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x-country base camp ideas

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x-country base camp ideas

Postby oleander » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:07 pm

If you had a 5-6 day trip,

and wanted to hike in just a few miles (max 10) to a base camp,

from which one could do a variety of x-country day trips on the layover days, then hike out,

where would you think to go?

I'm thinking over Piute Pass, camping at Muriel Lake or one of the Desolation Lakes.

Where else?

Priority is alpine scenery. Don't care about fishing or peak-bagging.

We will have someone who is new to x-country, and dislikes even mild exposure. Which is why the Desolation basin came to mind - lots of open, flat-ish walking. I'm sure he could handle the talus field up to the Goethe Lakes, especially as a dayhike.

- Elizabeth
Last edited by oleander on Sun Feb 01, 2015 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:54 pm

For a lower elevation option, look at Gem Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness. Hikes to Leopold, Pingree, Big Lake, Wire Lakes...lots of options, lots of nice granite.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:21 pm

Muriel/Humphreys Basin would be a great choice. Two others that come to mind are one of the off-trail lakes in Dusy Basin or Pioneer Basin.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:28 pm

Given your criteria, I would agree with your choice of Muriel as a base. It is the easiest day 1 to an off trail base that also leads to a number of easy, but scenic and pleasant off trail hiking opportunities. Some more difficult ones that I like are below:

A somewhat more strenuous day 1, would be Little Lakes Valley to Lake Italy (via the shoulder of Bear Creek Spire, poorly named "Cox Col"), from which a number of off trail dayhikes are possible.

There are also the options out of Dana Mdws, such as the day 1 I did last summer to Lost Lakes with the hike over Kuna Crest pass. One doesn't have to get as far as Lost Lakes on day 1, but once over Kuna Crest Pass you are into some wide open and untraveled territory in the headwaters of the Lyell Fork Tuolumne.

Day 1 from Green Creek to Return Lake or that area is a pretty easy hike (comparable to going to Muriel in fact) and that gives you the run of some nice country.

Another nice day 1 that isn't so bad is to go out of Wolverton and go past Pear Lake to one of the little lakelets on the south flank of the Tableland. This gives you a base to roam all over the Tablelands and vicinity without too much effort on day 1. This one is also comparable in degree of difficulty to making Muriel on day 1.

Anyhow those are a few fun ones that come to mind that would work well with your main objectives (nice scenery, fishing not a priority, day 1 not too extreme).


My personal favorite is to go over Lamarck Col but the most sensible base that does not require going uphill back to it (ie something other than Darwin Cyn) is going all the wall to Evolution Valley or Evolution lake which is a rather tough day 1.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby SSSdave » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:57 pm

Most of my trips are what I call semi-base camping trips. Traditional base camping has primarily been what horse packing outfit visitors have done when they are horse packed in with typical pannier filled stuff and then spend several days there before the horses return to bring them out. Equestrian groups that own their horses and stay with their horses of course are able to move to different areas however horses are always limited as to where they can go so tend to base camp more even then. Backpackers that base camp have always had a different spin on it because unlike equestrians, they can readily move about and can in fact go places horses cannot. With semi-base camping one backpacks out one, two, even three days to a remote basin or two and then spends several days therein though may move camp short distances and often have a least one layover day at the best place. The majority of High Sierra visitors have always had mindsets of not spending much time at any one place before moving. Almost all national Sierra Club trips were structured so. But that fails to respect how huge many of these places are resulting in hardly getting to know them. Spend a single night at that beat up trail side no name lake in Dusy Basin and then tell me how you think you know what it is about. There is so much more in many of these special places.

For instance a 9-day trip I just sized up in the Humphreys Basin area would have two nights at Puppet, two at Packsaddle, and one each at Cony, Mesa, and Tomahawk, with less than 3 miles between any of the days west of Piute Pass. Thus travel time between any is rather trivial at less than 2 hours. For a landscape photographer as this person that already generally has a list of potential subjects they will want to capture in a zone at specific times of day, that allows placing camp spots about an area most efficiently. That is particularly useful if some of the locations are really late or really early. One would not want to camp inflexibly only at Golden Trout Lake as a base camp if they expected to take a dusk photo from one of the Humphreys Lakes.

