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Great Sierra Loop idea

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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby alpinemike » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:09 pm

Hi Eric. As someone who followed RoguePhotonic last year for over a month in the Sierra I definitely must agree with his description of the Enchanted Gorge. I would stay away from it! It's just not worth it.. Unless you enjoy pure hell. I will admit it rained on us when we went through there so it would have been a more pleasant experience it hadn't but none the less I would strongly suggest going through the Black Divide and exploring Hester and Ladder Lakes instead of going down the Enchanted Gorge.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-


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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby wildhiker » Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:00 am

Hi Eric,

Always fun to plan great hikes, even though I don't do most of them.

Here's some suggestions for alternate routes in the Yosemite part of your hike.

If you come up from the Valley over Clouds Rest to Sunrise Lakes and the JMT, you may get tired of the crowds. If you have a little more time, leave the JMT northeast of Sunrise camp on the Echo Creek trail, and then leave that trail after a short distance to hike cross-country up the fork of Echo Creek coming from Nelson Lake, which has a spectacular setting for a campsite. Then you can pick up the rough trail from Nelson Lake that continues up Echo Creek over the Pass down to Elizabeth Lake and Tuolumne Meadows.

In the north part of Yosemite, your cross-country route from Smedberg Lake down to Piute Creek and then up Crazy Mule Gulch is pretty, but you will miss the awesome Matterhorn Canyon. There's a good trail through Matterhorn Canyon and then west over Burro Pass to Crown Lake. We saw few people on that trail when I did it in August 2007.

On your southward return, you plan to use the SHR from Tuolumne Meadows to 1000 Island Lake. Although very scenic, you will be repeating a lot of country that you visited on the way north. Consider an shorter alternative with nice cross-country sections on the east side of the Cathedral Range. Leave the trail at Fletcher Lake, head cross-country past Townsley Lake and then curve around over a low ridge to Ireland Lake. Next head up the open alpine valley above Ireland Lake to the pass south of Amelia Earhart Peak and down into the Maclure Creek drainage with beautiful campsites at the unnamed lakes. Contour over to the high lake on the JMT just below Donohue Pass and then on the JMT over Donohue Pass. The JMT will take you to 1000 Island Lake, with scenic side trips if you want to Marie Lakes and Davis Lakes.

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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby Hobbes » Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:57 am

If you are heading north-east out of Big Whitney meadow towards Cottonwood pass, I would suggest hiking directly due north over Siberian pass. There's no reason to hike all the way into Horseshoe Meadow (unless you're trying to hitch into LP for a re-supply), then turn around and hike back over NAP just to get to (lower) Soldier lake. If you did decide to go to Horseshoe, then you might as well tag Langley on the way back in. There's an easy x-c route down to (upper) Soldier, and then pop out to Miter.

The route through Miter is spot on (you even have the correct sides of the lakes in order to traverse to Crabtree pass), but the route up Whitney might be a little off. Many think they can contour underneath McCadie, but get a look at the sketchy class 3 requirements and decide to head down the watershed a bit in order to reverse course for the sand slog up Discovery peak.

SteveC who runs the Whitneyzone website did the Discovery section last year. Here is a very detailed report & map:

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthread ... cs/39150/1

I like the idea of heading down the Mountaineer's route and then back up Russel-Carillon towards Wallace/Wales. I also like the idea of heading up Junction pass into Center basin from the Shepherd trail.

Last year, on the way back from the meet-up, I ran into a guy coming down Shepherd who had done the Junction/Center basin loop - he had originally planned on going down Bubbs to Harrison, but hit Forester instead for his return. 20+ years ago, my brother and a friend came in from Cedar Grove, went over Forester, summitted Tyndall, and then headed back home via Junction/Center. He (and the guy I met last year) were pretty impressed with the scenery. There's some of the old JMT left (before it was re-routed over Forester), but you have to weave amongst huge boulder falls.

Now all I have to do is figure out a way to con someone into doing the Langley-Whitney-Wallace-Junction hike. :D

As for re-supply, Kearsarge is the go-to spot. I'd put Onion up there with Portal as the easiest hitch (both ways) around.
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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby edmoll13 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:08 pm

Thank you everyone for all the helpful advice and suggestions! I have combined almost all of them (might have missed a few) into a google map so they can be visualized!

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... zVESK7YThs

Definitely thinking of passing on Enchanted Gorge and Cartridge Creek. How is my route over the Black Divide to Hester and Ladder Lakes?

Also, does my route over Rodgers Pass look ok?

