Author Topic: The Palisades  (Read 26482 times)

wshawkins

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The Palisades
« on: February 26, 2018, 06:44:49 AM »
The Palisades


I took this fun backpacking trip back in Late August 2017 over a long weekend.  The weather was great with 75* F days and in the low 50’s at night with thunder showers in the late afternoon.  My goal was to fish all the Big Pine lakes on the Big Pine Creek North Fork trail, then taking the Black Lake Loop trail to Summit and Black Lakes to complete the loop.  It turned out to be a wonderful fishing trip!  This area is simply known as “The Palisades”.

The Palisades, which follows the valley of Big Pine Creek, are beneath some of the highest peaks in the Eastern Sierra including 14,242 foot North Palisade, the 4th tallest in the state.  Ahead lie over many glacial lakes, numerous cascades and crags, plus several glaciers, one of which is both the southernmost in the US and the largest in the Sierra Nevada.


The Palisades


"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bj

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2018, 07:23:07 AM »
Always thought about a horse pack trip to Black Lake but never made it. Hope to see some photos.
" Rock on..........Rock the Creek"
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P A C

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 09:49:45 AM »
WSH,

As always, looking forward to your trip report, and in particular this area as I have been very interested and curious about it for many years, but never made the hike up canyon past the Lon Chaney Cabin, which you wonderfully chronicled in a post a couple of years back.

Thanks in advance for what I am confident will be a great TR! :clap:

All the Best!  PAC

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 05:07:33 PM »
Always thought about a horse pack trip to Black Lake but never made it. Hope to see some photos.


Black Lake was a joy to fish and has nice tree shaded (and out of the wind) campsites around the lake.  Also Black Lake is only about ¼ mile away from Summit Lake which I highly recommend for fishing.  Glacier Pack Train is the local Pack Station for the Big Pine Lake Region.  Plenty of photos to share.  :hiking2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 05:08:22 PM »
WSH,

As always, looking forward to your trip report, and in particular this area as I have been very interested and curious about it for many years, but never made the hike up canyon past the Lon Chaney Cabin, which you wonderfully chronicled in a post a couple of years back.

Thanks in advance for what I am confident will be a great TR! :clap:

All the Best!  PAC


I stopped for lunch break at Lon Chaney Cabin on this trip.  So glad the Forrest Service did not tear down this beautifully historic built cabin.  Did a little fishing in the creek at Lon Chaney cabin!  I’ll share that shortly. :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2018, 06:46:49 AM »
The Palisades


To get to the trailhead to the Palisades, take 395 to Big Pine.  Head west on W Crocker Street which turns into Glacier Lodge Rd for 11 miles, climbing steadily alongside the creek.  The road passes several national forest campgrounds, an area for overnight hiker’s trailhead parking, and then ends at a day-use parking area by a junction. Left is a side road to Glacier Lodge.  The Big Pine Creek trail starts here.


Big Pine Creek Trailhead – Day 1



Big Pine Creek
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2018, 06:52:25 AM »
The Palisades


You first walk along the stream for a short distance, over a footbridge (First Falls) then through a patch of woodland to a junction. Turning right, the path switchbacks up the hillside dividing the two branches of the creek and enter North Fork canyon, where it crosses the stream a second time and begins to climb the exposed, treeless, north side of the valley.


Footbridge at First Falls



Trail Junction



Second Bridge



Big Pine Creek



Along the Trail

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Gypsy Wind

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2018, 09:33:48 AM »
Your reports are always an inspiration. Especially looking forward to this one since I recently acquired accommodation in Big Pine and hoping to explore this area this year. Keep the reports coming.

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2018, 04:26:33 PM »
Your reports are always an inspiration. Especially looking forward to this one since I recently acquired accommodation in Big Pine and hoping to explore this area this year. Keep the reports coming.


Thanks Gypsy Wind!  Been going up to Big Pine Lakes since my dad took me on a backpacking trip back when I was 12-13 years old.  He loved to camp at 4th or 5th lakes, and then hike and fish lakes 6th and 7th when they used to have goldens (Now a mountain yellow-legged frog habitat).  Now I usually head up there about every 5 years or so. 

Fishing is great up there (at least for me ( ;D).  But you’ll get distracted with all the great vistas.  I’m also a history buff, so I’ll cover what used to be there and what still is.  Hopefully you’ll find that interesting.  If you get a chance to explore the area I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding. :hiking2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2018, 06:57:43 AM »
The Palisades


After another junction (Baker Creek Trail), the trail crosses a rocky area and rejoins Big Pine Creek just above a 100 foot cascade (Second Falls), a point that marks the boundary of the John Muir Wilderness. The trail from here is quite wooded, covered by a mixture of pine and aspen trees.



Baker Creek Junction




Baker Creek Junction – Takes off to your left




Second Falls




Second Falls




Top of Second Falls – A good place for rest stop
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2018, 06:59:22 AM »
The Palisades


After about 2 miles the trail passes a log cabin designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams for actor Lon Chaney, set in a shady clearing beneath tall lodgepole pines.



