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New member, new backpacker

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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:44 pm

I agree you will not get lost in Miter Basin on the macro-level. But navigation is also a matter of micro-route finding - or finding the most efficient path. Until you get used to doing this a lot, it will simply take more time to get from point A to B. An experienced Sierra navigator may be able to get to some place in 2 hours, whereas, a beginner will take 3 hours. It is sort of like getting used to an obstacle course. I went into Miter Basin early season (4th of July) in a high snow year. Not only were lakes still frozen, much of the trail was covered with snow (we had to use a rope to safely get down New Army Pass). So my impression of the area may be a bit more on the side of harder navigation than it would be later in the season. Upper Miter Basin also has a few cliffs that are not shown on the map.

If you are from southern CA, then it certainly is a shorter drive to Horseshoe Meadow TH than to the Minarets. I think that your Miter Basin idea would work as long as you stay flexible and realize that you may go slower than planned. Also, if early season, and if the Sierra get more snow so that it ends as an above average snow year, New Army pass can have a steep cornice that really requires some experience on snow to safely descend.



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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Jimr » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:04 pm

"I agree you will not get lost in Miter Basin on the macro-level. But navigation is also a matter of micro-route finding - or finding the most efficient path. Until you get used to doing this a lot, it will simply take more time to get from point A to B"

And that, is the big point. The ambitious part is purely your anticipated travel with no x-country experience. Figure on taking twice as long as you think and you'll have a good starting point. Any surprises will be good ones.

With no experience in map and compass, an REI class would be a good start. One thing to consider (and this is just my perspective from my own experience) is whatever types of maps you bring, be sure to include a 15 minute map of the area or something of that size to go along with your 7.5 minute maps. When you have vistas, a 15' map will help you to understand and know roughly where you are on this planet. The smaller maps are better for micro navigation, but the big picture, in my opinion, is crucial. A larger map will include many more prominent features to triangulate your position. Always have the big picture. Study your surroundings in a grander way and learn to identify it's major features on the map. With this, you can train yourself to see the big picture and where you are in it.
What?!
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby rlown » Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:36 pm

umm. don't stare at your map so much, even off trail. I still encourage a class for map and compass.

Sierra is mostly aligned N-S, and the Sun and moon movements can tell you E-W movements. Your "micro" movements are or should be based on looking further than 100yds to a mile and picking a path; not looking at the map after you're in a zone. Pick your target; the rest falls in behind that target. That means what looks like the best path to you, and if it doesn't work, step back and pick another route to the target.

If you are constantly looking at your map, you have a different planning problem.

Trees require different work. That's where pre planning comes in because you won't see your landmarks.

I plan looking at maps, looking and flying the path in Google Earth. memorize what i can, and take only the minimalist of maps that i need that i print. I do like 7.5 maps.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby socal_brian » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:07 am

Thanks for the wisdom about navigation and maps. I'll plan for double the time and hope for better. I think I'm going to talk to my friends about possibly adding an extra day on to the trip so we have more time to explore Miter Basin too.

Thanks again!
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby tim » Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:41 am

We found the navigation in Miter Basin easy, so long as you follow the obvious use trail to ascend from Lower Soldier Lake. After that the trees are well spaced and the general direction is obvious: you just keep close to the ridge above the lake until you reach the tree line.
This is our trip report from the heavy snow year of 2011: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6526
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby KathyW » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:46 am

Thanks for the update on conditioning. I'm a slow hiker/backpacker who struggles with altitude sickness, and I think your original plan is reasonable. Sometimes it's more about willpower than anything else when out in the wilderness - the body is able to take us amazing places if we let it.

Day 2- Cross Cottonwood Pass and camp at Lower Soldier Lake. This is a pretty gentle trek and it should not be a problem getting all the way to Soldier Lake in a day if you start early.

Day 3- Dayhike into Miter Basin and maybe summit Pickering (also practice off trail hiking, routefinding). This is also reasonable. There is a trail along Rock Creek into Miter Basin. We did a day hike of Pickering from Soldier Lake a few years ago. We went up via Erin Lake's outlet Creek. Route finding was not too difficult. This is the route we took to Pickering from Soldier Lake: http://kathywing.smugmug.com/California ... -cnTXXwM/A Note that the trail into Miter Basin from the tarn along Rock Creek is on the westerly side of Rock Creek and not on the easterly side as drawn in on my Pickering Map; so once you get to Rock Creek from Soldier Lake cross over to the westerly side.

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. With two days this is also very reasonable.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby Rockyroad » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:03 pm

KathyW wrote:Note that the trail into Miter Basin from the tarn along Rock Creek is on the westerly side of Rock Creek and not on the easterly side as drawn in on my Pickering Map; so once you get to Rock Creek from Soldier Lake cross over to the westerly side.

I knew there must have been an easier path when I was in that area last year on the easterly side of Rock Creek! But once the area opened up, it was easy getting to Sky Blue Lake.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11699#sthash.9GXbqpl7.dpbs


socal_brian,

I wasn't clear on how you were planning on getting to Langley but if you go directly from Sky Blue Lake, you can stay high around the west and south side of the Major General to Upper Soldier Lake and then up the sandy slope to the path towards Langley.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby tim » Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:52 pm

It seems odd to me to descend from Lower Soldier Lake to Rock Creek when there is an obvious use trail that climbs the gully at the end of the lake and saves quite a bit of descent and reascent and at least a mile each way. At the top of the gully it is an easy flat hike through the trees to reach the basin.
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby socal_brian » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:24 am

KathyW, I've looked at your trip report and pictures online and that was one of the things that convinced me that I wanted to try this trip. Can't wait to explore that area!
I'll definitely keep an eye out for the use trail that climbs the gully at the end of the lake, thanks
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Re: New member, new backpacker

Postby oleander » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:59 pm

I went 1.5 years ago. The use trail to the gully was not obvious at all - it petered out halfway around Lower Soldier Lake. The gully is across the lake, just to the left/west of the mountain. The gully rises diagonally to the right, to a few stunted trees that are about halfway up. Shortly after the trees, the gully turns left, to top out at the low point where the flank of the mountain hits the ridge. Towards the top of the gully, there are a couple of moves that someone new to cross-country might find steep-ish; but it is not in any way loose or exposed. And yes, once at the top of the gully - once you've caught your breathe from the suddenly outstanding view into the Miter Basin - your hike is a flat-ish cakewalk.

- Elizabeth
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