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High Sierra Trail and off trail

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High Sierra Trail and off trail

Postby Beantown » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:00 am

Hello,

I'm leaving for the HST 6/21-6/28 so that gives me 8 days/7nights backpacking and I'm going solo. I've planned for 8 days so I can do more exploring off trail, I can easily backpack 15+ miles a day so with the trail down to Whitney portal only being about 70 miles I have some extra time. last year I did the jmt solo 20 days as well and most of my backpacking Is solo which is the way I prefer it. I haven't done much off trail or cross country and on this trip I would like to:

1) explore 9 lakes basin off trail, seems easy enough to follow the lake stream outlet up to the first lake and explore beyond to other lakes.
2) head up to the kern river head waters, explore the area there, loop around up to lake South America and then hop on the jmt south instead of heading west at the trail junction out from the kern river valley.
3) if time permits I also want to head up to lake Wallace off trail. looking at the map seems straight forward enough just follow the lake stream outlet up and down. is this about right?

is there anything else I should consider seeing off trail? am I correct in saying this off trail stuff shouldn't be too difficult? I'll be bring map+compass and gps as backup. I would like to practice map and compass off trail in these locations.

thanks



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Re: High Sierra Trail and off trail

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:39 am

First post ended up in the big black hole of computerland! Here is a shortened version. The upper Kern and Nine Lakes Basin are pretty easy off trail. However, off-trail travel is primarily an exercise in micro-routefinding. GPS or map will not help you with this - only experience will make you proficieint. GPS and map will keep you from getting lost, which is good. The terrain is not as smooth as the map implies! You have tons of little obstacles to get around. Much travel in Nine Lakes Basin and Upper Kern IS easy, but there are some tricky areas with brush and small cliffs that do not show up on the map. Just be sure to allot yourself enough time. Some lakes in Nine Lakes Basin are surrounded by difficult large talus blocks. There are quite a few old no longer maintained trails that are not shown on the map. If you can find these, travel is easier. Plan for about 1 mph off-trail, assuming you do not need extra time to orient yourself or do too much backtracking around obstacles. Even for experienced off-trail travelers, 7-8 miles off-trail days are about all we plan for. Being fast on a trail has little to do with your ability to move efficiently off-trail. It is a skill that needs to be learned. I think you will really like it! Once you have dabbled into off-trail travel, trails may bore you to tears! Good Luck.
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Re: High Sierra Trail and off trail

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:21 pm

Beantown wrote:
Is there anything else I should consider seeing off trail? Am I correct in saying
this off trail stuff shouldn't be too difficult? I'll be bring map+compass and gps
as backup. I would like to practice map and compass off trail in these locations.


Difficult?
Since you have little or minimal crosscountry experience, be prepared for the
terrain to hold many surprises, and even though maps, GPS, Google Earth are
all very helpful, but as WD mentioned, you do not see the micro details on them,
which can throw you off your planned route very quickly.

The Sierra Range is pretty straight forward when it comes to navigation, most of
the time because of all the prominent landmarks such as peaks and rivers, which
makes finding your location on the a topo map pretty easy, unlike in a desert
environment where there may be no prominent landmarks to navigate by.

In Nine Lakes Basin you could use one of the lower lakes, the first lake near the trail
or Lake 10725 as a basecamp, from where you could visit the higher lakes, especially
beautiful Lake 11682 under Queen-Pyra Col, which is one of the gates into beautiful
and magical Kaweah Basin.

Chagoopa Plateau's Red Spur Creek has some lakes that are rarely visited and well
worth visiting.

The Upper Kern's Milestone Creek is very pretty, as are the lakes south of
Mt. Genevra. You can go to the edge of Milly's Foot, Lucy's Foot, or Little Joe
Pass and get a peek down to the Lake Reflection area below, and over to Mt. Brewer,
North Guard, and beyond.

Wallace Creek Basin will be the one of the highlights of your trip, following Wallace
Creek up into the Basin is straight forward, and Wallace, Wales, and Tulainyo are all
sublime.

Take you time, unlike on trail, the uneven terrain and climbing will tire your muscles
much quicker, and as WD mentioned, you will have to cut back your expected
mileage drastically compared to your usual trail mileage.

Going off-trail also requires you to raise your level of awareness, and to consider
your actions much more thoroughly. The repercussions of an ankle sprain, knee
sprain, or any other injury, has much more dire consequences off-trail, as opposed
to it happening on a popular trail.

Also please seriously consider using our HST Reconn Form as a primary or secondary
safety net.
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: High Sierra Trail and off trail

Postby Beantown » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:09 pm

thanks for all the information, i will take it all into consideration. so looking forward to the trip!
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