TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

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bbayley80
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TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by bbayley80 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:58 pm

8/15-8/18 2018
An overdue trip report from last year to get you through the January chill. Please enjoy!
With smoke choking our intended departure zone of Tuolumne Meadows- and my Southern California friends bailing left and right- I decided to alter the First Annual East Meets West meetup hike to depart from Cottonwood Lakes TH instead. Initially we had intended for my friends and I to meet at 1000 Island Lake-myself coming from Tuolumne, they from Agnew Meadows in Mammoth. With smoke and family schedules blowing that up we would still meetup-just at the Cottonwood Lakes parking lot. It turned out well nonetheless-as most all Sierra excursions do.

DAY ONE: Cottonwood Lakes to Long Lake.

I made the silly ‘U’ shaped drive down and around the Southern reaches of the Sierra from Fresno(I do miss the 5/14/395 straight shot to the Eastside from my old Long Beach home) grabbed my permit from the Interagency office and zippered my way up the hill towards the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead-an area I had briefly explored a few years prior. The plan for the day was for me to hike up to Long Lake and make camp in an obvious area for my friend to meet me later that day after he drove up from LA. I quickly made my way along the 6.5 miles to the lake and chose a spot along the far Western shore so I could look down the length of the lake and see if anyone was coming along the trail following the southern shore. It was maybe only one, so I set out to stroll along the entire lake. Storm clouds moved in and as a slight rain fell I head back camp to climb into the tent just as the heavy stuff fell. After a few hours of rain, bit of hail-and a solid nap- I emerged to find the sun shining, but still no sign of my buddy. I had never done a meetup in the wilderness before and I was a little worried-hoping we could link up. I explored further up the trail to check out High Lake-which we intended on passing the next day. As I returned down the trail I spotted my friend coming up the trail and led him to our camp for the night. We caught up, fished a bit ate a big dinner and were in bed soon after dark.
LongLake.jpg
DAY TWO: Long Lake/Soldier Lakes over New Army Pass

We woke up fairly early-our usual 6:30-7 and after a lazy pack up and breakfast we were on-trail by around 8:30-9, setting off for the pass. After a short pause to check out High Lake we were faced with the pass. New Army is like so many of my favorite passes in the Sierra. A big headwall that doesn’t immediately show you how the trail works it’s way up- and built so amazingly well. About halfway up we passed a women I had had a nice chat with the previous day who was just starting her solo JMT trip North. We wished her well and motored up the pass, soon to the top where there was a couple-also hiking the JMT interviewing all that were at the pass for a documentary they were putting together. We were eager to move along. As we hiked down from the pass we mind hiked Langley-we hoped to summit on our return over Old Army Pass- it looked very straightforward and fun. Soon we were cruising along the flat terrain leading to Soldier Lakes. After the turnoff we soon came to the lower lake that was home to a very large group of teens that were either just arriving-or leaving- we found a good spot on a peninsula and hoped it was the latter. Sure enough it was and we were left with a quiet, pristine lake. We would share it with a few other hikers who arrived later on. After setting about our usual routine of setup we went over the plan. Since it was so early in the afternoon we decided to just day hike into Miter Basin-where we had intended to move into the next morning for a day and a night- and thus cut the trip short a day. We agreed that was a fine plan and set off on our day hike adventure around 1:30. It was cloudy and somewhat threatening, but in was August the monsoonal flow and the daily hail and rain showers gone with it right? No biggie. We zigged up the short wall above the lake and made our way into the basin proper, soon finding a well worn use trail. It was right around that time that we got ourselves into a bit of hail and rain. That put the damper on the hike a bit as we were soon a bit chilly-we packed our shells with us smartly and marched on for a bit. The scenery was stunning! One of my favorite little gems to date. We made it just to the end of a flat stretch of the basin, just before it climbed the 400’ to Sky Blue Lake before turning around and returning to camp. It was a bummer to turn back, but I got the taste and will return someday! We made it to camp as the rain died out and warmed up and dried out and with daylight still to burn struck out again-this time to the upper Soldier Lake. We made our way through the trees and soon spit out right along the shore of a nice little lake. A couple were camped a little further along the shore in the trees and we were careful to not disturb their well earned solitude. We pulled out the map and figured that if one was to scramble up and over a not so great looking slope on the other side of the lake you’d be right on the shoulder of Langley-where we hoped to be the next day. I joked-‘let’s just do it now!?’ before we returned to camp for the night.
HighLakeFromNAP.jpg
Miter2.jpg
Soldier.jpg
DAY THREE: Soldier Lakes/Mt Langley Summit/Fifth Cottonwood Lake over Old Army Pass.

