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Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby franklin411 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:22 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for the feedback! My friend put the kaibosh on the Eastern Sierra for some reason which she never really explained. She said she didn't like the idea of the long drive up 395 from the LA area, but it's just as long of a drive up the Central Valley. Can't argue with a woman! ](*,)

I'm going to use the Eastern Sierra suggestions with my other friend--she's coming from Vegas, so I think the East side would work great for her.

Sounds like we're doing the Deadman Canyon loop then, which is fine with me--When I did part of the High Sierra Trail last year I looked longingly at Elizabeth Pass, so it'll be nice to see the other side of things. I met a party on the HST who had come over that pass from Deadman and they also said that the trail wasn't in great physical condition, but the area was spectacular.

My friend now only has 3 full hiking days instead of the 3 full + 1 partial hiking days I had expected. However, she says that she's good for 15 miles a day so we should be able to go the distance.

If Elizabeth Pass looked too dicey or if we did fall behind schedule, could we go cross country West and connect with the trail from Pear Lake back to Lodgepole? I don't have cross-country experience, but it looks doable on a map.

Also, does anyone know if any of the established campsites along the route have privies? Always nice to have a little luxury!

Thanks again!



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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:39 pm

You wont regret going to such a beautiful area. In 2010 I hiked 80 miles of trail I didn't care to do at the time just to get back in Deadman Canyon.

I find it a bit funny to argue that the beautiful drive up 395 is long.

As for cross country yes there are options but unless you have the head for it and make good route finding decisions it could be difficult. You can get onto the Tablelands from both around Big Bird Lake and the small set of lakes NW of there. Then down past Table Meadows where you can cut over to Pear Lake and take the trail down.

I cannot think of any place along that trail with a privy.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby tim » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:34 pm

That's an awfully long hike for 3 days, especially with the likelihood of early season snow, which will slow you down on the passes. 2 days to Deadman Canyon is hard enough but 1 day back from there to Lodgepole sounds excessive, especially since shuttle buses probably won't be running so you'll have to hike all the way back via Panther Gap.

Maybe it's doable with two cars if you start at Marvin Pass and exit on the HST, and had 3.5 days. But with only 3 days breaking the trip into three is tough: it means getting over Elizabeth Pass on the afternoon of day 2 which is a long, long climb from Roaring River.

Think about the loop to Twin Lakes/Ranger Lake/Seville Lake from Rowell Meadow or Lodgepole, or if you're determined to see Deadman Canyon go out and back from Marvin Pass, camp at Roaring River for 2 nights and do a day hike up the canyon.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby oldranger » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:59 pm

What Rogue says about 395 vs. w. side approach. Jeez, tim said essentially the same as I have written. 3 days for that 50 mile loop is overambitious for 95% of backpackers in optimal conditions. In late may of even a dry year even fewer are capable of that trip--let alone enjoying it. And while there are ways of cutting off some distance one near big bird requires some skill to work your way up to the Table lands and across to Pear Lake before hitting the trail to lodgepole(Rogue notes this,too!). Though a shorter route your speed of travel will be greatly reduced. Given the potential for snow on the ground and frequent unsettled weather conditions that time of the yearI would not recommend the trip with the time constraints you have. A shorter lollipop route would be the same start, Over Silliman Pass to ranger Lake, then cross country to Lost and Seville, then trail to Rowell Meadow and return via J.O. Pass. Or a little more demanding would be to head s. at Ranger Lake and off trail past Crescent lake and onto tablelands to Pear lake. You are likely to confront some snow on this route as well. I have skied from Pear to Crescent in late june though it was a high snow year. This trip would get you up high with some incredible views but without the death march characteristics of a 3 day 50 miler. Another alternative would be some similar type of hiking in s. western yosemite.

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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby franklin411 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 8:14 pm

Thanks for the tips, Mike and Tim! I hadn't even noticed Marvin Pass on the map. That route to Deadman sounds interesting, but I'll put it down as our backup plan in case the snow/weather conditions are unfavorable in late May. We'll have to see if my friend can keep the pace. She's an experienced backpacker (europe), but my plan counts on her being able to keep up with me. I can do 16 miles w/ 4000+' of gain and a 30 lb pack @ 9000' under ideal conditions (snow might ruin that, though).

Here's my adjusted plan, which assumes that the snow isn't a problem:

Day 1:
Start @ Lodgepole
Head over Silliman Pass
Camp at Comanche Meadow (15 mi)

Day 2:
Head to Roaring River/Deadman Canyon, overnight near Big Bird Lake: 13-15 mi

Day 3:
Push over Elizabeth Pass and follow the HST out (15 mi)

I left Hamilton Lake at 8 AM last year and I was at the Crescent Meadow trailhead by 3 pm, and I assume the trip out of Elizabeth would be similar. It's about 4-5 hrs home, so we'd be back at a reasonable hour.

