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New member, new backpacker

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New member, new backpacker

Postby socal_brian » Thu Jan 01, 2015 6:07 am

Good morning all. After lurking on here for many weeks I finally signed up for an account. I wanted to thank you all for the wisdom I've gained already. I'm planning my first backpacking trip for late July/early August, let me know what you think: Day 1-Arrive late on a Thursday night and camp at Horseshoe Meadows. Day 2- Cross Cottonwood Pass and camp at Lower Soldier Lake. Day 3- Dayhike into Miter Basin and maybe summit Pickering (also practice off trail hiking, routefinding). Day 4- Summit Langley via New Army Pass, camp at Cottonwood Lakes (or go to the car if we're feeling great). Day 5- Back to the car, then home. Is this too much for first timers? Thanks for your help!

What level of backpacking experience do you have? Level 1- Minimal hiking- I've never been backpacking but dayhiked quite a bit. My 2 friends and I that are planning to backpack are all in pretty good shape though, if that makes a difference.
What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with? - Class 1 terrain/trail hiking. If possible, I'd love to try some simple off trail stuff to get some practice.
What is your main interest? Scenery, lakes
How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead? 4-5 days
How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers? Not more than 12 miles per day
Do you have a route logistics preference: loop, out and back, point to point (whichmay require 2 vehicles or hitchhiking)? Loop or lollipop preferably
Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKIwestern sierra start or eastern start ect.)? Not particularly. I'm from San Diego, so closer to that is helpful
Will you be hiking with a dog? No.



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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby oldranger » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:55 am

Sleeping at trailhead is great idea given the elevations you will be heading up to. If you are too late there may be a permit issue.

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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby The Other Tom » Thu Jan 01, 2015 2:46 pm

Hi Brian, welcome to High Sierra Topix

Your plan would be too ambitious for me. Emphasis on me. I need a couple of days to acclimate to altitude. Do you know how your body will respond to altitude ? If not, you might want to make a test hike prior to your late summer trip. Also it's a good idea to do a test hike to check your gear, etc to make sure everything is working. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby markskor » Thu Jan 01, 2015 3:25 pm

Also agree about your plan being a tad ambitious...Having done what you intend, your plans are certainly do-able, but another day or two added would make your route much more enjoyable.

New Sierra hikers fail to understand the debilitating effects of high altitude, and the recuperating value of a layover day mid-trip, especially for a novice backpacker. Having that "extra day" somewhere, sans backpack, can make a difficult trip memorable.
No reason you have to hike every waking hour...soak up the ambiance a bit?
BTW, are you doing any fishing?
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby KathyW » Thu Jan 01, 2015 6:50 pm

Yes, your plan is do-able as you do some longer hikes with a bit of weight on your back before the trip.
A few months before your trip start to carry extra weight on your day hikes and do hikes that are similar in miles/elevation gain to what you'll be doing out on the trip. If you carry 25 to 35 pounds on your back on day hikes, you'll get an idea what it will be like out there. There is no way to know how you will handle the higher elevations without going out and experiencing it.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Jimr » Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:01 pm

If you have time, a better approach would be to do an overnighter about 5 or 6 miles in. Perhaps in SD area. This would be to familiarize yourself with packing, carrying and using your gear. If you could fit in a second local weekend trip, perhaps in the San Bernardino or San Jacinto area for more elevation and make it an 8 to 10 mile first day, all the better. This focus would be on 1) training for longer first day trail and 2) feel the elevation and how your body reacts and 3) more experience with your packing, carrying and using your gear.

I believe it's about 9 miles to Lower Soldier Lk. a long first day if you've never carried a fully loaded pack. Miter Basin is a great place to day hike around and if your itinerary is a bit ambitious, it's easily modified on the fly because you are day hiking.

