TR: Piute to Pine Creek - 7/10 - 7/14

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
rrivera
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:54 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Contact:

TR: Piute to Pine Creek - 7/10 - 7/14

Post by rrivera » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:49 pm

Day 1 - Piute Pass Trailhead to Muriel Lake

We had a late start at the Piute trailhead and started hiking around 12:30. We began to see patches of snow around 10,500 feet close to Lake Loch Leven. When we got just above Piute Lake we put on our microspikes to climb the pass where the trail was 80-90% covered with snow. Since it was late in the day the snow was soft but the microspikes added nice traction. Once over the pass we followed the use trail to the southeast towards Muriel Lake. We were soon in deep suncups with snow cover continuing at 80-90% to the lake. The lake was mostly frozen over with some water at the shoreline but we were able to find some snow free campsites.

Day 2 - Muriel Lake to French Canyon

In the morning we put our microspikes back on and headed northwest out of Muriel Lake with the intent of getting back to the Piute Trail. The suncups were large and we moved slowly through the snowfields. Once we got to the Piute trail the next notable crossing was the outlet from Desolation Lake which was about knee deep. Snow cover below 11,000 feet was about 20% and snow free below 10,000 feet. When we got to Hutchingson Meadow there were several streams to cross that were running swiftly. In all cases we did not cross at the trail and looked downstream anywhere between 100-200 feet to cross. The deepest crossing was thigh high. We continued up into French Canyon until we reached the outlet for Merriam Lake which we immediately assessed to be uncrossable and decided to setup camp for the night and hope for lower water in the morning.

Day 3 - French Canyon to Elba Lake

The water was still running too fast and deep at the outlet in the morning and we headed up on the trail towards Merriam Lake approx a mile in/600 ft. up. Once we got to a bench the stream was calm and crossable and we followed the use trail down the other side. The crossings at Royce Lake Waterfalls were ankle deep. We climbed up to Elba Lake and the snow cover was about 20% starting around 10,800 ft. Elba and Moon Lakes were completely unfrozen and both had plenty of snow free camping spots.

Day 4 - Elba Lake to Royce Lakes to Honeymoon Lake

We followed the trail back to French Canyon and up to Pine Creek Pass. At the pass the snow cover was approx 30%. We dropped our packs and headed up to Royce Lakes. Large snowfields started around 11,000 ft and were easily crossed with microspikes. There were several snow free campsites at the lower of the Royce Lakes. After returning to the pass we put on our bags and headed over the Pass. Snow cover at the pass was about 80% and continued until approx 11,000 ft. The snow was soft and easy to cross. Good sunglasses and lots of sunscreen are highly recommended. We, two other groups and several hundred mosquitos camped at Honeymoon Lake.

Day 5 - Honeymoon Lake to Pine Creek Trailhead

We did not encounter any snow this day. Mosquitos started to drop off around 9000 feet. There were several creek crossings but only one that was really bad. The creek crossing below Pine Creek was one of the worst we had on the trip. The footbridge was out and the best crossing we found was at the trail crossing. The water was running fast, was upper thigh level for the shorter folks in the group and we had one person fall down but was able to quickly get up with some effort. The remaining hike out was uneventful but beautiful with lots of wildflowers in bloom.

It was a great trip and wonderful to be out so early. Once we left Muriel Lake we saw a total of 7 people until we reached Honeymoon Lake. It’s a great time to be out there but be safe and take the time to find the best possible water crossing.
You must be registered and logged in to view the files/photos attached to this post.








User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4750
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: TR: Piute to Pine Creek - 7/10 - 7/14

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:15 pm

I was not aware that there ever was a bridge over Pine Creek. The crossing below Pine Creek on the trail has always been wading. It was really tough (very swift) when I did it 7/24/2017. Had to do it twice- going in and going out. Nearly lost it going out. So is there supposed to be another bridge somewhere?

Is the photo labeled Merriam Lake correctly? Or is that Muriel Lake outlet? I thought you did not go all the way to Merriam Lake.
Last edited by Wandering Daisy on Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rrivera
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:54 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Contact:

Re: TR: Piute to Pine Creek - 7/10 - 7/14

Post by rrivera » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:19 pm

I should have clarified it’s a log vs a real bridge. There is a sign that points you to a foot bridge that leads you to the log crossing....we were quite happy we didn’t have to recross.

User avatar
ryanerb
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:23 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: TR: Piute to Pine Creek - 7/10 - 7/14

Post by ryanerb » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:03 am

Great report, thank you for posting. Any wildflower pics?

Post Reply

Who is online

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