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2015 Group Trip ?

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2015 Group Trip ?

Postby SSSdave » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:05 am

Now in November even our few late season enthusiasts have put 2014 backpacking to sleep as each of us turn to whatever winter activities. Sunrise here in the SF Bay Area today was at 6:35 pst with sunset 5:06 PST or just 10 hours 30 minutes of daylight. Even if one has some interesting place to take a trip to in the winter season, the long long nights can gnaw at anyone's patience with today's night 13 hours 30 minutes. In this person's case, my last trip was about Labor Day and during September pretty much completed looking at plans for summer 2015 as is my usual habit. Oh I did try to get out for a fall leaf road trip but that never reached a threshold to pry me away from other activities.

In past years there have been suggestions for general membership group trips and this year that was up in the upper Kern Basin. There are a number of obvious reasons why such trips are difficult to bring together with good attendance. All of us backpack in the High Sierra, but live all across this large state. The Sierra is a long range with many of the best areas a very long drive especially for we urban folks. Most of us are m-f 8-5 or whatever regular working people with limited time off in this era often called PTO We may have complicated involved lives tied up with family, commitments, and schedules.

Those of we experienced backpackers often have rather specific interests when out in the backcountry with peakbagging, fishing, photography, and terrain exploring common. We have different physical capabilities with some carrying average weights, others minimalist weights, and a few really heavy packs, so that very much affects how far and the rate each of us usually hikes. There are also different trail styles with some pretty much hiking all day spending little time away from camps at destinations while others base camp reaching destinations and spending many hours even days there. And some of us already have multi year lists of places we want to visit so trying to fit in a group trip can get in the way of those plans. Thus trying to come up with trips that have general appeal to many members and are then actually well attended is something difficult to size up. So the purpose of this thread is for members to make some community input on their thoughts about what when where how to make that happen.

My first input would be that people are more likely to attend if the length of a trip is not too short or not too long, not just a weekend trip but not a week long trip. Weekend trips are fine if one lives close to the Sierra, but for the many working in the land of jobs, too much road travel for little time in the backcountry. So that means something like 4 to 5 days around a weekend. If a quota trail, probably starting on a Thursday or Friday so open spots are likely. And instead of a single group wilderness permit, better for each person or small group of persons to get individual permits as otherwise linking up at trailheads and to and from travel become complicated. That also allows flexibility and freedom in the backcountry to link up and participate as much or as little as desired. Four or five days also means better to have a destination a single day's hike in from and back out to a trailhead versus two days in and out. Otherwise there would be little time for a group meetup since as noted above, staying together on the hike is not a practical goal for larger diffuse groups. Unfortunately that eliminates many of the best destinations in the range however there are still a few fine destinations just a day in and out.

A destination basin with multiple lakes, at least some with decent interesting fishing would work better. There would need to be some interesting places to hike to and to peak bag. And it would need to be reasonably scenic. A destination like the Cottonwood Lakes fits those requirements but is way too far a drive for those living in the northern part of the state. In fact the Eastern Sierra beyond an hour's drive from Lee Vining is simply too far. Generally areas on the western slopes of the southern Sierra are probably most central to all parts of the state.

One place that fits all the above about mid July would be the Graveyard Lakes basin out of TE Edison Reservoir. Another would be East Lake out of Green Creek. Also Hilton Lakes up Rock Creek. Several of the Ritter Range destinations would work except that permits become a serious issue at the time of summer it would be worthwhile.



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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby gary c. » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:26 am

If you were willing to consider Hilton Lakes as not being too far south I would think that Sabrina Basin would be worth the extra drive.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:35 am

I'm going backpacking in Point Reyes, in Ventana, and in Henry Coe over the next few months. I have a women's trip to Skyline to Sea every May.

If the group trip doesn't collide with the week long trips already planned for next summer I might show up. Graveyard Lakes is always beautiful.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby KathyW » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:32 am

4 or 5 days is a really nice length. I hope something comes together.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby Cross Country » Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:00 am

Cathedral Lakes or Ten Lakes Basin from Tioga road are not to hard and afford you the option of a little more. From Mineral King the lake (I think Cathedral) over Sawtooth Pass is a nice place and those who want to can continue to Big and Little Five Lakes loop. Coming back anyone with moderate cross country skill should exit over Glacier Pass and NOT Timber Gap (saves you a day of hiking). Pear lake in Sequoia is an easy hike and those who wish to do more, the tabelands are really fun and easy cross country to other lakes canyons and peaks. Rea Lake (I believe it's the name) out of Courtwright is a really nice place with lots and lots of options for those with more time. Sally Keys Lake from Florence is an really nice place with many additional options. The recesses from Rock Creek are beautiful places. Grouse Lake out of Kings Canyon is en EXCELLENT choice but for one factor. It's 2 days or 1 REALLY hard day in. Granite Basin is in the same category. Kid Lakes are an option from Grouse and including Glacier Lakes makes it a semi loop. One can hire horses to take you within 40 minutes of Grouse or Granite Basin. These are probably the best options within my experience.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby Jimr » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:40 pm

AlmostThere wrote:I'm going backpacking in Point Reyes, in Ventana, and in Henry Coe over the next few months. I have a women's trip to Skyline to Sea every May.