For the 9-day trip I planned for the upper Kern Basin, I will spend 2 nights on the hike in over Shepherd before reaching the Wrights Creek area where I will spend 2 nights and then will have a short day moving closer to the upper Kern area where I will spend 3 nights and then spend 2 nights on the route out.

The Sierra has some superb headwater crest zones to base camp or semi-base camp at. Look for basins with multiple lakes below fine sets of peaks. Places like Pioneer Basin, the two Bear Creek basins, Darwin Canyon plus Evolution Lake, Rae and 60 Lakes basin, the McGee Lakes, Red Mountain Basin, upper Fish Creek has 3 great base camping zones.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:10 pm

I've been a fan of the Monarch Divide for 30-odd years now, so I'll say either Grouse Lake or Granite Lake/Basin. Lots of dayhikes: Volcanic Lakes, Kid Lakes, Glacier Lakes...incomparable views...and you left 90% of the hikers behind at Lower Tent Meadow.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby kpeter » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:46 am

Most of my trips into the Sierra have been exactly what you describe. We find places to dayhike and explore out of every basecamp--and we have found attractive basecamps out of nearly every trailhead in the eastern Sierra. Out of all of them, however, I do think that Humphries Basis and Dusy Basin both fit the bill particularly well, since each destination allows for more open exploring.

That said, I have enjoyed basecamping at Honeymoon Lake and exploring Granite Basin, Royce Lakes, over the pass to L Lake, etc.; basecamping at Dingleberry and exploring the Sabrina Basin; 5th Lake and exploring the Palisades region; Ediza and exploring Nydiver, Iceberg/Cecile, Garnett/Thousand Island. I would second what Balzaccom said about Gem, although I used Deer Lake instead for the same sort of base of exploration.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby oleander » Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:06 am

SSSdave wrote:upper Fish Creek has 3 great base camping zones.


This one caught my attention, as one of our group specifically named the Silver Pass area as one destination to check out for this trip. She is interested in returning there.

I'm not too familiar with upper Fish Creek. (I know the JMT and some off-trail stuff to the east of it, but have never explored to the west of it.) What 3 base camping zones were you thinking of? Which of the many possible trailhead approaches might you favor?

- Elizabeth
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby oleander » Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:14 am

kpeter wrote:basecamping at Dingleberry and exploring the Sabrina Basin


Sabrina had crossed my mind, as I've never been there myself and I'd like to see it. So some questions,

Base camps, Dingleberry is a nice suggestion, where else are some good base camps? (We can have a "moving base camp," too as someone above suggested.)

Is there readily 5-6 days worth of stuff to see back here without getting into Class 3 hiking?

How beginner-friendly is the Sabrina x-country/use-trail hiking, compared to Humphreys Basin? A friend who has been into Sabrina (although not too far in - only a dayhike) expressed concern that the area seemed a lot more "closed in" than Humphreys Basin, just not quite as "walkabout-friendly."

- Elizabeth
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby SSSdave » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:58 am

There are 3 upper Fish Creek headwaters basins along the Silver Divide each with several named lakes and small no name waters:
------------------------------------------
Minnow Creek
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.46454,-118.97802&z=15&t=T

A 9-day backpack we did into Minnow areas:
http://www.davidsenesac.com/MinnowCr_20 ... wcr_0.html

Works well as a dual semi-base camp trip with Graveyard Lakes coming in from Edison. Excellent base camp for both fishermen and scenery seekers. Beautiful lakes I wish I could have spent 3 days at each of the big Minnow lakes. Lots of potential day hikes for those with creative minds. For instance climbing to the ridge top between Peter Pande and Olive both fine in am and pm.

