TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

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jlweinberger
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TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by jlweinberger » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:54 am

I have read and appreciated so many trip reports on this site that I felt I should finally post one of my own. This is my first, so apologies in advance for any omissions!

Overview: Spectacular trip for a family. We went with our kids, ages 9 and 11, who have done several trips with us through the years, but have never made it up and over a pass in 1 day before. We deliberately planned low mileage days and a lot of downtime for the kids to just explore and enjoy being out in the wilderness. This trip was not designed to cover lots of ground, or explore unknown territory.

Mosquitoes: Generally a 2 in all spots. We had a pretty good westerly breeze most of the time, which helped a lot. Many people warned us about the bugs on the way in but we weren't that bothered by them. We did use out headnets for about an hour in the mornings when we were lounging around camp, but didn't need them at all on the trail or in the middle of the day.

Snow: Small patch remains on the trail just below Piute Pass. My son walked right through it, no gear, no problem, no worried parents. The rest of us walked around it by choice.

Day 1: North Lake parking lot to a bench west of Summit Lake. We got started at around 10:00, which is later than we normally start, but the weather cooperated and it wasn't too hot for our climb up the switchbacks to Loch Leven. Everyone was still adjusting to the altitude so we were moving slowly averaging ~1 mile/hr but people were happy. We made it to the top of Piute Pass by 3 ish where we snapped some pictures, and headed down to our campsite which was an established site on a bench just below Summit Lake. From that site we has sweeping views to the west and north through the Humphreys Basin. We also had a friendly marmot that would check things out at camp from time to time, but didn't make any trouble. The kids were pretty tired, but content and we all crawled into the tent by 8 to play some poker and go to sleep.

Day 2: We woke up late, everyone had a lousy night's sleep, and lounged around camp for awhile. We finally packed up and hit the trail over to Desolation Lake. It was a short hike to Lower Desolation Lake, which the adults mistook for Desolation Lake, so we joyfully set up camp, ate lunch, watched marmots, checked out the lake, ogled the jagged wall of snow and rock to the south, and then realized we hadn't made it all the way to Desolation (oops!). Since everyone was content where we were, I walked the short way up the trail to Desolation in the afternoon to check it out while my husband and kids hung out with the marmots. By the time I returned all of the marmots had received names. After we left the main trail, we only saw one person off in the distance at Lower Desolation and even before that we had only seen 2 other groups of 3 heading out on the Piute Pass trail. The winds kept the mosquitoes away and we enjoyed watching the sunset light on Mount Humphreys.

Day 3: Still didn't sleep great, so we took our time waking up before we packed up camp, moved our gear to a spot near the trail to Desolation, and everyone headed up to Desolation on a day hike. It is one of the largest high Sierra lakes I've ever visited and was spectacularly devoid of people. We spent time looking at the map and fantasized a bit about a future cross country hike over one of the passes from Desolation into the basin to the northwest, but couldn't figure out a way down from the pass on the other side. After lunch we went back to Lower Desolation, grabbed our gear and headed to Muriel Lake for the final night. Muriel was beautiful, surrounded by a mix of green rock-dotted slopes, sheer granite rock faces, and snow chutes. The one drawback, from my perspective, is that there were probably 4 other groups camped at the lake. However, it was nice to see that there were other groups with kids there, and it looked like the fishing was probably good (note - I know nothing about fishing). We found a secluded spot on the northeast side of the lake with a nice wind break, and low granite outcrops leading out to the lake itself. We were joined, at times, by a couple of white tailed ptarmigans, who we decided should have been named "Sierra Chickens."

Day 4: Everyone finally slept well, just in time to leave the back country. We got on the trail around 9 and hiked out toward Piute Pass from Muriel Lake. Taking in our last views of the Humphreys Basin for a while, we headed down the pass, toward home.

The only downside of the trip was that we tested out a new camera battery, which seems to have a lower capacity than our normal one. My camera turned on in my pack on the drive up to the Inyos. While it has a self shut-off, the time it spent awake in my pack was apparently enough to drain most of the life out of the new battery. This left more time in the mornings and evenings for me to just sit and appreciate my surroundings, but means that I don't have many pictures to share. I've included a few from the 1st day, which is the only day it worked!
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Last edited by jlweinberger on Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.








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rlown
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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by rlown » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:59 am

spaces in your post would be appreciated. Otherwise, nice report. Head marmot still in control of the area :)

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jlweinberger
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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by jlweinberger » Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:17 am

Spaces added. Thanks for the tip. I struggled a bit with formatting :)

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by rlown » Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:26 am

I take 3 camera batteries and extra cards.. Batteries are all charged before i leave and I sleep with the camera and batteries in my WM badger.
I have a throw-down camera for those not equipped.

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by ryanerb » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:11 pm

A great first trip report! So awesome. Thank you for contributing and I'm glad you had a good time! A few lessons learned for your next trip. Thank you!

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by windknot » Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:03 pm

What a great report with your family! This is a great area to take kids on a "deeper" backpacking trip than typical overnight destinations without adding on unnecessary elevation gain to get to the good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by torpified » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:18 pm

Thanks for this! Only you omitted an important detail: WHAT NAMES WERE THE MARMOTS GIVEN??

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jlweinberger
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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by jlweinberger » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:13 pm

torpified wrote:
Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:18 pm
Thanks for this! Only you omitted an important detail: WHAT NAMES WERE THE MARMOTS GIVEN??
Hah! The marmots were named Chunky, Munchie, and Poopy :lol:
Thanks to all for the kind words :)

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by tlsharb » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:29 am

Love that area. Thanks for the report.

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Re: TR: Piute Pass Kid Friendly Adventure (7/5/20 - 7/8/20)

Post by Herm » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:34 am

Thanks for the trip report. You remind me that I want to return to this wonderful area again - it has been too long.
I am not in a hurry, so don't be hasty.

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