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SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

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SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby dougieb » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:31 pm

Hey everyone! This is my first post and I'd like to start by thanking everyone on this forum for your love and dedication to the Sierra and to one another. I grew up in Solano County and now I live on the Central Coast but the Sierra is on my mind every day. I am stoked to have found this little corner of the internet to share stories and info with others who share my obsession. Wahoo! \:D/

Now down to business! I'm graduating with my masters degree this June and aside from job hunting, I'm going to take some time for fun as well. I have maps pinned to my walls, littered on the floor and loaded on my computer. I've spent way too much time lately with Google Earth and Caltopo and I've created a route that I'd like your insights on. In terms of my skills, I'm 26, in good health, I'm "level 3/4" according to the forum guide, comfortable with Class 2 terrain and off trail navigation. Some of the trips I've been on include a cross country loop of Humphries Basin including Pilot Knob, Wahoo Lakes, etc, I've been through Royce Lakes and explored Bear Lakes Basin and done North Lake to Lamark Col and out over Bishop Pass to South Lake among others.

I created this trip based upon a few criteria. I wanted some combination of on-trail and off-trail travel, avoiding people wherever possible, and I was trying to explore places I've never been, including a few on my hit list- Lakes Basin, Sixty Lake Basin and Lake Reflection. I know I'll see a lot of people on the JMT section but that seemed like the quickest option between Lakes Basin and Sixty Lakes Basin unless I'm missing something. I have 2-3 weeks and I want to take my time, maybe with a resupply halfway through either from Taboose or Charlotte Lake possibly. Those of you who have had some experience in any section of this route, does this seem like a reasonable/logical path? Is there anything I might be missing along the way?

Image

Start Roads End
Copper Creek Trail
Granite Pass
Horseshoe Lakes
White Pass/ Windy Ridge
Marion Lake
Lakes Basin
Cartridge Pass
JMT
Sixty Lakes Basin
Lake Reflection via East Lake Trail
Longley Pass
South Guard Lake
Brewer Basin
Sphinx Basin
Trail, back to Roads End



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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:25 pm

First of all, good for you for getting on the trail. We're in Napa, so right next door to where you started....

This sounds like a great trip with a couple of caveats:

Copper Creek is really steep~ a tough way to start a long trip with a heavy pack. Get and early start and take it slow and easy the first day.

And this is an ambitious itinerary. Particularly if you are going to buy some new gear for it, give yourself a 3~day shorter trip firsy, just to make sure it all works they way you want.

The third day on your trip is not a day to find out your tent is problematic....
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby Big Ed » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:04 pm

balzaccom wrote:Copper Creek is really steep~ a tough way to start a long trip with a heavy pack. Get and early start and take it slow and easy the first day.


I started a trip going up Copper Creek in 09, dropped off about 11:00 AM. I was out of shape and with 9 days worth of supplies, I think it was 8:00-8:30 when I got up near the Ranger Station and made camp. There had been suitable campsites off and on in the first half of the climb, so when I passed the last one, I didn't know it was the last one. It was on the left just past a small creek, I just had to keep going, I didn't want to do the same ground twice. I ended that trip at Courtright Reservoir.

Edit: It's a well maintained trail.
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:16 pm

This is a totally @$$ kicking route you're planning. There is a reason you can easily get permits for Copper Creek where the trailheads for Bubbs and/or Paradise get booked up in March when reservations open. Without an early morning start, those exposed switchbacks will cook you. If you regularly do 3000+ climbs to higher elevations with a backpack, maybe that is no biggie, but for heat-sensitive me, I'd be up there the day before to get the permit, camp in Sheep Creek and be up before dawn to start plodding skyward. In July, even going up Bubbs, I'd be doing a predawn start.

Rebecca (Calipidder) tried Cartridge Pass a few years ago. Her blog about it over here: http://calipidder.com/wp/2011/09/the-ol ... per-basin/

Are your resupplies hike out/hitchhike, or packers bringing it in to you?
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby awhite4777 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:55 pm

I guess I have a slightly different point of view than the previous posters--I didn't think the climb out of the Copper Creek trailhead was that bad. I hiked it in last August, and started around 9:00am. I made it over Granite Pass and down to Simpson Meadow by around 6:30pm. I wasn't in great shape, but I did have a light pack.

I posted a trip report to BPL here. That was part of a loop that essentially returned to trails end via the JMT and Bubb's Creek.

You know your fitness level better than anyone else, so you're the best judge. There is a fair amount of climbing, but the trail is very good.

Your route looks like a lot of fun, but it's hard for me to interpret the nuances from the image. If you post a shareable CalTopo map link, I'll have an easier time. I can also generate a snazzy labeled elevation profile for you.