Lon Chaney Cabin


"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bj

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2018, 07:25:02 AM »
Hauling the materials to construct the cabin must have been fun. A very scenic spot with the creek behind it.
" Rock on..........Rock the Creek"
Hardrock

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2018, 04:13:47 PM »
Hauling the materials to construct the cabin must have been fun. A very scenic spot with the creek behind it.


I’m thinking mules did the heavy hauling of materials.  The front of the cabin faces the creek under a covered porch.  Must of been like heaven to stay there! :fishing4:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

charlie

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2018, 05:32:54 PM »
What memories. I love that cabin and have caught fish right next to it. Our last trip to the Sierra we spent  up BP Creek and went up on the glacier. Fish  galore!!!!!  (We also camped in snow at Chickenfoot and went over Mono Pass to fish Golden)  Somehow, we've gotten addicted to  backpacking in the Grand Canyon and haven't been back to the Sierra for a few years.  That's gotta change.  Our next trip after one more rim to rim to rim in the GC  already permitted for April, will be through the valley, over Morgan and up Pine Creek. Thanks, ws  for all the great photos and stories. For those of us who can't make it very often they're  highly valued.  We've been away from RC too long!!!!

Gary C.

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2018, 02:52:24 AM »
It doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is everyone stops for a break at the cabin both going and coming back. Looking forward to the rest of you report. I've only been as far as the 4th lake and Sam Mack Meadow which is just beautiful.

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2018, 07:10:38 AM »
What memories. I love that cabin and have caught fish right next to it. Our last trip to the Sierra we spent  up BP Creek and went up on the glacier. Fish  galore!!!!!  (We also camped in snow at Chickenfoot and went over Mono Pass to fish Golden)  Somehow, we've gotten addicted to  backpacking in the Grand Canyon and haven't been back to the Sierra for a few years.  That's gotta change.  Our next trip after one more rim to rim to rim in the GC  already permitted for April, will be through the valley, over Morgan and up Pine Creek. Thanks, ws  for all the great photos and stories. For those of us who can't make it very often they're  highly valued.  We've been away from RC too long!!!!


Welcome back Charlie!  The fishing in Big Pine Creek was excellent, including at Lon Chaney’s Cabin and also below the 1st lake.  Fishing was also great around the Big Pine Lakes as you will soon see.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2018, 07:11:28 AM »
It doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is everyone stops for a break at the cabin both going and coming back. Looking forward to the rest of you report. I've only been as far as the 4th lake and Sam Mack Meadow which is just beautiful.


Yeah, everybody stops for a break at the cabin.  Such a peaceful and tranquil spot.  Last time up here I hiked to Sam Mack Meadow and to the Glacier, tough but worthwhile hike.  This time I did the Big Pine Lakes loop with lots of fishing with a bit of historical exploring.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2018, 07:13:58 AM »
The Palisades


This is an article from the LA TIMES from a few years back which sums up the story of Lon Chaney Cabin.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Actor Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Forest
The silent film star's stone cabin remains tucked away in the remote eastern Sierra.

You see it first as a greenish corrugated tin roof hidden in a grove of solid red lodgepole pines. A left fork off the main trail places you below a set of stone steps and a massive stone structure. The idea of such a trek is to get away from civilization. So if you aren't expecting what's coming, the 1,288-square-foot granite field stone structure suddenly out of the wilderness.

But the building is no ordinary structure. Nor does the U.S. Forest Service sign’s identifying it as a wilderness ranger cabin begin to explain it. Large locks secure the doors and wooden shutters bar the windows -- all contributing to an air of mystery that seems in keeping with the image of its original owner, Lon Chaney Sr. The actor who starred in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Phantom of the Opera," Chaney was referred to as "the man of a thousand faces," and for millions of moviegoers in the 1910s and 1920s was the personification of humanity within horror.

Chaney had the stone cabin built for $12,000 in 1929-30. It was designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams, the first African American granted a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects. The Saks Fifth Avenue Building in Beverly Hills is an example of one of his public buildings. But Williams is best known for designing private homes, about 2,000 of them, for film celebrities, politicians and other famous people. According to Williams' granddaughter, Karen Hudson, the Chaney cabin was the only mountain cabin he designed.

Surrounded by steep canyon walls and located amid lodgepole pines in the Inyo National Forest, the cabin faces a creek. Wide stone steps lead up to the one-story rectangular building, its walls 2 feet thick and made of large granite rocks cemented together. There is a gable roof, now covered by corrugated metal, and overhanging 8-inch-thick lodgepole beams.

The interior is divided into one large room and a kitchen separated by a plank wall. There is tongue-in-groove pine flooring, and a granite fireplace in the main room. When Chaney owned the cabin, there was a mounted deer head above the fireplace and a bear rug on the floor. A kerosene lamp on a pulley provided light for the living area and the kitchen.

"Tonight I start out for the High Sierra. No shaving, no makeup, no interviews for four long, lazy weeks. We take a stove along and the wife cooks the fish I catch. We sleep under the pines and I try to climb high enough to reach the snows. Camping's the biggest kick in life for me," Chaney told a writer in 1928.

