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Trip Advice

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Trip Advice

Postby jmac » Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:54 am

Hello everyone!

I’m looking for a new place to take my kids backpacking this summer and would love to hear some suggestions from the HST community. We have been going to Little Lakes Valley for the last few years (some of you may have seen my TR’s), which we love, but wanted to try something new. This time we are thinking of following a stream/river under a forest canopy at 10,000ft elevation and under. Cascades, waterfalls, and pools are a huge plus. We would like to keep the 1st day mileage under 10 miles and plan to base-camp and do day hikes from there.

    Children are comfortable with level 2 backpacking/class 1 terrain – Some backpacking experience on-trail and some hiking off-trail. Small stream crossings are ok.

    Planning on 3 nights/4 days.

    Loop or out-and-back is fine.

    Anywhere in the Sierra is fine (east side or west side approach). We usually stay on the east side, but understand our options would be limited considering the type of terrain/atmosphere we are looking for. I think it may be time to start exploring the west side a little more.


Places I have looked into so far are (in order of preference):

    River Trail from Agnew Meadows to somewhere below Garnet Lake. I remember the Middle Fork San Joaquin River having some nice cascades and pools just below (1/4 mile or so) where the waters from Garnet Lake meet the San Joaquin.

    Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. I don’t really know too much about this area other than the pictures look like exactly what I’m looking for. Do I need to pass Glen Aulin on the first day? I need to look into all the red tape for this area.

    Lyell Canyon. Passed through here on my JMT trip last year and camped at an amazing spot on the other side of the river at a cascade. I’m not sure, however, that we would be able to cross with the kids this year due to the drastically different snowpack.

Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions. Hopefully I provided enough information for recommendations.

-Joe



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Re: Trip Advice

Postby Hobbes » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:10 pm

Can't go wrong with Horseshoe & Cottonwood lakes - it's only 5 miles from the TH to the first lake. The (old) trail that follows the SF creek is especially nice - lots of meadows, deer, cirques, etc. Come to think of it, I can't recall ever coming across anyone while walking - and it's usually the only way I go. There are many lakes in the basin that provide great day hikes, some with GT (season starts 7/1). Of course, there's also some very good peaks - Langley being the most prominent - that are easy walk-ups. A great loop is to hike up New Army pass, summit Langley, then come down Old Army pass.

Image
SF drainage looking @ NAP

Coming from SoCal, I can get there in 4 hrs from OC. I think it's practically impossible not to get a walk-in permit, so you can go whenever the mood strikes. It's such an easy location to get to with lots of different possibilities (gateway to Miter & Crabtree + Whitney and points north/west), that for awhile I was having a hard time breaking out from my routine. Everything else seemed like a longer drive, more hassle, and less pay-off.

If you're into the highest of the High Sierra with the least amount of effort (hassle, not hiking), Horseshoe, Shepherd & Kearsarge seem to be the ticket.
Last edited by Hobbes on Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby jmac » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:21 pm

[quote="Hobbes"]Can't go wrong with Horseshoe & Cottonwood lakes - it's only 5 miles from the TH to the first lake. The (old) trail that follows the SF creek is especially nice - lots of meadows, deer, cirques. Come to think of it, I can't recall ever coming across anyone - and it's usually the only way I go. There are many lakes in the basin that provide great day hikes, some with GT (season starts 7/1). Of course, there's also some very good peaks - Langley being the most prominent - that are easy walk-ups. A great loop is to hike up New Army pass, summit Langley, then come down Old Army pass.

Sweet! I'll have to keep this in mind. I'm actually doing Langley with a couple friends in late June. I'll be on the lookout when I'm there. Thank you!
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby Hobbes » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:33 pm

jmac wrote:I'm actually doing Langley with a couple friends in late June.


Cool, you'll get a chance to check out the entire deal. Here's a mini-pictorial of a Langley day hike:

View of the peak from the SF lake:
Image

Looking up @ NAP on the way there:
Image

View of Whitney from the summit:
Image

Looking down OAP on the way back:
Image

This was August - OAP might be holding too much snow in June, so you might want to return back down NAP.
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby jmac » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:48 pm

Hobbes wrote:
jmac wrote:I'm actually doing Langley with a couple friends in late June.


