I just returned from a great week-long trip from Twin Lakes to Tuolumne,
bagging Pettit, Piute, Regulation, and Volunteer en route, July 21-29. Plenty of time for fishing and relaxing too... here are a few pertinent facts:
- Snow: none to speak of.
- Bugs: Our elevations varied from around 7600 (Benson Lake) to close to 10K (McCabe Lakes); there were few skeeters, and only around dinnertime. Higher elevations seemed worse.
- Stream crossings: generally easy
- Bears: no encounters, nor any signs of bear activity/presence
- Gasoline: The cheapest gas I saw on 395 was $1.51 at the Bishop Arco. The casino in Bishop was a couple pennies more, as of 7/29. On my last couple of trips north, I've noticed that the usually reliably-cheap Texaco in Olancha has been not so great, price-wise. The Lone Pine Arco is CLOSED... all fenced off...
- Piute Mountain: If you climb Piute from the Seavey Pass trail, as you near the summit, use the LEFT chute described by Secor. This is a great, and sneaky, route up. It is not obvious when crossing the NE ridge, but it becomes obvious as you cross below it. The right-hand chute looks loose and ugly.
- Other peaks: went per Secor (or Roper) descriptions. It is easy to descend from the E saddle on Volunteer to the PCT east of Smedberg Lake, but this is not described in any guide that I saw. First sign-in of the season on Pettit. All of the SPS peaks had good registers and containers, but Regulation had just a ziploc for a container.
- Odd sight: I saw one of the most unusual items ever being carried on this trip. While grinding up the hill from Benson to Smedberg Lakes, we encountered a man (going downhill) with a bass viol lashed to his pack... you know, one of those 7-foot tall orchestral instruments, kind of like a giant violin. The neck protruded a good 3 feet above his head. He had a companion, and when we asked him what instrument he played, he replied "the harmonica".