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Off-Trail Overnight Trips

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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:06 am

Thanks, that's helpful.

3 days would definitely be better, but I won't have 3 days... :( Part of what I'm going to have to do this summer is figure out how much I can comfortably pack into a 2-day trip.



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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:45 pm

I thought the post was about off-trail overnight trips. The trips discussed have been on trails. So I guess you are up for either.

When I was a "weekend warrior" I was mainly climbing. Bagging a peak is a great way to do weekend trips. I would always leave ASAP after work and just drive as far as I could. Monitor Pass has good places to pull over and sleep (at 7000 feet too, so you get acclimated). That way I could still consider east side areas, as long as I did not have to go too far south. Twin Lakes trailhead (Hoover Wilderness) was always a good bet. Easy to get permits too. Go up to some of the small tarns near Matterhorn Peak. Blacksmith Canyon. Little Slide Canyon to Maltby Lake. Great trail loops too - Barney, Peeler, Rock Island Pass, Snow Lake, Crown Lake. From Peeler Lake you can to over to the lakes below Hawksbeak Peak in a long day. I think a long in-and-out is OK as long as the scenery is awesome from the start. From Buckeye trailhead take the Eagle Creek Trail to its end, and then you can climb Robinson Peak, Eagle Peak and Victoria Peak - great views up there.

Something off Tuolumne is a no-brainer. Best free campsite for Friday night is on Ackerman Creek (go up the hill after crossing the creek and turn left on a dirt road - many FS campsites along the creek.) The most challenging off-trail overnight trip I have done is descending Tenaya Canyon from Tenaya Lake, camped right at the "Jump Off". Need rock shoes to descend the slabs and then a few short rappels. This is a fall trip because you would drown if done at high water- must walk in the creek a lot. A good early season trip is to hike from Olmstead Point to camp on the top of the buttress half a mile east of Mt Watkins. There is a seasonal creek in the draw between. Great view - if full moon- fantastic view right down into Tenaya Canyon.

Kuna Crest - this is written up in Phil Arnot's guide "Range of Light". I did it - trail to Parker Pass, traverse to Helen Lake, haul water up to Pt 11812, bivy. Next day run the crest north and back to Tioga Pass. You can camp at Helen Lake, but I did a bivy on top because mosquitoes were horrible down low.

Good off trail lake - Mc Clure Lake - go on PCT up Lyell and leave trail at the bridge, follow the drainage up.

Or up Lyell to Donohue Pass, and x-country to Lost Lakes. I actually did this from east side - left the trail at Waugh Lake .

Rafferty Trail to Fletcher Lake and off-trail to Townsley Lake

From south end of Saddlebag Lake, take trail to north of Green Treble Lake, over the pass between White Mountain and Mt Conness and then traverse to Roosevelt Lake or Young Lakes. Or do not go over the pass, instead, go north on Roper's High Route, past Conness Lakes and camp at Cascade Lake. Or take the boat ferry across Saddlebag Lake, and to Upper McCabe Lake.

Green Lake trailhead out of Bridgeport - easy overnight trips with good fishing. East Lake and West Lake both nice, few people at West Lake - also little lakes above.

Early season - down to the top of Waterwheel Falls.

Mono Meadows - climb Mt Clark for a real off-trail adventure, or poke around Star King

Glacier Point - I am a big fan of Pohono Trail.

Lots in Desolation Wilderness too. But I think I have said enough.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:41 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I thought the post was about off-trail overnight trips. The trips discussed have been on trails. So I guess you are up for either.

Well, off-trail destinations are what I'm looking for. How much of getting there is off-trail can vary.

Thanks for the suggestions! Slide Canyon is one place I would definitely love to return to. Tenaya Canyon is one for the mountaineers, which I am not. Lost Lakes look very intriguing.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jan 13, 2015 3:16 pm

This last weekend while watching some of the NFL games figured out another of my one night weekend backpacks for my own photography purpose. Typically radically alien to most backpacker's trips. So to give some insight to others as to an example of thinking out of the box for what is possible...

This would be a trip from the Coldwater Creek Trailhead at 9100 feet in Mammoth Lakes over Duck Pass at 10800 feet to the Duck Lake basin. Dates would be mid July through early August when landscapes are greenest and snow has melted back enough in the north facing heights southeast above Pika Lake. I've never visited these areas. I would set up a wilderness permit reservation for a Friday and Saturday with a night box pick up on that same evening of Friday. If the atmosphere was less than clearer than normal, would abort. My interest in doing this hike would be to set up a couple of landscape images I've sized up on Google Earth.

