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Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

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Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby watsonic » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:08 pm

Hi all,

I'm planning a 4 day trip leaving out of Wolverton.

Look for suggestions on side trips / alterations in route. Love XC.

The route currently looks like this:
Day 1: -> Moose Lake
Day 2: -> Big Bird lake, via Tablelands ("fun day" ... short and playful with lots of daypack excursion)
Day 3: -> Tamarack Lake or Hamilton Lake via Deadman's Canyon and Elizabeth Pass
Day 4: -> Out via HST

Priorities are water (falls, slides/pools in rivers/streams, etc), views and avoiding large amounts of talus negotiation.

One idea for an alteration, which I think may be just out of our reach is to go straight from Moose to Tamarack (what is most efficient route?) and then explore the Nine Lakes Basin (via Lion) the next day (a Sunday), connecting up with the HST next day. Slight worry about crowds and missing Tablelands (which looks just delightful, hopefully minus bugs). Opinions on this?

We will also have 2 cars and one idea was to hike out at Buckeye, just to change things up a bit. Lots of elevation drop though which might not be so nice for the knees.

One last thing: any recent reports of mossies at this elevation / area?

Cheers,
Watson



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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:20 pm

Go here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205

Your level of experience is most important when you're asking for advice on this route. It is very, very ambitious for a four day trip if you have not done cross country before. I can only anticipate that you mean to exit the Tablelands into Deadman, and expecting to make it to Hamilton from there suggests to me you are looking only at mileage, not elevation changes. Also, not a route where you will expect the kind of water you're hoping for. Also, you will be on miles and miles of slab and talus on this route.

There is no "straight" between the destinations you're talking about... unless you really don't like your knees.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:21 pm

You can reach Elizabeth Pass Trail via Paradactyle Pass and then the pass by Lonely Lake (forgot the name- but it puts you just on the north side of Elizabeth Pass), or drop down the creek from Lonely Lake until it intersects the Elizabeth Pass Trail (fairly easy x-country). Really keep an eye out because the Elizabeth Pass Trail is not huge or well maintained and if you miss it, the remaining descent is very difficult to impossible if you are not on the trail. Going from Tamarack Lake up to Lion Lake is very tricky and you have to get up a set of cliffs. It is feasible but you need to do some good route finding. Perhaps a better plan would be to continue down to the HST at the bridge and then up to Hamilton Lake. You can then day-hike up to Keweah Gap and Nine Lakes Basin.

I took a person new to cross-country travel through the Tablelands and over Paradctyle Pass and she did fine, but she would not have if she had to do her own route-finding. So, the terrain is not the difficulty; rather the route-finding can be quite tricky. I have even gotten messed up on the Tablelands and temporarily "lost". Your route suggestion is OK if you are experienced on off-trail; perhaps a bit much if not.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:26 pm

I just walked out from Nine Lakes Basin to Crescent Meadow last week. There are not a lot of mosquitoes but lower down there are tons of those "in-your-face" gnat/flies. I would take a head net just in case. There were a few mosquitoes at dusk. With the recent rains, there may, however, be a new mosquito hatch.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:45 am

I hope you intented to write up a TR this time, asking for route beta and not coming back with a TR is not cool.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby oleander » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:57 am

watsonic wrote:Priorities are water (falls, slides/pools in rivers/streams, etc), views and avoiding large amounts of talus negotiation.


My recent Tablelands trip had so many great slides, pools and water holes, many of them a surprise. In fact, I almost called it The Waterhole Trip on my Facebook.

We had six days, so take this with a huge grain of salt…You may not have time to fit the following into four days unless everyone is very fit and has had prior exposure to high altitude this summer.

1. Wolverton (Alta Trail permit) to Buck Creek. 10 miles. Gorgeous water pools/slides at Mehrten Meadow and at Buck Creek. Happy to have done this section first, as it meant getting the crowds out of the way on Day 1, and didn’t require going straight to 11k feet.

2. Tamarack Lake. Delicious watering hole on the way (on Elizabeth Pass trail near junctions to Hamilton Lake and Tamarack Lake). Tamarack itself was also great swimming place with great camping and solitude. Five-mile day on trail, but somehow it took most of the day and didn’t feel trivial. Heat and altitude, I think.

