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Route planning

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Route planning

Postby uclacody0908 » Sun May 11, 2014 2:57 pm

I am planning a trip to the Hetch Hetchy area first week of June. I've been backpacking for a couple years and only stuck to trails. With this 2 possibly 3 night trip I would like to do some off trail cross country traveling. I might bring a spinning reel for fun with some flys but fishing is not my main interest. I have maps, compass, and gps and know how to use them.

I am looking at maps and google earth trying to find the best route to go from hetch hetchy to ardeth lake then down to mahan lake for example. It seems that I could pass around the south eastern edge of the peak and down to mahan but am I being ignorant for assuming I could do that with no climbing gear? I am in great shape and though I have never rock climbed I grew up free climbing as a kid on just about everything.

I can do 12 miles a day no problem. I planned on taking moraine ridge to miwok lake then up to ardeth to camp first night. Then down to mahan lake, jack main canyon, lunch at wilma, up to the otter lakes, then down to bearup to camp night 2. Day 3 I planned on taking frog creek out to moraine ridge then back down to HH.

How does that trip sound? Snow under 9k ft should be gone by then?



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Re: Route planning

Postby oldranger » Sun May 11, 2014 3:26 pm

Ardeth is 16 miles, and 4700 feet of vertical hot hell through mostly burned over terrain. Your first day plan is a bit ambitious. Though the last few miles of the route is off trail I suspect there is a user trail that forks off the main trail just before the main trail drops down to Jack Main Canyon because the local packer indicates it is possible to pack into Miwok and Ardeth. Micro topography and brush makes off trail travel pretty slow and nasty in this area but your route is doable but I think 2 days in is a more reasonable time to get to Ardeth.

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Re: Route planning

Postby dave54 » Sun May 11, 2014 3:30 pm

You most likely will not make 12 miles per day off-trail. One rule thumb is cross country figure 1 mph or less.

Even the most detailed photos do not show all the obstacles and travel impediments when cross country. Even experienced aerial photo interpreters can have difficulty estimating brush height under timber canopy, and for cross country travel the difference between 2' and 3' brush is significant. Add in slash and the amount of rock and travel can be real slow.

This does not mean you should not travel off trail. Most of us do it frequently, and gets you to some real unknown gems of campsites. However, x country travel is significantly slower and harder than you initially plan.
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Re: Route planning

Postby balzaccom » Sun May 11, 2014 6:28 pm

You are getting pretty good advice here from Old Ranger and Dave. That first couple of miles up out of Hetch-hetchy is slow going...and Moraine RIdge is very dry, thus the nickname Migraine Ridge. By the time you get your wilderness permit and hit the trail, it's going to be at least noon before you get to the top of that first climb..and many people camp right around there...so your plan to continue on for 12-14 more miles is really ambitious

This is great country you are exploring (we hiked through Jack Main Canyon last year, and have a bunch of photos and trip notes on our site) but it is not exactly easy going. Add a few days to your itinerary, and you should have a great time.
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thank you

Postby uclacody0908 » Mon May 12, 2014 1:30 am

Thank you oldranger and others. Maybe first night at vernon. 2nd day up to branigan, then mahan and up to ardeth for the night. Day 3 head down to bearup then follow frog creek to laurel for night 3.

I really want to check out ardeth lake and hopefully climb mahan peak. I love a good view!
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Re: Route planning

Postby Teresa Gergen » Mon May 12, 2014 6:27 am

I don't have enough experience in CA to answer your specific questions, but, for cross-country travel in general, are you familiar with caltopo.com? You can draw a route line on a topo map, toggle to a satellite view, look for cliffs and other obstacles that would not have been apparent from the topo lines, adjust your route line to avoid them, export your route line to a .kml file and look at it in Google Earth, get it just the way you think will be best, and then export it to your GPS to follow in the field, and you can print the map segment that shows your route and carry just that. Caltopo will show you a profile of your route line, giving distances and elevation gain and loss information. You can also turn on features to see the slope angles your route passes through, as well as many other informative options. Works best with Google Chrome as the browser.
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Re: Route planning

Postby oldranger » Mon May 12, 2014 7:06 am

Cody

Use the search function to find descriptions of how to get to Branigan. Crossing Falls Creek in early june even this dry year could be problematic.

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Re: Route planning

Postby uclacody0908 » Mon May 12, 2014 2:51 pm

Wow caltopo looks great thank you teresa I will use that for sure! Search I shall oldranger thanks again!
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Re: Route planning

Postby maverick » Mon May 12, 2014 3:24 pm

Hi Cody,

Welcome aboard HST!
You can skirt around Lake Vernon's southern side and head towards the smaller
lakes to the eastern part of the basin. You head up towards Branigan Lake right
next to Branigan Creek Falls. Skirt the lakes southern end to get back to the other
Branigan Lakes or the little lakes towards the south. Falls Creek is not crossable
once past Lake Vernon. Ardeth Lake is pretty, travel between Mahan-Ardeth-Miwok
is relatively easy, getting down to Bearup takes care, as will descending to Laurel.
These photo's will give you an idea of the topography in the area and around the
lakes, click on the individual photo's to get a larger version: http://wildernessapertures.com/p1029075459
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: Route planning

Postby sparky » Mon May 12, 2014 8:45 pm

be prepared for a bushwack

The route from mahan peak to mahan lake is certainly doable. This area is pretty mellow and full of weaknesses, so you can pretty much go anywhere, it just involves LOTS of micro route finding and lots of bushwacking.

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Re: Route planning

Postby uclacody0908 » Mon May 12, 2014 10:53 pm

Super cool thanks maverick and sparky! This will definitely be a learning experience for me. Might not hit all my goals but I am sure I will come back with more knowledge and a great story to tell. Can't wait to get out there!
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Re: Route planning

Postby uclacody0908 » Wed May 21, 2014 4:50 pm

Well, here is my plan using caltopo (thx again Teresa). Still have a couple question marks about the creek crossings and way down to Vernon, but if I have to reroute once I am out there than no big deal.
Anyway thanks again to everyone for the help and let me know what you think.

http://caltopo.com/map?id=747V
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