I would be carrying my lightest complement of gear, bivy no tent, military headnet, all clothes worn, and that would forgo much including, usual safety stuff, extra clothing, and food requiring cooking. Minor amount of food in an Ursack. Most of my weight would be my camera gear, tripod, body 4 lenses, including the Gigapan Epic robotic head. With just one day of photog would not need but a couple extra batteries. If the plan was my more likely idea of just sleeping Friday then returning Saturday would be able to fit all into my old Black Diamond L40 Stone climbing pack that is much lighter than my Osprey Aether 70.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.54934,-118.95395&z=15&t=T

My drive from the South SF Bay area is about 270 miles or 6 hours. Thus after leaving work at 4pm would, pick up the permit from the Mammoth VC night box, likely reach the trailhead about 10pm with my gear totally ready to quickly move up the trail. Thus would night hike about 1.5 miles up to 10100 with my bright Fenix HP11 277 lumen headlamp to somewhere between Skelton and Barney Lake, then wander well off the trail at least 200 feet and uphill where I notice bare areas below talus toes on the satellite view and would have no worry about bears.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.56985,-118.96361&z=15&t=T

So might get 6 hours sleep, waking up at sunrise which is my usual wake up anyways, packing up, and leaving by 6:30am PDT. Would leave my sleeping bag and bivy hidden so. The pass is another 1.2 miles 700 feet up the headwall and given the blocking Sierra Crest that would also be in the shade. At the pass would vector off trail northeast traversing about the 3300 meter line till reaching the obvious least gradient section to start climbing up east to my shooting locations at 3500 meters. Note 328.08 feet per 100 meters. Ought to reach there before 9am and then spend at least an hour there. One of the largest and deepest High Sierra lakes. Being in a high relatively sterile timberline basin, it has accrued light amounts of organic matter thus its clear waters have highest potential for max lake blueness on clear days from appropriate mid angled front lit orientations at mid morning or mid afternoon. Note beyond mid afternoon blueness decreases.

Some of Rogue's pics of that area:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/roguephot ... 781533126/

By late morning would be back down at 3300 to the main seep stream and likely have lunch and take a nap a couple hours. From there maybe about 1:30pm would again climb up 200 meters to the ridge southeast of Pika as sized up on GE for views into Ram Basin that is a better perspective than Pika Pass. Places almost certain to have had no other photographers ever point a lens at. Probably capture that scene about 4pm then ramble back down to the lake edge to assess any photo interest there. Then back up to Duck Pass by 6pm. The light on the several small lakes north of the pass in the Coldwater Creek basin are best captured in the afternoon so could find some reasonable pics there too. Pick up sleeping bag and bivy then by sunset would be back at my Forester.
Last edited by SSSdave on Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:27 pm

One thing to consider when planning over night trips, is that you can pack REALLY light. I do most overnight trips with only a bivy sack. No tent. One advantage is that you do not have to set up a tent - simply walk until dark and just take out the bivy and put in the sleeping bag. And you do not even have to bring cooking gear because a weekend trip can actually be done on nothing but trail bars, if need be. I use a very small twig fire to boil just enough water for morning coffee. A lot of small misc. stuff can simply be left at home. Also, with a good weather report only two days out, you can go light on clothing. No rain gear, for example. I have even done an weekend trip as a total bivy - no sleeping bag at all. Also, if I have the choice, I go into an area that does not require bear cans. The smaller Bear Vault may also be a good investment if you plan to do a lot of overnight trips. I do not know if the smaller canisters are available to rent in Yosemite. With a 15-18 pound pack, you can walk all day without only 1-2 rest breaks and making it 12-15 miles is not that bad. Once my car broke down in Sonora, and after getting it fixed, I did not get to the Trailhead until 4PM. I was still able to walk up Lyell Canyon to McClure Lake before it was dark. Remember that you have a lot of daylight in the summer. Also did weekend trip to Emigrant Lake from Kennedy Meadows, in via Ice Lakes and Sardella Lakes, drop down Buck Creek and up to Emigrant. Then back out the trail. Oh there is another good weekend trip - Ice Lakes and Sardella Lakes and Lewis Lakes.

I am not familiar with getting out of the Bay Area on Friday's after work. That could be the big wrench in the works. May be better to go to bed early and get up 2-3 AM and just put up with a long Saturday. As for permits, at least in the past, you could get a permit at the Mather entry station at 7AM. But if you are going up to Tuolumne, you could just take a power nap if you get there before the Wilderness kiosk opens. Bridgeport RS may put out a permit in a night box.

I found that having a partner was great so we could share the driving home chore - which usually was the hardest part. I was also lucky that my job had flexible hours so I could go to work on Monday at 10 AM if I were willing to stay late, or could simply make up hours later in the week. Not sure you have that option.

