Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

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grampy
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Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by grampy » Sat May 02, 2020 11:19 pm

I am planning a trip (my first to this area) for the second week of July; rough itinerary as follows:
D1-D2: start at Maxson TH, visit Fleming Lake and Rae Lake; camp at Disappointment Lake for night #2
D3: proceed over Hell for Sure Pass; head to junction w/ Goddard Canyon trail; set up “base” camp nearby
D4: day-hike to Martha Lake to explore; return to camp
D5: return over Hell for Sure Pass; camp at Horseshoe Lake
D6: Visit the “Shot” Lakes and Devil’s Punchbowl; head to camp somewhere along Meadow Brook Trail
D7: exit back to Maxson TH

Yes, I’ve read several trip reports on this area, including Sekihiker’s and kpeter’s. But here are some questions:

... given our relatively dry winter:
1. will the mosquito levels be moderate, or am I screwed if I go that early in the season ?
2. is there reasonable hope of finding water if I try to camp on night #1 somewhere (maybe half-way) between Post Corral Creek and Fleming Lake ?
3. is modifying my plan to include an overnight stay at Martha Lake worth the effort to haul my pack there ?
I had thought to save myself some wear and tear (especially on my bad ankle) for this segment.

Any input would be appreciated.








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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by tlsharb » Sun May 03, 2020 6:17 am

This sounds like a wonderful trip.
1. Really hard to predict mosquito levels, but they could be significant.
2. Once you leave Post Corral, you probably won't see water until your first encounter with Fleming Creek (about a mile from the lake, and a ways off the trail).
3. I really like camping at Martha Lake...it is beautiful. And if you made it to the junction of the two trails, the hike up isn't too bad (about 1000' climb) through some wide open country. Now getting back over Hell for Sure Pass is another story....that's a steep climb.

Couple other ideas. I've always found the Blackrock Lake is a beautiful place to camp...of course I like trees. Horseshoe is pretty open. Also, a last night on the Kings River is nice. Good camping areas and a great place to take a dip. Makes an easy day back to the trailhead.
Good luck.

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by sekihiker » Sun May 03, 2020 7:51 am

grampy wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 11:19 pm
2. is there reasonable hope of finding water if I try to camp on night #1 somewhere (maybe half-way) between Post Corral Creek and Fleming Lake ?
It's best to haul water up from Post Corral Creek (PCC). Sometimes there is water between PCC and the ridge top but this year it may be dry.
There are great camp spots as soon as you get to the ridge top, with views of the LeConte Divide and Red Mountain Basin around 37°08'12.6"N 118°51'05.3"W. Fleming Creek looks temptingly close but it's down a steep ridge from this site. Looks like you have planned a great trip for exploring this beautiful area.

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by balzaccom » Sun May 03, 2020 8:47 am

Those are good answers you are getting. And I still remember a trip we did there about ten years ago. On the way in we met a young couple on their way out. They were happy, but they had cut their trip short because they had only taken one (!) bottle of bug juice and run out...they can be fierce up there.
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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by grampy » Sun May 03, 2020 10:28 am

Thank you, tisharb and sekihiker, for your input. I will keep your camping tips handy when I do my trip. And Balzaccom - yes, I always plan for mosquitos, just hoping it won’t be like my first-ever trip in the 80’s ... went to Deer Lake in Emigrant Wilderness right at peak mossie time (and way too little bug juice). Three guys out of our group of five never backpacked again :confused:

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by kpeter » Sun May 03, 2020 4:11 pm

Grampy,

First, in mid July I think you can count on serious mosquitoes. We had major mosquitoes in mid August and were told they were unbearable just a week before we got there--last year. Of course last year was a lot wetter than this year, so I am not sure how they will line up. A wet August vs. a dry July--you could hit it exactly wrong.

Second, with regard to water on the way to Fleming Lake--there is some. There are a couple of stagnant ponds just off the trail after you cross over the ridge at 9340. They looked permanent to me. However, they also did not look appetizing and the camping down by them was not appealing. But you could camp on the ridge and then hike down to those ponds to haul filtered water back. We also stopped for water at one of the intermittent streams further along. It was a mosquito hell hole and the water was very shallow, but it sufficed. I am sure that they do dry up at some point, though in mid August of a wet year there was still some water in them.

Third, going up and over Hell for Sure pass to visit Martha, and then coming up and over it on the way back--that IS a lot of wear and tear. I have not been to Martha so I can't comment on whether it is worth it. But Hell for Sure pass is not a modern well engineered pass and it will take energy and knee cartilage to do it. There is a lot of territory to explore in Red Mountain Basin so the excursion to Martha will come at a price of other things you will miss. I definitely enjoyed going up the pass, though, simply because the views back over Hell for Sure Lake were so sublime.

Finally, be careful about how you approach Horseshoe Lake depending on where you want to camp there. WD likes the peninsula, but it is very tricky to get to it since it is cut off from the shoreline on both sides by cliffs. Picking our way from the Arctic Lake end to the outlet took quite a lot of time and micro route finding. I loved the outlet area. The outlet stream is lovely all the way down.

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun May 03, 2020 5:47 pm

I agree with Kpeter. Either stay in Red Mountain Basin or do a specific trip to Martha Lake. Martha Lake fits better into a trip that includes Davis Lake or from Florence Lake. I would instead spend the extra days at the "shot" lakes and Devils Punchbowl and just do a short hike up to the Hell for Sure Pass for the view and then come back. The reason I liked camping at the end of the peninsula at Horseshoe Lake was that it was windy, to keep down the mosquitoes. Are you fishing? If so, you will have plenty to do in Red Mountain Basin.

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by balzaccom » Sun May 03, 2020 6:02 pm

Devil's Punchbowl is one of our all time favorites...
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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by thegib » Sun May 03, 2020 7:43 pm

We've only hiked down Hell for Sure pass - but we found it unusually pleasant. My partner actually called for a return trip where was ascended HfS, (that's rare praise!). OTOH I enjoyed all the lakes along the divide, Turf to Arctic, and would be happy to hang there.

Given the 30-40% snow year you'd imagine an better chance then normal of diminished mosquitos come mid July. But mid July is always bad for squitos.

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Re: Trip planning: Red Mountain Basin & Martha Lake in July

Post by grampy » Sun May 03, 2020 8:06 pm

Thank you all. Given my respect for your collective experience, I’ll likely scale plans back to a “R.M.Basin-only” itinerary. And yes, kpeter, thanks for pointing out issues with travel around Horseshoe Lake; will likely sub in a stay at Blackrock Lake as suggested by tisharb. Filtering from “stagnant ponds” isn’t a bit palatable to me; will likely stop at P.C.C. for night #1 if I think I can’t make it to Fleming or Rae.
Considering I have 3 more trips planned this season, I don’t mind taking a more conservative approach for this one, ESPECIALLY as I would be in a lot of trouble if I needed to attend my youngest daughter’s August wedding wearing an orthopedic boot [-X

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