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JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested

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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:47 am

I will put a vote in for Goddard Canyon or McGee Lakes. Crossing over to Evolution Basin from Goddard via Davis Lakes was on my list - a thunderstorm precluded it, leaving us hunkered in Evolution Valley.

Plenty good fishing in Martha Lake, and there's a day trip up to Confusion Lake that would be fun.



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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby JWreno » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:45 am

Wow, Thanks for all the responses. I need to pan around my topo maps to evaluate all the suggestions so far.

I may do the Ionian basin with my son in the future and leave my wife at home on that trip. She has no problem with 20 mile trail days but her confidence on off trail stuff is much lower. She hates big car/bus size talus that has plenty of places to fall down into and also hates the exposure of large sloping snow/ice fields. My son and I have large size 12-13 feet and seem to keep our footing on snow fields much better than my wife. We also use the hiking poles with small snow cups. I am fortunate to have a wife that has gone backpacking with me since 1993. She also has loved the transition to multi week trips since the kids have become adults. Having to pay attention to her route safety/comfort levels isn't that much of a sacrifice. I think I will try to keep the side trips on this JMT hike to stuff that follows trails mostly. She expressed her displeasure to me after I explained my excitement of doing the cross country route over Gabbot pass.

Emigrant Wilderness off trail last year wasn't any problem other than smoke visibility issues since it was on granite slabs and not much talus. The biggest problem was the huge amount of fallen trees around many of the lakes. We kept having to leave the trace of old trails to get around fallen trees. There are several old 'trails' show on the Topos that haven't seen any wood saw in decades.

I am still using the old National Geographic TOPO! software for planning since I have the California, Nevada and Utah states data for that software. I pull it up when I start trying to follow peoples trip reports and route ideas. Any good ideas for more up to date software. I would love a program that would let me blend Sat imagery with good topo quad details so I could try to determine the type of ground cover from the Sat photos. Good interfacing with the Garmin GPS is also a plus. Google earth style imagery with a topo overlay would be cool stuff. Being able to blend the opacity of the topo layer with the sat imaging layer would be cool when printing maps.
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby Mike M. » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:19 pm

I haven't seen Dusy Basin mentioned as a great side trip. It's easy to get to Dusy Basin from the JMT via the Bishop Pass trail and once there, cross country travel is easy and the area is extremely photogenic. Given your wife's anxiety about straying far from trails, this might just be her cup of tea.

Mike
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby intrek38 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:47 pm

I'll have to put my vote in for Olive, Anne, & Peter Pande Lake. I did 90 miles of the JMT last year from Tuolume Meadows to Edison then back up to Mammoth which included Peter Pande & Olive Lake. Really nice area with not to many visitors worth visiting, just please be sure to leave it as you find it. If you do decide to go to Iva Bell Hot Springs it isn't to far up the trail from there. Or you could also reach the lakes just off the trail from Purple Lake. Then you could continue with a little off trail over Graveyard pass to Graveyard Lake and down the trail to VVR for a resupply. The is some uphill Talus however. I personally hate Talus but its gotta be done, I prefer it uphill any day. The other side of the pass is mostly slabs of easy granite. You will miss out on the Silver Pass but your still headed in the same direction with the added benefit of far less people, temporarily anyway. I've been to this area for the past 3 years and wouldn't mind doing it again this summer, but I've been considering, the mono creek Goddard Pass area to break this addicting cycle I just can't seem to break.
I put together a trip report, you can fast forward to day 6 to where my hike north from VVR back up to Mammoth to get an idea what I'm talking about. Have a great hike as I'm sure you will with what ever path you choose.

http://intrek40.blogspot.com/
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:32 pm

Since you’re looking at no-talus sidetrips, Wallace Lake is a great choice. There’s a use trail most of the way. Also, one area no one has mentioned is the Upper Kern. After going over Forester Pass and passing the lakes below the pass, head diagonally southwest toward the unnamed lake by the Lake South America Trail. This is class one all the way. Follow the Lake South America Trail up over the saddle. You’ll reach a junction with a side trail to Lake South America. From here, decide where you might want to go. You can go to Lake South America (not the best choice, but many others disagree) or follow the trail until you head off to one of the gorgeous lakes off the trail. The cross-country travel to these lakes is all class one as long as you are willing to zip-zap a little to avoid short cliffs.

Another Upper Kern alternative route that is all trail is to follow the Lake South America trail loop past Lake South America through the Upper Kern back to its interestion with the JMT about a half mile above the junction with the Shepherd Pass Trail. You can camp at one of the lakes near the trail or however far off-trail you feel like like.
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby vhsvhs » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:49 pm

@JWreno - Another easy tallus-free side trip is Bench Lake (north of Pinchot Pass). It's only two miles off the JMT, on a relatively flat side trail. The lake has excellent camping with huge views; it's worthy of a zero day.
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby JWreno » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:52 am

Thanks again for the suggestions. I decided to create a list of potential side trips for nearly zero days or pack off exploring days a few miles off the JMT. This way we can just wing it based on how we feel and how we far have been progressing down the JMT relative to the remaining vacation days available.

Where is the use trail for Wallace Lake. Is it on the north or south side of Wallace Creek?

We don't fish but off days are good days for relaxing, doing a bear can clothes wash, photography and sometimes just exploring without the pack. Peter Panda and the other lakes along the Silver Divide look like an interesting place to spend some time at altitude. We sort off just cruised through this area when going northbound because we were doing 18-20 miles a day on the 2nd half of the last two JMT trips. It's easy to do when you food load is lighter and you have been out for a couple of weeks so everyone is in great conditioning by then.

