Loop climbs Pine Creek trail over Pine Creek Pass to French lakes area, traverses Humphreys basin (XC), connects with Piute Canyon trail down to Hutchinson Meadow, up French Canyon trail & XC up to Royce Lakes and back, over Pine Creek pass to Granite Park then back to trailhead.
Revisting the Pine Creek trail 2 years later this time to explore the Humphreys Basin and Royce Lakes. 1st night at Elba lake was incredibly windy with some snowfall. Some snow travel with microspikes required to get over Roget Lake pass into Humphreys Basin. Unable to camp there due to lack of trees for hammock. Took a rest day after reaching Humphreys Meadow to relax by Piute Creek. Hiked up French Canyon trail and veered left & up to explore Royce Lakes region. Too much snow prevented me from connecting to Granite Park from the lakes. Backtracked and camped near Pine Creek pass. On last day, revisited Granite Park but w/out good trees tried camping at lower elevation. Ran into too many mosquitoes at tentative campsite so finished the trip by hiking out 1 day early.
Highlights: Humphreys Basin, views from Piute Canyon trail, Piute creek at Huchinson Meadow, rugged beauty of Royce lakes, Granite Park with all its snow.
At Royce Lakes, had to traverse semi-steep snowbank for about 100 feet. Slip would have landed me into the frozen lake, so spent a lot of energy kicking boots into the snow. Had to repeat on the way back. Decided not to try to cross over the small pass from Royce lakes to descend to Granite Park due to unknown snow conditions on N. side. Turned out being a smart decision b/c when I surveyed the descent from the Granite Park side saw that the way down was all steep snowpack.