------------------------------------------
Fish Creek Silver Pass branch where the JMT PCT routes
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.47346,-118.92515&z=15&t=T

The smallest of the 3, on the big trails so most visited, and notably scenic. Easiest via Edison.

------------------------------------------
Fish Creek main branch that drains Red Slate to Mt Izaak Walton.
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.48975,-118.89146&z=15&t=T

Largest of the areas and would take multiple trips to explore adequately. Can reach by 3 trailheads any of which are 2 usual days. Most groups (fishermen) camp at Tully Lake that ironically is arguably the least scenic zone in the basin as it is down in a hole and then day hike up to Red & White Lake that is unpleasantly dark though has large rainbow trout. The two big colorful metamorphic peaks, Red Slate and Red & White Mtn are fine pm views. Cecil & Lee bench most scenic late afternoon. A good area for topo savvy explorers. Idealic, Plateau of Ponds, best after big winters because of Piersson's paintbrush areas.
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby Hobbes » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:00 am

oleander wrote:If you had a 5-6 day trip, and wanted to hike in just a few miles (max 10) to a base camp, from which one could do a variety of x-country day trips on the layover days, then hike out, where would you think to go?


Has anyone mentioned 20 lakes? The SHR runs right through it to the east of Mt Conness. While the main trail is (very) busy, Cascade is quiet. From there, you can day-hike sections of the SHR either north or south, or simply explore the region to the east down Lundy. Of course, there's the aforementioned 20 lakes, which are themselves very nice.

Since my wife is more of a city girl, we've done variations of this plan where she takes the ferry + dog, while my son & I hightail it around the lake and cut-over some of the x-c sections to a designated meet-up location for lunch.

2011 - North Peak with the SHR over the lowest part of the shoulder. Mt Conness in the background forming the beautiful Conness lakes basin:
Image
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Re: x-country base camp ideas

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:23 pm

oleander wrote:
kpeter wrote:basecamping at Dingleberry and exploring the Sabrina Basin

Sabrina had crossed my mind, as I've never been there myself and I'd like to see it. So some questions,
Base camps, Dingleberry is a nice suggestion, where else are some good base camps? (We can have a "moving base camp," too as someone above suggested.)
Is there readily 5-6 days worth of stuff to see back here without getting into Class 3 hiking?
How beginner-friendly is the Sabrina x-country/use-trail hiking, compared to Humphreys Basin? A friend who has been into Sabrina (although not too far in - only a dayhike) expressed concern that the area seemed a lot more "closed in" than Humphreys Basin, just not quite as "walkabout-friendly."
- Elizabeth

Compared to Humphreys Basin, Sabrina Basin offers less area to do off trail hikes in and the internal divides are steeper, so one has fewer options in terms of easy routes. My base in past trips to Sabrina Basin has been a little unnamed lake near Topsy Turvy (called "Pee Wee Lake" on the old DFG Anger's Guide maps, but unnamed on topo maps). It is just enough off the beaten track to reduce the crowds a bit; Dingleberry tends to attract quite a few campers, in contrast.

Humphreys Basin and environs is pretty unique in the High Sierra in that there is such a wide expanse of trailless country that can be traversed by easy class 1 walking, commonly over very pleasant turfy grass. In addition, it just takes just a smidge of class 2 to get you into neighboring French Canyon where there is another big bench to explore. On top of that, you have the little off trail cul-de-sacs up on the north side of the Glacier Divide that can be explored with class 1 or (more commonly) class 2 hikes, such the Lost Lakes, Goethe Lakes, Paine Lake, etc. It is also easy to find an off trail base camp on day 1 without much hiking, be it Muriel or a different destination on the N side of the creek (ie in Humphreys Basin proper), whereas the trunk base camp destinations in Sabrina Basin would tend to be on-trail and have more people.

Accordingly I would agree with your friend that, although Sabrina Basin is gorgeous place and worth visiting, it wouldn't be my first choice if I wanted to have a base to do 5 to 6 days of off trail dayhikes.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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