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Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:47 pm
by Syrio
What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
2 or 3 nights

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
I could do anywhere from 5-12 but I'll probably spend time backtracking and exploring the basin.

Have you hiked at elevation before? Any prior issues with Altitude Sickness?
Yes, no real issues. Plan to spend one night below pass either at Piute Lake or the campground at trail head.

Have you hiked in the Sierra Nevada before, if yes, where? Please list a few of your more difficult hikes, so we can then reccomend routes based on your expereinece level.
Yes, hiked from Tuloumne down to Yosemite Valley via Vogelsang Pass.

Figured I would do the questions first. I'm planning a 2 or 3 night solo trip in the Eastern Sierra in late August. I've been looking at routes that dont go into a National Park. The basin appeals to me because of the number of lakes and the opportunity to go up and over a pass. I do not have any cross country experience but the basin seems like a good place to try to at least go cross country to another lake. I'm up for recommendations on what lake would be good to shoot for to camp a night at.

I think the basin might be a good place to try going cross country because of how open it is. Did have question about storms though, when one rolls through are you usually safe in your tent if above the tree line there or do most people drop down and camp in the trees? I've camped above 10k feet but have always been able to find some trees to set up in.

I was also considering the first through seven lakes area as well and I'm open to recommendations for other places as well as critiques of my plan.


Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:48 pm
by maverick
Hi Syrio,

Welcome to HST!

Thank you for providing the information. :nod:

Good choice for learning some cross-country!
Would recommend Lower Desolation Lake, good campsites, centralized location, and good scenery, especially if you are into photography. From LDL you can hike to Desolation Lake, Mesa Lake, or any of the several other lakes in the area. Tomahawk Lake would be my second choice but could your first choice if you were concerned about the weather, Golden Trout Lakes offers, even more cover but is a bit out of the away from the previous mention lakes, and the lakes along the Glacier Divide though quite stark and pretty, has a little more involved terrain, and is not as conducive to what you are trying to do, compared to the LDL area.

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:05 pm
by rlown
Personally, I'd stay at the SW end of upper deso. LDL is ok, but I preferred the view from Upper. It doesn't really matter where you stay up there; It'll be great. There will be no forests at either lake. You can get that at Tomahawk, albeit smallish. You'll get that on the way in anyway.

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:14 pm
by elbenanti
My husband and I went to Humphrey's Basin last September with what sounds like similar experience level as you have. Lots of experience on trails in the Sierra but not so much off trail. We loved Humphrey's Basin because it was a great place to gain experience and you're exactly right - it's very open and easy to navigate. We went up and over the pass on our first day and ended up setting up camp at Mesa Lake. Maybe not everyone's first choice but we found it handy because it was very central for our goal of hiking up and over Puppet Pass on day 2. This was a great experience for us - I think it's still considered a "backcountry" pass because there is no official trail over but it was very easy to navigate and drops you down right amidst a handful of lakes on the other side of the pass. On our way out on day 3 we headed down past Tomahawk Lake to the Golden Trout Lakes, which are really beautiful, before heading back up and over. Tomahawk has some trees and Golden Trout lakes have even more. All the other lakes are pretty barren, though we thought Mesa was still beautiful with a great view of the ridge across the basin. My husband loved this area because of all of the golden trout... Fishing was excellent. Have a great trip!

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:33 pm
by rlown
How was the Puppet pass experience?

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:07 pm
I agree with elbenanti regarding Mesa Lake. My wife, son (he was 8 years old at the time, which gives a good idea of the difficulty of the terrain) and I camped at both Lower Desolation and Mesa Lake and we all preferred Mesa. We also dayhiked to Upper Desolation and they preferred to camp at Mesa. Of course, our impression may be slightly skewed by the fact we saw no one the 2 days at Mesa and the ending of the monsoon series of storms that drove us to Lower Desolation to put up the tent just before the downpour struck.

Wherever you camp in Humphreys Basin will be great. I've also camped at a couple of the scattered tarns you run into while wandering and loved it.

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:18 am
by alpinemike
I've been in Humphreys Basin a lot... twice in one year and 4 times total and multiple times I was there in stormy conditions. No one mentioned staying at the Humphrey's Lakes themselves. Been there and Desplation Lake. The camping along the largest Humphrey's Lake is fair but completely exposed which naturally gives the most awe inspiring views of Mt. Humphrey's. I personally would stay there for the incredibly up close views of the mountain. There are also terrific views across to the Glacier Divide from the outlet of the lake. To get there you leave Piute Pass and travel Northwest. If you have a map and compass you will be fine. I've used GPS to avoid minor ups and down but at the end of the day you'll eventually stumble upon the lake and if you don't you went too far below it and likely crossed its outlet. If you have any more specific questions feel free to ask.

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:26 am
by Syrio
Wow thanks for the responses. Seems like this would be a good place to try going cross country. I'm considering going into a NP now as well. Basically deciding between trying a little cross country in this basin or doing some high mile days elsewhere.

Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:07 am
by zacjust32
Just wondering, why the aversion to NPs? Hiking with dogs, don't like bear cans?

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Re: Humphreys Basin Questions

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:00 pm
by Syrio
zacjust32 wrote:Just wondering, why the aversion to NPs? Hiking with dogs, don't like bear cans?

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No aversion I was initially going to be getting in late and wanted to use the night box. I read that you can only use it when in the national forest. Now I'm probably coming during the day so I can grab a permit that would take me into a NP. Considering Kearsarge Pass.

As long as I call ahead they'll hold my permit later than the entry day cutoff right? Probably wouldn't get there until afternoon and I'd like to do at least a couple miles that day.