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Tough Hikes

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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:41 pm

I am not a fan of designating "best" routes. Each way into Keweah Basin from the west has its advantages and disadvantages and unique characteristics. I have done Prya Queen, Pants Pass-Picket Guard Pass, the "ledge route" and the long HST detour.

The "entry points" are Nine Lakes Basin or the Kern Keweah at the meadow below Gallats Lake.

Crescent Meadow to Nine Lakes Basin is about 20 miles and 7000 feet elevation gain, about 16 hours of hiking (assuming 2 mph rate on trail plus 1 hour for each 1000 feet of gain).

Mineral King to Nine Lakes Basin via all trail routes: via Timber Gap and Blackrock Pass = 18 miles, 8000 feet gain, 18 hours using the same assumptions stated above. via Sawtooth Pass, Lost Canyon and Five Lakes= 20 miles, 7200 feet gain, 17 hours.

Cedar Grove to the start of the "ledge route", below Gallats Lake, via Avalanche Pass = 27 miles, 10,450 feet gain, 24 hours.

From Nine Lakes Basin, the two most logical routes are over Pyra Queen Col or Pants Pass. From Pants Pass you can either contour to Picket Guard Pass or drop to the Kern Keweah and take the trail to the start of the "ledge route".

Pyra Queen = 8 miles, 2130 feet gain, 10 hours.

Pants-drop to Kern Keweah- trail to start of ledge route= 8 miles, 8.5 hours, 2000 feet gain. Adding 3 hours, 2 miles and 1500 feet gain to reach Island Lake the sub-total is 10 miles, 10.5 hours and 3500 feet gain.

Pants - Picket Guard Pass to Island Lake = 9 miles, 2750 feet gain, 10 hours.

Cedar Grove to Harrrison Pass and down to Junction Meadow, up to the start of the creek route (by Rockslide Lake) = 27 miles, 8850 feet gain, 24 hours (assuming 1 mph for the off trail parts).

Before you discount the routes from Cedar Grove, remember that these approaches bring you to either the ledge route of the standard route up to Island Lake. It is then only 1.5 - 2.0 miles, about 1500 feet gain and about 3 hours to Island Lake.

In summary:

Crescent Meadow to Island Lake via Prya Queen = 28 miles, 9130 gain, 26 hours
Crescent Meadow to Island Lake via Pants-Kern Keweah-ledge route = 30 miles, 10500, 26.5ours
Crescent Meadow to Island Lake via Pants-Picket Guard Pass =29 miles, 9750 gain, 26 hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Sawtooth-Five Lakes-Pyra Queen = 28 miles, 9330 gain, 27hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Sawtooth-Five Lakes- Pants-Kern Keweah = 30 miles, 10700 feet gain, 27.5 hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Sawtooth-Five Lakes - Pants-Picket Guard = 29 miles, 9950 feet gain, 27 hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Blackrock-Pyra Queen = 26 miles, 10130 feet gain, 28 hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Blackrock- Pants-Kern Keweah = 28 miles, 11500 gain, 28.5 hours
Mineral King to Island Lake via Blackrock-Pants-Picket Guard= 27 miles, 10750 feet gain, 28 hours
Cedar Grove to Island Lake via Avalanche Pass-Colby Pass =28.5 miles, 11950 feet gain, 27 hours
Cedar Grove via Bubbs-Harrison Pass-Junction Meadow = 29 miles, 10350 feet gain, 27 hours

I am not sure there are not mistakes in the above calculations. The point is that each way is different- some more elevation but on trails, others less miles but off trail, and it all boils down to about 27-28 hours, regardless of route.

The deciding factor for me would be the scenery/areas I would prefer to see on the way and the difficulty of the passes, which is relevant if the weather goes bad. Pants and Pyra Queen and Harrison Passes can be dangerous under saturated conditions. Pyra Queen is more scenic, but harder than Pants. Pants Pass only has about 800 feet of hard stuff then you are home free.



