Big Pine Lakes – Creeks Not Peaks
The Big Pine Lakes are a sight to see. There is more snow than usual this time of year so plan accordingly. Packing microspikes is probably a good idea. If the trail gets too icy, we may have to turn back but it should be clear enough to at least Third Lake, with a goal of reaching Fourth Lake (maybe even throwing in a detour to Fifth Lake) and returning on a loop to include Black Lake. Pack layers for the various stops and sun protection.
Distance: 13.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~3500 ft.
Rating: 8 (Due to altitude)
Trail: Single Track
Duration: 8+ hours
Write up by Don and Walter:
Simply put, it’s to explore the area. During our last couple of visits to the area a few of us have done some off trail exploration and I’d like to share this with others. So no peaks to conquer just some wilderness and beauty to explore.
This is out and back. We’ll be hiking through the Big Pine Lakes basin beneath the imposing peaks of the Palisade Crest and the largest glacier in the Sierra Nevada, the two hundred year old Palisade Glacier. Our goal in the basin is to reach beyond Fourth Lake. The first few lakes are fed from the Palisade Glacier. They have a beautiful milky turquoise color from the glacial powder carried down from the melting glacier. This is sure to be a beautiful hike with spectacular views of the surrounding fourteen thousand foot peaks and the beautiful creek and lakes along the way.
We’ll be taking the Big Pine Lakes trail along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. This hike is at a relatively high altitude. The trailhead is at ~7,700′ and our destination is close to 11,000′. The pace will be slow to moderate and we will be stopping for pictures and to regroup. The Big Pine Lakes trail zigzags through a slope of sage, Manzanita and Jeffrey Pine before it reaches Second Falls and follows along the creek to its headwaters. In addition to passing the sequentially numbered lakes, we’ll also pass by a stone cabin built by movie actor Lon Chaney while we walk through a forest of Lodgepole Pine. We should reach Third Lake around noon so we’ll take a long break to have lunch and soak in the views.
To reach the trailhead from Hwy. 395, turn west on Crocker St. in Big Pine and continue approximately 10 miles up canyon to the end of the road. Overnight parking is located about 1/2 mile below the end of the road in a hiker parking lot. Day use parking is at the roads end.
PLEASE – Know your limits and abilities. Bring snacks and drink plenty of liquids when hiking. Check weather conditions and dress accordingly and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Watching out for poison oak, snakes, ticks, uneven footing, spectacular views, beautiful fauna all while interacting with awesome (usually) fellow hikers can be extremely hazardous, rewarding and fun.
The Farzan Rule: Posted hike times are the time the hike starts or we leave from a posted shuttle location. I’m aware other Meetup groups offer a grace period for late arrivals; we don’t. It’s your responsibility to know the location of the meeting spot and be there and ready to participate at the posted time. If you have any concerns about the directions feel free to contact the organizer of the event, preferably in advance of the event and not at the start time. I’m of the opinion that it’s not fair to delay an event when the majority of attendees have arrived on-time. (so named after a conversation I had with a certain un-named member)
RSVP’s: If you RSVP for an event be responsible and update your RSVP if your plans change. If your plans change at the last second and you’re not able to update your RSVP also let us know. In my opinion a no-show is someone who has no regard for following the guidelines we request from our members and will risk being removed from future events that have a limit.
VHC HIKE RATING SCALE
Rating a hike is subjective, meaning the difficulty of a hike will be in direct relation to how often you hike and the type of hike you prefer. Keep in mind that any hike can have the following: un-even hiking surfaces, various obstructions, water and/or water crossings or bouldering and/or rock hopping. A great hike will have all of these!
1 – A long walk
2 – 4 mile hike w/little elevation gain
3 – 5 mile hike w/up to 1000 ft. elevation gain
4 – 5+ mile hike w/up to 1500 ft. elevation gain (heart rate increases at times)
5 – 7+ mile hike w/over 1500 ft. elevation gain (heart rate increasing even more at times)
6 – 7+ mile hike w/over 2000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be trying to remember how to perform CPR)
7 – 5+ mile hike w/over 2000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be muttering expletives to yourself)
8 – 10+ mile hike w/over 3500 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be angry with the hike leader)
9 – 10+ mile hike w/over 5000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be thinking of reporting the hike leader to the authorities)
10 – Use your imagination
Class 3 Scrambling: Scrambling or un-roped climbing. You must use your hands at times to hold the terrain or find your route. This may be caused by a combination of boulders, steepness and extreme terrain. Some Class 3 routes have ropes in place for assistance.
DISCLAIMER / RELEASE OF LIABILITY
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY:
I am a volunteer (i.e. not liable for the group). Safety is a priority for everyone in the group. Think of this as hiking with a group of friends.
Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you’re taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The Valencia Hiking Crew Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions. If you choose to sign up for any Valencia Hiking Crew Meetup events, you are releasing the Valencia Hiking Crew Meetup Group and it’s organizers from all liability in case of possible injuries as stated in paragraph 6.2 of the Meetup “Terms of Service” located on the bottom of the Meetup website. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.
Trail statistics are approximate. For safety purposes always assume they are underestimated. But don’t be disappointed if they are overestimated. Bring more water and snacks than you think you’ll need.
Trail descriptions are based on previous hikes. Current conditions are unknown until arrival. Expect the unexpected and plan accordingly.
The Organizers and members in this group are not professional leaders, guides, or mountaineers. The function of the member or organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who shows up for a trip/meetup (and their guest or guests) is responsible for his or her own safety. By attending a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you and any guests that you bring are aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with the activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizers, Members of the Hiking With Dean Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your participation in the group activities per the ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND LIABILITY WAIVER.
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