Wondering if there's anything better instead of the Red's to Rainbow Lake section?

I appreciate all of your help so much! Please let me know if anyone has an other suggestions.

If I actually do this, I may leave some options open for decision until when I'm actually hiking, depending on how the hike is going. Not sure if I would do the entire thing at once, but it's always fun to plan! Maybe half of it one year and the other half the next :)

Thanks again, everyone!

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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:27 pm

In Picket Creek you want to cross the small saddle up the creek from lake 10,600 at about 10,880. The best thing would be to go down to the lake and spend a night then move on.

Your route over what I call Kid Pass in incorrect. You want the saddle between the two small lakes more to the NE.

If you plan to go up from Simpson Meadow that section has no water. It's 4000 feet of climbing with none so bring extra.

Your route across the Black Divide and Ladder Pass look mostly fine. I have not cut over to that other lake at 11,200 feet but from my images it looks fairly easy. I don't know about your route down from Ladder because I have not done it. I plan to this year but have not done the research yet.

The route over Rodgers is mostly correct. I see plenty of small mistakes everywhere since I am good at remembering the exact route you should take through but you can micro manage on the way. Rodgers is just a pass that you need to stay vigilant on the entire West side of it. Don't let your guard down for a minute. That was my nearly fatal mistake. When I got lower on it and the grade lessened and the boulders got larger I stopped carefully picking my way and started moving too fast and carelessly. The upper section is mostly scree but it's loose enough that each step can cause the slope to move 30 feet up the hill from you. Just play a physics puzzle game to mitigate the slide hazard. The East side is a cake walk.

If you want to do more of a lake tour drop off the ridge from where it shows the trail going on Maria Lake's NE shore and take the drainage down to Rodgers Lakes. Go over the saddle heading to the upper Davis Lake and drop to the lower.
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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby Tom_H » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:31 pm

Since you have done the southern Sierra, I decided to do the central Sierra. This map picks up at the northern borders of your map and goes to the northern boundary of Deso. I agree with Wandering Daisy's cautionary statements. Those of us who were professional guides have a deep seated need to be protective of others' safety.

My disclaimers: I have hiked much of the areas in Hoover/Emigrant and Desolation, but not the area in between. I tried to stay on trail most of the time. There are three off trail sections and I have done two of them. 2/3 mi. due W of Peeler Lake from the trail junction going due W. over a saddle into Thompson Canyon to the headwaters of the W. Walker, sidehilling to Tower Lake, to Helen, Ruth, then Dorothy is all Class 2. Following the outlet from Fontanillis as it cascades down a pluton is short, easy, and beautiful (but stay off slick wet granite). Follow the stream until it intersects the trail by Upper Velma. I have not hiked the XC in Clark Fork Meadow, but this is necessary to avoid rehiking a large section of the PCT. A maintained trail once existed from Lake Geneveive due W where it joined the General Creek Trail near the PCT. This trail is no longer maintained and is difficult to find, though the section is navigable. This map is for ideas and general reference only. I am not making any recommendations. Every person should do your own route planning. My efforts are mainly to show where trails exist. Again, I have not hiked one of the off trail sections, i.e. Clark Fork Meadow. Anyone with information on this section, please contribute.

I would follow a counterclockwise pattern for several reasons; one being the ability to navigate from Clark Fork Meadow uphill and intersect the trail, as opposed to guessing where to begin descending from the trail. I would stay to the east while heading north and stay to the west while heading south. From Lk. Alpine to Union Res., it looks about equal in terms of going W of Elephant Rock or E of Rock Lk. Note that in the upper right corner, you can switch between USGS, USFS, Google, and a number of other maps as well as place layers. The lines I have drawn do not lay the same on all maps.

This route gives a grand circle tour of Deso. and another of Hoover/Emigrant, the latter hitting Hoover on the way N and Emigrant on the return S. There are certainly numerous ways to do both of those loops differently. There are 3 places where you have no choice but to backtrack a bit on the PCT and one place where you have to climb a short distance uphill to Sonora Pass on CA 108.

Is someone interested in doing the northern Sierra from Deso to the Trinity Alps?

Map link: http://www.caltopo.com/map?id=086R
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Re: Great Sierra Loop idea

Postby edmoll13 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:43 pm

Thanks Tom! That's a great idea! I'm very excited to look at it closely. I have not hiked the Sierra north of Yosemite so this definitely worth considering adding to my hike or even as a great adventure by itself! Do you have an estimate for miles counting backtracks on the PCT? Resupply options?
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