3. Return to Eliz. Pass trail, went up the trail about 1000 feet to stunning excellent water hole right on trail at 9,200. Then off-trail up Lonely Lake outlet to Lonely Lake. Excellent beach/swim at north end of Lonely Lake.

4. Traverse across beautiful Pterodactyl Pass to Lake 11,200 (which is the tiniest, highest lake due west of Big Bird Lake). More great swimming. Famous evening view of entire Great Western Divide in alpenglow at dusk.

5. Walk through Table Meadows to Pear Lake. (Intended to go to Moose; but vetoed as the people with bad knees did not want 4k downhill on final day.) Little-known lake with great swimming is gorgeous Lake 10,559, just 20 min. off our 11,200-Pear route, a bit to the north. (Went there a few years ago.) Most other lakes on direct route are marshy. You will pass some beautiful sections of creek-sliding-down-slabs at approximately 9800-10,000 altitude. Pear Lake is a good swim.

The whole route was Class 1 and easy/medium Class 2, slab and bench walking with minimal talus. Took two people along with no prior x-country experience, no problems. That said, the newbies didn’t have to do the route planning or navigating. If you intend to include Moose Lake, there will be a lot more Class 2 no matter which route(s) you take there.

If I had 4 days, I’d probably either go…

1. Alta to Buck Creek to Eliz. Pass trail (skipping Tamarack – no time), up Lonely Lake outlet, over Pterodactyl and around to 11,200, out Pear. Moose Lake only if time/energy left. You’d see every watering hole we did, except Tamarack Lake. Or…

2. Straight to Tablelands on Day 1, via either Alta Meadows or Pear Lake (walk-in permit), then just spend four days seeing as much of Tablelands as possible. I’d consider myself lucky to make it as far as either Lonely or Big Bird Lake on a 4-day itinerary, although either would be a great day-pack excursion from 11,200. If you prefer x-country to trail days, this is the purer trip compared to option #1. But I list it with some hesitation because it requires both Class 2 x-country hiking and higher-altitude exposure on Day 1, and that combination would have been too jolting for my group, I don’t know about yours.

Also, you won’t move as fast across Tablelands as you think. It’s not really a flat table as the name implies. Navigation also not as easy as you might think, because there are few landmarks. Going eastbound, I’ve had to use my compass.

Moose to Big Bird, if you have your heart set on that, is no trivial day – you won’t have time for side trips. The route starting from Moose is to go first to Lake 11,200 (follow a westerly line of tarns there); then over Tablelands Pass down a ridge to the NW end of Big Bird Lake. If you want to go from Moose to Pterodactyl Pass – which would be your way to get to points east such as Lonely Lake, Elizabeth Pass, Tamarack Lake – from word of mouth, the easiest/best way is to first take the above-mentioned route along tarns to 11,200, then contour over to Pterodactyl. I’m told don’t go east directly from Moose towards Pterodactyl, that’s a lot of very slow and tricky up and down, and would take more time even though it’s more direct.

Remember that you will be moving at the pace of the slowest/least acclimatized member of your group, not the fastest.

Elizabeth
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:27 am

I had a group that included two big-headed men who decided they didn't like my class 1-2 walking routes, and took off in different directions on the boulders on the way to Pterodactyl Pass. We didn't see other members of the group for a long time, and the other woman got herself into class 3-4 segments and got very nervous with her 40 lb pack on. It can be hard to keep the group together if you have anyone impatient -- people can disappear into the boulder fields in no time.

If you do not stay high (we learned this the hard way) you have much more rock and elevation loss/gain, repeatedly. That Moose -> Big Bird day would not be leisurely. Not by a long shot.

There was a small waterfall on the Kaweah (we ended up crashing and burning in a site next to the river, instead of going up to Tamarack Lake - two of the group were completely exhausted) but I would not call it anything close to "lots of water." The Marble Fork originating in Table Meadows was a trickle, no water slides to speak of, last year. We had to lay down in the inches of water and roll over to get wet. The pools were not quite what they usually are. It might be better this year.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby oleander » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:18 pm

AlmostThere wrote:It can be hard to keep the group together if you have anyone impatient -- people can disappear into the boulder fields in no time.


