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Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

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Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby MN2CAPisco » Thu May 29, 2014 4:21 pm

Hello all you Sierra-lovers out there...I'm a first time poster here but am looking forward to frequent trips out to the mountains here now that I've relocated to beautiful Kern County so am hoping to build a nice relationship with this forum.

I'm planning a multi-day trip for myself and a friend through the High Sierra in early July and was hoping for some advice for those of you who may be knowledgeable about these areas. We did the JMT last year in 12 days, so could likely comfortably average ~15 mile days with fair elevation gain, though this trip will entail some off-trail travel we are less familiar with. Call us Level 2.5-3 hikers, many backpacking trips but x-country travel limited to summit attempts. Class 2 and under the preference, and scenery/lakes and solitude the priority.

My tentative plan for now is a start near the Wishon Reservoir to enter into the Tehipite Valley as it is a remote location that only a multi-day trip can accomplish and sounds worthy of a trip, with exit at Road's End in Kings Canyon. Our route between would follow the Middle Fork Kings trail up to the JMT north, then cut up the Bishop Pass trail to turn off into Dusy Basin via the SHR with a side trip to Split Mtn and continue on SHR south until Road's End.

I have a few preliminary concerns I'd like advice on, and anything else I might need to know would be much appreciated as well!

-> Crossing the Middle Fork Kings in Tehipite Valley: Secor describes this as a waist high traverse, is this likely to be fairly treacherous?

-> Climbing Frozen Lake Pass on the SHR: from all indications this is an ice-axe required pass…are there alternatives to this? We both have axes though don’t have much practice or training in self arrest, especially not with large packs on. Or will we find it passable without?

-> Sierra High Route north-to-south: Mainly due to my procrastination and backcountry permits being unavailable from Road’s End I chose north-to-south, I know Roper mentions that way is doable though maybe not recommended, any opinions on whether this should be a concern?

Thanks!
Roger



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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 4:48 pm

Roger wrote:

-> Crossing the Middle Fork Kings in Tehipite Valley: Secor describes this as a waist high traverse, is this likely to be fairly treacherous?

-> Climbing Frozen Lake Pass on the SHR: from all indications this is an ice-axe required pass…are there alternatives to this? We both have axes though don’t have much practice or training in self arrest, especially not with large packs on. Or will we find it passable without?



Hi Roger,

Welcome to HST! Early July this may be okay, but no cake walk. Have done FLP but
no snow, and from west to east, which was pretty steep.
Use the search feature at the top of the forum, you will find a lot of information.
Here is an excellent write-up on FLP: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=7731
Middle Fork Kings:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6010&start=0&hilit=middle+fork+kings
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8896&p=65488&hilit=middle+fork+kings+river+crossing#p65485
Entire SHR, several posts long: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5455&p=34205&hilit=+sierra+high+route#p34205
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 Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby jenreyn » Thu May 29, 2014 5:44 pm

I agree with Maverick that the crossing this year of the Middle Fork of the Kings in July will be okay due to lack of snow. I crossed it with high water before in a big snow year which was very treacherous. I am also planning a trip that entails us crossing at Simpson Meadow in mid July but feel it will be okay this year. As to Frozen Lake Pass, it will be steep with or without snow and from afar it looks a bit intimidating from Upper Basin, however its not as bad as it looks and you will be just fine. Lakes Basin is absolutely gorgeous and you will be psyched to spend some time there. In Roper's guide he does mention that going in reverse is not as recommended. I find it is fine to do so. Just do the research and apply good route finding skills. Overall it sounds like a great adventure. I really enjoyed Tehipite Valley, it is a beautiful seldom visited area with huge trees, good sized trout and a feeling of remoteness. The trail is very hard to follow due to no recent trail maintence. You want to try and stay on the trail as it is the easiest path of resistence due to heavy brush, poisen oak, snakes, boulders etc. At Simpson Meadow they did trail maintence last summer so the trail will be much better than a couple years ago( we lost the trail completely once in Simpson Meadow). Also be aware for terrible gnats along with rattlesnakes and very hot temps that time of year. We were there in the latter part of September and the temps under the shade of the canopy were in the 90s. Hope this helps.
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby hurricaniac » Thu May 29, 2014 6:23 pm

