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Re: Pine Creek / French Canyon / Royce Lakes

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Pine Creek / French Canyon / Royce Lakes
August 10, 2010 08:34PM
Continuing to clear out my trip report backlog... Last weekend was an overnighter to the "French Lakes" via Pine Creek Pass. Pine Creek is one of those east-side trailheads that is usually available when all others are sold out, perhaps because it starts at 7400', or because the views during the climb out of the lower canyon are dominated by the idle Pine Creek Tungsten Mine and Mill. On the other hand, this trailhead offers short--if not steep--access to some beautiful country: Honeymoon Lake, Granite Park, Lake Italy (via an unmaintained trail), and French Canyon and its many thematically-named lakes.

The first day, we went over Pine Creek Pass and camped on the west end of Elba Lake, across from the spectacular waterfall that flows out of Royce Lakes. After dinner, we took a short walk to see Puppet Lake. The next day, we returned to the pass, then headed NW cross-country to Royce Lakes, then descended to Honeymoon Lake via the low pass east of Royce Lake #1 (#0 is the highest one).

(An excellent multi-day loop out of this trailhead is to climb over Italy Pass, circle Lake Italy along the north shore, cross Gabbot Pass, descend Mills Creek to Mono Creek, cross into Little Lakes Basin via (south) Mono Pass, then return to the trailhead via Morgan Pass and the old mining road.

Pine Creek Loop Pictures
avatar Re: Pine Creek / French Canyon / Royce Lakes
August 10, 2010 08:52PM
Thanks for the timely post and pictures - I'm sitting here with Secor and topo maps finalizing the plan for a trip up there on the 21st for a 9 day loop. Our route will take us over Italy Pass (with a climb of mount JC), then over to Bear Lakes Basin via Dancing bear pass. A few days in Bear Lakes basin (our goal is to climb Seven Gables and fish). Over Feather Pass towards LaSalle and Merriam (with a climb of Royce), then up French Canyon towards the area you were in. Not sure yet where we'll camp - was thinking of Steelhead Lake since we'll take the next day to go over Steelhead Pass and climb Four Gables. Then head out - if we have an extra day or two we may head over to Royce Lakes too - depends on how much time we decide to linger in the other areas and if other peaks call our name.

When you crossed from Elba to Royce did you descend into French Canyon on the trail and then back up, or did you x-country the contour of the lakes basin towards Pine Creek Pass so as not to lose elevation (but longer distance, natch)? Did you fish at all? I'm bringing my pole and looking forward to some pretty goldens.

I'm chomping at the bit to get out there. Still have another 4-day trip this weekend to do first, but this is the 'big' one of the summer so I've been looking forward to it the longest. smiling smiley



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Re: Pine Creek / French Canyon / Royce Lakes
August 10, 2010 10:25PM
We decided not to contour along the lakes--the terrain looked more rugged than the map suggests, and the drop into the canyon wasn't that bad, although the trail is in poor condition south of Pine Creek Pass. Sorry, none of us fished :-(
avatar Re: Pine Creek / French Canyon / Royce Lakes
August 10, 2010 09:19PM
Again, many thanks.

Too many places.... not enough time...

My attempt at not growing up may help the daunting task of
seeing it all though.
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