If you can manage an elevation hike weekend before the trip, I would highly recommend the Fish Creek trail out of Barton Flats in San Bernardino Mtns. It's about 7 or 8 miles from trailhead to the head of whitewater gorge right up against Mt. San Gorgonio. During normal snow years, the creek is running and there is water. In dry years, you're bringing all of your water. It's a nice day hike from basecamp to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio 11,500ft.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:54 pm

I would not try your first attempt at off-trail travel the same time as your first time backpacking. I did not find the off-trail travel to Miter Basin as something that is appropriate for a beginning backpacker. Different if you have already done a bit of off-trail orienteering on day hikes. Does not sound like you have. If you want to do this trip, I would do quite a bit of off-trail day hiking and really learn to read a map to prepare for this trip, in addition to getting some experience at altitude. A good little trip to test out altitude is White Mountain. You walk a road but it is all above 12,000 feet. You can camp at one of the lower campgrounds the night before. And I agree with others that your time frame is too short for this trip.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby socal_brian » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:02 pm

Hey everybody, thanks for the advice.

As far as altitude goes, I dayhiked Whitney and San Gorgonio last year and caught the sierras bug then. Camped 2 days, 1 night at the portal before climbing Whitney. Me and my friends all responded really well and only one of my friends felt minor headache on Whitney. I will definitely try to do a shakedown hike and do some training carrying weight. El Cajon Mtn down here should be a good test (12 mi round trip, 4k vertical gain).

As for cutting down the trip, what would you recommend? Skipping Langley, or trying for a different trip entirely? Wandering Daisy, do you think it's likely I'd get lost heading to miter basin? Looking at the topo, it looks pretty straightforward, but I realize the topo doesn't tell the whole story.

Not a fisherman. Yet!
Thanks again!
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Ska-T » Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:08 am

Are you and your friends of average weight (or less) and active by nature? Are you fairly young (less than 35 yr old)? I am guessing yes.

In that case with some study in how to use a topo map and compass you should be able to negotiate Miter Basin OK. If it were me I would save Langley for another trip and I would plan to camp in the Miter Basin for at least one night -- two would be better. Miter Basin has lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and if you choose to climb Mt Pickering or another peak, then that will take more time and effort than most beginners estimate. If you don't do a peak the climb up to Crabtree Pass to peer over it is worthwhile.

Go in over Cottonwood Pass and exit New Army Pass. That makes a nice loop. Currently the Forest Service is restoring the area around Lower Solder Lake due to overuse so the camping has moved but is still nearby.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Jimr » Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:03 am

I'd skip Pickering and do Langley. Drop the packs at the top of the trail up near Army Pass, up Langley and back to the packs, then over NAP and stay at Cottonwood lakes for the night.

A nice day loop in Miter would be to hike up to Irridescent lake, then over the shoulder just south of The Major General to Sky Blue Lake, then down the outlet following the creek back down the basin. It's hard to get lost in Miter Basin if you follow the drainage up and down. It's quite wide open.

100_4182.JPG


100_4203.JPG
Looking down Miter from shoulder s/o the major general
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby socal_brian » Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:14 pm

Yes all three of us are in very good shape. I know it's a completely different kind of workout with weight on your back though. I hike with my daughter in a deuter kid comfort 3 so I know about weight! My biggest concern is distance and not getting lost. I'm thinking of taking the rei map and compass class. Has anybody done that? I have a handheld gps but don't want to be too reliant on that alone.
Would a trip to Agnew meadows/ediza lake area be better for beginners as far as navigation goes? I've read so many good trip reports on here that it feels like I can't go wrong with what area we pick in regards to scenery. Don't mean to be indecisive!
Thanks again!
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby maverick » Fri Jan 02, 2015 4:07 pm

Brian wrote:
Would a trip to Agnew meadows/ediza lake area be better for beginners as far
as navigation goes?


Welcome to HST! Wide open areas are your best places to learn the basic's of navigation,
Humphrey's Basin, Tablelands, or 20 Lakes Basin are good.

Once you learned the basic's, progress into more varied terrain. Navigation is not all
that complicated, the Sierra has plenty of landmarks (named mountain, rivers, and
lakes) that all helps one to orient their location off of.

Minarets is a gorgeous area, but not as an intro to crosscountry, their are some solid
class 2 and class 3 passes, and rock is pretty unstable, especially for someone with
no experience.
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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