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Off-Trail Overnight Trips

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Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:31 pm

So my summer plans have been drastically curtailed by my work situation. My firm got bought out by another firm, and rather than make employment continuous they had it end at the old firm and begin over at the new one...which meant cashing out my nearly 6 weeks of accrued vacation. I'll have more coming to me by summer, but it's all earmarked for a 3-week trip to France with my sweetheart, which we planned long before the buyout was ever contemplated.

So any backpacking I do is going to be limited to a) overnight trips or b) July 4 or Labor Day. :(

Now, most overnight destinations aren't particularly desirable to me, given my misanthropic tendencies. But today I got to thinking about some trips I've done to off-trail destinations that were lovely, unpopulated, and accessible in a reasonable day's hike. (And I'm talking reasonable by the standards of normal schlubs like me--not what, say, maverick or Rogue Photonic would do in a day.) Places like:

--Wegner Lake (Yosemite NP, Yosemite Creek trailhead): classic mid-elevation granite lake
--Recess Peak Lakes (John Muir Wilderness, Bear Ridge TH): excellent views, great alpenglow
--One-Halfth Recess Lakes (JMW, Bear Ridge TH): spectacular views of Mono Creek canyon & the Silver Divide
--Mt. Shinn Lake (John Muir Wilderness, Florence Lake TH): this is a long tough climb for a single day, but pays off in beauty & isolation
--Evergreen Lake or Devil's Corral (Mokelumne Wilderness, Blue Lakes TH): by far the easiest on this list (~2 miles in), these aren't exactly undiscovered, but they do offer a lot more solitude than nearby Granite Lake

So...what are your suggestions for isolated, beautiful single-day destinations? (They don't have to be lakes, although lakes are my ideal.) Help me salvage what little I can from my mostly-ruined backpacking season! ;)

Thanks in advance,
Tom



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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:16 pm

For solitude, I'd suggest Ruby Lake from Little Lakes Valley trailhead. Not far, and beautiful. I haven't camped there but considered it once on a short two-night backpack. I don't think many camp there as most are headed for the pass. Maybe someone's who's been there can comment on the camping spots or lack thereof there. Mmm, I like Graveyard Lakes as a one-day in destination. I can't offer much for off-trail off the top of my head. I'm sorry your backpacking got so foreshortened this year. :(
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:29 pm

Happens every time when we working peons change jobs. Having worked for 8 hi tech companies over the years, have gone through that cycle each time. A strong reason not to change jobs as it takes a lot of working time to accrue a few weeks of PTO aka vacation/sick pay time off.

Decades ago most USA companies separated paid vacation and sick time with 2 weeks being common and often that was limited to the end of August as whole companies shut down. And then a few companies began offering 3 weeks usually 4 or 5 years into a job. Of course now in this era workers time off benefits are much better though the many stuck in contract jobs are often skewered.

When the economy collapsed August 2008, I started the job I now hold with PTO back to zero so once again suffered through three years without much backpacking. But yet those were 3 very productive years for this photographer in the spring on road trips. So don't put all your marbles into backpacking as there is a lot that can be done by day hiking to places you might normally do 2 or 3 day backpacks to especially if one is comfortable fudging the getaways from pre-dawn wee hours. With no permit issues, just go. There are a lot more worthwhile short off trail destinations from non trailheads than conventional wisdom would expect. One ought considered what is possible looking at topos thinking out of the box. For instance in your area since you mentioned Recess:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.37221,-118.94137&z=15&t=T
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby sparky » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:50 pm

There is bound to be a flat spot somewhere around ruby....there's gotta...there's just gotta!! :paranoid: Not exactly off trail though...

When it comes to weekends, sometimes I will start hiking friday night.

The Matlock Lake area out of onion valley. Short easy hike, fishless, and I have never seen anyone at those lakes. Decent scrambling potential. Can loop to either Robinson Lake, Kearsarge Lakes, or summit/scramble around University.

