Granite Park to Pine Creek Pass Trailhead
(9 miles, +500/-4,300 feet).
We left the storm doors open last night and also had a very light but persistent breeze flowing downhill through the screen doors. The result was a bone dry tent when we awoke at 5am (yay!).
As usual, we packed up and hit the trail before sunrise to take advantage of the beautiful light and the colder air, which we thought would reduce the mosquito pressure.
We thought we would have an easy day, following the trail down to Honeymoon Lake and then to the rest of the lakes on Pine Creek that we had passed on the way up.
We were wrong!
The Italy Pass Trail continued to confound us as it did yesterday. We actually ended up on the wrong side of a rocky ridge almost immediately after we started. It was easy cross country, but a little frustrating given that we expected an easy trail.
We soon did find the trail again, but it crossed the drainage at a place where the creek was either wide, slow, and deep or narrow and raging. We decided to head back upstream (where we inadvertently had gotten off trail!) to find an easier place to cross.
No sooner did we make our way back to the trail than it crossed the stream again! We looked at the map and saw that we could either cross a raging stream twice or bushwhack 500 feet on this side. We decided to bushwhack.
And so did about 1000 mosquitoes. Yuk!
It was sketchy at best.
We finally made it down to the trail and things got a lot easier until we hit the inlet to Honeymoon Lake. I don’t have a picture of it, but here we finally had no choice but to cross the stream. The trail crossing was fast and dangerous and probably about thigh high on Half Cookie, but fortunately there was an alternative about 40 feet upstream that was only calf deep and much calmer.
It was super cold but once we crossed we decided to keep hiking until we could feel our toes again!
We kept hiking until after Upper Pine Lake, where we knew our feet would probably get wet again on the rock hop across the inlet.
After the crossing we found a sunny and dry-ish place to change our socks and dry our shoes a bit. The mosquitoes had been really ferocious all morning (the worst of the trip so far) so I was worried we would be chased away, but it wasn’t too bad.
With a fresh change of footwear, we pressed onward and downward.
I originally had planned to go for a swim at Pine Lake, but it was still a little chilly at 9am and the surplus mosquitoes made me question whether being nearly naked was a good idea…. I decided to give it a miss this time.
Once we got away from Pine Creek the mosquitoes finally subsided and we could take our time with the remaining 2,000 foot descent.
We headed to the Burger Barn in Bishop and spent the night in the surprisingly lovely Motel 6 before heading home. We can’t wait to come back!