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Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

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Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby hobomoto » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:21 pm

Hi everyone,

My cousin and I will be doing the Circle of Solitude loop in SEKI mid-September out of Road's End and I have been looking at a possible alternative route to get to Cloud Canyon rather than Avalanche Pass.

I am currently expanding into doing more off trail hiking so I see this as an opportunity to challenge myself a bit. I recently did Glacier Pass down to Spring Lake out of Mineral King, starting off trail from Monarch Creek which was a fun exercise.

I'd say I am comfortable with Class 2 and looking to explore Class 3 more.

From what I've read and from what I can see on my Tom Harrison map for the area, Avalanche Pass seems rather boring to me. I prefer high alpine lakes and vistas more than walking through repetitive trees and forests blocking the views.

So the crux of my question is..  could it be desirable to go up to Sphinx Lakes and then go offtrail over the Sphinx Crest and down to Cloud Canyon thus bypassing Avalanche Pass and Roaring River?

The option I have eyeballed on the map:

Follow light use trail up Sphinx Creek to Sphinx Lakes. Head all the way up to Lake 10962, head for the low point south-west of the lake, descend down to Brewer Creek, look for the light use trail which leads up to Big Brewer Lake and follow that down to Cloud Canyon.

I realize this adds a net of approximately 1000 ft of elevation gain vs Avalanche Pass/ Roaring River but the rewards of visiting the Sphinx Lakes area seem worthwhile on paper (especially since I like to fish).

The descent from the Sphinx Crest to Big Brewer Creek also looks steepish. About the same steepness as Black Rock Pass which I did last week. Could be interesting off trail depending on the terrain.

So anyone have boots on the ground in this area? Thoughts?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Dom



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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:03 pm

You do know there is a HUGE fire belching out great masses of smoke in and around Kings Canyon? The road is reopening, but I seriously doubt the fire will be out any time soon. Even if they manage to contain it, which I doubt they will do, there will be hot spots and smoke for a long time. Yes, the fire is not along the area you describe, but the unhealthy air quality could make that climb up Avalanche even less appealing than usual.

As for the route, I can think of a number of reasons why it isn't something we hear about a lot, most of them involving "steep" as an adjective (among others). But I think Bill Finch might have a few ideas for you. He might even chime in. Here's a trip report of his that your post brought to mind.
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... index.html
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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:30 pm

Some info in this thread too: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=13174&hilit=brewer+creek
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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby Cross Country » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:56 am

My wife and I did it and it´s an exelent route IF THERE ISN´T A LOT OF SMOKE.
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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby hurricaniac » Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:50 am

We came across Sphinx Col in early July, it is steep on the south side, but nothing scary. The talus heading up to the col from the upper Sphinx lake is a bit of a pain, you'll need to take your time there. Once atop, stay to the east of the col for the best choice of routes down to the tarn below.

The route up Sphinx Creek from the maintained trail is a bit of a thrash until you reach the first lake.

TR: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=13272
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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby hobomoto » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:24 am

Thanks for the intel guys, obviously I wasn't up to date on the fire situation. I had just been in Mineral King and it didn't look too bad relatively from the summit of Sawtooth. Apparently it got out of control the day after we left...

This trip will have to wait until next year!
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Re: Off trail from Sphinx Lakes to Cloud Canyon?

Postby hobomoto » Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:50 pm

Cross Country wrote:My wife and I did it and it´s an exelent route IF THERE ISN´T A LOT OF SMOKE.


Fantastic. Still looking foreward to giving it a shot sometime.
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