How much you want to push the "weekend warrior" stuff depends on how much you want it. Climbers always push to the limit. I climbed Mt Rainier in a weekend from Spokane WA. Have done many major peaks in a weekend. Normal schedule was out of town at 5PM Friday, drive until dark, stop car and just sleep on the side of the road, up before dawn, to trailhead. Walk in to base of climb - this is usually off-trail and difficult too. On Sunday we would get up at 1-2AM for an alpine start and walk by headlamp, do the climb, be back before dark, and drive forever arriving home at 1-2AM. Go to work or school next day. I enjoy that kind of schedule; many do not. In fact, since that is the way I started out at 16 years old, I thought that it was normal for everyone. You get used to it after a while and it really is not that bad. Getting the most squeezed into a weekend has a lot to do with being super efficient and organized. For example, be able to wake up, eat breakfast, pack up, all personal chores done and be ready to go in under an hour.

You may have already done this, but sit down and make a list of distances to every trailhead from your home. You may be surprised that some east side trailheads are not that far. I use Mapquest where they not only give you miles but give a time based on speed limits and have a simple click and drag any point in the route to get data on another - for example using Hwy 50 to the east side vs 120.

To be realistic, the intense weekend trips are hard to keep up every week. I usually did a hard core one weekend, then an easy one the next. You still have some great overnight trips on the coast that would require less driving.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:18 am

I definitely won't be going every weekend--I have too much to deal with at home to manage that, and besides (as you say) the drive-to-trailhead-hike-in-hike-out-drive-home-in-two-days (or 2 1/4) schedule is pretty punishing. (I am, alas, familiar with Friday evening traffic from the Bay Area. And Coast Range trips are all well and good for the spring, but the scenery has nothing like the appeal of the high Sierra.) At best I figure I'll do 3 or maybe 4 overnight trips.

Which, of course, is why I want to make them count.

High on my list at this point:
[*]The unnamed lake below Mount Hoffmann, from May Lake
[*]Something in the Cathedral Range--Nelson Lake, or maybe Echo Lake, or maybe Johnson Peak Lake
[*]Spotted Lake out of Quartz Mountain
[*]Arrowhead/Feather Lakes out of Vermillion

Other possibilities:
[*]Blue Canyon, off 108
[*]20 Lakes Basin
[*]

Destinations I'm curious to know more about:
[*]Sharon Lake, above Kennedy Canyon in Emigrant
[*]Horse Canyon and Cattle Creek canyon, out of Twin Lakes
[*]Lake 8263, a half mile ESE of Gianelli roadend
[*]Moat Lake, out of Virginia Lakes
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby mschnaidt » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:50 pm

Bourland Meadow to Hyatt Lake is a great way to get into Emigrant quickly. There is (or was) a use trail from Bourland Meadow down to Cherry Creek and then a ducked route to Hyatt. Only 7 miles in.
Bourland to Hyatt.JPG
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby rlown » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:03 pm

Did you do that route and when? Wondering what the Cherry creek crossing was like at the time you went. I know in the early 80's when i did it much further North, it was fierce in August '83ish.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:42 pm

rlown wrote:Did you do that route and when? Wondering what the Cherry creek crossing was like at the time you went. I know in the early 80's when i did it much further North, it was fierce in August '83ish.

Cherry Creek main, or West Fork Cherry Creek (mschnaidt was a little unclear about this, but he's talking about the latter)? Main fork Cherry Creek I'd be reluctant to cross under the best of circumstances; I don't know about the West Fork.

(Also, if I recall correctly 1983 was a big snow year. So there's that.)
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby sparky » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:01 am

A good one I have done in the cathedral range was just exploring around from cathedral peak to unicorn peak. I had originally planned to go to echo lake, but as I was heading down I decided I would rather be up high, turned around and went right back up. Found a bitchin bivy spot. Fun stuff up there.
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True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby mschnaidt » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:58 pm

Did you do that route and when? Wondering what the Cherry creek crossing was like at the time you went. I know in the early 80's when i did it much further North, it was fierce in August '83ish. - See more at: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12181&start=36#sthash.5kyuGK4L.dpuf

Yes, I did that route. The route on the map was pulled from my GPS so it's pretty accurate. It was 8/5/06. It is West Fork Cherry Creek. The crossing was easy. See pic. I'm hoping to take this route again in Sept '15.
PICT0058.JPG
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Re: Off-Trail Overnight Trips

Postby rlown » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:06 pm

That is a nice crossing from your pic. I know mine on the main fork was thigh deep and we had to head up "creek" to find a place to cross. The girls on the horses coming in East bound from Crabtree told us we were going to get wet. Being Idiots, we thought rain. :D
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