as well as Williamson Bowl, perhaps, and Lake Wallace. I will get me some big golden trout this year- unless I can claim the bad weather excuse again.

User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A
Contact:

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Rockyroad » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:09 am

Hobbes, interesting question. I would like to think that I’d be just as appreciative of the trip as a whole if the bad weather was at the end instead of the beginning. The good memories from the beginning would still stand out and maybe even act as something to hold onto during the bad weather but I agree with Rich that I would be motivated to leave early. I do believe that when we’ve made the right decisions and survived in the face of being tested/pushed to the limit (even though only bad weather in this case), in most cases there is a net benefit from the experience and confidence in knowing you’ve made all of the right decisions.

Rich, I really enjoyed your company as well. May you always find galvanic equilibrium. :)
Last edited by Rockyroad on Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A
Contact:

Re: TR: Maverick's 2015 Annual HST Meet-Up 7/22-7/24/15

Post by Rockyroad » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:43 am

And here is a video of the trip, focusing more on the travel to and from the meetup. 9 days in 9 minutes! I forgot to take out the GoPro during the actual meetup. Cast includes Oleander, Richlong8, and Bluewater.



I switched from ultra-wide angle to minimize the fish-eye look but this seems to have made it more sensitive to camera shake. Might have to look into mounting it differently next time. I had it attached to my shoulder strap with a Peak Designs mount.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], jab4x5 and 5 guests