I have only done the JMT southbound from Yosemite to Piute Creek bridge exiting at North Lake back in 2007. One of my goals this year is to take a 1000+ pictures. We took about 850 in 2008 and only about 350 in 2011. I think picture count is a good proxy for taking time to enjoy the views.
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:03 pm

I found the trail to Wallace Lake on the north side of the creek. I believe it crosses the creek at some point and re-crosses and becomes hard to find in a few places. It ends on the north side of the creek at Wallace Lake. This is not saying there is not another trail on the south side. If so, they likely join at one point. Use-trails are pretty faint compared to the JMT so you have to be a good "trail tracker".

"Easy" is relative with respect to getting to Dusy Basin from the JMT. It is a good trail, but 2000+ feet elevation gain in about 2 miles of more switchbacks than you want to count.
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Re: I Got a Golden Ticket (JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested)

Postby JWreno » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:05 pm

Thanks for the trail info. I have been to Dusy basin in the past so I will wander into other areas this time.
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Re: JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested

Postby oleander » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:09 pm

Lots of great ideas here.

Am I the only person who was a little disappointed in Davis Lakes? Evolution area is so spectacular, and I expected more from the Davis Lakes basin. Next time, I would hop over into Ionian via Black Giant Pass, instead.

Agreed with all of Wandering Daisy's suggestions, except: I found it extraordinarily difficult to find a (low-impact) campsite anywhere up to or in Arctic Lake basin. Personally I'd probably wander up to Hitchcock Lakes instead. Neither place has any people, whereas Guitar Lake and even the little tarns above Guitar on the JMT have become an absolute zoo. You will only add 45 minutes max to your day by going off to Hitchcock and using that as your base for the Whitney day.

Also agreed that the logical locations to add side trips for you would be the areas between Donohue and MTR, where you will have less food to carry. Why not do the SHR for nearly all of that section?

- Get onto the SHR at Thousand Island Lake. Take it as far as Minaret Lake and bail out to Reds Meadow via the Minaret Lake trail.

- If you think that will take too much time, then just hop onto the SHR at Ediza, and exit the Minaret Lake Trail after going over Iceberg/Cecile. That route is so much more spectacular than the parallel section of the JMT, I recommend it for anyone who has the skills to do the Iceberg-Cecile traverse (easy in a low-snow year).

- The section south of Reds Meadow is (IMO) the most tedious part of the whole JMT. Definitely skirt around that one! I have not done Iva Bell. But I have done the route recommended by Wandering Daisy, which is basically an improved version of the SHR. It is terrific! Instead of starting at Reds, take the shuttles into Mammoth and then to Lake George. Walk the trail from Lake George to the Mammoth Crest, where the views are jaw-dropping particularly considering you are barely out of Mammoth. Now you are back on the SHR. Follow trail south to Deer Lakes. Easy x-country to Duck Lake. Then onto the JMT. After doing this I will never, ever do the southbound JMT out of Reds again.

- From Tully Hole: If you have time, you can just continue on the SHR all the way to the Hilgard Branch. This is one of the easier or more straightforward sections of the SHR. The whole area above Izaak Walton Lake, and again the area around Laurel Lake, is just so magical. And as stated, if you can go up Second Recess, you will avoid that tedious heft up Bear Ridge.

- Elizabeth
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Re: JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested

Postby tim » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:03 pm

oleander wrote:Am I the only person who was a little disappointed in Davis Lakes? Evolution area is so spectacular, and I expected more from the Davis Lakes basin. Next time, I would hop over into Ionian via Black Giant Pass, instead.


I haven't done Ionian Basin, but I loved Davis Lakes, apart from the immense amount of talus hopping of course. Mainly the contrast between that and the number of people that we had encountered for the previous 3 days on the JMT and the view from the col before we started, although I thought the descent of North Goddard Creek (including our campsite in the first patch of trees after leaving the Davis Lakes basin at about 11100ft, which had the best view ever!) was in some ways more interesting than the basin itself.

Which way did you come? I think descending (going west from Wanda Lake as we did) would be better than ascending the other way, as I can imagine that the climb up North Goddard Creek would be quite tiring, and the views from the col before you descend into Davis Lakes Basin are probably more easily appreciated when you've not had 2-3 hours of talus hopping first to get up there. Probably a year (like last year and presumably 2014 as well) when the upper lake is bright blue from glacial melt also helps.
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Re: JMT Side Trip Ideas Requested

Postby wildhiker » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:24 pm

Lots of folks are posting about the side trip to Davis Lakes from Wanda Lake. Most of them complain about talus hopping. That simply was not my experience when I did this in 2004. We walked up slabs and meadow to the col, then descended a very short distance through easy talus to the south side of the Davis Lakes. We walked on easy meadow and slab along the south side to the "peninsula" between the two lakes and then crossed back to the north side. I suspect the complaints about talus are from folks who stayed on the north side of the lakes the whole way.

I thought the basin was very beautiful, and there were all kinds of buckwheats in flower when we were there in early August, but the camping was very poor. First of all, it is extremely exposed and I would not camp there in bad weather. Secondly, we could only find very small spots to fit our 2-man tent.

As for other side trips from the JMT, I recommend the cross-country route from Tully Lake over Shout-of-Relief Pass, and then cutting straight down to Mott Lake, where you pick up a trail to rejoin the JMT. The distance and time are no greater than staying on the JMT. We did this in 1998 (in the other direction) as part of a loop that returned via the JMT over Silver Pass. The basin above Tully Lake (particularly near Cotton Lake), the views from the pass, and the high meadowy basin above Mott Lake were all more scenic than the Silver Pass area, in my opnion. However, this alternative is cross-country. We thought it was easy, mostly on slabs and meadow (and a big snow field on the north side of the pass in that very snowy summer), but YMMV.

-Phil
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