Florence Lake, Vee Lake, Orchid Lake 9/15-18

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Florence Lake, Vee Lake, Orchid Lake 9/15-18

Post by maya » Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:42 pm

Okay take two. I've been lurking for awhile and decided to finally buckle down and pay you wonderful folks back and try to post a trip report with actual photos. I've already accidentally deleted it once so here's hoping this works!

I had hoped for a longer September trip but life happens. Sp here I am with a week of vacation and 5 months pregnant, a wary partner, nervous parents and a hesitant OB. So after wandering through the forums I decided on an out and back in a popular area for the general sanity of my loved ones.

I headed out of the bay area Saturday evening and slept overnight at Shaver lake before hitting the High Sierra Ranger Station. I of course had no problems with permits, it is mid september and all of 38 degrees out. I thankfully discovered that a Prius can make it to Florence lake, although the ranger did tell me two had to be rescued the week before thanks to low clearance wipe outs.

Day 1: Florence Lake - Marie Lake
Permit in hand I made it to the lake around 8:30 but decided to treat myself and take the 10:30 ferry. I got enjoy the ride with just the ferry captain and we chatted about seasonal jobs, life decisions and the strangeness that is working where others vacation. It was a great start to the trip. Around 11 am I passed all the waiting hikers heading home on the ferry and started up the trail solo. The trail wan't bad, crisscrossing dirt road though meadows and forests it was great to be in the Sierra. I passed the Muir Trail Ranch cutoff and headed up to the JMT. I hadn't been on this stretch of trail since I hiked the PCT in 2012 and I was surprised that it actually felt familiar. Although I was certainly faster back then!
Slowly trudging my upwards I passed at least 20 people heading south before making it to Sallie Keyes. It was cold and windy, which is some of my favorite hiking weather and still early so I decided to keep going. I didn't love my camping options at heart lake and just bit the bullet and headed over Selden Pass. Luckily I had it all to myself, always a treat.
Windy and cold on the pass
It was almost six and after wandering in a few circles I made camp at Marie, colder than I had hoped but who really cares?

Day 2: Marie Lake - Upper Bear Creek Meadows (side trip to Vee Lake)
Cold and windy night! It was hard to get moving but I felt good so layered up it was back to hiking.
It didn't take long to get to upper bear creek meadows. I took a break and debated. The weather had said highs in the 30's and a 30% chance of snow overnight. I had originally thought to camp at Vee and explore the bear lake basin but the forecast had me hesitant. It can be awfully brutal above treeline. I decided to take all my gear and decide once I got there. The beginning of the Seven Gables trail wasn't bad. Soon enough I was climbing and then hopping through talus with only one slightly class 2/3 moment. So not exactly trail, but hey Pika!
Up towards the seven gables lakes I was moving slow. I ended up scrambling on a cliff, I'm sure there was simpler way but it was fun and got me where I needed to go. Finally heading up the chute to Vee Lake.
I am officially in love with Vee Lake, but it was horribly windy and I decided camping and exploring was not in my cards this trip. I huddled in some boulders for lunch and then headed back to bear creek meadows to camp in the protection of trees and lower elevation.
to be continued...
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Re: Florence Lake, Vee Lake, Orchid Lake 9/15-18

Post by maya » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:01 pm

Technical difficulties...

Just a few more from day 2:
Day 3: Upper Bear Creek Meadows - stream 3 miles before florence (side trip Orchid Lake)

My water all froze overnight but the predicted 60 mph wind gusts and snow did not materialize. I headed immediately off trail to Orchid Lake, I was going slow but it was almost warm and it was a pleasant climb.
I spent an hour sitting in the sun and watching the fish swim by. Incredibly peaceful and I had thought to explore some but realized I didn't;t actually feel like it. So I headed back towards the JMT. I had fun but did some sloppy route finding and had to escape a few cliffs. Feeling like I was totally secluded I was surprised to pop out at a snow surfer cabin.
Then its was back to Rosemarie meadow and up to Marie Lakes. This time warm enough for a long lunch and wading in the lake.
Back up over the pass with some grumpy and egotistical PCT hikers, bummer but thankfully reversed by a lovely mother and son.
I cruised down and just hiked until I found myself farther than I had intended. The switchbacks had been tiring back to MTR intersection butt he meadow and creeks were lovely and I set up for my last night.

Day 4: Florence Lake
A quick 3 miles, back to the ferry and home by 4pm. A great trip and some areas I hope to explore much more.
Thanks to the forum, you guys are great!
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Re: Florence Lake, Vee Lake, Orchid Lake 9/15-18

Post by mckee80 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:13 pm

Thanks for the report, and great pictures! I was at Vee Lake two weeks ago. I had hopes to make it to the JMT and Orchid Lake, so thanks for filling in the spots I missed!

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