I crossed the MF Kings just below the confluence with Goddard Ck. in late June of 1977. It was the lowest snowpack in 100 yrs and this year is about the same. It was only knee/thigh deep where we crossed it. I doubt you'll have trouble if you pick a wide spot in the river.

You will have to go about 1.5 mi. upstream of where the old Tehipite Valley bridge crossed to get to this spot to cross to the south side of the MF Kings.
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby hurricaniac » Thu May 29, 2014 6:25 pm

Forgot to add that we saw one rattlesnake on the MF trail about every 1/4 mile. Kayakers report the same...Later in the summer folks report fewer of them.
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby jenreyn » Thu May 29, 2014 6:44 pm

Hurricaniac is right about heading up a 1/4 mi. We found a really good spot to cross the Middle fork where Goddard creek comes in.....the river flats out a bit.
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby maverick » Thu May 29, 2014 7:10 pm

Hurricaniac wrote:
Forgot to add that we saw one rattlesnake on the MF trail about every 1/4 mile.
Kayakers report the same...Later in the summer folks report fewer of them.


The two times visiting TV, saw quite a few in July, and none in Aug.
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby Jimr » Fri May 30, 2014 9:37 am

I crossed the Middle Fork Kings at Goddard Creek in '89 and it was an uneventful crossing. The trail from Wishon to TV becomes a bit tougher after you leave Crown Meadow. Lots of downed trees and a bit difficult to reconnect to trail at the tail end of a couple of meadows, requiring a drop pack and recon to reconnect. The trail down to TV is steep and slippery due to leaf litter. It's pretty cool at the start, then becomes pine fodder, which is only a bit slippery. Once you get into the Black Oak deciduous trees, it becomes buried and quite slippery. Be sure to stay on trail at all costs. There is a downed tree across the trail about 2/3 of the way down. Be sure to find the trail at that point. I was told the trail switched back before the downed tree. Don't waste your time past the tree, it just leads into scrub and what seems to be trail is just a water runoff.

I have a GPX file of my path with trail reconnect points if you have a GPS and are interested.
What?!
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby MN2CAPisco » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:49 pm

Wow everyone, many thanks for the prompt and honest responses. Considering the mention of blistering heat coupled with venomous snakes I recoiled from the Middle Fork Trail idea. Another reason would be the loss of our much-sought-after shuttle driver, my girlfriend, who just transitioned from self-employed to a 9-5...good for her, bad for our initial plans.

At this point I've completely overhauled my initial plans aside from the SHR from Road's End to Dusy Basin. I've also pleasantly found that permits look to be available for Copper Creek leaving on the 3rd, so I've submitted for one with high hopes. Meanwhile I've scoured around for a way to turn this into a loop and think I may have found something viable considering our Level 3 capability and hopes to stay Class 2 and under with big scenery and big solitude. I've built this as a 6 day trip with a day or two available to float beyond that should we need to call an audible.

So here's the outlook, please let me know any thoughts on whether this sounds feasible. This itinerary keeps daily mileage between 10-16.5 according to the found kml files I've been able to stitch together in Google Earth, with 16.5 being the longest day through Lake Basin and over Frozen Lake Pass. It also gets us to the summit of a 14er in Split Mountain, and visits some spectacular areas without having to retrace more than a little bit of trail in Lake Basin and parts of the JMT that we saw on our thruhike last year.