If the group trip doesn't collide with the week long trips already planned for next summer I might show up. Graveyard Lakes is always beautiful.


Many years ago, I hiked from Cone Peak along the ridge route through the Ventana wilderness and exited 13 miles or so North in Julia Pfeiffer-Burns state park. Nothing I would recommend unless you like fire breaks. Up, just to go down, up just to go down, etc. etc ad nausium. My intent was to hike with the sea in my view to the west and the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley in my view to the east. What I got was marine layer to the west and haze to the east. Sunrise was cool though. My biggest desire the whole second day was to get my bare feet into the ocean at Jade Cove and let them go numb.

ventanajpg.jpg
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:06 pm

I was thinking more of a Pine Ridge traverse and having friends pick me up at China Camp. Having done the Double Cone before it was an unrelenting bushwhack and having tried and failed to do it again, I'm very aware that it's not for everyone and one must reconcile to an early turn around if the wall-of-brush will not allow passage... also, there is a strain of poison oak over there I rash with (not so with Sierra Nevada PO).

But, hot springs, redwoods, and perhaps a side trip to visit Jack English if he's home - he does like talking to the ladies, and he makes beautiful bows.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:24 pm

My feeling is that 4-5 days is a bit short. For one, it really takes two days to get back into the prime backcountry, and not enough time is left to do much particularly since no matter where you chose, someone will have a day's drive. In my opinion, Graveyard Lake is a long drive (I really hate that road!). I would hesitate to do that drive for that area. Ten Lakes is too far north (another long drive for those from southern CA). By the way I thought the Upper Kern was a perfect place - I simply could not go because 2014 was scheduled as my summer in Wyoming. Had I been here I would have gone!

Bishop to is actually pretty centrally located. Although on the east side, the nearby trailheads are really easy and a short drive to reach. For example, Dusy Basin? There are nice places slightly off the trail. Also lots of opportunities to day hike to Barrett Basin. Or Humphry's Basin from North Lake. Even from the Bay Area or Sacramento, it is about equal effort to get to Bishop vs. Cedar Grove or Lodgepole.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:32 pm

I don't know what the ideal place is, but I can say with some certainty that if it's a place that takes two days to get there I'm out. I have limited time for backpacking, and if the point is to spend time with the HST crew then I'm not going to do a trip that blows 4 days just getting there and back.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby SSSdave » Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:01 pm

I think we can all agree that the majority of the best Sierra wilderness destinations are more than 2 days out then back from trailheads. And that the Upper Kern is a top choice given so. If one is going to spend 4 days on the approach and return plus some time together with other members of the board, one is already up to at least 6 days minimum. Thus for the sake of efficiency one ought just make it a 7-9 day trip that spans two weekends for the sake of all the m-f 8-5 working folks.

But for working people each day of PTO is valuable with 5 days towards what amounts to a pleasant social meet up of unfamiliar people a lot to ask. Heck some still only have a couple weeks or 10 days vacation off yearly outside of sick days pay. The intent of this kind of trip is not so much about satisfying each of our usual full bore backcountry pursuits but rather more about the chance to meet members face to face, participating together in a few fun backcountry activities for which the board is about in order to get to know each other in a real way versus the limited communication via a computer. Another issue with longer trips is one is always taking more a chance with social pleasantness bringing together larger numbers of strangers for longer periods.

The last time I did this kind of thing was when numbers of the Backpacker Magazine forum community got together car camping during a big wildflower spring bloom at Carrizo Plain National Monument. And that was very welll attended and worked out well for the weekend everyone was there.

As to mileages will put this into some perspective with real numbers.
As for TE Edison Reservoir driving distance, from a central location in the SF Bay Area, say Oakland to Huntington Lake, per Mapquest.com is 227 miles and 4.5 hours. From there, Edison is another 24 miles over Kaiser Pass however the twisting often one lane road is 60-90 minutes more of driving or 250 miles total.

From Oakland to Lee Vining is 244 miles or 4.8 hours. Bishop is another 65 miles or 70 minutes with the trailhead areas another 20 miles up spur roads. Independence for Onion Valley is another 105 miles or 110 minutes or 330+ miles. And Lone Pine to access the Upper Kern areas is another 121 miles or about 365 miles total or 130 minutes with total of almost 7 hours not including breaks. So yeah areas south of Crowley on US395 are a long ways for a trips of just a few days. Conversely all these eastside areas are once past San B, straight shots north on high speed roads from LA and SD areas. So really it is the southern Sierra western slope trailheads that share reasonable distances from both south or north where many members live.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby sparky » Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:39 pm

You could pick a basin that could be accessed from the east or west. I can think of a few spots that could fit the bill.

I am also looking forward to backpacking in winter and spring. San Moteo, joshua tree, DV, Mojave, tons of cool places between lake havisu and lake meade...My only real backpacking trip this year was a Yosemite North Rim trip in April so I am dying to get out soonish....any of the above choices will do.
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Re: 2015 Group Trip ?

Postby maverick » Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:49 pm

If you want a quick access place (easily reached in one day), with relative solitude,
then Lake 11026 in Pioneer Basin fits the bill. It has all the requirements from fishing,
climbing, and photography.
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