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Trip planning June 8-12

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Trip planning June 8-12

Postby yael » Thu May 22, 2014 12:07 pm

Hi all,

I'm seeking some advice regarding where to hike on June 8-12 with a friend who is coming for a visit in CA (I myself am a bit new to this area, and to this website... :) ).

We are experienced backpackers, though usually stick to the trails, and don't have any real snow experience, so my main concern is the trails condition on these dates (snow covered/impassable rivers). We are mostly interested in scenery, and walk about 10-12 miles a day (4 days).

I thought of the Rae lakes (I hiked the JMT last summer, but had bad weather on that part so wouldn't mind visiting again), but I suspect Glen pass would pose a problem. The 5 lakes area also sounds amazing, but I assume it is too early in the season? Any suggestions for the Yosemite area that wouldn't be too crowded (assuming I cat still get a permit..)? I will appreciate any advice!

Thanks!



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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby maverick » Thu May 22, 2014 12:57 pm

Hi Yael,

Welcome aboard! Will you be driving to the trailhead and start your hike the same day?
How do you fair with higher altitudes? Do you need a couple of days to acclimate?
Which side do you prefer east or west? What area are you driving to the traihead from
LA, SF, or other?
You mention 5 Lakes, which ones are you talking about, Little Five Lakes, Big Five
Lakes or something else?
Getting permits will be difficult because of the snow, many folks will be starting
from lower elevation like Yosemite Valley and from the popular trailheads out
of Tuolumne Meadows, but you should be able to get walk-in permits as long as you
get their before the wilderness office opens or start mid week.
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: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby yael » Thu May 22, 2014 2:26 pm

Thanks!

We are coming from SF, so I guess west side would be easier to access. We could either drive and start hiking the same day, or get there the evening before and spend the night near the TH. I don't think the high altitude would be a problem, especially if we start a bit lower.

Thanks for the info about Glen pass, and the mosquitoes :)
About 5 lakes: I was referring to Little 5 lakes, and I would like to make some loop there, either from Mineral king and Sawtooth pass or maybe starting with the high sierra trail, and back through Black rock pass and redwood meadow, but I have no idea if that's suitable this time of year, or if it is too ambitious for the time we have.

Yosemite is indeed closer, but last time I was there (about a 3 weeks ago) it was SO crowded.... maybe if I'll avoid the valley and go north to Tioga road...

I will make reservations for the permit as I don't want our visiting friend to be disappointed. I checked online yesterday, and there were still available permits for that date to all of these locations.
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby cgundersen » Thu May 22, 2014 3:06 pm

Hi yael,
The one thing to keep in mind about Mineral King is that the voracious marmots there attack cars in early season, and you'll need to fence it off. Obviously, for the mileage you're game to do, there's no reason why you could not do a nice loop over Timber Gap, double back to Blackrock Pass etc etc. But, for my "money" I'd recommend going in at Crescent Meadow or Wolverton (Sequoia) and taking trail to Alta Meadow and then bushwhack/follow the use trail to Moose Lake. From there you can loop back via the Tablelands, an enticingly bizarre high elevation plateau, to the Pear/Heather/Aster side of Alta Peak. If you're feeling frisky, it's easy to include Big Bird Lake in your itinerary. The combination of alpine lakes/tarns, big (Sequoia) trees and big peaks with few people at elevations not much above 10,500 will be hard to beat, and will diminish any snow issues.
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby maverick » Thu May 22, 2014 3:25 pm

Yael wrote:
though usually stick to the trails, and don't have any real snow experience, so my
main concern is the trails condition on these dates (snow covered/impassable rivers).


Mineral King will be to early, Sawtooth and Blackrock will still have snow, and some
higher elevation lakes may still be partially frozen. Since you mentioned not having
any snow experience I removed the Glen Pass info.
Anything out of Yosemite Valley: LLV, Merced Lake, Yosemite Falls, El Cap, Half
Dome or North Dome are likely to be busy, especially if you stay at popular
backcountry camping locations, though if one avoids these popular site and travels
an extra 1/2 mile cross-country, you can get all the solitude you want. Waterwheel
Falls and LeConte Falls area is pretty out of Tuolumne Meadows, and if you stay away
from Glen Aulin it won't be as crowded.There is a great camp spot not to far above
Waterwheel Falls, a spur trail lead to the left into a stand of trees with some great
leveled campsites. Vernon Lake which is located in the western Yosemite out of
Hetch Hetchy is nice.
Since many trails are still covered with snow at higher elevations, especially as you
head towards the central and southern Sierra, you will need to be proficient with
navigation and comfortable with cross-country travel because with snow covered
trails that is what your trip becomes. Some of the more popular trails have trail blazes
on the trees that one can follow, but this can become tedious and you may still loose
the trail.
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: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby maverick » Thu May 22, 2014 3:39 pm

CG,

SEKI is reporting that the Watchtower route is closed due to hazardous icy conditions
and the Hump route has 75% snow coverage from hump to Pear Lake and that the
lakes are still mostly covered in ice as of 5/16, and that was before the last snow storm
that dropped an additional several inches of new snow, though a lot of this could all
disappear if the weather stays warm and dry for the next 2 weeks before the OP's trip.
http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm
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: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby yael » Thu May 22, 2014 6:15 pm

Thanks for the all the advice!!