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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby sparky » Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:33 pm

wolverton>pear lake>pterodactyl>horn col>copper mine>triple divide>colby>talus>thunder ridge>cunningham creek>josephine lake>deadman> big bird>tablelands>wolverton

lewis creek>harrington>monarch crest to volcanic lakes>state lakes>state peak>cirque crest to ruskin>taboose

as an alternative bushwack muro blanco back to roads end, or use arrow, explorer, or whitefork passes
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True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby Hobbes » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:25 am

Excellent; ladies and all, thanx for the very detailed itineraries.

Daisy, "high value" was my feeble attempt at attaching a subjective label to some favorite routes. I think I used it first when describing Miter/Crabtree basins - not a trail nor necessary super popular (it parallels the PCT so is relieved of a lot of pressure), but still one of those places that delivers a high return for some moderate hiking.

Kearsarge might be one of the all time 'high value' areas, but of course can get very busy, so it can distract sometimes. It's why it's a really great hike when there is still snow on either Glen and/or Forester, with maybe just a handful of PCTers coming through. So that's why I try and do loops from KP - either north or south - early in the season.

Since I have no familiarity with the west side, I was trying to apply a definition that only I know. Clever, huh? Really, what I was looking for were the detailed itineraries that have certain commonalities, such as 'leave from Crescent meadow' and/or 'however, the HST is a drag*'. Once that's established, then it seemed like a common theme was do a loop including Lion & 9 lakes basin. From there, it's easy to see the options & variations to both the north (copper mine, triple divide, cloud) and south (pants, pyra).

Here's extra fodder for subjective experiences: I thought the HST down Wallace from the PCT was a nice visual hike. Of course, those coming up felt otherwise. I thought the trip down & back-up the Kern from Junction was plain old plodding, yet the section heading north to the Kern basin was very special. The canyon narrows, the forest grows very lush, the trail is practically unmaintained (thanx to Jim for breaking trail earlier that day), the Kern gets steeper and goes through a series of waterfalls & cascades, etc. So how would you know unless someone who has been through there actually told you? I just got lucky doing my loop clockwise - what if I had gone the the opposite direction? It might have resulted in a completely difference experience/memory.
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:20 am

OK - as for approaches:

I hate Avalanche Pass! It is a long slog, with little scenic value, until you reach Big Wet Meadow. Continuing over Colby Pass is very nice.

The HST is quite scenic all the way- not big mountain scenery at first but impressive cliffs. It also is nice and shady. From Bearpaw to Keweah Gap it is absolutely amazing scenery. There are nice views also going by Moraine Lake. The Kern River is scenic in its own way- woodsy but the river is beautiful. It is also so well maintained and at a gentle grade that you can really make good time on it. But it can get crowded.

From Mineral King over Sawtooth Pass and Lost Canyon are VERY scenic. Still quite scenic past Big and Little Five Lakes (although who knows what the current fire at Little Five Lakes will do to the forest). More "big mountain" scenery than the HST, but I still think the HST is awesome, if you appreciate "big rock" (rock climbers can appreciate Valhalla!).

Funny thing is that the last time I was in Keweah Basin I was very unimpressed. It was late season, everything was dried up, most of the reflection ponds were dry and the air was smoky from fires. Keweah Basin can be very stark with no greenery or in overcast conditions. This time was different and I really enjoyed it. I would think a bit of snow in Keweah Basin would also enhance its scenic value. The remoteness of Keweah Basin gives it some extra credit, but by itself, there are many areas that I think are far superior to Keweah Basin. For me Keweah Basin is down towards the middle of my "must see" list.
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby Jimr » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:54 am

When I was down in the Kern, just below Rattlesnake creek, I could have sworn Bigfoot threw a stick at me :paranoid:
What?!
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:49 pm

Here you go Hobbes, Whitney via Mountaineer's route 1hr 47mins 40 sec, and back to Portal in 2hrs 38mins 15sec: http://lighterbro.com/2015/08/02/matt-g ... in-the-us/
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: Tough Hikes

Postby Hillbasher » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:15 am

[quote="tie"]This might meet your standards, or it might be too short.

Onion Valley -> University Pass -> Center Basin (cross country)
-> Forester Pass (JMT)
-> Lake South America -> Little Joe's Pass -> Reflection Lake (cross country)
-> Kearsarge Pass -> Onion Valley (trail).

