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Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or less

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Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or less

Postby Talimon » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:03 pm

I have a group of novice backpackers I am taking out, and a dog. Two tents total. First day hike out, second day lay-over and explore, third day return. I want to avoid my past mistake of taking novices on trips that are too long, so I am looking at something mellow yet still rewarding. One of the members of the group is more fit and wants a challenge, so on the lay-over day I was hoping to send him to peak-bag something while the rest of the group can take it easy. Ideally I am thinking around 5-7 miles out, with a destination at a lake we can layover the second day. We are coming from the south up the 395.

My first thought was Cottonwood Lakes, which are easy to get to and still rewarding enough. I have only hiked through here on the way to or from New Army Pass, and have never actually camped, so if anyone can recommend a lake that would be a good base-camp for a couple nights I would appreciate it. #5 looks pretty scenic. Also Muir Lake looked attractive, and maybe less busy?

We wouldn't want to go any further north than Bishop, but if there are other options with the same mileage range that would be a good intro trip I would appreciate some ideas.



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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:35 pm

With novices, you may want to camp at the trailhead first night to see how they do with the altitude. Sometimes the most fit person actually is the first to get altitude sick.

Regardless of how fit a novice is, it makes me a little nervous that you would have him solo peak-bag. There is a lot more about being safe climbing (even class 2) than being fit. You need to make an emergency plan- exactly what you would do if he does not return, what exactly HE is supposed to do if he runs into problems or gets injured, and have a well established turn-around time that has at least 2 hours of remaining daylight. Personally, I would have the most fit and next most fit go together, or have some kind of a communication system. I think there are plenty of lakes to see and explore that would be less risky.

I have never spent a layover in Cottonwood Lakes- only passed through returning from a climb. I remember it as very stunning and beautiful with lots of places to explore. I also remember plenty of campsites, if you are not too fussy and you may have to be a bit separated with the two tents.

Just an observation. The last trip I did we had a 3-man tent. It is surprising how many campsites are small, only accommodating a small 2-man tent or solo tent. Many places we actually found several close-by small sites vs. one site big enough for our tent.
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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby rayfound » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:34 pm

There's a great campsite below cottonwood 2 beside the little pond. Edit, sorry I mean above two, below 3.
Last edited by rayfound on Mon Aug 17, 2015 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:41 pm

Would recommend the North Fork of Big Pine Creek, 5.7 miles, 2094ft elevation gain, camp at Second Lake. Keep the altitude issue in mind, it starts affecting some of folks at 8000ft, a some even lower. http://calitrails.com/2014/05/29/hiking ... -big-pine/
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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:14 am

Another option would be Little lakes Valley, out of Rock Creek. easy hiking to campsites within a few miles of the trailhead, and for the layover day, lots of lakes to fish. Your peak bagger could head up to Mono Pass and entertain himself with views over most of the Sierra....
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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:54 pm

Cottonwood Lakes are of course closest with hiking distance and vetical climb moderate.

Outside of there, you really just have one other trailhead option without driving a lot farther or with more strenuous hiking mileage and vertical. That is the high elevation Onion Valley trailhead.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.76616,-118.36519&z=15&t=T

Would recommend backpacking to Matlock Lake. There are of course lots of dayhikers as well as backpackers going up that Kearsarge Pass Trail so one issue is getting away from the dayhikers. As you can see on the map, there is no maintained trail going to the Matlock basin. But there is a well used unmaintained unsigned trail. It begins near the south side of the Flower Lake outlet and climbs gradually to the southeast up about 150 vertical feet and over the gentle forested ridge. Since there is no map trail, no trail signs, far less day hikers explore that way. From Flower Lake's outlet wander up the ridge and have fun finding the trail from all the lakeside campsite use paths of those about to dig 6 inch deep holes. More secluded camping will be below Slim Lake. There are brook trout in those lakes. Bench Lake above is a frog lake now.

For an easy layover dayhike, Bench Lake and the basin to the southwest above are interesting. Or climb further up to the noname lake at 3480+ meters. For your friend, suggest he climb up to Kearsarge Pass and if really challenged could climb right up Mt Gould from there.

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http://www.davidsenesac.com/2015_Trip_C ... les-0.html
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Re: Trip Advice: Novice trip, South East, 5-6 miles out or l

Postby Talimon » Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:42 pm

Wow! Thank you for all the advice. Very helpful. We are now keeping a close eye on the wildfires, as I don't want to take novices into a smoky area. Hopefully things calm down soon!
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