Not obscure by any means, but overlooked I would say.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby The Other Tom » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:09 pm

Regarding Ruby lake, there's a real nice spot off the left of the trail just before you reach the lake. You can't miss it, it's well used. Every time I've been there it was occupied, so not sure how isolated it would be. I haven't really seen any other good spots, but haven't really looked, either.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:13 pm

Who said I do crazy stuff in a day? :p

I have always found my day to day miles to be on the average side. I really have no idea how people can do 30 miles on cross country terrain.

Maybe Echo Lake from the Cathedral Lakes TH
Nelson Lake from Elizabeth Lake TH

Those all that come to mind off hand. I don't know all that much about day hiking since I do almost none.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby overheadx2 » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:32 pm

I camped at Ruby lake last year on the way out from 4th recess. There were several others camped there but still pretty nice although over used. the only camp sites were by the outlet as every where else was rocky. What campsites there were were relatively close together. What about Treasure lakes out of Rock Creek, slightly off trail and still in that beautiful valley. I got a late start over Bishop pass last year and decided to camp at chocolate lakes the first night. Great little lakes with lots of small fish and no one there. another lake in that basin that looks like a nice easy day hike is ledge lake behind saddler rock lake. It looks like a great area and off trail enough to get some solitude.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby sparky » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:53 pm

There is an overnight loop I planned to do last year and never got to it by linking treasure lakes to margret lake via hopping the ridge south of hurd. I imagined camping up on the ridge somewhere if possible
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:06 pm

Where would you be driving from, Tom?
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:49 pm

First of all, a caveat. My experience with some of these locations goes back to when my son was young so it’s the late 1980s-early 1990s. So they may no longer offer the solitude we found. Some are on trail and some off, but we saw no one when camped there even if there were people on the trail while we were hiking. Also, except for Townsley, they are all east side trailheads so the driving time may curtail doing them as an overnight. Here they are, north to south:

Summit Lake out of Virginia Lakes
20 Lakes Basin out of Saddlebag Lake (just go to one of the lakes off the trail)
Townsley Lake above Fletcher Lake out of Rafferty Creek Trail
Muriel Lake and any location north of the trail in Humphrey’s Basin. Along with Tomahawk, Mesa, and Lower Desolation and Desolation, there are lovely scattered tarns and creeks with wonderful views of Humphreys and the Glacier Divide)
Any of the lakes in Sabrina Basin.
Wonder Lakes above Lower Lamarck Lake.
Treasure Lakes (already mentioned).
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:58 pm

It sounds a little odd, but a trip I did last year starting at the Brewer Lake OHV route was one of the least populated routes I've ever been on. The trail from Brewer to Tocher and on to Beryl is eroded and unmaintained, and gets less used the farther you go. While I am sure hunters and people coming to Brewer via OHV day hiking still make it out there, going while the OHV route is still closed or in late fall after school starts almost guarantees you won't see a soul. Beryl is a beautiful little lake. The round trip was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 miles round trip. Unless you go over the ridge to Coyote Lake, you don't even need a permit. Driving the dirt FS roads from Tamarack (off 168 after Shaver Lake) gets you to the trailhead.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:01 pm

Thanks, all!
oleander wrote:Where would you be driving from, Tom?

Excellent question...I'm coming from San Francisco, so eastside trailheads in general are a very long way to drive for a 2-day trip.

That said, I don't want to limit this to what I might do; I was thinking others might be interested in the same kind of trip, and eastside trips could work very well for some people.

RoguePhotonic, Nelson Lake is one that seems like a real possibility. (And apologies if I slandered you. ;) )

LMBSGV, 20 Lakes Basin is another promising possibility.

Ruby Lake looks beautiful, what I've seen of it from the Mono Pass trail, but it is on-trail in a heavily impacted area, so probably not as isolated as I'm looking for.

And I completely forgot about one other great overnight destination I once did: Little Slide Canyon. (I was shooting for Maltby Lake, but wound up camping elsewhere in the upper canyon...but the whole area is spectacular.)
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