I can't seem to find any reference to Little Joe's Pass. Can you give me a clue? Thanks
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby maverick » Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:43 am

I can't seem to find any reference to Little Joe's Pass. Can you give me a clue? Thanks


viewtopic.php?f=1&p=66558#p44853
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: Tough Hikes

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:38 pm

The idea of 3-5 day difficult hikes at face value sounds like an exercise in brute force, but many of us are in fact forced to get creative like this owing to the lack of time. Below I mention a few hard backpack trips that are either taken from or revised from experience (to make them shorter and tougher) or trips I've planned and haven't done.

The craziest short backpack I ever did was an overnighter in 1980 (with my dad) to do Split Mtn via the conventional route. It is a shorter version of WD's trip: day 1 over Taboose Pass to lower part of Upper Basin. day 2 climb Split and Prater and hike out to Taboose trailhead (reached car by light of very thin moon).

Here is a truncated and accelerated version of a longer trip I took in 2001 on which I was slowed by a bad cold and much worse blisters (w other members of the Death March Trio: Todd, Cliff):
day 1 Wolverton over Tableland to Ferguson Creek Lakes.
day 2 Ferguson Creek Lakes back over Tablelands, past Big Bird, down Deadman Cyn to unnamed lakes on Glacier Divide
day 3 Past Josephine Lake, descend into Cloud Canyon, then up to Colby Lake (didn't happen because I was very ill--stopped at Josephine L)
day 4 Colby L. over Colby Pass, Triple Divide Pass, and Lion Lake Pass to Lion L (Tamarack preferred if fishing desired).
day 5 To trailhead (works a bit better if you have two cars and do this as Wolverton-Crescent Mdw shuttle).
I don't like this itinerary because this sacrifices some of the better spots (such as not camping at Josephine L) in the interest of hiking more per day and completing the loop in 5 days

Here's a fantasy accelerated version of a late 90's trip I took with my wife Judy:
day 1: to Sphinx Lakes
day 2: over Longley w short detour to Big Brewer L. to East L (fish small at Reflection)
day 3: to trailhead
(original trip was d1 to Sphinxes, d2 to fishless S. Guard L.w short detour to Big Brewer d3 back to Sphinxes w super long dayhike to N Guard L (fishless) and d4 out.

Here's my own favorite 5-day backpack trip of all time ("Tunechuck 2008" w Todd). Virtually none of this hike was on trail (something like 1 mi out of 50 mi)
d1 Hoffman Mtn roadend(gate) to upper Crown Basin (just below Hummingbird L)
d2 to Upper Blue Canyon w side dayhikes to Finger Pk and Lower Blue Canyon lakes
d3 dayhike to Tunemah L and basin below, return and move camp to Hummingbird L.
d4 to Woodchuck L following ridge w stopover at Maxon L. and Crown L.
d5 from Woodchuck L via Chimney L to Hoffman Mtn roadend.

Here's an archival 5-day trip I did in 1997 "Astride the Glacier Divide" (w Judy and Todd). It can be turned into a "tougher" hike by eliminating the layover day
d1 North L. to Darwin Cyn via Lamarck Col
d2 along S flank Glacier divide past 11106 to 11236.
d3 11236 over whatever pass is N of 11236 (don't know name) descend to Piute Creek, thence up trail, but turn off to Knob L. (would re-route this now that Knob is fishless)
d4 layover (climb Pilot Knob and explore French Cyn including Puppet L.)
d5 Knob L to North L. via Tomahawk L.

Now here's a shortened version of our (me with Judy) 1997 Sawboose trip (since nobody mentioned a Sawmill Pass entry): this is a Sawmill-Taboose shuttle trip.
d1 to Sawmill L.
d2 over Sawmill and Pinchot Passes to either Bench L or Striped Mtn Lakes
d3 hike over Taboose Pass to car.
(actual trip went like this: d1 to Sawmill L. d2 to Woods L and exploration of many lakes in basin d3 to Twin Lakes with exploration of neighboring lakes d4 (layover) dayhike to Window Pk Lake, d5 over Pinchot P to Marjorie with explorations of basins to E and additional snooping en route to Marjorie, d6 to Bench L w stopover at Striped Mtn Lakes. d7 layover (dayhike to Arrow P) d8 dayhike to some lakes above Bench L then break camp head toward Taboose, 2nd detour to Striped Mtn Lks, to lake S of Taboose Pass but can't find decent place to camp so hike to Taboose trailhead (reaching there in pitch darkness similar to 1980).

