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Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

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Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby mursey » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:39 pm

Longtime lurker... kids and work have made it four years since I've been backpacking. I wanted to ask the advice of folks here about two possible loops. I have no experience in the SEKI area, my entire backpacking experience pertains to the Rockies and Klamath mountains. I understand late September in the Sierras can mean the chance of storms and possibly snow. So I should plan on having an exit at every point of the route.

We're looking for a western entrance, and I've been considering 2 routes: The first would start from wolverton pass, over the tablelands pass/bigbird and down to deadman canyon, then either north or south for a loop. The second would be a loop similar to the beautiful TR posted by larroyo33, from Road's End to Rae Lakes and back, perhaps with a day hike. I'm trying to find a route which has a lot of variation (forests to peaks and lakes), but won't be too cold next week.

Any advice/suggestions would be much appreciated.

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Wife- Some backpacking trips, using trails
Me- Numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country
- River crossings

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
4 nights, 5 days. Leaving 9/23 at 4am, should be around SEKI by 8AM. Need to be home evening of 9/27.

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
10-15 miles with 2-3000'. Layover OK.

Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip?
Either/or



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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:02 pm

Let me play advocate for your wife! 10-15 mile a day with 3000 feet gain is a lot to ask of someone who only has a little hiking experience on trails. Also, I would minimize off-trail travel until she gets some more experience in this. Remember that late September you have much reduced daylight. Think more of how many hours a day you want to be backpacking rather than miles per day. How long does it take you to get going in the morning? Getting on the trail by 8AM is hard, when often shadows and frost are common until 9AM. Depending on where you camp you can be in shadows and cold by 5PM. I usually limit my travel time this late in the season to 6-7 hours a day. A 10-mile day, even on trails, is about all I want to do. (10 mi at 2 mph=5 hrs PLUS 3000 feet gain at 1 hr/1000 feet= 3 hrs, TOTAL of 8 hours).

Rae Lakes loop is a good choice. It is so crowded during the summer that it is hard to get a permit and honestly, just too many people. But, in late September, it is perfect. And there are lots of nice side trips and nooks to day-hike too.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:15 pm

Hi Mursey,

Welcome to HST!
Your first idea is a beautiful trip but Tablelands is crosscountry where some route
finding is needed to get the correct route down using Tablelands Pass: HST Map
Also the slabs down to Big Bird Lake will not sit very well for your wife's experience level.
You mentioned heading either north or south. Your northern route is a little to long for
the time you allotted, especially if you desire a layover day.
Your second trip would be fine time wise, done clock wise, it allows the both of you
a day to acclimate, your first trip takes you to a higher elevation quicker which could
be an issue with someone who has AMS issues.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby mursey » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:23 pm

Really good advice, thanks. I hadn't thought about the reduced light and how hard it can be to get one's body out of a warm bag when the sun hasn't come around! It takes us about an hour to get going, usually, with warm breakfast and stretching. Rae lakes looks very beautiful and 35 mile loop could be very doable in 7-8 mile chunks.

We're both warm sleepers, but do you think down pullovers, neolites, and XrevX 20 quilts be enough at night? We have a simple nylon A-frame tarp I've used since I was younger for cover.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:43 pm

Mursey wrote:
Rae lakes looks very beautiful and 35 mile loop could be very doable in 7-8 mile chunks.


A little under 42 miles. 20 degree may be okay for you but not your wife (women sleep
colder). Temps for this weekend are in the upper 30's in the Rae Lakes area but there
is also 15-25 mph winds predicted with gusts up to 30 mph which will make the temps
seem much lower (wind chill).
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby tim » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:59 pm

The long range forecast is suggesting a possibility of some light snow above 8000-9000ft this weekend, and continuing breezy weather next week, with a particularly cold patch (and possibly more light snow) in the middle of next week (Tuesday night/Wednesday morning). Overnight lows could potentially get down into the mid 20s in the Rae Lakes area at that point. The details may vary but its very likely to be autumnal weather, so take warm gear...

Fortunately you should be in the trees every night and fires are now allowed for the nights you spend below 10,000ft (http://www.nps.gov/seki/parknews/loader ... eid=648395), which is an advantage of that route.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby mursey » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:40 pm

maverick wrote:
20 degree may be okay for you but not your wife (women sleep
colder). Temps for this weekend are in the upper 30's in the Rae Lakes area but there
is also 15-25 mph winds predicted with gusts up to 30 mph which will make the temps
seem much lower (wind chill).


Thanks. What might you recommend to supplement her quilt? I have a neolite air womens underneath her, which is supposedly more warm than the normal version, and a hooded down sweater along with capilene base.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:43 pm

Hi Tim,

NWS says the system will be effecting the central Sierra, mainly southern Yosmite and
northward. The second system from the Gulf of Alaska is something anyone heading
out next week should keep an eye on.

"THE 12Z ECMWF CONTINUES TO FORECAST PRECIPITATION FOR THE CENTRAL
SIERRA NEVADA NORTHWARD FOR SATURDAY
..WHILE THE 12Z GFS IS DRY. HAVE
COMPROMISED BETWEEN THE TWO MODELS BY KEEPING THE SLIGHT CHANCE
POPS FOR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK...AND KEEPING THE MOUNTAINS SOUTH OF
THE PARK DRY.


THE MODELS FORECAST A QUASI-ZONAL FLOW TO SET UP OVER CALIFORNIA
BEHIND THE TROUGH...AND AHEAD OF YET ANOTHER SYSTEM THAT IS FORECAST
TO DROP OUT OF THE GULF OF ALASKA AND APPROACH THE PACIFIC COAST BY
THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. THE MODELS DIVERGE SIGNIFICANTLY IN THEIR
HANDLING OF THIS SYSTEM...BUT AT LEAST AGREE THAT WILL BE LITTLE
CHANCE FOR TEMPERATURE RECOVERY NEXT MONDAY BETWEEN TROUGHS."
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:47 pm

When are you going? I would be glued to the NWS site to see what the updates are
on the system that is dropping down from the Gulf of Alaska mid-next week is
about, you may need to delay your plans.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby rlown » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:59 pm

And fill one of these out as well before you go: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10010
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby tim » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:08 pm

mursey wrote:Thanks. What might you recommend to supplement her quilt? I have a neolite air womens underneath her, which is supposedly more warm than the normal version, and a hooded down sweater along with capilene base.


Apologies if I'm stating the blindingly obvious here, but a tent (with floor) and 15 degree sleeping bag would be a good idea. Also a stove, raingear, etc. Its possible that microspikes might come in useful if it does get icy, and be prepared to do an out and back to Rae Lakes rather than going over Glen Pass if necessary. Especially if you have no flexibility in your planned trip dates next week as you suggest.
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Re: Advice on 5 night SEKI excursion, 50-75miles, Late September

Postby mursey » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:26 pm

Blindingly obvious is what I'm looking for, haha. Yeah I'll bring a tent and her big 5 degree bag. It's heavy but will be worth it.
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