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Need some Backpacking trip advice

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Need some Backpacking trip advice

Postby RichardNixon06 » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:26 am

Alright ladies and gentlemen its almost that time of year again. I want to make this a good season for backpacking since I missed out last year due to other responsibilities. But in past years I've gotten some really good advice from the very knowledgeable people on this forum and I trust your opinions. So here goes.

I'm looking for advice for a few trips this year,
Level of backpacking experience: 2
Terrain: Class 2
Main interest: Lakes, Forest, Big mountain scenery, Photography
I would like to do several trips ranging from 3 days 2 nights up to possibly 5 days 4 nights.
Trying to do around 8-9 miles a day
No particular part of the sierras are required just whatever anyone thinks is an amazing trip.
Focusing only on loops as I don't like the idea of hitchhiking and I live many hours away in Socal so having someone pick me up would be an unnecessary burden on them.
I may be traveling with a friend of mine who has a husky so dog friendly trails are appreciated.

I would appreciate everyone's advice on certain trails to follow or areas to explore. While I have been on hiking/ backpacking trips in a bunch of places along the San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountain ranges, my only foray into the HS was to Ediza/Garnet/Thousand Island Lakes two years ago along the Shadow creek/John Muir trails and out the High trails. Im not opposed to visiting this area again as it was beautiful, but I would like to explore other areas/trails. Thanks in advance for any help and support you guys can offer. You rock.

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Re: Need some Backpacking trip advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:32 am

There are too many "amazing trips" in the Sierra to simply pick out a few. I think your best bet is to simply pick a part of the Sierra you have not been in and just read some trip reports from the last few years. Lots of good trip reports - nice pre-season reading for enjoyment too! Also keep looking at the FS websites (Inyo in particular) that show the available permits and trailhead quotas, particularly if you are going in a group. Not such a problem if going solo. Tons of guidebooks also available if you are looking for primarily trail routes. I like the Sierra North and Sierra South books. As for the Whitney Zone, if going solo and willing to wait a day if needed, I have never had a problem getting a first-come cancellation permit. It probably is too late to get a Whitney Zone reserved permit now.

That said, do not discount west-side entry for trips. Although it is longer distances to the core of the mountains, the slower entry allows acclimation as you walk in.
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Re: Need some Backpacking trip advice

Postby seanr » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:21 am

You mentioned a husky.  I've got two dogs that do most of my hikes with me. Of many details to consider, the three that impact location planning the most are:

1) Avoid entering SEKI NP and Yosemite NP. As WD mentioned, check Inyo NF and Sierra NF for permit options. Sequoia NF is an option for very short trips.

2) Avoid long hot, dry, shadeless, snowless stretches.  Stay near streams, lakes, and/or snow so dogs can stay cool.  Shade helps in a pinch.  Of course, this often applies to human backpacking ideals as well, especially in the Sierra.  It is easy to accomplish.

3) Protect the paws.  This can be a lengthy subject.  Near/at home, regularly take the dog on walks on something rougher than grass, smooth dirt, and smooth concrete. Especially when on a long hike or multi-day trip, be wary of sharp, rocky travel.  Dogs with scrambling toughened paws can handle most terrain, but trails that are mostly dirt are less likely to cause problems. You don't want to have to carry the dog out.

Your main issue indeed seems to be narrowing your choices.  I'll start from the south.

A shorter trip that is easy on both paws and humans could start from the Horseshoe Meadow/Cottonwood Lakes TH. The lakes east of New and Old Army Passes make for worthwhile destinations. Cottonwood Lakes are the most well known, but there are several others in the basin. This area is a good introduction to high altitude without much mandatory steep terrain.

To the north, North Fork of Big Pine Creek below the Palisades, South Lake TH, and Lake Sabrina TH could provide both short and medium trip opportunities so long as you stay east of the crest/SEKI NP.  

North Lake TH, or a steep climb from Pine Creek TH, both could provide short trips, as well as medium to long trips into Humphries Basin.

Mosquito Flat TH into Little Lakes Valley would provide short, easy options, or longer ones.  It is a scenic area good for beginners and easy trips.

There is much more I left out on the east side, especially farther north, but that's already a lot to research.

I'll add that on the west side, roads to dog friendly backpacking options tend to be rougher with THs hotter, lower, and drier in late season, but you can find short and long trips from Kaiser Pass-Florence-Edison area, Courtright-Wishon area, and Beasore Rd.-Fernandez TH-Norris TH-Isberg TH.  Kaiser Wilderness and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness provide quick, easy options near Fresno. As mentioned by WD, starting lower has advantages when it comes to acclimatization to altitude. Just don't start low and away from water in a heat wave, especially with a dog.
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