..........................................................Arizona Jones Outdoors: Hiking, Backpacking, Mountain Biking, and more!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dusy Basin Backpack, Eastern Sierra Nevada

One of my favorite places to get outdoors in in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California.  It has amazing scenery, and the trail heads often start up at high altitude, making for short approaches to fantastic alpine areas.  This trip is no exception to that. 
    Dusy Basin is a high alpine lake basin that is accessed by crossing over Bishop Pass, and can be reached in a good hard day of hiking on the Bishop Pass Trail.  Dusy Basin is in the back country of Kings Canyon National Park and the Bishop Pass Trail is a great access point to the John Muir Trail and the upper tributaries of the Middle fork of the Kings River.  The scenery in this area is amazing and you could spend a lifetime trying to see it all.
   This trip starts at South Lake at 9750 ft. altitude.  This means that your car has already done some of the work.  But you will be going over Bishop Pass, a high alpine pass at around 12,000 ft. so there will be some effort needed still.  The trail starts by heading south along the east side of South Lake and then continues to climb up into an upper basin of lakes.  About 2 miles in you will come to a trail junction for the Chocolate Lakes, a nice side loop for people with some extra time that takes you past four nice lakes and then connects again with the Bishops Pass Trail.  Our path however continues straight on the Bishops Pass Trail and soon climbs into the upper lake basin and you reach beautiful Long Lake at 10,750 ft. just 2 and 1/2 miles from the trail head.
      At this point the scenery is already amazing and it will be great the rest of the hike.  The trail follows the east shore of Long Lake and offers views of 13,092 foot Mount Goode reflecting off the waters of the lake.  The lake is long as it's name implies so you get these views for quite a time as you head south.
  Along this lake near the south end the loop trail from The Chocolate Lakes comes in from the east.  Soon you come to several smaller lakes including the Timberline Tarns, Saddlerock Lake and Bishop Lake.
  The lakes in this basin are full of trout in fact I saw several very large ones so if you like fishing bring a pole. These rocky lakes are at or above the tree line and Bishop Lake is at about 11,200 ft. elevation.
  From here you start a short but steep and rocky climb up to Bishop Pass topping out at 12,000 feet around 7.2 miles from the trail head.  As you climb up towards the pass you will have great views back down the lake basin from where you came.
You will also have imposing views of the rugged and jagged Inconsolable Range to your east and massive rounded Mount Agassiz. this photo was taken on the way back.
  Soon, as you are crossing the pass you will see to the south dramatic views of Isosceles and larger Colombine Peaks and farther off Giraud Peak
     Once over Bishop Pass you will start you decent and now be able to see down into Dusy Basin and it's several lakes.  At first you will just see the upper lakes in the basin but there are really six or seven main lakes and several little ponds.
  The trail takes you around the western edge of the basin and reaches the first lake about two miles from Bishop Pass at around 11,280 feet.  When I went here we traveled on the Bishops Pass Trail past this upper lake about a mile until we reached some lower lakes in the basin.  These lakes are long thin lakes in a depression or basin between Colombine Peak and a large ridge that is topped by Giraud Peak at 12,585 feet.
  These lower lakes in the basin are at around 10,734 feet and are just low enough to have a few stunted pine trees scattered about the rocky shores.  Looking up and across the lakes you get dramatic views of Giraud Peak reflected off the water.
  We made our camp along the edge of one of these lakes and then were treated to an amazing sight.  Looking east from here we could see the Sierra Crest dominated by Mount Agassiz, Mount Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak, and the North Palisade topping out at 14,242 feet.  This photo was taken that evening as these impressive peaks were lit up in and orange glow by the sun.
     Our next day we decided to make a short hike up to knapsack pass that was just east of our camp.  Knapsack pass is about 900 feet above the lake we were at and there is no trail but it was easy to navigate and route find our way up to the pass.  From the pass you can see down into Palisade Basin and the Barrett Lakes, another fine destination.
  You also get fine views to the northeast of the massive North Palisade that rises dramatically up from the head of Palisade Basin.  Taking time to explore this basin would be time well spent.
    That night we decided to move our camp to one of the upper lakes in Dusy Basin hoping for another sunset display on the Sierra Crest, but from a closer vantage point.  Along the way from the lower lakes to the upper ones we passed several small lakes that are in the shadow of  pointy Isosceles Peak and larger and more rounded Colombine Peak.
  This photo is of the triangular Isosceles Peak reflecting off one of these smalled lakes in Dusy Basin.  When we got to the upper lake we found it to be void of any trees because it is at 11,393 feet. Camping up at this elevation was cold at night even in late August.
  This upper lake is very dramatic with Mount Winchell, Thunderbolt Peak and The North Palisade towering above you.
  And that evening we were treated to these peaks being lit up at sunset while the tops of the peaks were shrouded by clouds.  It was a dramatic scene that photos just can't capture.
    We decided to leave by rout finding from this lake straight back up to Bishop Pass and found it was quite easy.  as we left Dusy Basin I took several pictures looking back across the basin. 
This is a panorama of three of them pieced together.  This next photo is of a small lake up in the pass just east of the trail at just below 12,000 foot elevation with the jagged Inconsolable Range in the background.
  We just returned back down the Bishops Pass Trail, but if you have extra time I would suggest you take the Chocolate Lake loop on the way back to change up the scenery

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If man were meant to fly. . . . .

Well who ever said if man were meant to fly he would have wings probably could never even imagine this stuff. I thought it was cool so I posted it

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Like Rocky the flying squirrel.   "DUUUUUUUDE! That was SICK!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Return to West Clear Creek

The post for West Clear Creek, AZ  is one of the most viewed on my blog. So I thought I might return to the subject. Here is a short little video clip I took from right near my tent one of the several times I camped overnight in the canyon.
This time of year with all the monsoon rain there is significant danger of flash floods so wait until late September. Here is the same falls from another angle.
Both sides of the falls have nice flat benches to camp on. As you can see it's all rock so if you want to use a tent, you will need one that does not require tent stakes. My friend is fighting with one that does and I'm all set up and making the video.
As you head in you will have to swim in several locations in order to get very far. So all you stuff must be in water proof bags, and something to help float your pack is very helpful. If you don't use some type of floatation device your pack will soak up water and be even heavier.
To float my pack I use two cheap foam camp pads doubled over and strapped to my pack. Blow up stuff just gets popped by all the branches and stuff you have to fight through.
You will come to several places where the cliffs come right out of the water on both sides. So because of this you will need shoes that can get wet. Problem is you will also be hauling a pack in some very rugged conditions. I just swim in some light weight hiking boots. Water shoes and sandals will just get your feet beaten up, and you will be very sorry. Leather boots will shrink so synthetic materials are a good choice.
This canyon will wear you out even if you are in good shape, so be prepared. There is no cell service and it would be a difficult rescue, if you get hurt, or are unable to get out on your own.
But the beauty and solitude of this canyon is well worth the difficult conditions it takes to access. In fact that is what makes it fun and keeps it from being overrun by day hikers like Oak Creek Canyon is.
And once you get to a spot like this one you get to put you pack down and enjoy swimming in one of the best swimming holes in Arizona. And then you have a base camp to explore more of the canyon un-encumbered by the weight of a pack.
here is the link to my previous post about this canyon. That will give you more information about trail head locations, and other info you might need.