Don't get me started on this topic :angry: Of course there is no "right way" or "wrong way" to get from A to B, and backpackers tend to be independent types, so let them diverge slightly. But when I'm trip leader and someone isn't even interested in my extensive pre-trip recon that would keep the group on a safe(r) route, and takes off without even listening/considering...That person is not going to be invited on any future trip.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:41 pm

Don't get me started on this topic :angry:


Please, do start up a separate thread on this topic, I'm sure others would be happy to give their input on this. ;)
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby ERIC » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:06 pm

maverick wrote:I hope you intented to write up a TR this time, asking for route beta and not coming back with a TR is not cool.


+1

It's a fairly painless way to pay it forward.
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby watsonic » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:26 pm

Thanks all for your incredible insights (and guilt trips ;) ) !

I've been mulling this over for a few days and compiling responses with new questions...

First, let me address some general things:

AlmostThere wrote:Your level of experience is most important when you're asking for advice on this route


Thanks for the warnings. I'm a fit 35 y/o male with significant XC route finding experience. I have with me a fit female companion with a decent amount of XC experience (several trips with and without me in the last 3 years).

maverick wrote:I hope you intented to write up a TR this time, asking for route beta and not coming back with a TR is not cool.


BUSTED! You are so right. I've benefited from this community (including you directly @maverick) on two seperate occasions for a trip 2 years ago that included Rae Lakes + XC in Arrow basin and one 3 years ago from Mosquito Flats to Mammoth (each of which were INCREDIBLE, btw and almost entirely without regret). It's only equitable to return the favor of trip data with data (though I hope my prior reconnaissance, route planning and careful thread direction has given others some ideas and compiled ideas in one place) Life is full for me right now and a lot has been going on (including a really serious bike accident last year which precluded the possibility of a trip at all), and I'm admittedly a perfectionist when it comes to creative output. I should get over it and give at least a cursory report. I owe you three and my lady also has one coming about vegan trail food techniques (she has NAILED this).
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Re: Route suggestions request: Wolverton -> Moose -> ??

Postby watsonic » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:35 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:You can reach Elizabeth Pass Trail via Paradactyle Pass and then the pass by Lonely Lake (forgot the name- but it puts you just on the north side of Elizabeth Pass), or drop down the creek from Lonely Lake until it intersects the Elizabeth Pass Trail (fairly easy x-country).


Several people on this forum seem to think that Ranger meadow is worth checking out. So I had half a mind to make the 1 mile or so excursion after descent along the outlet of Big Bird Lake. Though now looking at the map again, that would be a long long day: BB->ranger->Hamilton or Tamarack.

I'm now considering an alternate route which avoids descent down to Deadmans Canyon/Elizabeth Pass trail and even a visit to BBird altogether (which several of you think, from Moose, is a nontrivial route):
Day 1: -> big lake in Tablelands (at ~10,600) via Pear
Day 2: -> day trip (slightly crazy but not as bad without big bag):
  • north over the ridge NNW from lake 10,600
  • then ENE past the cliffs
  • descending eventually to lakes at ~9,800 in box canyon.
  • possible exploration also a bit downstream
  • then either back same way or:
    • possibly W over to West Fork Feurgeson drainage...
      (this ascent would appear to be doable even though somewhat steep on W side [1])
    • then SE from lake at ~10,300 (again somewhat steep on W side ... is this doable?)
Day 3: -> Moose (probably via the northern ridge running SE to outlet... sound right?)
  • visit lake 11,200 for sunset
  • maybe some other explorations around Tablelands...
Day 4: -> Out possibly via Alta route

Potentially reversing this entire thing and going via Alta -> Moose first. Opinions?

[1] There's a good writeup by @oldranger on this area here. He says:
oldranger wrote:Dropping in from the table lands, except for Crowley, involves careful route selection from ledge to ledge but is class 2. There is actually the remnants of a trail dropping into Crowley from the Tablelands.
In another post he called the short ridge between the Feurgeson and Box basins his favorite ridge:
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