It was no accident that Chaney located the cabin near the Cienega Mirth section of Big Pine Creek, where it curves gently and flattens out. It is one of the best trout fishing spots in the area. Chaney was an ardent fly fisherman and early practitioner of catch and release who had escaped to the area for many years. He camped with his family near the site of the cabin long before he had it built. The glaciated canyon closely resembles the Colorado countryside around Pike's Peak, where Chaney, as a teenager, led tour groups up the mountain by burro. The fact that there was no road up Big Pine Canyon to the cabin for the last 1 1/2 miles must have appealed to Chaney. He hired pack trains to bring in supplies.

Chaney was to enjoy his cabin for only a few months before his death at age 47. His last trip to the cabin was with his wife, Hazel, in late July 1930. By that time, according to Michael F. Blake's book, "The Man Behind the Thousand Faces," Chaney's bronchial cancer was very advanced. His weakened state, combined with the cabin's 9,200-foot elevation, made it impossible for him to fish. Continuing hemorrhages forced him to return to Los Angeles, where he died Aug. 26.

The Chaney cabin was built under a government special use permit that allowed Chaney to own the structure while leasing the half-acre site from the federal government. The cabin was sold in 1932, and again in 1955. It reverted to the government in 1980 when the permit expired.

The Forest Service considered destroying the cabin to comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act, which calls for the restoration of natural conditions in wilderness areas. But the agency changed its mind when it became clear that the amount of dynamite required to demolish the massive stone structure would cause major damage to the surrounding trees.

Ultimately, the Forest Service decided that the cabin's historic value justified its preservation. In 1982, the agency proposed placing the cabin on the Register of Historic Places, but the application process was never completed. The cabin remains on the list of candidates for official designation.

Today, the cabin remains closed to the public, and is seldom used by the Forest Service for shelter or rescue operations. According to Linda Reynolds, a Forest Service historian, there is no money budgeted to maintain the cabin's interior, even though volunteer groups periodically monitor and maintain its exterior. Forest rangers are concerned that the cabin's roof might collapse under a heavy snow, despite the huge beams.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2018, 07:19:03 AM »
The Palisades


More photos of the Lon Chaney’s Cabin……………




Lon Chaney’s Cabin










Custom 2 Seater




Built 87 years ago.  Craftsmanship at its finest!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2018, 07:21:33 AM »
The Palisades



Also did a little fishing in the creek during my lunch break.  Caught this Brown Trout right in front of the Cabin!   The creek has Brookies, Rainbows and some Browns. 



Big Pine Creek right at front door!




Wild Brown Trout
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P A C

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2018, 10:37:43 AM »

I'm thinking mules did the heavy hauling of materials.  The front of the cabin faces the creek under a covered porch.  Must of been like heaven to stay there! :fishing4:


I recall reading years ago that Lon Chaney also had either an Upright or Baby Grand Piano hauled up there. 
The article alluded to apparently frequent, quite raucous and debauchery-filled parties in the woods at his cabin (despite the suggested, contrasting tone of 'getting away from it all' in the article posted above which I have also seen previously).

I recall that, according to the article,  to be invited to his place (the cabin) and one of his parties held there was considered quite the honor.
I wish I could locate the article and post it for reference.  Will keep looking for it as time permits. 

WSH - really enjoying this TR as always, looking forward to the next posts on this!

Al the Best!  P A C

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2018, 07:24:38 AM »

I recall reading years ago that Lon Chaney also had either an Upright or Baby Grand Piano hauled up there. 
The article alluded to apparently frequent, quite raucous and debauchery-filled parties in the woods at his cabin (despite the suggested, contrasting tone of 'getting away from it all' in the article posted above which I have also seen previously).

I recall that, according to the article,  to be invited to his place (the cabin) and one of his parties held there was considered quite the honor.
I wish I could locate the article and post it for reference.  Will keep looking for it as time permits. 

WSH - really enjoying this TR as always, looking forward to the next posts on this!

Al the Best!  P A C


Upright or Baby Grand Piano?  I can’t even imagine how they got that up there to the cabin.  If you locate the article, please post it.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2018, 07:29:35 AM »
The Palisades


After Lon Chaney’s cabin, the trail slowly gains elevation and the hiking are not bad.  The next junction, some 4 miles from the trailhead, marks the start of a loop past five of the lakes, and is best hiked in the clockwise direction since the remainder of the elevation gain (1,000 feet) is done gradually and the route is fairly shady.  Taking the right branch first involves a quite strenuous climb up an open, south-facing hillside with lots of elevation gain.  I went straight ahead:




Along the Trail - I can almost see The Palisades from the trail






Big Pine Creek






First look at Temple Crag as seen from the Trail






Trail Junction
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2018, 07:31:46 AM »
The Palisades



Walking along the left fork, the First Pine Creek Lake soon comes into view, set beneath the towering slopes of Temple Crag and Mt. Alice.  Like several others of the lakes this is filled with bright turquoise water, characteristic of glacial activity created by the grinding action of glaciers high above.




First Big Pine Lake

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

RockToad

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Re: The Palisades
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2018, 01:32:17 PM »
Incredible!!!  Thank you so much :clap: