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East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby freestone » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:06 am

Excellent advise on leaving from the trailhead in the early hours of the morning to avoid the heat. However leaving later because of delays is not a deal breaker. I usually do not get on the trail head much before 10AM and while it is hot the first couple of miles, altitude is gained rapidly into cooler air.

Baxter wins the ugliest to most beautiful category, of the 3 Beasts. The lower portion is depressingly burned out by a forest fire, the upper canyon is absolutely pristine and untrampled with forest and meadow, surrounded by the crest peaks.



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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby SSSdave » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:04 pm

Thanks for that input Hobbes.

This will be my first time over Shepherd but have studied the situation extensively and my photo planning west of the pass is detailed hour to hour each day to work through a list of terrain to ramble over. The trailhead is down in sagebrush at 1950m 6.4k feet. Shepherd Pass is at 12040, 5600 feet higher but the trail requires another 800 feet due to up and downs.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.71684,-118.29889&z=15&t=T

The Symmes Creek crossing, the last certain water is up about 500 feet at 2100m 6.9k. Another 1k up at 2400m 8.0k the switchbacking trail moves near an early season stream channel that I plan to use. It is another 1k up to the 2770m 9070 foot ridge crossing, 2700 feet of total uphill. Once over the ridge the next streamlet on the map at 2700m is supposed to be reliable early season. Likely take a long break, even a 2 hour nap maybe. And if I am too beat will camp there. The trail then drops down 600 feet to 2680m 8500 before rising up 800 feet to reach Mahogany Flat at 2840m 9300.

Accordingly I don't expect water issues on the lower section. The key for little old me carrying nearly 60 pounds for the 10 days, will be moving slow, stopping very frequently, and taking breaks. Thus from 9am I have 11 hours of daylight to do 3300 feet in order to reach Mahogany Flat. Then Saturday morning after a long nights sleep can start continuing up in the cool of dawn and will be satisfied to only reach the bench northwest of The Pothole at 3430m 11250 or up 2000 from Mahogany Flat or 2.8k from the streamlet. Either way the second day is not as unpleasant as Friday.

Then Sunday morning will either rise early dawn see the atmosphere to the east is not too clear and climb the remaining 700 feet to the pass by sunrise or see the atmosphere clear to the east thus linger on the bench for photography that unlike The Pothole that is down in a shaded hole, receives early sunrise light and has a pond possibly worth a reflection image of Mt. Kieth that ought be nicely orange. In any case ought be over the pass by 7:30am that is exactly when photography west of the pass will be best for a couple more hours. From there should reach the top of Bighorn Plateau by midday where I will base camp well away from the trail 2 or 3 days probably underneath some gnarly foxtail pine. From there I go north to base camp again in a very sweet spot in the Casper lake zone

David
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:45 pm

SSSdave wrote:Shepherd Pass is at 12040, 5600 feet higher but the trail requires another 800 feet due to up and downs.


[EDIT 7/16/2016 - I revised Sawmill distance from 7.5 miles to 9.2 after I came across a TR that had actual recorded way-points from Woods lake.]

A couple of years ago, I was curious enough about the 4 bad boys that I put a little chart together measuring summit, total distance, gain & gain/mile. Here's my summary:

Baxter 12,303' 7.5m 6,266' 835'/mile
Sawmill 11,348' 9.2m 6,755' 734'/mile
Taboose 11,417' 8.4m 5,971' 715'/mile

I've been up Taboose & Shepherd, but not Sawmill or Baxter. I've been up/down Shepherd enough (6 times) to know that it's actually 4 hikes in one:
- initial approach gains just 400' over the first mile ie the 4 creek crossings
- switchbacks up to the saddle gain 2,420' over 3.5 miles or 691'/mile
- descent to Keith creek drops 590' over 1 mile
- final ascent gains 3,511 over 4.5 miles or 780'/mile

If you average it all together, you get a misleading picture, especially the total gain from the TH @ 6,300' to the pass @ 12,041'. So, the way I now look @ Shepherd is to just add the two climbs together. That is, I take out the 1 mile easy approach stroll via the crossings and the 1 mile descent. My new stats now look like this:

Total gross gain: 5,931'
Total miles: 8
Gain/mile: 741'/mile

This puts the gain/mile Baxter, but ahead of Sawmill & Taboose. If you consider just the last leg from Keith creek to the pass, the gain/mile jumps to 780'/mile.

Once you hike the trail, these numbers will make a lot more sense in depicting how the trail actually physically feels as you climb (or descend). In fact, the boulders are so hard, the final headwall is so steep, and the scree so loose (it's just a use trail at this point, one that changes due to slides, cuts, etc), that even narrowed down averages don't fully depict how long/difficult the final leg is from the Pothole.

Even with all that, it's a great way to get into the Sierra. Not that many people on the trail itself, and unlike the 3 others, you can completely miss coming near the PCT/JMT. That is, Baxter has its lakes, but then you have to descend down near Rae to go elsewhere. Sawmill has its lake & Woods, but it too requires you to come down if you want to go somewhere else. Taboose probably gets you more places, but Shepherd takes the cake: you can head directly south over Rockwell pass to WLB & Wales (bypassing the JMT/PCT altogether), or you can head east to upper Kern, GWD & Kaweahs.
Last edited by Hobbes on Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby freestone » Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:25 pm

Is the big washout on Shepherd's repaired now?
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:12 pm

Is the big washout on Shepherd's repaired now?


Recent TR reports it being in worse condition than previous years.
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby Hobbes » Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:55 am

I noted above that I revised my stats for Sawmill pass. I don't know if I've posted this chart before, but it has ranked data on different passes & peaks:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... edit#gid=0

If you have any comments, suggestions, etc, please let me know and I'll take a look and revise as necessary.
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby sparky » Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:28 pm

The eastside is really great. Virtually every trailhead that leads into the mountains is a winner. Lots of great options for short trips, long trips, easy trips, hard trips, on or off trail.
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: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby BSquared » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:27 pm

maverick wrote:
Is the big washout on Shepherd's repaired now?


Recent TR reports it being in worse condition than previous years.


I'm curious about that, too. Has anyone reading this been over it later in this summer? A climber we met on the SP trail last year told us they were going to be working on the washout this summer, but I have no idea how he knew. There was a crew working on the lower section of the trail when we went up last August (Symmes Creek drainage), but we didn't think to ask them about the washout.
—B²
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Re: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby maverick » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:53 pm

I'm curious about that, too. Has anyone reading this been over it later in this summer? A climber we met on the SP trail last year told us they were going to be working on the washout this summer, but I have no idea how he knew. There was a crew working on the lower section of the trail when we went up last August (Symmes Creek drainage), but we didn't think to ask them about the washout.


Here you go B2: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=15093
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: East side passes access to the backcountry questions?

Postby BSquared » Sun Oct 09, 2016 1:26 pm

Thanks!!!
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