ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! North/South Lake Loop + Fishing | High Sierra Topix  

ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! North/South Lake Loop + Fishing

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! North/South Lake Loop + Fishing

Postby amarajune » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:07 pm

Hi!

I'm excited to have such a great source of advice. :) Thanks in advance for your time!

I and my partner are experienced backpackers, (level 4) looking to plan our first Sierras trip! We have 7 days/6 nights the 3rd week in September. We are comfortable with Class 3 Terrain/pass/x-country. Though for this trip we are looking to keep it mostly trail and straightforward x-country as it's our first time in this range. Would prefer to keep the large river crossings to a minimum, though smaller streams are fine, (assuming it probably won't be a big issue in Sept). Would also like to avoid the gear for Glacier/snow travel but easy snowfields are fine. No pups for this hike.

Our main goals for the trip are BIG MOUNTAIN SCENERY sprinkled with some lakes/fishing. :) We are also looking to hopefully not see a lot of people, at least for part of the trip. We'd like to do 7-12ish miles a day and we don't require a layover day but we're totally down for one if recommended! A loop would be awesome but we're willing to pay for a shuttle or hitchhike for a superior experience.

As we've only been in the frontcountry we are completely open to parts of the Range, we really just want to have our minds blown with that incredible high alpine mountain scenery and maybe catch some fish. As I said crowd avoidance is high on our list, hence the late season trip. But if there's something we NEED to see we know how to share for a day or two. :)

Thanks again and happy trails!
Last edited by amarajune on Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.



User avatar
amarajune
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:29 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby papercup » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:38 am

Take a look at options for a North Lake to South Lake loop hike. The simplest version of the route (from North Lake, over Lamarck Col, over Muir Pass on the JMT, out via Bishop Pass) is probably a four-day hike (maybe 5 if you want an acclimation night before you go over Lamarck Col), and takes you through some beautiful places-- Darwin Bench, Evolution Basin, Black Divide, Dusy Basin.

From that base, there are all sorts of things you can do to make this a seven-day hike. There are a number of climbable mountains in the area, with something to suit all comfort levels (Black Giant, Goethe, Solomons, Agassiz, more). There are a number of off-trail lakes and basins to visit (McGee, Davis, Ionian, Palisade, more). You will not get bored here with one week.

This area does a pretty good job of matching your preferences, I think. It contains some of the best big mountain scenery in the Sierra (you'll get the Evolution Peaks, the Black Divide, and the Palisade Crest). The cross-country portions (Lamarck Col and whatever off-trail wanderings you might do) are straightforward. There is one snowfield and no glaciers to cross (unless winter storms start early). There are plenty of lakes, and at least some of them have fish in them. While you do start and end at different trailheads, they are very close together and popular, so a shuttle or hitchhike should be fairly easy to work out. You will likely see some people when close to trailheads and while on the JMT, but you should also have plenty of opportunities for peace and quiet. Late September will help keep things a bit quieter as well.

I'm sure you'll get lots of other good options from people who have seen more of the Sierra than I have. But, if I was looking to get a week-long taste of the best of the Sierra, this is probably the region I'd be looking at.
User avatar
papercup
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:52 am

Where are you coming from? Not sure if you're closer to the east side or the west side; there are good options either way.

A couple general observations: river crossings and snowfields will almost certainly not be an issue. This is an extremely dry year, and by September you're likely to have more trouble finding streams than crossing them.

On the other hand, the weather gets a lot less predictable beginning around Labor Day. I've been snowed on a couple times that time of year--one just an afternoon storm in mid-September, and one full-blown storm system around Labor Day that lasted a couple days. So be prepared for weather.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby davidsheridan » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:53 am

I am certainly no expert compared to most of the people who post on this forum. However I have been to the Sierras a few times and can provide some info to help you evaluate options. Mainly, I want to keep your post fresh and see what the more experienced members have to say. I think you posed a great question to the right forum. (As I wqas typing I saw the great suggestion that just came in)
A few pieces of information i fyou are new to the Sierra: the Eastern Sierra has the higher trailheads and puts you into alpine scenery and above tree-line much quicker that entering from the western trailheads. There are lot of 13ers and 14ers pretty close to Eastern Sierra Trailheads
The John Muir Trail (JMT) is the North-South Highway that goes from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. A lot of people complain that there are too many people on the JMT. Late September, that might not be an issue. The southern section of the JMT is usually at higher elevation and has has bigger scenery, further North, the trail is more forested and many people prefer to use the "Sierra High Route" (SHR). The SHR combines sections of trails, but mostly has class 2 XC routes that keep you at or above tree-line and takes you through numerous lake basins and over many passes. The book that describes this is by Roper, you will see many references to his name or the "SHR".
There are Eastern trailheads out of Mammoth lakes, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, and Lone Pine. A few years ago I was able to arrange a shuttle with a guy named Bob (email: info@mountwhitneyshuttle.com) and do a 1-way.
If you don’t hear back from anyone soon, I will post some options. I just need to look at my maps at home so I can “string together” some great places I know and make sure that I don’t suggest something that has ridiculous mileage.
Where are you coming from and Welcome to the Sierras!
User avatar
davidsheridan
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:56 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:14 am

[quote="davidsheridan"]
The John Muir Trail (JMT) is the North-South Highway that goes from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. A lot of people complain that there are too many people on the JMT. Late September, that might not be an issue. [\quote]

A big reason for that is many services thru hikers enjoy - shuttles, resupply stops at resorts - cease to be available around mid September. Stuff starts to shut down in preparation for winter. Mid October there is no overnight parking on Tioga. So an unresupplied thru hike in a period when snow becomes much more likely and more of an impediment would be the result.