Adam
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby dougieb » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:03 pm

Yeah I've heard Copper Creek is pretty steep but I hadn't thought about the temperature, which is a wise consideration considering the altitude and exposure. Sounds like I would want to drive in the night before and start early in the morning to give myself more time and reduce heat exposure. As far as gear is concerned, I'm all set and I have a system that works for me. My base weight is low (its all relative I guess) and even with my camera gear and a full Garcia I shouldn't be over 30lbs. I hadn't really looked into doing the loop in reverse/counterclockwise but maybe it is worth considering going up into Sphinx Basin at the start...

The resupply situation hasn't been nailed down yet. From what I've heard, Taboose might be an option aside from a hefty price tag and packers who may not be interested (what I've read in other people's discussions). Charlotte Lake could also be an option and that would either be an outfitter or a friend meeting me on the trail. All I know for certain is that there is no way in :littledevil: I could carry all of my food with me.
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby maverick » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:45 pm

Hi Doug and awhite4777,

Welcome to HST!

Would recommend taking it easy on Copper, especially on your first day in, unless
your well acclimated, have several trips under your belt prior to this one, get an
early start, and are in excellent shape, then go for it.
None of the passes you indicated are very difficult class 2's, so will not comment
unless you need clarifications.

Doing the trip in reverse may not make things much easier, the granite staircase
going up from Bubb's to Sphinx is quite a climb for some folks, so you may not be
making things much easier by going the other way.
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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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:26 pm

When are you going to start? The only trip I actually totally retreated from was when the mosquitoes got so bad at States Lake that I could not even go outside the tent. It may have been a fluke, but that area around States Lake, Glacier Lake, Horseshoe Lake had some of the thickest mosquitoes I have ever seen. I think it was early July or late June. Horrible.

I did Copper Creek trail on Ropers High Route in August 2010. I did it after already been out 20 days so was totally acclimated. Get your permit the afternoon before. I believe you have to do this before some cut-off time, 3PM or so. Then camp at Moraine Campground. I was on the trial at 5AM and it was quite cool and easy. I made it to just below Goat Pass by 3PM. I had 9 days rations. I did this trail a few years earlier (the trip from hell with the mosquitoes) and got to Grouse Lake easy in a day starting about 8AM. The trail is so well graded that as long as you keep a good steady pace it is mainly a mental exercise.

Not sure what you meant about resupply at Taboose Pass. This trail is really hard on horses and I doubt commercial packers use it. Charlotte Lake is a lot better resupply point. In fact, Kearsarge Lakes is even better. A packer probably would go in and out in a day. Or were you going to walk out? Have a friend meet you on the pass? You could walk out to Onion Valley and get a ride to town - it is such heavily used trailhead. Taboose is remote. A day or more can go by before anyone would come by to take you to town.

Looks like a fine route. Lakes Basin has great fishing. I caught as much as I wanted for dinner several days in a row. I did Cartridge Pass in 2013. It was considerably washed out from when I did it about five years ago. You are going the best direction because I would rather go up the north side and down the south. The lakes on the south side before you drop to the Middle Fork are really nice and good fishing too. Dropping down from these lakes is REALLY steep and a lot of the trail is basically gone. Down at the river, I pretty much found a use-trail all the way back to the JMT on the north side. It stays very close to the river and then goes away and uphill at the end.

The route finding from Reflection Lake to the pass is tricky. Just leave enough time. I did not go high enough on the cliffs on the lake and ended up doing harder climbing than I needed to.

Definitely drop to Big Brewer Lake. And take the time to day-hike ALL the Sphinx Lakes.
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby Big Ed » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:31 pm

The worst Mosquitos I've had in my 35 years of backpacking was at Daugherty Meadow, between Roads End and Simpson Meadow. After standing over the fire didn't work, I retreated to the tent. It was late July 05.
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby limpingcrab » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:24 pm

Looks like great trip, I'm jealous! If you're taking two weeks then don't mess with a resupply. Three weeks could be a little much but still doable. Lots of good tips on here and other places on the internet on how to maximize your calories per ounce and reduce food weight. (take my advice with a grain of salt, I eat strictly for calories and don't get very fancy, maybe you have different priorities)

Copper Creek trail is rough but going the opposite direction won't really help much unless the heat is your main concern, I know people from the coast can be a little sensitive when it's not 76 degrees with a light breeze :)

On the bright side you'll have one terrible day and then the next several will feel like a cruise in comparison!
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby sparky » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:29 pm

You could start and end at Taboose, and resupply at roads end.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: SEKI and John Muir Loop Advice

Postby Big Ed » Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:38 am

I resupplied at Roads End once, ended a trip there early once too. Got a ride to Cedar Grove once, walked the other time. It's six miles from the trailhead. Nothing at the trailhead, store, cafe, and laundry are at Cedar Grove. The store doesn't really stock backpacking stuff, it's a store for car campers. My wife met me there with a bag I prepacked.
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