Similar morning routine saw us on our way around 9 and retracing our steps up towards the pass. We were soon dumping packs at the start of the well-worn Langley use trail and with daypacks loaded we were on our way! I was excited to begin our climb as this would be my first 14er- albeit an ‘easy’ walkup one 😊 The going was easy heading towards what we soon saw was the meat of the climb and soon we were huffing and puffing a little. Giant cairns mark this trail incredibly well now-as it was always a little infamous for its glut of routes and cairns often times hindering more than helping. Trail crews have worked hard to knock down any superfluous cairns and construct the monster cairns that stand today. We knew we were getting close as we passed clumps of Sky Pilot tucked under the rocks and we were soon nearing the summit plateau-which is a gut punch when you see you are so close-but oh so far to the summit with over a quarter mile hike to gain the last few dozen feet of elevation. However-we made it and had it all to ourselves! We snacked, enjoyed the views down to Owens Valley and the 395 corridor-Whitney however was shrouded in clouds so not much to see. We also enjoyed looking to the NW down into the upper reaches of Miter Basin-to Sky Blue Lake, Iridescent Lake etc.- knowing how we had been turned away yesterday. We enjoyed the stable weather up there for over an hour, soaking in the warmth and the views before turning away to head to our Cottonwood Lakes home for the night. Soon we shouldered our full packs and picked our way along the markedly much rougher Old Army Pass. Even after years without maintenance it is by no means unpassable or scary -but in comparison to how New Army had spoiled us a few days prior it felt a lot worse than it really was. Soon we were hunting sites along the Eastern shore of Cottonwood Lake #5. I had been here many years back-and recalled how sites were somewhat scarce-but we wanted to have some fish for dinner and #5 allows you to keep- all other lakes are catch and release. We scored a great spot tucked back amongst huge boulders with a great few of the mid portions of Langley and Old Army. The stable weather broke down shortly after we setup camp and it was very windy and cold- not cold enough for my buddy to take a dip in the lake however! We fished for a bit-just to say we did- both knowing full well we weren’t catching a single thing! We had a great last meal and tucked into our bags for a warm night’s sleep.
Cairn.jpg
Miter BAsin from langley.jpg
CL5.jpg
DAY FOUR: Cottonwood Lake #5 to TH.

We were really last this morning as it was still cold-and we both played the ‘I’m not getting out of my bag until the sun is in camp’ game. We finally rose and had a good breakfast in the sun and were packed on on trail around 10:30-11 with fish on the brain! We fished #5-I caught and released a nice golden- before walking down to #3 where we fished the entire length of the Eastern shore-and if you’ve seen it..it’s a LOT of shore! We had good luck at every stop, hooking into a few nice fish. Towards the end of the lake we had an impromptu lunch of a good sized brook trout who unfortunately badly swallowed my hook and needed to be eaten(sorry buddy. But you were tasty) After that, it was off to the cars for a quick clean-up and a date with the Olancha Ranch House Café, a well-earned burger, fries and a Coke. A great end to a great trip-as always.
CL3.jpg
I made both a little highlight video of the trip as well as an audio 'commentary' video as well if anyone is interested in more visual treats or more in depth description of the trip. thanks for watching!

HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgvD7G4FHL0&t=8s

AUDIO COMMENTARY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxWP9-MWN-U
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Last edited by bbayley80 on Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.








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gary c.
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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by gary c. » Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:32 am

Nice videos and pictures. Thanks for posting.
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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by sekihiker » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:43 am

Looks like a great trip. Thanks for posting.

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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:09 pm

Good to hear that one can catch and keep fish from Cottonwood Lake #5. I hope to go in that way this summer. Sorry you did not make it to Sky Blue. But, that means you just have to go back and do it! When we did it, we crossed the creek shortly after Soldier Lake and ascended the left side of the creek to Sky Blue Lake. We also day-hiked up to the cirques to the north, Erin and Primrose Lakes, which were well worth the effort. Did not get to Iridescent Lake, which is my must do list for this summer. We found that a loop, going in Cottonwood Pass to Soldier Lake, and then out New Army Pass was nice in that it avoided repeating miles, if you have time for the longer route.

We went just after 4th July 2006. Nice with snow but if you go that early be prepared with crampons and ice axe. Here is New Army Pass.
54_SkyB_NewArmyCornice.JPG
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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by Harlen » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:56 pm

Thanks for the great Trip Report; and I think your first image of the forest and lake should be on the wall!

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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by Rockyroad » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:02 pm

Thanks for posting your TR. Miter Basin is a beautiful place to walk through and the view of Whitney from Langley is priceless!

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bbayley80
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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by bbayley80 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:51 am

Harlen wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:56 pm
Thanks for the great Trip Report; and I think your first image of the forest and lake should be on the wall!
thanks Harlen! it hasn't made the wall yet-but its often is set as my wallpaper on the computer here at work. :)

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bbayley80
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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by bbayley80 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:04 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:09 pm
Sorry you did not make it to Sky Blue. But, that means you just have to go back and do it!
exactly! thats the plan! yes, thats the way we pretty much did it-a bit more steep and direct up the slopes along the left side of Soldier. Erin, Primrose and all hose little cirques looked to be as you said well worth it. The ramps up to Iridescent looked like SO much fun we almost did it in the rain and hail anyway. next time. that would be a good loop, we repeated quite a few miles on this one-which we usually try to do- but fun to go over both the 'Army's'
That shot of New Army is wild! that is quite the formidable wall right there. ice axe, crampons for sure.
thanks for your feedback!

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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by Scouter9 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:14 am

Great posting, with fantastic photos!

We were in the area about the same time, and could have been those "teens" except that as 14 persons we couldn't go into Miter Basin (max 8) and just bopped around the various lakes.

BTW, both upper and lower Cirque lakes are keeper fishing lakes, too.

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Re: TR:Long Lake/Miter Basin/Mt Langley summit 8/15-18 2018

Post by bbayley80 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:29 pm

thanks Scouter.
it was a fairly large group-not sure if it was 14 however? looked like a backcountry quintuple date :wink:
Scouter9 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:14 am
BTW, both upper and lower Cirque lakes are keeper fishing lakes, too.
thanks for the tip on that. I've never wandered over to either of the lakes, even though they look nice from above.

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