Of course, snow/storm/cold changes everything. In that case, then I'm happy to do the lollipop route you all mentioned, or actually I'm quite happy to car camp and day hike. I won't shed too many tears over having a toilet, showers, pepsi, and pizza at my disposal! :nod:
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:59 pm

Still think that is over ambitious for that time of the year. You will not be able to make the speed you expect going over Elizabeth pass. If you insist suggest you go past Comanche Meadow and ford Sugarloaf creek if it is not too high the first day. If you can ford it safely there is a campsite right there and doing so will make things a little easier. If the water is too high it should be at its lowest about 9am. Some years downed trees will also slow down your travel as trail crews will not be out.

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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby rlown » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:27 pm

why is there a focus on 15 mile days of hiking? that sounds wrong in planning to begin with, regardless of age or desire. extend your trip and add layover days. make the trip enjoyable.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby tim » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:36 pm

Deadman Canyon to Elizabeth Pass to Bearpaw Meadow (a 2000ft climb and 3000ft descent, certainly with snow at that time of year) is a rather different proposition to hiking back from Hamilton Lake to Bearpaw Meadow.
You are also ignoring the probable lack of shuttle buses to get back to Lodgepole at the end of the hike. I doubt hitching will be straightforward in late May (outside the Memorial Day weekend).
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby franklin411 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:49 pm

Oldranger:
Thanks for the tip about Sugarloaf, and I'll take you up on it!

Rlown:
I'm not the leisurely type I guess, but that aside, I want to see the high country (the really rugged stuff you can only see 20 miles in and 10000 feet up. I tend to recoil from lower altitude hikes because you've seen one lake you've seen them all). I looked for shorter routes and it looks to be impossible without a hike of 40-50 miles. My friend has 72 hours max to do this, so that means 15 miles per day.

Tim:
Ya, we'll have to see what happens with the snow--my main concern (aside from the normal/expected weather wild card) is that there will be too much snow on Elizabeth Pass. I'm not so concerned about it slowing us down. If it slows us down, then we just have to push and grind that much longer to get out that day. Painful, but if we did get to EP in 2 days, it should be doable. The mileage I listed was based on us starting at the Lodgepole parking lot and returning there on foot, so any shuttle action would just be gravy.

Honestly, I'm not very comfortable with the pictures I see of the north side of Elizabeth Pass with snow on it either. The trail is pretty faint on Google Earth. Would there be anything to be gained by reversing everything and starting from the HST, over EP from the south, and descending into Deadman Canyon? Maybe it's time to get a GPS.

I'm sure I sound pretty stubbornly married to this plan, folks, but I do appreciate the input! Originally I wanted to do Mineral King, but the Marmot Menace scared me off, and besides I already reserved a campsite at Lodgepole.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby The hermit » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:14 pm

Ive never backpacked in europe but the sierra are challenging in the best conditions. If you dont truly know your partners abilities you should have options in case 15 miles is too much. Ive had people bail halfway through a trip so its better to just keep your options open .no one can predict conditions that far out. P.S. 3 days is not enough to backpack the sierra in my experience, ends up being a death march.still a blast! Maybe just prepare you for longer trips.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:45 pm

Honestly, I'm not very comfortable with the pictures I see of the north side of Elizabeth Pass with snow on it either. The trail is pretty faint on Google Earth. Would there be anything to be gained by reversing everything and starting from the HST, over EP from the south, and descending into Deadman Canyon? Maybe it's time to get a GPS.


Well you would probably have less snow going up the South side but it is much steeper. That whole trail on that side is an ass kicker.

This shot shows what it can be like with total coverage:

Image

But as you can see it's mostly smooth climbing. If you were post holing however that can be horrible. In 2012 I climbed up the Cloud Canyon head wall and at times it was thigh deep snow where I had to literally crawl on my knees to get up.

This shot Is from June 23rd 2012:

Image

I'd imagine by the end of May that is was a good coverage of slushy snow.
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Re: Planning for Late May Trip: Rae Lakes Loop or Deadman Canyon

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:47 pm

If you found too much snow on Elizabeth Pass, you could just turn around and go back out the way you came in. Not ideal, but since it is not likely this year to be a big problem, I would not call it a deal breaker.

I agree that Tablelands is not a good route for people who have minimal off-trail experience. I have been there early season (4th july normal snow year) and melting snow over the talus was hard - lots of post holing and certainly slow enough that 15 miles a day would not be possible. Also agree that asking Rangers will not get you accurate information, only over-conservative "not possible" reactions.

I usually access Deadman and Cloud Canyon from Roads End (Cedar Grove) over Avalanche Pass -made it to the Ranger Station in one day - a bit burly but do-able. Lots of elevation gain - not for those who have only hiked in the flat lands.

Deadman Canyon has HORRIBLE mosquitoes at hatch. This year, you may hit this unpleasant event late May.
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