TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

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!
User avatar
kpeter
Topix Expert
Posts: 917
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:11 pm
Experience: N/A

TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by kpeter » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:01 am

Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Sabrina Basin is well known and there are many other TRs for this outstanding region. This was my 5th trip to Sabrina Basin. This time I brought my brother along. He is a very experienced backpacker and a professional ecologist for the Forest Service in another part of the country—but this was his first trip into the Sierra. Unfortunately, the monsoonal flow started on the first day of our trip, and we had rain of varying lengths and intensities every afternoon. The mosquitoes were also bad, but we managed to enjoy ourselves anyway with the usual precautions.

Logistics

The permit is obtained through the Inyo National Forest. I was lucky to find two spots left to this popular area in June when we decided late to do the trip. We drove to Mammoth and picked up our permit there the day before. This let us sleep at elevation (Mammoth is higher than Bishop) and enjoy a little sight seeing there before heading in the next day.

The trailhead—at 9000 feet-- is at Lake Sabrina, sandwiched a few miles between the North Lake and the South Lake trailheads. These three trailheads off of 168 west of Bishop constitute three of the most popular and spectacular jumping off points for the eastern Sierra. Parking for overnight is a ways back from the trailhead, meaning you have to walk a quarter mile or so of road to get started.

The hike

On the first day we hiked to Blue Lake—intending to go longer but forced to stop due to rain. Blue Lake is about 1400 feet above the trailhead and only 3 miles in, making it a particularly easy destination—I have taken young children there. For such an easy destination its scenic value is outstanding.
DSC04046-1.jpg
Most people camp near the outlet end between the outlet and the next trail junction, but there are also camps in less traveled locations for those willing to look.

On the second day we dayhiked to Baboon Lakes, hoping to fully explore their basin and maybe even climb up to Sunset Lake, as I have done in the past. In the past I found the use trail to Baboon very sketchy, but was able to follow it the full distance this time. The intersection with the trail from Blue to Donkey was marked with a pole with the destinations written in sharpie. The trail does not at all follow the spur marked on the USGS maps. It goes high above the outlet stream--never coming close to it-- and instead of contouring around the granite hump to the direct north of Baboon, it goes over that granite hump it and drops down to the lake at its NW inlet.
DSC04075-1.jpg
Baboon still had a lot of snow, but the outlet was raging and just barely too wide for us to feel we could cross it safely.
DSC04070-1.jpg
Unfortunately, this cut us off from all but a short piece of shoreline. After enjoying the views, we returned to camp at Blue Lake, packed up, and moved over to Dingleberry, where we had the lake to ourselves for the evening. There we discovered that the crossing over the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek that is just upstream from the lake looked challenging. All the stepping stones were under water, and it looked as if the wade would be thigh deep and more than 50 feet across.

On the third day we set out cross country, avoiding the ford, and climbed the granite ridge SE of Dingleberry. There we enjoyed the views, including of Topsy Turvy lake, before we found a way down from the ridge to Pee Wee Lake. We circled this lake and came to the jumble of boulders at the outlet end of Topsy Turvey. We picked a path and boulder-hopped across the outlet—much of the water was underneath the jumble of boulders, and this proved to be a dry way of getting across the stream that seemed better than the cold ford close to Dingleberry. From Topsy Turvy we climbed SW to rejoin the trail toward Hungry Packer. As you come up this trail you get a splendid view of a mountain valley filled with small lakes, and dominated by pretty waterfalls coming from the outlet of Moonight Lake. From here you can explore Moonlight Lake, Sailor Lake, Hungry Packer lake, and a plethora of small streams and granite mounds. It is one of the most magical places in the Sierra.
DSC04152-1.jpg
DSC04170-1.jpg
DSC04187-1.jpg
We did explore, but rain once again chased us back to camp. On the way, we did ford the Middle Fork above Dingleberry and found that the sandy bottom was very safe, the current not dangerous, and the depth mostly shallower than we feared. The biggest problem was the bitter cold that caused pain long before the lengthy ford was completed.

On the fourth day, after suffering yet another rainstorm as we woke up, we decided we had explored as far as we could given the conditions, and we headed out.
DSC04201-1.jpg
We got out in time to drive up to the Bristlecone Pines visitor center and explored the world’s oldest living (non clonal) things.
You must be registered and logged in to view the files/photos attached to this post.
Last edited by kpeter on Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.








User avatar
mckee80
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:40 am
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by mckee80 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:02 am

Awesome report. Thanks! One day I hope to get to the falls at Moonlight Lake. That area just moved up on my list. So many places, so little time.

User avatar
Cycleboy
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:31 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by Cycleboy » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:52 am

I've been up that way 5 times, and may go for a 6th this year if we can put a trip together. Interesting to see the snow around the shoreline of Lower Baboon and at Moonlight Falls. We camped on the rocks in between the beach where the trail comes up and the outlet stream.

User avatar
Rockyroad
Topix Regular
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:05 pm
Experience: N/A
Contact:

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by Rockyroad » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:46 pm

Beautiful photos. I wouldn't have crossed the outlet of Baboon Lake either!

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4627
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:57 pm

Sabrina Basin is always wonderful, even when it is a bit crowded. We went up early one year and the waterfall below Moonlight was flowing; the next time it was bone dry.

Interesting to see your description of the use-trail up to Baboon Lakes. From the photo it looks like you were well above the lake. I have always lost it and simply scrambled up the drainage; I do not even remember that crossing, perhaps because I crossed down further since I missed the trail. Once I went up from Donkey Lake which avoids the crossing at Baboon Lake outlet. It was not that hard.

User avatar
gary c.
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1282
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:56 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Lancaster, CA

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by gary c. » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:16 am

Agree about that entire basin being so beautiful. Our first time up there we followed the trail and did ok. The second time we pretty much went cross country in both directions.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray

User avatar
cantare
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:11 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by cantare » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:48 pm

Beautiful photos/report. That sure was a crap week to be in the Sierra, weather-wise...I went over Avalanche Pass out of Roads End and got the full monsoon heat/humidity/downpour treatment.

User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Posts: 2944
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by giantbrookie » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:01 pm

No matter how popular it is, Sabrina Basin is one of those places that never gets old. Yes, the monsoonal flow did in fact get going just about when you hiked in, based on a perspective from further north in the range (no thunderstorms until the 23rd).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
BESON
Topix Novice
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:29 pm
Experience: Level 1 Hiker

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by BESON » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:33 pm

Thanks for sharing! Looks like a beautiful area.
Brian

User avatar
davidsheridan
Topix Regular
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:56 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: TR: Sabrina Basin July 23-26

Post by davidsheridan » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:21 pm

Thanks for the great TR KPeter! So great you got to go up with your brother! Sounds like you got a great tour of the area in spite of the rain. (Blue/Baboon/Dingleberry/Sailor/Tospy Turvey/Pee Wee/+ more). I like the fact you guys went off trail to move around the various lake basins.

My wife and I had a similar trip last year where afternoon/evening rains that curtailed some of our most ambitious plans.

Thanks for posting beautiful pics, I particularly like the flowers in front Sailor Lake with Picture Peak in background.

Any more trips this summer? I am headed to Yosemite tomorrow. Wish me luck with crowds...

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 9 guests