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Help with best area of the Western Sierras

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Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby overheadx2 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:50 pm

Over the last 4 years or so, I have focused on the East side, and was thinking of hitting the West side for a change if I can do it before the weather turns. I am thinking of hiking up into devils punch bowl and hell for sure out of courtright and either heading over into the lakes of the fall creek basin and then back east and out, or over hell for sure pass to Davis and Mcgee lakes and then out through Florence. I am not stuck on this, and am open to suggestions. If I don't have time this year, it is a definite trip for next season. Obviously there is the Mineral king loop, but that seems like it gets awfully crowded (reminds me of a Rae Lakes type of trail). I'm looking for about 40 miles with a class 2 pass. I know the west side trails have been discussed before so it don't need details, just opinions as to what area of the west side below Yosemite I should see first. Thanks, Phil



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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby balzaccom » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:57 pm

Courtwright to Red Mountain basin is lovely --as is the whole area from Thomas Edison up to Mono Pass...

And further north there are some great hikes into the southern parts of Yosemite out of Bass Lake...

Best? Too many nice ones. You'll just have to do them all and then cast your vote.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby overheadx2 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:45 pm

Sounds like a plan. Just checking if some one had a phenomenal loop that was less traveled. By the way, I'm not apposed to southern Yosemite.
Last edited by overheadx2 on Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby tim » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:22 pm

I think it would be hard to do better than Evolution/Davis Lakes/Goddard Canyon. Here's our trip report from last year: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9921
Of course the ferry may no longer be running this late in the season.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:19 am

Less traveled - the trails in the Bench Valley area are marginal to obscured. Heading out toward Blackcap Basin would ensure seeing very few people, particularly this time of year. In the summer the potholes along the Kings (north fork) are extremely popular - the further out you go, the fewer people. Red Mountain is one of the more popular areas as it is closer in.

Hell for Sure to Goddard to Davis Lakes to Evolution is pretty popular. Heading from Davis up to McGee Lakes would take you off the beaten path.

Don't forget your chains... this is the time of year when snow becomes a possibility. The Maxson trailhead is remote at the end of a road that's gated when snow settles in.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby canukyea » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:58 am

Is fishing a big part of your trip? If so, I would nominate Woodchuck, easily the best west side fishery, although scenery is not notable until higher up. Not sure about Bass Lake, as that area is involved in another fire just now.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:35 pm

You have a number of choices depending on what it is you like. You can run some pretty nifty trips out of Courtright and Wishon and varying the amount of off trail content to your tastes. Red Mtn Basin thence over the top in Goddard Canyon is certainly one of the routes (more trailed) and there is Bench Valley and Blackcap Basin, too. Heading into really untrailed country you can aim straight for Blue Canyon, Tunemah etc. by heading out of Rancheria or Woodchuck or, if you really like off trail stuff, going out of Hoffman Mtn. I did a 5-day loop that went to Blue Canyon-Tunemah, as well as spending a lot of time in Woodchuck Country, on a trip that went out of Hoffman Mtn in 2008 ("Tunechuck") (something like 48 to 49 miles of some 50 miles of hiking were off trail on that one). That is my favorite west flank trip in recent times, but there are plenty of other west side options that get into more alpine country faster such as going from Wolverton out via Pear Lake to the Tablelands and beyond. I recall doing that one in about 2002--Tablelands-Deadman Cyn-Glacier Divide/Josephine L/Cloud Canyon/Colby L./Colby Pass/Triple Divide Pass/Lion L/Tamarack L. etc. Then there are trips up the High Sierra Trail out of Crescent Meadow. There are also superb trips out of Road's End (Kings Canyon) that can get you quickly to a whole spectrum of high places from the Volcanic and Glacier Lakes and beyond, to the more standard Woods Creek/Charlotte/Rae/Kearsarge areas, to Sphinx Lakes etc., to East Lake etc. You have lots of Florence L options from the the various San Joaquin options: to Goddard Cyn, to Evolution, to Piute Creek etc. There is Bear Creek Diversion Dam (Bear Basin, as well as the Three Island L. area). Edison has lots of options from Mono Creek and environs to heading over into Fish Creek drainage. There are lots of west flanks options out of the Hwy 41 takeoffs in the Clover Mdw area into Ansel Adams Wilderness and some of these can take you far into the headwaters of the N Fork San Joaquin or you can go into S. Yosemite. Then there are west flank Yosemite options, beginning in the south off of Hwy 41 to the Buena Vista/Hoover area, and the further north and lower to northwest Yosemite out of Hetch Hetchy or Cherry Lake, where you can get into some lower elevation offtrail backcountry with big slabs and lots of brush ("the Bermuda Triangle") which gets you to some very exotic places such as Edyth Lake.

There are lots of choices on the west flank, needless to say.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 15, 2014 2:18 pm

Phil wrote:
Obviously there is the Mineral king loop, but that seems like it gets awfully
crowded (reminds me of a Rae Lakes type of trail). I'm looking for about 40
miles with a class 2 pass.


Don't worry, you will not have the regular crowds this late into the summer (or Fall
if after the 23rd) season in the Mineral King area.
For you class 2 (easy), use Spring Lake to Columbine Lake route, and exit Sawtooth
Pass or you could go from Spring out via Glacier Pass route, but not visiting Columbine
Lake, and witnessing the views east from Sawtooth Pass, would be a darn shame. :)
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby overheadx2 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:51 pm

Thanks for all the replies. Fishing is always key and while I have really started to appreciate some xc stuff, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for bushwacking.
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:40 pm

overheadx2 wrote:Thanks for all the replies. Fishing is always key and while I have really started to appreciate some xc stuff, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for bushwacking.


If fishing is the key and you don't want to bushwhack into the Bermuda Triangle, you should probably consider something like this for a west side fantasy trip: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3205&hilit=Tunechuck Please note that the photos are gone because Webshots pulled the plug on all of my albums "for lack of activity" or something like that (without any warnings to that effect). It is probably best to stretch this sort of thing into a longer trip (ie >7 days) but the 5 day version shows you what is feasible for a shorter trip. I suppose if I wanted to do a longer trip I'd expand this one to 8-9 days and visit Martha and Davis before heading back through Blackcap to Woodchuck Country (ie Tunemarthablackchuck ).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby shan1203 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:38 pm

Hi Phil,

Like you, we'd been focused on the Sierra Eastside and just a few weeks ago took our first backpacking trip from the West. We did a modified Rae Lakes Loop by including 60 Lakes and Gardiner Basin. It was fantastic!

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
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Re: Help with best area of the Western Sierras

Postby sekihiker » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:26 pm

For more than 50 hikes starting on the west side go to: www.sierrahiker.com
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