Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

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earth_materials
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Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by earth_materials » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:48 pm

Just made the trip from Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes last week (Thursday June 8th thru Sunday the 11th).
hamilton-lake.jpg
Trail was snow-free all the way to Hamilton. They're not kidding when they talk about the swiftness of the creeks! 9-Mile was roaring.
9-mile.jpg
The easiest route was straight across, from the rock in the bottom right corner up to the rock in the top right corner (a slight veer left doesn't hurt). Water was about knee-high. There's a shallower portion just to the right, off camera, that we saw some people take. But the water felt swifter there and you're also closer to the edge. No thanks.

Mehrten Creek, which is the first major creek crossing encountered along the HST, around mile 6, requires two crossings:
mehrten_crossing_1.jpg
mehrten_crossing_2.jpg
You can see this sign when approaching Mehrten from Crescent Meadow:
mehrten-crossing-instructions.jpg
The campsites at Mehrten were a bit cramped and full. Either because it's always that way, or because the nature of the creek crossing at Mehrten is turning the place into a hotel. Either way, we had to climb really far up just to find an open spot.
mehrten-camp-site.jpg

Buck Creek, about 1-1.25 miles after 9-Mile, was also roaring. Thank goodness someone had the decency to build a bridge across this one:
buck-creek-bridge.jpg
Aside from the creek crossings, another challenge presented along the HST was the snow bridge, just a few hundred yards before Hamilton Creek (about 5-6 mi after 9-Mile Creek):
snow-bridge.jpg
I highlighted the route that we saw someone take. We wouldn't call that the safest route for the following reason:
snow-bridge-hollow.jpg
The bridge is almost entirely hollow underneath. Instead, climb down some rocks just off trail and then scramble up a rock chute on the other side of the creek. Your trip back may be a bit harder unless you're comfortable climbing back down the same rocks. On our return trip we wedged ourselves between the rock and the snow. Probably not 10000% safe, but it got the job done and we felt reasonably comfortable doing it:
snow-bridge-climb.jpg
Your mileage may vary on how you want to tackle this crossing.

The last creek crossing was Hamilton Creek. It's also roaring like the others but crossing is no problem. Just look for the big log about 10 feet upstream and hop across, into the brush on the right.
hamilton-creek-crossing-log.jpg
We ran into quite a few people who forded the creek, but given the slipperiness of the rocks and the crazy height of the waterfall (you can even see it from just outside Bearpaw) -- why??

Other than that there is not much else to report. The trail beyond Hamilton Lakes looked inaccessible to us, but seasoned snow experts might disagree:
trail_beyond_hamilton.jpg
.
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earth_materials
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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by earth_materials » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:02 pm

And of course, some of the eye candy from the trip...
hamilton-waterfalls.jpg
more-snow-capped-peaks.jpg
valleys.jpg
tree-fog.jpg
view-from-bearpaw.jpg
eagle-view.jpg
flowers.jpg
morning-dew.jpg
marmot.jpg
All in all, a great trip!!

Summary:

Day 1: Crescent Meadow to 9-Mile Creek
Day 2: 9-Mile Creek to Hamilton Lakes
Day 3: Hamilton Lakes to Mehrten Creek
Day 4: Mehrten Creek to Crescent Meadow

About 33 miles total.
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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by ERIC » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:42 pm

WOW. Awesome report and photos (especially that first one)! Thanks so much for sharing!!
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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by sambieni » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:52 pm

Awesome report.
Curious about the Nemo tent. What kind is it? How you like it?

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by maverick » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:17 am

Hi Earth_materials,

Welcome to HST! Thank you for the timely TR and pictures, very useful for those who may be considering going this part of the HST in the next few weeks.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by Flamingo » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:09 am

Thanks for posting this trip report! I very much appreciate the early season data, and your photos are terrific.

PS... welcome to HST!

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by elimvzq » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:30 am

Here's a link to a slideshow I made from the trip. Includes photos and videos, super boring!

[youtube_vid]<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zG7z3bu6Zfc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/youtube_vid]
Last edited by ERIC on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Embedded YouTube vid using BBCode

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by maverick » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:57 am

Includes photos and videos, super boring!
Yes it was, but thanks for posting it. :lol:
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by cgundersen » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:06 pm

Thanks for the report! Those photos are worth more than a thousand words and as folks have commented will be very helpful for others planning to be out soon. BTW, when the trail opens up later in the season, I'd recommend chugging all the way up to Kaweah Gap. It was the first Sierra pass I ever reached and it's memorable for all the right reasons. Plus, you'd get a peek at summit Lake where Ansel Adams got those stunning, slightly surreal images.
Cameron

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Re: Trip Report: Crescent Meadow to Hamilton Lakes (HST)

Post by earth_materials » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:27 pm

Awesome report.
Curious about the Nemo tent. What kind is it? How you like it?
sambieni,

It is a Nemo Hornet Elite 2P. It's a good tent, if somewhat fragile (weighs <2 lbs). Bought the footprint. Be gentle.

It must be staked out fully for maximum internal volume. The walls attach to the fly via strap. It's pretty good about moisture but we still got some drops inside at Hamilton during tear-down (no rain, just condensation). Packs down in a stuff sack that can be cinched halfway if you want to split the load and have someone else carry the poles.

I'm 5'10" and my husband is 5'5" -- we fit inside just fine.

It replaced our Kelty TN2, which was too heavy for backpacking but a bit more rugged. We use it for car camping now. :thumbsup:

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