TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

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bbayley80
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TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by bbayley80 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:38 am

This trip has gone through several iterations due to current conditions, lack of friend's commitment and my own excitement for a watered down version of the original. It started as what would have been a five day epic adventure(Roads End/East Lake/Longley/Cinder Col/Sphinx/Sphinx Lakes Basin/Roads End) To a three day solo trip to Sphinx Lakes Basin. To this: A three day meet up with a buddy in Kearsarge Lakes-he coming from Onion Valley-me from Roads End. As with all things Sierra you just have to roll with it. She's a fickle one-and any day backpacking is better than just about any other day doing anything else. And so...

DAY ONE:

I made the familiar drive down into the striking canyon towards Cedar Grove early Wednesday morning, grabbed my permit at Road's End and was off, heading up Bubbs Creek towards my night one home just short of Junction Meadow. I have hiked this stretch of trail many, many times but this year is a bit different. With our heavy snowfall and in turn snowmelt the trail was lined with lush ferns, wildflowers and other vegatation that was shoulder high in places! I made quick work of the switchbacks to meet the junction with the Sphinx/Avalanche Pass trail and had a somewhat alarming rest. When I went to filter more water my Katadyn BeFree 3L filter system simply refused to pass any water. Not good. I managed to get a few ounces-fortunately i had maybe 20 left in my Nalgene at the time of the break. So-with that thought in my mind I kept up the trail. Quickly passing the amazing CCC and Sierra Trail crews- out busting their butts so we can walk on lovely trails- and their camp that had taken over Charlotte Creek(FYI Rae Lakes loopers-if you are counting on that as a spot for the night. don't! it is under use by the trail crews) Just after passing Charlotte Creek I spied my first black black bear. I always play a game when in the backcountry of 'if i was a bear, I'd be hanging out right there.." just as that thought had passed my mind i spotted him, up on hind legs checking me out over shoulder high foliage. A few hundred feet away, he simply got back down and ambled off into the woods. I said my farewell as I passed his location. Arriving at camp I grabbed my backup Katadyn Micropur tablets i always carry and quickly dropped it into a liter of creek water to sit for the long, long four hours while i tried the BeFree again. SUCCESS! I dont know if the filter was too dry dont at the Sphinx junction or what-I didnt really care- it was working now. Crisis averted! I sat creek side -in a spot where me and a few friends had spent a night last July- and downed cool crisp creek water, soaked my feet and generally enjoyed myself. And then it started raining. Standard July monsoon in the Sierra. :) So into the tent for a little nap, some reading. Then out around six to get some golden hour shots before dinner. The mosquitoes were surprisingly OK. A few bites, a little swarming, buzzing but not nearly as bad as I had expected. Just Sawyer Picaridin was needed to keep them at bay- I did pack my Thermacell as backup as well. I fired it up but it didnt really seem to improve things too much-so i chose to save fuel. After a good dinner and watching the sun slink through the trees-i slunk off to my bed for the evening.
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DAY TWO:

I woke early and after a leisurely breakfast-without my flying pests I may add- I was packed and on trail by 8:15. This first stretch was one i was most looking forward too-the only stretch of the route I had previously not been on-the two miles from Junction Meadow to Vidette Meadow. I knew it would be a climb-the whole day really- but the views gave me many chances to catch my breath and rest my legs as it seemed around every corner there was a thundering cascade of angry, white water. I ran into many downhill hikers on the way up looking at me oddly as I guess nobody comes up this stretch? I can see their point. Soon enough I was in VIdette Meadow enjoying the views-and some newfound buzzing friends. Storm clouds were building over Forrester, Brewer and The Gaurds so I tried my best to chug up the next steep section leading to Kearsarge Lakes basin where I would meet my friend. I had no sooner taken off my pack to filter water and enjoy a snack at Bullfrog Lake(one of my favorite settings in the Sierra) than I heard the first roll of thunder and saw that first bright flash of lightning to the South. OK. break time-over. Pack on now, heading off trail along the Kearsarge Lakes outlet to where I prearranged to meet my friend-on the Northern shores of Lake #3 tucked into the forest. As a light drizzle falls I slog up the outlet and finally pop out by the small fourth lake and begin to work my way around the fisherman's trail-passing a few tents- not his- then searching, searching. Rain-falling, falling. I dump my pack and stand out on the rock peninsula in the bend of the lake and look across it to catch a glimpse of orange-my buddy's Marmot 1P tent- he waves and I quickly grab my pack and head over. The long way. The swollen lakes had risen to a point where the spit of rocks that divide lakes 2&3 was impassable, so I had to hike all the way around lake #2-keep in mind, still raining- to get to his spot. Grumbling a bit as I worked my over the boulder jumble of a lake shore I was quickly there for a high five and a welcome! Long way aside- he chose a spot I had always wanted to nab I'd just had never seen it available. So we were stoked. Wet-but stoked. All setup and wet we both retired to our respective homes for the afternoon nap, read and storm wait out. Around 4:30 the storm backed off and we went about lunching, fishing, catching up and your usual Sierra scenery soaking. Both of us crashed out around 8:30.
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DAY THREE:

