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5-7 day Seq/KC trip ideas

Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 3:57 pm
by lost in texas
Hello, new member here. I've been away from the Sierras for years and am planning a 5-7 day trip with my 60 yr old father and 32 yr old sister for next June/July (snow depth dependent). Its been 20 yrs since I've traveled to Sequoia/KC, and did not go beyond day hikes back in those days. Similarly I summited Whitney via the Whitney Portal years back, but have not done any trips to the interior of S/KC.

I wanted to get this board's opinion of an ideal point to point 5-7 day trip (10-12 miles/day). Currently I was considering either 1) the High Sierra Trail or 2) Roads End to the Whitney Portal. Any other trips that would compare or exceed these two in the area? I was also considering avoiding the Whitney trail due to the crowds, thus was wondering how the mileage compares coming out at either the Cottonwood area or Onion Valley?

Thanks in advance! Living in Austin over the past few years has added to my excitement to get back and do a classic Sierra trek. After growing up in the Sacramento area, it was easy to take the mountains for granted. Other than Big Bend, there are not a whole lot of outdoor positives about Texas, but perspective of the Sierra's granduer is certainly something gained down here.

Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:17 am
by Rosabella
The last backpacking trip I took with my Dad was Onion Valley to Whitney (a little over 5 years ago). Dad was 83 at the time, and he carried his own pack. it was tough for him, but there's not many 83-year olds that could do that trail, with or without a pack. I was so proud of him! What a wonderful trip that was! My sons were 14 and 18 at the time, and my older sister was mid-fifties.

It's a great section of the trail (one of my Dad's and my favorite). Yes, it does end at Whitney, so you'll have that traffic on the last day, but it's worth it. It's about 50 miles, so it would work in your allotted time. Good luck to you; I treasure the backpacking trips I took with my Dad, and especially this last trip, as we knew it would be the last.

August 2001 - Dad, Sonny, Me, Therese, and Adam in from of the Whitney Hut:

Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:37 pm
by giantbrookie
First off, it's great to go up with your dad and second, to Rosabella: what a great trip with the three generations!--My hat's off to your dad.

Regarding options for a 5-7 High Sierra backpack, there are many more alternatives than the HST or Whitney-related trips. The HST is one heck of a trail, particularly the mind-blowing section between Bearpaw and Kaweah Gap (the trail is basically blasted into the side of cliffs in some places with plenty of air on one side!), but the day 1 camping options (in keeping with a 10-12 mi format) are a bit limited. Bearpaw is at the right distance, but crowded. Buck Canyon is a decent alternative, but the view isn't all that great from there (in contrast to the amazing views along much of this trail).

Excluding the "highlight reel" part of the HST, I believe there are better alternatives in terms of scenery and hiking, including the Onion Valley-Whitney route mentioned by Rosabella.

Here's a few more menu items (among dozens of options):
1. Kings Canyon loop: Bubbs Creek-Glen Pass-Paradise Valley. The central part: from Bullfrog Lake area to Rae Lakes can be a bit crowded, but little side trips can get you off to less crowded places to camp. The high end (7 days) allows you to tack on some interesting potential side trips off of the basic loop. No shuttle is required as you return to the same trailhead you left.

2. Cottonwood/New Army Pass to Onion Valley or visa versa. This requires the full 7 days to make the pace reasonable (ie keep at or below the 10-12 mi limit per day). This can be done as an all trail trip, or made much more interesting with a little bit of mild (class 2 talus in places) off trail hiking that would allow you to visit the Crabtree Lakes and Miter Basin (connecting between these two places via trailless Crabtree Pass). This route avoids the Whitney zoo, although it may still offer the option of a dayhike peak bag of Whitney from the west if you wish to configure your trip that way. You need two cars or shuttle for this. A variation of this (depending on where you want to spend most of your time) is to go from Cottonwood to Symmes Creek (making sure to do it in that direction so that you descend from Shepherd Pass rather than have to go over it from the east).

3. Onion Valley to Taboose Creek (must be done in this order to avoid ASCENDING Taboose Pass). This is a nice shuttle trip and the section north of Woods Creek is not very heavily traveled.

4. As discussed on a separate thread here (South Lake to North Lake). South Lake to North Lake via Bishop Pass and Lamarck Col. This is a top of the line shuttle route, with consistently gorgeous camping and scenery the entire way; I'd rank it above any of the 3 options above. There is off trail (class 2) hiking to get over Lamarck Col.

5. A less popular alternative to No.4 is to go Bishop Pass (South Lake) to Taboose Pass (Taboose Creek). This is visually spectacular, not heavily traveled (except for the first part up to Bishop Pass), and unlike No. 4, all trail, even if the last part descending Taboose is a real knee knocker. This is probably the least traveled of all the alternatives here.

