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Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

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Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby oleander » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:35 pm

Headed out next week to do the Circle of Solitude, clockwise: Cedar Grove - Forrester - Colby - Avalanche - Cedar Grove.

My hiking partner and I would normally modify the route by choosing some x-country routes over trail. We would have taken Milestone Pass, and possibly Harrison Pass as well. Harrison Pass sounds like it would be at the upper end of our comfort zone. (We are Level 4 hikers comfortable to easy Class 3.)

But on this trip we'll have a third, who is Level 2 and has only a little bit of (mostly Class 1) x-country exposure. And this person is pretty afraid of heights. So Milestone & Harrison are definitely off the table. As well, we won't have microspikes or ice axes with us.

We will, however, have one, maybe two layover days to park ourselves somewhere on the route, and go exploring.

Where would you go? We are after high alpine scenery (no fishing or anything). My initial thought is a layover day exploring Milestone Creek. Or, one of the other basins immediately west/southwest of Lake South America.

Some other ideas, in order of when we'd encounter them -

* East & Reflection Lakes
* Center Basin
* A second day (besides Milestone) exploring another of the basins above L. South America
* Picket Creek/Lake
* The high lake basins draining into Colby Lake
* The Whaleback
* Josephine Lakes
* Sphinx Lakes

I'm quite sure some of those are unrealistically far to go on a day-hike - our layovers on this particular trip might tend away from big miles or endless bushwacks - and/or would be above the comfort zone of our newbie.

Thanks,
Elizabeth



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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:56 am

Won't you go right by the Whaleback on the way up Colby? Or are you talking about climbing it? Not sure there is anything non technical on the Whaleback....
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby oleander » Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:46 am

Yes, the contour lines look awfully steep on the Whaleback, so I thought that was an unlikely option.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby copeg » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:41 am

You can't go wrong with just about any of those side trips. I might tend towards those areas which are farther away from trailheads but your route takes you right past 1) Upper Kern area (west of L. South America) or Milestone Creek area. 2) Picket Creek - possibly into Kaweah depending upon base camp location/group strength. Careful route-finding can keep you on relatively easy class 2 terrain up to Picket lake from Colby Pass trail - don't follow outlet creek, rather traverse southeast from the Colby trail up the incline toward the 'S' of Sequoia on the USGS 7.5'. Route is rocky and has a descent incline, but easily seen from the Colby trail to help make go/no-go decision.
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby schmalz » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:19 am

http://calitrails.com/2013/02/03/circle ... canyon-np/

This trip report gives you some pics of the Lake Reflection/East Lake area as well as Center Basin.

I think that the route up to Picket Lake looked steep enough that your third member might not be interested. The route into Milestone looked easier.
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby maverick » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:56 pm

East & Reflection Lakes are pretty but it would be an out and back to Bubbs,
unless you were on your way to Harrison Pass.

Center Basin is nice, but you have other areas that offer more on you list.

The Milestone Creek area should be at the top of your list, along with Picket
Lake. The route up to Picket has been discussed here before, it is not exposed
but without knowing the extent of your friend fear of heights, it may not be
doable, make the call when you get there.

Lakes above Colby are okay, but would not exert the energy unless one was
going over Midway Col or climbing Milestone of Midway Mtn., Colby is nice a
relaxing lake.

The Whaleback is class 3 and 4, so it should definitely be off your list.

Would not recommend Josephine Lake, it is not easy to access, and requires
good route finding over difficult terrain in some areas.

Gallats Lake/Meadow is very pretty and Milestone Bowl is easy to access and
pretty as you head up to Colby Pass from the south.

Sphinx Lakes is pretty and easy enough to access by following Sphinx Creek
up from where it crosses the Avalanche Pass Trail.

Milestone Creek, Sphinx Lakes, East & Reflection Lake, and Pickett Lake (if doable)
would be the order, Pickett would be at the top. East & Reflection would have
been great on the way to Harrison.
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby oleander » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:01 am

I am inclined to leave East/Reflection and Sphinx Lakes off our list, if only because both are easily accessible on a future, shorter trip from Roads End (or even Kearsarge).

Agreed that Milestone Creek is probably top of our list.

Aside from Milestone Creek, which particular basins above and to the W/SW of Lake South America are people's favorites?

- Elizabeth
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Re: Circle of Solitude: x-country/layover diversions

Postby jmherrell » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:29 pm

Another remote basin in that area that I like is the one east of Thunder Mountain ("Thunder Basin"?).
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