I don't mind that the trail is covered with snow for sections, and I am very confident with our group's navigation skills, but I don't have any special equipment (spikes, axe etc), nor will I know how to use it.
I was really hoping it's not too early because of the dry winter we had, but I guess I'll have to be patient (too bad for my guest :))
I'll do some homework about northern Yosemite, as I have never explored that area, and I'm sure we'll have a great trip nonetheless :). We have 4 full days, on weekdays, so I'm pretty sure I can find a path that will allow us to avoid the crowds.
BTW, wasn't hetch hetchy part of the last big fire?
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby maverick » Thu May 22, 2014 6:59 pm

Yael wrote:
BTW, wasn't hetch hetchy part of the last big fire?


Didn't get as far as Laurel or Lake Vernon thankfully. The Waterwheel Falls trip is
fun, besides Waterwheel Falls, you have LeConte, California, and beautiful
Tuolumne Falls. If your pretty good at cross-country you can climb up to the cliffs
above California Falls towards Wildcat Point and get one of the best view points in
the Sierra Nevada.You can see all the way from the Kuna Crest to Clouds Rest, which
includes the entire Cathedral Range, outstanding views.
Tuolumne Falls has a rainbow starting at around 5 pm, and seeing the falls at night is
very cool and a unique thing to photograph, you will miss the full moon (13th) by a
day, but is would be spectacular to witness the falls at near full moon light.
You can also hike lower into the canyon to peak into Muir Gorge, and soak in the
many pools along the way, though the current will probably still be to strong and the
water to cold.
Lake Vernon is also pretty, and has its own falls all the way back on the eastern end
of the basin, though not nearly as impressive as anything along the Tuolumne, but still
nice. Follow this creek up to Branigan Lake, skirt the lakes southern side, and visit
the southern chain of lakes on the bench above Lake Vernon, very pretty, and total
solitude. You descend down towards the southern end of Lake Vernon to hook up with
the trail which leads back to your campsite along Lake Vernon.
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: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby tim » Thu May 22, 2014 7:59 pm

Granted its nearly 4 weeks since I was there but I would expect a bit of snow between Moose and Pear Lake even in early June. So probably on the early side for that.

Out and back to Rae Lakes is something to consider. If the Florence Lake ferry is running then a trip to Evolution Valley or even up towards Martha Lake (though perhaps not all the way there) would also be a nice 4 day out and back west side hike.
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby cgundersen » Fri May 23, 2014 10:45 am

Hi again yael,
Good suggestions from Tim & Mav, but I feel obliged to chime in that the rangers tend to err on the side of caution, so I can see them discouraging folks from things like the Moose loop. But, I've been carefully watching the Kaweah cam:

http://www.kaweahcommonwealth.com/netcam/netcam.jpg

And, before the last round of storms, Alta was naked nearly to the top. In the dozens of times I've trudged the trails in that area, once the snow is that meager on Alta, it's pretty much a snooze up there. If one does not want to "risk" the Watchtower trail, just do the "hump" route on the way back. Or, follow Tim's suggestions. Still, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, as an intro to the Sierra, that loop has great diversity and once one reaches Panther Gap it's just gorgeous. And, that's assuming that the redwood forest hadn't already knocked your socks off. Dogwoods and all!
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby yael » Sat May 24, 2014 12:47 am

Thanks everyone!!

Looks like the rest of my group tends towards Yosemite, and we will visit the Waterwheel Falls as suggested. On top of that, does any of you know what conditions should I expect at the 10 lakes area?According to a post I read here it doesn't look like I should encounter any problems, but I just want to make sure :)
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Re: Trip planning June 8-12

Postby manbartz » Mon May 26, 2014 1:52 am

Sounds like your group made up your mind, but I still thought I would share some photos of an overnight trip(5/25-5/26) me and my girlfriend completed in SEKI on the Lakes Trail. The Watchtower is still closed, and from what I heard it is pretty sketchy. The Hump is the route we took, and it was pretty easy to find our way. The decent down to Heather Lake still had a good amount of snow on it, but manageable due to the reflective trail markers and an abundance of tracks to follow. We camped at Emerald. Sunday morning I took a short off trail day hike up through the cascades above Emerald to the ridge line that separates Emerald Lake and Pear Lake. Haven't never been to this area before, I was blown away by its beauty. Although the elevation is lower than some other popular locations throughout the Sierra, the prominence of Alta Peak and the surrounding ridges is truly awesome. See my photo's below (Taken on an old Galaxy S3)...

Image
Emerald Lake, Looking up at Alta Peak

Image
Alta Peak from the ridge separating Pear and Emerald

Image
Pear Lake from the ridge separating Peak and Emerald
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