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Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

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Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:18 pm

I'm helping my aunt and uncle to brainstorm a place they can go in the Sierra (or reasonably beyond the Sierra), where they can "get into the granite" that they so love - yet at the lowest altitude possible.

They are 88 and 84 years old. They've been backpacking all of their lives, and are legions more experienced than I am. But they have physical limitations. They used to bop around places like the Muro Blanco or Ionian Basin without a care in the world, but now, in addition to slowing way down, they are having bad reactions to altitude starting at about 7500-8000 feet.

So the other requirement, owing to limited mobility, is that the approach is short (~3 miles is ideal), as well as reasonably "even" (not too many really big steps up) for shuffling feet.

Of course, they want "solitude" too. That seems impossible, given the above limitations; but I thought I'd throw it out there. They are willing to drive a long way from the Bay Area. And they can go mid-week.

I was all set to plan a trip to Trinity Alps, where the granite is at ~5000 feet. But the Canyon Creek approach that I'm familiar with is way too far (about 8-10 miles to reach the granite).

Desolation Wilderness has granite under 8000 feet, but I think they might reject this idea out of hand owing to the crowdedness of that place. Unless we can think up a very gentle x-country trip.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby maverick » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:05 pm

When Elizabeth?
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:12 pm

Does it have to be backpacking? You can see some pretty impressive granite from Yosemite Valley, and that's around 4,000 feet! Hetch-hetchy has some granite as you head over to Wapama Falls...and that trail is quite flat. But the nearest legal campsites are six miles in.

Lots of stuff around Echo Lake and Donner pass...but those are much higher--over 7,000 feet.

The trail to Clarks Fork off Highway 108 does give you some nice views of the Iceberg (which is a huge chunk of granite) and is around 5,000 feet. And I think you can camp within a couple of miles of the trailhead there along the creek. But you will see dayhikers.
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:35 pm

Trailhead? Away from crowds? Scenic? Any place that low that is a trailhead would be down in a hole without views. Views not too important? What about a river view in a canyon? Heck drive out here then backpack down to Poison Meadow:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.30714,-118.97905&z=15&t=T

But best in June when all the little granite flat plants are green and flowery and not any later. A place only likely to see a few day hiking fishermen.

You need to think out of the box. Forget about backpacking on trails. OK, not places to visit in the summer when it is ugly hot dry and brown but rather May when the below sagebrush enviroment vegetation is green and flowery with bees about and visitors still scarce.

Alabama Hills at 5k elevation is all granite. Interleaved by total mazes of dirt roads that one can always find secluded spots. Most of the smaller roads are not even on the topo. Want to "backpack" into granite a short ways? Go to the crosshairs of this spot.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.59939,-118.12723&z=19&t=H

A little flat up in the granite just a short distance from a dirt road that isn't on the map. Nice view of Lone Pine Peak and even Whitney.

Nearby the Lone Pine Campground on the creek has views of Mount Whitney. Of course mountain above look nicely snowy then too.

After that want more granite in June? Again no backpacking but yeah easy hiking and scenic. Point Lobos State Reserve midweek. Then go sit on the beach at adjacent Carmel River State Beach just north of Monestary Beach that again is granite with wonderful white clean sands, one of a very few such granite beaches on the Pacific Coast.
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:51 pm

Timing is approximately June 20 to August 20. They look after their grandson, so can't do it during the school year.

One that just crossed my mind is Carr Lake Trailhead off Donner Pass. It's at 6600, and there is a nice granite lake about 2 miles in. I haven't camped there, but I've walked past it and taken note.

I forgot to mention, they prefer a 3-day trip. Hike in; lay over; hike out.

So far, all the ideas mentioned in the replies are ones that had not occurred to me. I had never heard of Poison Meadow. Keep it up with the out-of-the-box ideas, everybody.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby cmon4day » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:06 pm

Waterhouse Lake in Emigrant. The TH is at 8100 and its 2 miles down to the lake which is at 7500. Sits in a granite bowl.
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby paul » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:10 am

Your mention of Carr lake is just what came to mind for me - Island Lake is a nice spot in that regard, easy to get to and lots of granite around. But you must go mid-week or it's crowded.
If you take the boat across Echo that gets you a shorter hike but there are a lot of people. If you co off-trail across the dam at Aloha and a short cross-country to Waca lake it's major granite and nobody around, but that might be too far for them.
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:17 am

Island Lake! I was trying to remember the name of that lake. It was very pretty.

Where can one find level and legal campsites around that lake? Best ways to access them? I remember that lake being off and downhill from the trail. I would want the gentlest access for shuffling feet.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:22 am

This thread will be a great reference for early-season trips, in general.

For instance, I've been to Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, but had never heard of that low-altitude trailhead accessing the Iceberg (nor even about the existence of the Iceberg itself).

- Elizabeth
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Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:50 am

We actually have a section of our website for early season hikes. In Carson_Iceberg, the best one is probably Sword Lake...But of course there's the Hetch-hetchy trailhead in Yosemite, and in the springtime, don't forget Hite Cove on the Merced River!
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