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8/30-9/1 solo tour of Humphrey's Basin
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James Block
(jsblock11) - F

Locale: Southern California
8/30-9/1 solo tour of Humphrey's Basin on 09/07/2013 14:23:47 MDT Print View

I had 3 days to work with to plan a solo Sierra adventure, and wanted to tackle some basic cross country terrain because while I have done some off trail Sierra hiking, I'd never done it solo. Two small children at home means some of my trips are last minute and usually 2-4 days in length. A Humphrey's Basin loop picking up the Sierra High Route to go over Puppet Pass, down into French Canyon and back seemed like a perfect place for a quick trip. I arrived at the North Lake trailhead parking lot and began my hike around 11:30am on Friday. The 5 mile hike to Piute Pass provides quick access to prime High Sierra scenery,

Piute Lake on the way to Piute Pass

View into Humphrey's from Piute Pass

I left the Piute Pass trail to head toward Mesa Lake for the first night, the terrain was easy:

Slope leaving Piute Pass trail

Passing Lower Desolation Lake on the way to Mesa

Heavy winds dominated the Mesa Lake area until sunset, when all of a sudden it dropped to nothing. Clouds loomed but the rain wouldn't come until later in the weekend.

First night's camp on Mesa Lake

The walk up to Puppet Pass from Mesa Lake was easy, Roper says to arc east around the ridge, but I went the direct route as suggested by Skurka and it was an easy walk up to the pass:

Way up to Puppet Pass

Great views of Puppet Lake from Puppet Pass

The north side of the pass was a little tricky, but I followed the advice found on High Sierra Topix to drop down the talus, move to the right, and follow the granite wall for a safe descent. A little nervous in spots being solo, but never in any real danger so it was enjoyable:

Looking down the pass

Looking back up the pass

Looking back at Puppet Pass from Puppet Lake

It was fun walking down into French Canyon, the true feeling of lazily wandering the High Sierra. I didn't see a single person on the entire SHR section from Piute to French Canyon.

Puppet Lake

View down to Elba Lake

Walking down to French Canyon

It was a hot, dry slot from French Canyon back through Hutchinson Meadow and back up to Piute Pass. An NPS ranger said some folks were turning back because some smoke had blown into the canyon, but I hadn't noticed it while in French Canyon. By evening it had blown out again to bring back the amazing views from Piute Pass.

I camped near Piute Lake on night 2, and the storm clouds were rolling in. I heard a bit of thunder, but the end result was only about 1.5 hours of rain starting around midnight. The MLD Grace tarp kept me 100% dry so I enjoyed listening to the rain in the evening.

Dark clouds looming

In the morning it was back out to the car by 9:30am and on my way home to make it in time for dinner with the family. All in all a great trip for a 3 day outing. The elevation was tough on day 1, coming from sea level and hiking mostly over 11K ft for the day. The cross country hiking in Humphrey's Basin was excellent though, to not see a single person over Labor Day weekend in such a popular area was refreshing.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: 8/30-9/1 solo tour of Humphrey's Basin on 09/07/2013 14:43:38 MDT Print View

James, it seems that you had a good trip, and it is good that the elevation did not get you bogged down. This seems like a tutorial in how to get altitude illness.


Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
8/30-9/1 solo tour of Humphrey's Basin on 09/08/2013 12:00:59 MDT Print View


That looks like an amazing part of the Sierra. I understand about getting out for only short trips and looks like you were able to plan a route that got you the best of the Sierra while fitting your timeframe.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: 8/30-9/1 solo tour of Humphrey's Basin on 09/08/2013 17:23:48 MDT Print View

For a short last minute trip on a holiday weekend you sure picked a good one. Very nice.