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Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

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Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby dap » Thu May 29, 2014 8:43 am

My son (who is 17) and myself (both Level 3 and Class 2/3 backpackers in good shape capable of 12 - 14 miles per day) are packing to Grouse Lake (up Copper Canyon) from Roads End in Kings Canyon this July for 3 nights with some family members. My son and I are then looking at going on to Mt. Whitney. We have have 4 more nights / 5 days for this trip. In looking at the map, it looks like we might be able to drop down from Grouse Lake and pick up the Woods Creek Trail heading to the JMT, but we are not sure about this terrain. The other choice would be to go back down the Copper Canyon Trail and go up the Bubs Creek Trail. While picking up the JMT, we would have to go over Glen Pass, but it is a much more scenic walk than down Copper Canyon and up Bubs. I am wondering if anyone has done the Grouse to Woods Creek or if you have any other route options. It would be better to be starting somewhere else other than Grouse Lake, but we very much want to visit with family and that is their destination. The good news is that we will be acclimated.

ps. first time poster so if I missed something or posted in wrong place, please accept my apologies.



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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby cgundersen » Thu May 29, 2014 9:23 am

hi dap,
In principle, you could follow Roper's Sierra High Route to Marion Lakes basin (which is drop-dead gorgeous) and from there connect with the JMT by going over Cartridge Pass. But, it would be a pretty serious couple days even to get to Pinchot Pass and then you'd still be looking at Glen & Forester passes before hitting the home stretch. I'm guessing you'd need either more time or to log more miles per day to do this.
But, by going back down to Road's end, you can take the Bubbs Creek trail and avoid Glen Pass altogether. And, going that way, you could veer off to visit Lake Reflection, and then access the upper Kern via one of the off-trail passes out of that area (there are many threads that debate the merits of those several alternatives: from Harrison, Milly, Lucy to Thunder). Or, you could do part of the loop of solitude over Avalanche and Colby Pass......lots of options depending on your off-trail comfort level.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 29, 2014 10:18 am

Frankly, Grouse Lake is a lot of work to get to, with, in my opinion, very little to offer. Not sure why your family wants to go up there and come right back down. Granite Basin or even Volcanic Lakes is a better destination for all that effort. Or better yet, go to Pear Lake if you have to come back down to get on your route to Whitney anyway. Or talk them into going up to East Lake instead? That is on your way to Whitney. Also, could do the east side. Kearsarge Pass to Kearsarge Lakes? Or to Cottonwood Lakes.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu May 29, 2014 10:46 am

I agree that Grouse Lake is allot of work climbing 5500 feet to see. If they want to summit Goat Mountain while there then it would be a worth wild goal since the views from up there are fantastic.

As for dropping into the South Fork from there I'm sure it can be done by some route or another but the nature of the terrain and everything I have seen of those canyon walls leave me where I would never even considering doing something like that.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 11:54 am

Dap wrote:
It would be better to be starting somewhere else other than Grouse Lake, but we
very much want to visit with family and that is their destination
.


Welcome to HST! Obviously Grouse Lake is what your asking about, it is what your
committed to by what you have written, so I will stay within those perimeters unless
you ask otherwise.
Grouse to Paradise Valley is not worth the effort unless you are great with route finding
otherwise you will get cliffed out, and with you being on a 5 day schedule would
recommend you fore-go this section, and hike back down the CCT to Bubbs. One
question here, have you been to Rae Lakes? If no, then would recommend going up Woods
to Paradise Valley route, if you have been to Rae Lakes then go up Bubbs Creek. CG's
recommendation of going up towards East Lake and using Harrison Pass is a good one, if
you are comfy with steep scree (class 2) passes. East Lake and Lake Reflection are well
worth visiting.The Avalanche>Cloud Canyon>Colby route would be very scenic and you
would have less folks around. If you would rather prefer to keep things straight forward
then use Bubbs to the JMT, and go down to Whitney, there are plenty of places to visit
on day hikes, like Center Basin, Upper Kern, Bighorn Plateau, and Wallace Basin, take
your pick.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby dap » Thu May 29, 2014 5:08 pm

Thank you very much for the comments. I will research these suggestions.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby dap » Fri May 30, 2014 8:47 pm

Thank you for the suggestions. We did the Rae Lakes Loop last year and visited East/Reflection Lake 2 years ago. Thinking about the Avalanche/Colby Pass route. In coming down Colby Pass to Junction Meadow, would you go north and pick up the trail that follows Wright Creek to the JMT? Or is there a better route to get to Guitar Lake? It looks like it is about 28 miles from Roads end to the junction of Wright Creek and JMT via the Bubbs/Vidette/Forrester Pass route vs. about 35 miles going Avalanche/Colby Pass. Does that seem close? Thank you for your responses and suggestions.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby sparky » Fri May 30, 2014 10:01 pm

If the family wants to do an out and back to high lakes out of kings canyon, try to suggest sphinx lake basin. There is a good use trail to follow most of the way. Would be much better option for you to continue on to whitney also, and quite scenic. Lots of cross country travel to get to whitney though.

just tossing that out there, I realize this isn't an answer to your questions
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby maverick » Sat May 31, 2014 9:56 am

dap wrote:
Thinking about the Avalanche/Colby Pass route. In coming down Colby Pass to
Junction Meadow, would you go north and pick up the trail that follows Wright
Creek to the JMT? Or is there a better route to get to Guitar Lake? It looks like
it is about 28 miles from Roads end to the junction of Wright Creek and JMT via
the Bubbs/Vidette/Forrester Pass route vs. about 35 miles going Avalanche/Colby
Pass. Does that seem close? Thank you for your responses and suggestions


Yes, no, and 41.6 via Colby vs. 30.5 via Forrester.
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: Grouse Lake to Mt. Whitney - route advice

Postby AlmostThere » Sat May 31, 2014 1:27 pm

Not sure if you are aware so I will mention - you will need two permits for this - one for Copper Creek and a second for whatever trail you will be taking. Bubbs is difficult to get because of the Rae Lakes loop. Even if you are wanting Avalanche, there is a single quota for Bubbs - and if you are trying to go on a holiday weekend chances are good it's already full. You'd need to show up the day before and try for a walk in for the following morning.
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