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Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop

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Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 06, 2011 11:16PM
For the long weekend my wife and I did a hike that I've wanted to do for a few years. The previous attempt ended about 100 steps from the trailhead due to a pre-existing injury; this year was more successful. There is a lot of beautiful country around Lyell Fork that appears to get very little use, especially compared to the JMT highway. On our trip we saw only one person (and two stashed backpacks) off-trail, compared to the dozens of people we saw on-trail.

From the Mono Pass trailhead we hiked up the trail a mile or so, then headed cross-country to Kuna Lake. Other than a short stint on the JMT near the upper crossing of the Lyell Fork, we would be off-trail until the waterfalls on the Rafferty Creek trail. There are numerous wonderful meadows below Kuna Lake, where camping is unfortunately illegal.

We crossed the Kuna Crest via the saddle south of Bingaman Lake since it was snow free. Once over the crest, we traversed to Lake 10806 on Kuna Creek, where we camped. Clouds had been building all afternoon, but it didn't rain.

The next morning, after thawing out, we traversed through beautiful meadows south towards Donohue Pass, taking the JMT a short distance to the upper crossing, then continuing upstream. We followed the chain of lakes under the Lyell headwall south, west, then north, then crossed over to the lakes north of Maclure Lake via some nasty talus.

From here, we climbed granite slabs to the basin south of Amelia Earhart Peak, where we camped. (The original plan was to climb to Maclure Lake and traverse to these lakes, but in light of the extensive snow, we took the low route instead.) The forecast clouds never materialized this day, but during the night clouds rolled in and persisted into the next day.

The next morning, we crossed over into the Ireland Lake basin, descended to the lake, crossed over to Evelyn Lake, descended its outlet, and took the now dusty Rafferty Creek trail to Tuolumne Lodge, where we took the shuttle back to the trailhead.

This loop is one of those rare instant "classics", with a very high scenery-to-mileage ratio. There are a lot of lakes and meadows we didn't have a chance to visit that will bring us back...

More Pictures

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/06/2011 11:39PM by basilbop.
avatar Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 07, 2011 06:38AM

Kuna Lake is indeed nice... only done Kuna Crest from Mammoth Pk to saddle east of Bingaman..
writing Kuna Crest down so I don't forget... tanks

Been in area west of Lyell a couple of times ... only have seen peeps right by Mt. Lyell.
Some photos in same area for comparison or whatnut:

and can't find Mt. Lyell post (may be w/i some other thread can't find)

The traverse from Maclure Lake to the tarn you slept at is really fun and pretty simple.
And the lake south of there is really really nice with Simmons backdrop.
But you know you need to go back... wink

Maybe the ???? is a piece of airplane... ? There is a complete wreckage near Koip Pk.
(now really chomping at the bit to do a loop in a couple wks around Koip)

Question: why the vermin pictures? you know they eat outhouses, right? (Vogelsang)

Thanks for posting... purty kewl

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 07, 2011 06:55AM
Two questions.

Looks like a Mountain Laurel Designs Ultralight Bivy. Is it?
(I really like mine)

What pyramid tenty thing you got?
Think about busting out some cash and getting a SoloMid from MLD.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 07, 2011 07:29AM
We have the Bristlecone Bivy from Katabatic Gear: http://katabaticgear.com/shop/bristlecone-bivy/

It's ok. I bought it in a rush a year or so ago after friends enjoyed it and I decided to give up shelters just before doing the JMT last year. We push it and use it without the shelter whenever we can. Often that means ice on top of the bivy and between the bivy sack and my quilt. I'm used to it. But I'm eyeing a new bivy for next year... either lighter with no better protection or ideally same weight with a bit better water resistance with breathability. Yeah, right. Keep dreaming. Key use is bug and wind protection.

The mid is the Cuben Duo-Mid from MLD. Love it for the weight and all, but really prefer the size of our worn-out BD MegaLight. We were thinking of getting a full size mid from MLD in cuben, but yeowch ($$$$), and frankly, I have problems inside shelters and prefer being out in the open in a sack. So we'll probably stick with the small duo-mid for rain or high winds.

Sorry rushed. We just got back from Colorado, did the Lyell thing, and now are off this morning to camp in the Valley with friends and family for a week! Can't complain! But been meaning to start piping up for some time! Love the forum! Thanks all!
avatar Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 07, 2011 10:25AM
Thx. Have fun.
I love the MLD stuff I have... Bug Bivy, UL Bivy, and Alpine Bivy.
Only complaint is the Alpine is "heavy" at nearly 15 oz.
I hear you on sleeping outside. The peeps I know... once they do it a few times.. are hooked.
Looking at the Pyramid for "oopsie, it's raining" and winter... but, yeah, ouchie on the Cuban pricey.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Lyell Headwaters Loop
September 07, 2011 08:00PM
Great stuff. Thanks for posting this. One more to add to our list!

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
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