TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

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TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby robo » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:50 pm

Hi all, this is my first backpacking trail report. I've been lurking since this past winter and finally have something to provide. I've made some trips to the Whitney range, upper Owens and the Ashram House this year, but nothing too crazy as I am still gaining my Sierra legs. You have given me a great wealth of knowledge and I aim to contribute to the community as much as I possibly can. So let's get going!

A few of my buddies have never been up to the Eastern Sierra, so I decided to break them in with an overnight trip up to Big Pine Lakes. Cruel, I know...

We headed up on Saturday and spent the day at Alabama Hills climbing rocks and getting somewhat acclimated coming from sea level.

Day 1 - 9/10
On Sunday morning we picked up the permit in Lone Pine and made our way north. The forecast had about a 40% chance of thunderstorms. Luckily nothing materialized during our trip

We made it to the trail head around 10:00 and were on our way.

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View of the South Fork.

There were about 20 hikers we came across the first 2 miles that were heading back down the trail. Unfortunately, they did not have the luck of perfect weather the past couple of days at the lakes.

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The creek was roaring!

My friends were having a very difficult time with the first leg of the climb and the first set of switchbacks. I made it to the ranger cabin before them and explored a bit and chatted with a couple from Ridgecrest.
I instantly regretted not bringing my fly rod with me after spotting some nice 10"- 12" brown trouts in the pools near the station.

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Crystal clear pools behind the ranger station.

After a quick lunch of tuna and crackers we started back on the trek. I pulled ahead and would stop every half mile or so to wait for them to catch up. Not an inconvenience at all, the scenery was amazing; a roaring Big Pine creek to the left and immense talus fields to the right.

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The talus fields past the ranger station are absolutely mesmerizing. They are just rocks, but damn.

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Nefarious clouds rolling along as we approach the lakes. Thankfully they didn't open up.

We made it to the first lake at about 15:00. Since the lake is partially hidden by rocks and trees coming up from the trail I decided to play a trick on them by saying we still had about a mile hike to the first lake. The look on the exhausted faces of my buddies after seeing the emerald water was priceless. Hopefully they weren't too pissed off at me after dragging them through this. Regardless...I had a good laugh :lol:

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First lake.

I've always wanted to check out the beach on the south side of the second lake. So we decided that is where we would make camp for the night. After navigating around the first lake we came across the series of bridges that lead us onto the ledge just above the beach.

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Obligatory shot of the second lake with the Palisades peeking.

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Base camp at the base of Temple Crag.

Pictures do not do this spectacular place any justice. The shear size of Temple Crag is awesome in every sense of the word.

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Soaking our feet in the cool waters with Cloudripper looming in the background.

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The sunset did not disappoint.

We had a feast on MREs and were in our respected tents by 21:00. The wind picked up during the night and continued into Monday morning. The water lapping against the shores on the lake lulled me back to the sleep multiple times throughout the night.


Day 2 - 9/11

I woke about around 6:00 and explored around the lake a bit while I waited for everyone to wake up.

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Made some coffee and oatmeal while I watched the sunlight creep across the range. Again, the instant regret of not bringing my fly rod slammed home.

We packed up camp and headed out at 9:00. I came across a couple of backpackers and assured them we did not experience any storms. However, they seemed less than convinced as some clouds were coming in.

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On the way out from the land bridge. Pesky clouds looming once again as a cold wind was blowing in from the southwest.

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Hola!

We made it to the car at 11:30 and I could sense the favorably weather would not hold up. On our drive back we hit monsoon thunderstorms all the way back to Lone Pine. My heart went out to the poor souls on and around the Whitney range.

Overall it was a great trip and I was thrilled to introduce some of my friends to the beauty and awe of the Sierras, especially to those of who have never made it more than 100 miles outside Los Angeles.

Hope you enjoyed the report and I will have more to come!



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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby gary c. » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:29 am

Thanks for the report. It brings back some nice memories. Now it's a wait and see about your friends. It always surprises me at who is willing to go on a second trip and who will never go again. :wink:
"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
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby robo » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:50 pm

Thanks Gary. There were already asking about a 2nd trip and I have about 20 places I would like to go next.

I see that you live in Lancaster, nice! I'm a Palmdale boy myself, born and raised.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:05 pm

Very cool first TR and nice pictures. I do have to say, the place you set up camp, is right at the bottom of a rock slide area, if it got any momentum (naturally or by a small trembler), your tent would be right at the bottom of it. Noticed someone else set up a tent, right in that zone, on my trip there, at the beginning of August. :(

Pictures do not do this spectacular place any justice. The shear size of Temple Crag is awesome in every sense of the word.


viewtopic.php?f=17&t=16587#p124831 :unibrow:
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby robo » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:04 pm

maverick wrote:Very cool first TR and nice pictures. I do have to say, the place you set up camp, is right at the bottom of a rock slide area, if it got any momentum (naturally or by a small trembler), your tent would be right at the bottom of it. Noticed someone else set up a tent, right in that zone, on my trip there, at the beginning of August. :(

Pictures do not do this spectacular place any justice. The shear size of Temple Crag is awesome in every sense of the word.


viewtopic.php?f=17&t=16587#p124831 :unibrow:


Yikes! That just elevated my heart rate. Thanks for the insight maverick, now I'll know what to watch out for on future trips at the bottom of talus fields. It is easy to caught up in the scenery and to forget that this environment has the potential to change in an instant.

And I saw that stunning picture of yours a few days before the trip which made me even more of a "fanboy" of the place haha.
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Re: TR: Big Pine Lakes 9/10/17 - 9/11/17

Postby jeremiahkim » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:23 am

Easy to do a lot worse for an introduction to the Eastern Sierra, IMO. The first leg can be tough, especially in direct sunlight and the switchbacks had me wondering how far it was to the first lakes. I can picture the look on your buddies' faces. :lol:

Interesting to see the pool behind the ranger cabin—that section was blowing when we were there in late June—although the creek by the falls still looks full from your picture.

DSC02862.JPG


Spotted quite a few fish at Second Lake but by the time we got to fishing the sun was already quite high and the fish were pretty skittish. Had considerably better success at the upper lakes, although the trail to Summit was still snowed out.

Thanks for the fun TR. Makes me wish I was back!
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