Here's a "concept" trip, some variant of which I may do someday with the start on the Copper Creek Trail (Kings Cyn). First the shortest version
d1 to Grouse L.
d2 to Kid Lks but on to the Glacier Lakes
d3 to Volcanic Lakes.
d4 out
I would probably do this adding one day so as to camp at Kid Lks.

Here's a trip that modifies a trip to the Dumbbell Lakes I did with Judy in 1993 (designed as Bishop-Taboose shuttle)
d1 South L to Dusy 11393
d2 over Knapsack Pass down the slot to Palisade Creek and then up to Amphitheater L.
d3 to Dumbell Lakes and on to Lakes Basin
d4 Lakes Basin to Striped Mtn Lakes
d5 Striped Mtn Lakes to trailhead
(actual 1993 Dumbell Lakes trip was d1 to 11393 d2 to Palisade Creek (late start from 11393) d3 to Dumbell Lks d4 layover 1 around Dumbbell basin day d5 layover 2 climb Observation Pk explore other parts of basin d6 dayhike to basin to N (the lake with all those islands and frogs in it) and move camp to Amphitheater. d7 (most extreme single day of backpacking for me and Judy) all the way to South L. via Cataract C ascent of Barrett C. slot, Knapsack and Bishop Passes.)
If I do a version of the shuttle trip above, my actual plan will be d1 S Lake to Dusy 11393, d2 Dusy 11393 to Amphitheater (not so great because it no longer has fish but would rather cut down my hiking time to Dumbbells) d3 to Dumbbell Lks, d4 to Lakes Basin d5 layover in Lakes Basin d6 to Striped Mtn Lakes d7 to Taboose trailhead.

Here is a concept trip I'd like to do that requires a very widely spaced shuttle (many hours to set up) since it runs Fernandez/Norris to Tuolumne Mdws
d1 Fernandez or Norris trailhead to Slab Lakes
d2 Slab Lakes to Edna L.
d3 Edna L to Harriet Lks
d4 Harriet Lakes to Florence L (w side climb of Mt Florence)
d5 Florence L to Tuolumne Mdws
This itinerary has been a leading candidate for my annual death march for some time. d2 is a bit short on this "actual" plan to qualify as "tough trip" I guess so to make it "tough" (not the way I'd do it) one could try for Edna on d1.

Anyhow those are just a few that come to mind.
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: Tough Hikes

Postby tie » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:16 pm

Hillbasher wrote:
tie wrote:This might meet your standards, or it might be too short.

Onion Valley -> University Pass -> Center Basin (cross country)
-> Forester Pass (JMT)
-> Lake South America -> Little Joe's Pass -> Reflection Lake (cross country)
-> Kearsarge Pass -> Onion Valley (trail).


I can't seem to find any reference to Little Joe's Pass. Can you give me a clue? Thanks


In addition to Maverick's reply, I wrote a trip report about this route here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=13239

Scaruffi calls it "Weyman's Chute", and describes it here: http://www.scaruffi.com/travel/ericsson.html
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby sekihiker » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:28 pm

giantbrookie wrote:Here's a "concept" trip, some variant of which I may do someday with the start on the Copper Creek Trail (Kings Cyn). First the shortest version
d1 to Grouse L.
d2 to Kid Lks but on to the Glacier Lakes
d3 to Volcanic Lakes.
d4 out
I would probably do this adding one day so as to camp at Kid Lks.

Check out http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html if you want to see what this trip looks like.
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Re: Tough Hikes

Postby sekihiker » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:36 pm

Kaweah Basin can be visited from the west side (Crescent Meadow Trailhead) with a three day trip.
See: http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
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