After a rainy night and morning- it rained off and on from about 1:30 to 6:30- we weren't sure what The Sierra would deal us this day. I was especially concerned-as 15.4 miles back to the car in the rain did not sound ideal. However, at 6:45 the rain stopped and out came the sun! We enjoyed breakfast and coffee, while trying to dry out gear in the first sun we'd really had in a long while. We were not about to miss our window, so we packed up quickly after breakfast and were on trail be 8:30- soon saying our goodbyes, as he headed towards Kearsarge Pass, and I back down to Bullfrog and ultimately the car. Down being the operative word there. I found myself quickly at the West end of Bullfrog and happened to look back to the pass to see a tiny figure moving up close to the pass-my friend. Lucky guy I thought-he had just five miles to his car. Me ..not so much. With that, I focused on the task at hand: three BIG drops. The first -and steepest- passed quickly as I worked my way down to lower Vidette Meadow. My plan was to take it slow going down the steep drops and powering out the 'flat' stretches to best save my knees and quads along the 5,900' loss of the day. Following that thought I was able to move well and made good time-always keeping one eye skyward to check the clouds. However it looked like I was dropping below the rising storm-so I dared to believe I'd make it out dry. After one last break and water filter at the Sphinx/Avalanche Pass trail junction I powered down the last drop-with some help from my friends ibuprofen and Kings of Leon-soon finding myself at the Bailey(sp) [-X Bridge and the longest two miles in SEKI-those two from the bridge to the car. Even those passed quickly and at 3:30 I was to the car-dry- heading to Cedar Grove for a sandwhich, Pringles and Pepsi riverside while I soaked my feet! Another great Sierra adventure.
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grampy
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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by grampy » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:27 am

Very nice report! I enjoyed that section of Bubbs Creek trail (Junction Meadow to Vidette Meadow) last year with my younger son. We passed a trail crew putting the trail in perfect condition on our way up. While in Center Basin, we saw/heard a BIG thunderstorm hitting to our west. Coming back down that same section a day later, we saw most of their hard work was washed back out by the heavy rain ... AND found (once we exited at R.E.) that the road spur that loops down towards the river at Cedar Grove was also flooded & washed out.
I especially liked your photo “Kearsarge AM golden hour”. And, I hope you get to do your originally-planned loop another time soon.

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hiac
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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by hiac » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:27 pm

the last photo (Gazing down drop #2. High above Junction Meadow.), I can't recognize this spot.

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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by c9h13no3 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:19 pm

Yeah, quite often hollow fiber filters take a while to hydrate, and they're impermeable until they do. Dump in some water, and give it a few minutes to hydrate.

Thanks for the pics, I have plans for that trail later. Deerhorn Mountain always looks hawt.
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grampy
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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by grampy » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:49 am

hiac wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:27 pm
the last photo (Gazing down drop #2. High above Junction Meadow.), I can't recognize this spot.
It’s taken from where the Bubbs Creek trail crosses the 9,200’ contour, or pretty close. I matched up the visible peaks (and the slide area visible to the left) in photo, to a similar photo I took last year.

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bbayley80
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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by bbayley80 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:28 pm

Grampy
thank you! thats too bad about the washed out work- that would be so frustrating :(
I too hope I can get out and do my intended loop. one day :)

c9h13no3.
I figured that was the case. this is the second season I have used the BeFree and it never has given me trouble-but yes, as it got hydrated it worked like a champ. gave me a bit of fright haha.. thats why I always carry those Micropur tablets just in case. enjoy your hike!

Hiac.
Grampy nailed it. thats the spot. The East Creek drainage it the distance coming in just left of center. Bubbs Creek and trail peel away to the right from center. Junction truly is an aptly named meadow :)

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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by sekihiker » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:27 pm

Enjoyed the write-up and photos. You captured the ambiance of the trail. Thanks for posting.

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bbayley80
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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by bbayley80 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:52 pm

Sekihiker
thank you! you are welcome. :)

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Re: TR: 7/24-7/26 2019. Roads End/Kearsarge Lakes/Roads End

Post by Love the Sierra » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:01 am

THANKS! Beautiful!

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