Cool, you'll get a chance to check out the entire deal. Here's a mini-pictorial of a Langley day hike:

Thank you so much for the photos! I can't wait for this trip. I just love the stark contrast in colors of the southern sierra!
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby Ska-T » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:01 pm

With regard to hiking near running water . . .
Early season trips are best for the Spring runoff, especially routes that avoid unsafe stream crossings.
Trips listed in order of what should be available first (by the calendar). Most of these trails are popular, but not more so than Little Lakes Valley.

1. Road's End to Paradise Meadow (and beyond). This route follows Woods Creek and includes Mist Falls. The trail head is easy to get to and there are ample camp grounds within 5 mi of the trail head. The downside is that the trail is popular and you have to camp in designated spots in PV. This trip is best early season before the crowds get bad. Unfortunately, your kids will probably still be in school.

2. Happy Isles at east end of Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake. This route follows the Merced River and includes the big water falls of Vernal and Nevada as well as impressive cascades along the hike. This trip is best early season before the crowds get bad. Unfortunately, your kids will probably still be in school.

3. Crescent Meadow to Tamarack Lake. The first 12 mi or so doesn't walk next to water, but there are a number of side streams that cross the trail. Then follow Lone PIne Creek up to Tamarack Lake (less crowded than Hamilton). This hike doesn't have major changes in elevation, except near the lake.

4. Bear Diversion Dam to JMT and south. This route follows moving water for most of the trip. There are many choices for day hikes once you go south on the JMT for a couple of miles. The difficulty of this trip is getting to the trail head.
http://www.highsierratrails.com/bear_cr ... .html#here

5. Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin. This trip goes by many lakes, rather than following a stream. However, you could hike westward from Dusy Basin descending down to Le Conte Canyon. That way you would descend next to a long cascade and there is a big stream down below.
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:52 pm

If you do the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne, go from White Wolf up the river to Tuolumne. Even though it is more elevation gain, I would not like to subject kids to the hot and grueling hike up out to White Wolf. Later in the season the river is great for swimming but waterfalls less impressive. Too cold and swift to swim early season. If you are counting on public transport to get back to your car, be sure YARTS is running. Pate Valley at the bridge is quite nasty- I would not plan on camping down there. It is a bug filled swamp, with rattlesnakes and bears. Some good sites about half mile downstream or upstream.

The Merced trip is great- one of my early season favorites, but the waterfalls are the most impressive early season. This year, I think you would be OK as late as mid-to late June. If you do this, come back via the cross trail from Echo Valley to the JMT and climb up Clouds Rest. Also, use the Mist Trail one way and the JMT the other. This way the trip is almost a loop.
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:55 pm

Not saying Horseshoe and Cottonwood Lakes are not great, but the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is exactly what you are looking for. :nod:
Tuolumne Falls, LeConte Fall, and Waterwheel Falls are the perfect trip for anyone seeking the best of the Sierra when it come to falls, cascades, and pools.
Here are two campsites indicated on the HST Map, one at Glen Aulin, from where you can do a day hike to pretty McGee Lake about 1 mile away. Your second campsite is at a beautiful location right above Waterwheel Falls and below LeConte Falls, from where you can take a day hike down past Return Creek towards Muir Gorge, where you will visit pretty Register Falls. HST Map
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Tuolumne River.jpg
Tuolumne River.jpg (72.47 KiB) Viewed 123 times
Waterwheel Falls Sunset.jpg
Waterwheel Falls Sunset.jpg (38.35 KiB) Viewed 123 times
Waterwheel Falls.jpg
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LeConte by Moonlight.jpg
LeConte by Moonlight.jpg (42.08 KiB) Viewed 123 times
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby jmac » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:36 am

Thank you Ska-T, Wandering Daisy, and Maverick! Maverick, those shots are amazing and thanks for posting a link to the map. All of these are great suggestions and I can't wait to make a decision and get out there! As of now I'm leaning towards the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, but we'll see where we'll actually end up. This is the exact type of info I was looking for. Thank you all! I'll be sure to post a TR of our trip wherever we end up. :)
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Re: Trip Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:05 am

The lower parts of Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne have some poison oak. So if you or your kids get rashes, take some Technu. My son-in-law who is very reactive and is a mountain biker in the bay area, now just showers with Dawn dishwashing soap and said it works as well as Technu. But that may be too sudsy for wilderness use. Just jumping into cold water at the end of each day also helps. If you hit peak flows you may have to do some wading between Waterwheel Falls and Glen Aulin camp. Actually it is really adventuresome- most kids would think it was great. Also be very careful with kids around the falls. The rock is very slippery.
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