Day 1: Copper Creek trail to Glacier Lakes
Day 2: Through Lake Basin, Frozen Lake Pass, camp at Lake 11597' (base of Split Mtn)
Day 3: Ascend Split Mountain, over Mather/Cirque/Potluck Passes, camp Barrett Lakes
Day 4: Palisade and Dusy Basins, descend to JMT south, up Palisade Creek to Cartridge Creek, ascend to Amphitheater Lake
Day 5: Over Cataract Creek Pass/Dumbbell Pass, Cartridge Pass to JMT south, ascend to Bench Lake
Day 6: Ascend Arrow Pass, down Arrow Creek to Paradise Valley, exit Road's End
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:49 am

Your route is way over the top, even if you had crosscountry experience, which
you indicated not having in your initial post.
The areas your route passes thru
is not easy, and there is no way you are going to even get close to your intended
daily mileage, and if you try to push yourself to do so, you will risk injury or
worse!
I have done the JMT in 8 days with a layover day, and those kind
of trail mileage do not mean one can also hike high mileage on crosscountry
routes, different animal all together. Copper Creek itself is a long slog, hot, dry,
and buggy (black flies) and even if you get a decent early start you may make
Granite Lakes. Frozen Lake Pass is steep and dangerous for anyone with little and
especially no crosscountry experience and just to get to Frozen Lake Pass you'll
have to go over 3 passes and have good navigation skills. Split is a good climb, but
climbing Mather Pass, and then 2 more crosscountry passes in a day, ain't happening.
Cataract Pass>Dumbbell Pass (another difficult solid class 2 pass) and down Cartridge
Pass to Bench in a day ain't happening. Arrow Creek to PV is not easy, and one
needs good navigational skills to find the correct route. Understand the yearning to
see alot, but you have to keep it real. Your are passing thru some of the best
crosscountry routes in the Sierra, there is no need to try to run thru it, in an way
over ambitious, dangerous, see all, one trip.
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 Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby MN2CAPisco » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:31 am

maverick wrote:Your route is way over the top, even if you had crosscountry experience, which
you indicated not having in your initial post.
. Your are passing thru some of the best
crosscountry routes in the Sierra, there is no need to try to run thru it, in an way
over ambitious, dangerous, see all, one trip.


Haha well there it is. I guess over-ambitiousness is not foreign to me, so I shouldn't be surprised to get a response like this and have to reel back a bit. I certainly appreciate your honesty.

In retrospect it's the northern portion of the trek that we'll have to scrap. It makes sense instead to bag Split Mountain and then head back down the JMT south to Bench Lake ->Arrow Pass in whatever duration we can. If we're feeling good perhaps we even grab the Summit of Arrow Peak. Dusy Basin and Amphitheater Lake will still be there for our next adventure.

I've been reading up a fair amount on the Arrow Pass to PV traverse which I thought might be my main roadblock for this trip, so any advice on that part would be appreciated. I'm considering taking a weekend up that direction prior to the trip to scope out the route beforehand, though I'd be ascending from PV rather than dropping down from Arrow Pass.

Roger
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Re: Trip Advice: Tehipite Valley to SHR south

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:56 am

Hi Roger,

Here is an older, trusted TR with description and map, which is easier than me
trying to describe it, but please consider that this is not easy and the cliff area
can turn into class 3 very quick if you do not take your time finding the correct
descent route. http://chayden.net/Sierra90/Sierra90.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

PS Would recommend that you see how the Copper Creek section goes, and
then continue on towards Lakes Baisn via the SHR, if you are proficient with
navigation. Please turn back any time you feel uncomfortable with the terrain.
Take your time finding the correct route down to Marion Lake. Forget about
Frozen Lake Pass, there is a reason some consider it one of the most difficult
class 2 passes in the Sierra. Use Cartridge Pass instead, long, dusty trail, make
sure to get water at the lake on the way down. Bench Lake is beautiful, forget
about Arrow Pass and Arrow Lakes Basin, use trail over Pinchot and down to
Paradise Valley. Also use the form "HST Reconn Form"in my sig below for your
safety.
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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