If seeking west side hiking without crowds, Sequoia NP would be better than Yosemite - a long loop through Deadman would be remote. You see hardly anyone out there in July. But Elizabeth is on the way to trailless....
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:51 pm

Given this is an exceptionally dry summer and by September many usual all season flowing streams will also have dried up like happened in 1977, I would suggest choosing a route by a permanent stream that is certain to have good flows. Would also suggest staying away from the highest passes above 11k just in case weather does visit and one needs to cross back over. However that eliminates many of the Eastern Sierra passes. I do fall leaf photography every fall and the average time of the first light snow dustings at elevations above 10k is usually right at the time you are going. If you have 7 days, you could base camp somewhere like the upper SF of Bishop Creek that has several lakes and day hike into Dusy Basin or at Mammoth Lakes go over Duck Pass and venture out on the trail as far as Tully Lake.

Many of the eastern Sierra streams have flows even in the driest years because there are permanent snow fields or small glaciers at their headwaters. That is not true for many of the western slope streams. Two on the west slope that will have good flows with a trail beside and are within 2 days of the rugged crest peaks, and have relatively high trailheads are Mono Creek, Bear Creek.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby amarajune » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:07 pm

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions and input.

We will definitely come prepared for winter and leave ourselves good lower elevation "bail-out" routes.
Also noting all the comments regarding the dry season and we'll make sure we plan a route with either large streams or consistent lakes.

We are coming from Bend, OR, (central) so honestly either side is pretty doable, though sounds like the East side will get us into the high-country faster.

Now to the maps/books to explore your suggested routes... :)
User avatar
amarajune
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:29 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby davidsheridan » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:07 pm

As far as maps go, you can really piece together a huge swath of the Sierra Nevada from Sequoia National Park all the way to the southernmost parst of Yoesemite by purchasing these 2 maps from National Geographic:
1) Mammoth Lakes, Mono Divide
http://www.amazon.com/Mammoth-Divide-Na ... geographic
and
2) Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
http://www.amazon.com/Sequoia-Kings-Can ... CETY5MJN47

If you decide to due a bunch of cross country and need a lot finer topographic detail, you could consider other sources, but these maps will allow you to see how the Sierra fits together and identify trails, peaks and passes.

A book that has pre-canned "epic" treks described in detail is by Paul Richins called "Trekking California (Backpacker Magazine)" There are definatley some epic Sierra iteneraries that would fit the 7 day need you have. Each Trek has multiple variations described that can lengthen/shorten/provide mopre or less XC travel. I do caution you, some of this guys' iteneraries include huge days that are too much for me in 1 day, so if you get this book, keep that in mind. This is NOT a beginners book, so make sure to evaluate the feasibility of his iteneraries.
Definately a good source of ideas.
http://www.amazon.com/Trekking-Californ ... california
User avatar
davidsheridan
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:56 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:25 pm

Hi Amarajune,

Welcome to HST!

Tom Harrison Maps are pretty good too.

1. North Lake to South Lake Loop is very pretty, am not adding in the Lamarck Col
variation (though Darwin bench is pretty) because Dusy Basin towards Bishop Pass
is outstanding.(53.8 miles) Would add in McGee Lakes which are outstanding and
adds on another 4-5 miles.
Would also add in beautiful Ladder Lake, a short 1.5 mile crosscountry ascent from
about a 1/2 mile north of Grouse Meadow, following up the outlet creek (not
right next to it, but 50 some yards on its northern side), 59.8 miles total.

2. South Lake to Taboose Pass would be a beautiful trip, with Dusy Basin, Ladder
Lake, Deer Meadow, Upper Basin, Bench Lake, Stripped Mtn Basin, and beautiful
Taboose Pass, making your total 53 miles.

3. South Lake to Onion Valley is 66.1 miles, has the above scenery (#2) minus Stripped
Mtn Basin and Taboose Pass, but adds the Woods Creek area, beautiful Rae Lakes,
and pretty Kearsarge Lakes.

2 and 3 uses mostly the JMT, but by the time of your trip the crowds will be long
gone.

All 3 trips fall below you maximum 84 miles for 7 days (12 miles a day).

Since you mentioned not wanting to do any extensive cross-country travel these
trips use mostly all trail, allows you to get a feel for the place, keep an eye open for
areas that will peak you interest along the way, and then come back to HST to
ask some questions about them for you next 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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby JWreno » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:23 pm

Another option would be Horseshoe Meadows, up over Cottonwood Pass and following PCT to Crabtree Meadows, day hike to the top of Whitney and return to Crabtree Meadows and continue north on PCT and exit at Onion Valley over Kersarge Pass.
User avatar
JWreno
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:55 am
Location: Reno
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby sekihiker » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:16 pm

The first thing that popped into my head when I read your request for advice was this trip:
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
It's point to point, so that may pose a problem.
User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Location: Fresno
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: ADVICE: 1st Sierras Trip! Seeking epic 7 day trip in Sept.

Postby amarajune » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:50 am

Hello helpful folks!

Thanks again for all your wonderful info and recommendations!

So as I am putting together our trip, (we have decided upon the North Lake to South Lake loop), it seems there are many variations but I'm curious if folks recommend going over Lamarck/Darwin or up Piute Pass way, if milage allows either? They are different permits it appears.

Do I need a cross country permit to go into Dusy Basin or Darwin Canyon, and is that instead of the "overnight" permit? Kind of confusing.

Also could someone tell me which National Geo map covers this particular area? Of if you think the Harrison map has better detail for this particular hike?

Side note, what are the best fishing lakes/rivers/creeks on this trip, or what ones don't have fish?? Thanks!

Thank you for all of your help! Getting super excited, also got to move our trip up a week so snow should be less of an issue! :D
User avatar
amarajune
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:29 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], Pika and 2 guests