6. North Lake to Pine Creek. There are a number of options off the basic route via Piute and Pine Creek Passes. The best of the options would involve lots of easy cross country wandering around Humphreys Basin and French Canyon. This is easiest class 2 or class 1 off trail stuff. It is nicer to cross over the divide (off trail) between Humphreys Basin and French Canyon, rather than stay on the trail along the trunk streams. This option involves the least distance covered with a pack of all of the options listed here. This can be a very relaxing trip with lots of opportunities for easy side trips and layover days. The scenery is nice and fishing superb.

Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:13 pm
by maverick
All of the previous are great choices! I also like the Lamarck Col
I met a 85 year old man 5 yrs ago who does the JMT every 3 yrs
in 3 weeks(supported by family and friend).
I hope Ill be able to get out into the wild at that age!!
Hope your dad has many more years to experience the joy of backpacking with his children!
Lets add a loop trail starting from Mineral King over Franklin Pass
down Soda Creek up the Big Arroyo and go to 5 Little Lakes over
Black Rock Pass and back to Mineral King via Timber Gap.
Lots of side trip possibilites.

Posted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:47 pm
by SSSdave
litexas, I would recommend a more leisurely trip than the 10-12 miles a day you are contemplating. A more leisurely distance would be 5 to 8 miles a day. And that ought to begin on the first day more conservatively lest one's body become sore for the rest of a trip. I would suggest that to anyone who has not been regularly backpacking for years, especially those who are over 40. It is more than just getting into shape because pack weights and footwear are often less than pleasant until one's body can adapt. Most people on backpacking boards hike and backpack a lot and tend to relate more vigourous trip ideas they are familliar with. Of course only you know what your relatives physical states are. With 5 to 7 days you would be able to move two to three days out from a trailhead with a day or two of layovers.

A more leisurely choice would be to hike in from Onion Valley on the east side of the Sierra, over Kearsarge Pass, then over Glen Pass into the Rae Lake Basin. It is a good choice because the scenery is among the best in the High Sierra, the trailhead is already very high, and one can stop and camp along the route in any of many spots and still be in wonderfully scenic areas. Hiking the first day only to Flowers Lake or over the slight divide to more secluded Matlock Lake is good strategy. Then the second day over the Kearsarge Pass to Kearsarge Lakes that are quite beautiful. At that point depending on how the group is feeling and how much time you have, you could hike over Glen Pass with the strategy of only needing two days when your bodies are more acclimated to get back to the trailhead from the Rae basin.

Some of my relatives live nearby about Canyon Lake,

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:17 pm
by lost in texas
Thanks to all of you for the detailed responses, you have opened up my thought process. I recently purchased 'Sierra South' from Wilderness Press, and am contemplating the South Lake to North Lake loop, with the possibility of traveling through the Palisades Basin. Question to the group, how difficult is the hiking/scrambing and route finding the Palisades Basin, and is it a must see area? I'm more familiar with Yosemite and the Greater Tahoe area, so perhaps you could suggest a analagous route in those areas.

I'm familiarizing myself with the Cottonwood to Onion Valley route as well. What are the interesting side trips from this trip? Milestone Basin seems to be a favorite of a few sources I have read. Any others worth a day or two side trip? My father and I have climbed Whitney, so that is not a must have for our group.

Thanks again gang, glad I found a forum to discuss the Sierras!

South Lake North Lake

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:28 pm
by gdurkee
South Lake to North Lake is a great trip and 5-7 days is a good pace (though I'd plan towards the 7 day end of it...). A side trip to Palisade Basin would be good as a day hike from Dusy Basin. A fairly easy hike over Knapsack Pass. It's almost a trail in most places. The easternmost xc pass -- Thunderbolt -- is more difficult. Boulders and etc. Knapsack is good, though. You can get down to some of the nearer lakes and back in a day.

A side trip to Rainbow Lakes, though, is a lot better if you're into fishing. Very good trout lake.

Good luck,


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:10 pm
by quentinc
Texas: Palisade Basin is ideal for lovers of high, exposed terrain, like me. It has great views of the Palisades (and great climbing access), with lakes but no trees. However, this kind of stark terrain is not to everyone's taste. As George notes, it's easy via Knapsack Pass.

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:30 am
by Snow Nymph
quentinc wrote:Texas: Palisade Basin is ideal for lovers of high, exposed terrain, like me. It has great views of the Palisades (and great climbing access), with lakes but no trees. However, this kind of stark terrain is not to everyone's taste. As George notes, it's easy via Knapsack Pass.
We went over Thunderbolt Pass, but here are the views:


Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:24 am
by BSquared
I would second (or third or something) George's suggestion of South Lake to North Lake. Even if you stay strictly on the trails, you're going through some of the most beautiful country in the Sierra (which is saying something, of course!), with a superb alternation of sheltered valleys, stark high alpine country, and quiet meadows. (Wow, I'm ready to go!)