DAY 10 - Puppet Lake to Lake Italy

Distance: 19.7km (12.2mi)
Hiking time: 10:44hr
Elevation gain: 1,805m (5,921ft)
Total people met: 0
‘It is not a particularly interesting lake; indeed, it can
be argued that it is fundamentally ugly.’ - Steven Roper

Elevation versus Distance graph for the section from Puppet Lake to Lake Italy for the Sierra High Route

After the amazing day yesterday, we woke up super motivated and ready for the day. The night was fairly warm. The sunrise was breathtaking and our camping spot by the lake so calm. Zeno had to repair his shoes in the morning as his laces were falling apart. In the meantime, I was observing the blister on my second to left toe, it was massive, about to explode and starting to hurt. This was the first day, the blister really troubled me. We got ready and made the easy descend to Elba lake. After the first drop, the real descent into French canyon started. Here, you descend into the canyon so that you can ascend up on the other side again, kind of disheartening, but not too bad. The descend was through a dense lodgepole forest, but the terrain was easy on the knee as it was fairly soft and not too steep.

Once we reached the canyon, we had to cross a creek, which was easy and walked along this creek for about a mile. Here you follow along a path which is pretty worn out at points. Then, a steep ascend followed up on the other side for about 600 vertical feet. At times, we were able to make out a path which we lost quite often as the forest was very dense. The sun was coming out and we felt it was a going to be a hot day. After the ascend, we reached a big flat meadowland before we ascended further along slopes and trees towards Merriam Lake. Here, you have to walk a little bit zig zag to manoeuvre up between the slopes. The views from above the lake were breathtaking, we were amazed by how hight we made it again this day. We started off at a pretty high altitude but had to dip all the way down to a valley before heading up again, but the view and modest slope made it worth it.

For the next section, we had to climb up Feather pass. Roper wrote in his book to ‘ascend a headwall via an obvious cleft’. However, we did not really know what a cleft is, we were basically lost in translation. Over a snickers break, we weighted all of our options, and decided for one route on the right. I’m pretty sure that was the cleft Roper talked about in his book. The ascend was much easier than expected and once we climbed up the first steeper part, the rest of the ascend was along big granite talus, not too steep but still exhausting.

Once we reached the pass, the descend was easier and faster than expected. The first part was sandy and transformed into big talus. For the first time, we did not fully agree with Ropers assessment on the difficulty of the pass (I guess we found the right path right away and avoided the difficult section). From here, you have to pass several Bear name lakes until reaching White Bear pass.

From White Bear pass, we had to make sure to not drift too far to the left to avoid slippery class 4 slopes described by Roper. Zeno was a bit afraid that we were drifting too far, but I guided him down the slopes. We had to switch routes a couple of times, route finding here wasn’t very easy so that the descend took longer than expected. After a while, the terrain levelled off a little bit and we were back on Talus, which was kind of a relief, but then again, it’s Talus. Once we reached Brown Bear Lake, we followed the east side along a faint trail. The afternoon low hit us again, we were back on a faint trail and tiredness kicked in. In those times, we usually do not talk to each other much. We basically walk in silent and contemplate. At some point, we complain about the route and the heaviness of our backpacks until we release what an awesome trip we are doing and we both are happy again. Zeno is just the best hiking partner you can wish for.

The final ascend of the day was to Lake Italy, we didn’t expect much of this lake. The sun was already setting, it was a long day. We quickly set up our camping spot by the outlet of the lake. The lake does not seem to be so ugly, as Roper described. When we prepared our dinner, we saw a coyote peacefully walking by. He look at us for a couple of seconds and then headed out. We checked the weather report, there was rain forecast in two days, let’s see what the next days will bring us. For now, the weather was just wonderful.

Sunrise at Puppet Lake
Puppet lake, view from our tent.

Puppet lake

And one more picture of Puppet Lake in the morning.

Zeno is repairing his shoe laces, they are falling apart.

I think I found a trail in French Canyon :)

Before Merrian lake

Ascent towards Feather pass

Ascend towards Feather Pass.

A beautiful view below Feather pass. We just came up from the lake.
On top of Feather pass

View from Feather pass back from where we came from with the Glacier Divide in the far back.

One of the many bear named lakes.

View over White bear lake.

View back up towards White Bear pass.

Getting more taned (or more dirty) every day.
Well, my hand definitely gets a good tan. 

Our camp at lower outlet of Lake Italy.

Prepping dinner with view over Lake Italy.