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Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in June

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Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in June

Postby mitchellisdumb » Thu May 12, 2016 4:20 pm

Hi all,

I'm planning a trip up to the Tablelands in Sequoia NP for mid-June (leaving on or around the 15th). Here's a map:

https://caltopo.com/m/3C74 (hide the "old info" folder)

And here's the plan:

  • - Depending on when we can leave, our first day would either a 6 mile hike into Pear Lake, or an 8 mile hike into Table Meadows. Either way, it’s not too strenuous, so we can get acclimated.
  • - Day 2 is a hike through the Tablelands to Lonely Lake (5 miles or 7 miles, depending on where we camp the night before). We’ll spend a 1.5 miles hiking along the Kings-Kaweah Divide, so we’ll get some gorgeous views. I’m guessing there’s good fishing here. Has anybody here done this? Does the cross-country route I plotted have any pitfalls to it?
  • - Day 3 sends us over Horn Col to meet up with the Deadman Canyon trail. Then we go downhill for the rest of the day until we hit Hamilton Lakes. 7 miles, almost all downhill—a nice easy day, giving us time to play around at Valhalla.
  • - Day 4 is long and flat. 14 miles along the High Sierra Trail takes us back to the trailhead.

Any thoughts? There will be four of us—three experienced backpackers who've been up this way before, and one newbie.

My main concern is snow, since my previous trips to the Tablelands have been late in the season. This route mostly avoids North-facing slopes, but it does go up to 11,500' (at Big Bird Peak). I'm also concerned about the traverse from Horn Col to the Elizabeth Pass trail, I'm guessing that could be hairy. I have microspikes, but I'm pretty sure the others don't. Do you think they'd be worth bringing/buying, or will we be OK with good tread and trekking poles?

Thanks for the help!



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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby maverick » Thu May 12, 2016 5:05 pm

Hi Mitchell,

Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205

As the trip leader, always plan your hike according to the weakest link in the group, don't push newbies into uncomfortable situations, it can turn them off from going out any more, and in the worst case scenario, they could get injured or end up dead, just keeping it real.

Haven't seen a TR from the hike you were planning to do with your dad back in 2014, what's up?
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby mitchellisdumb » Thu May 12, 2016 9:05 pm

That's a good word. Sorry, I missed that sticky. And yes, I totally forgot to post a TR! It was a pretty generic JMT hike, but we did do a little bit of a detour around Thousand Island and Garnet lakes. I've got a bunch of photos, maybe I'll put something together—better late than never!

I'm a pretty experienced hiker. I've been doing this for a long time, and have done a fair bit of cross-country route finding (mostly in the Adirondacks and San Gabriels, and a bit in the High Sierras). The other two experienced backpackers have also done quite a bit, and we've hiked together enough to have a solid chemistry—I did a trip with them last summer in the Tablelands (the "2015 Route" in the map I linked) and we've guided some high school groups together. One of them is a certified WFR.

The one new backpacker isn't experienced, but she's eager. We've done some tough class 3 scrambling with her in the San Gabriels (day trips), and she's in good physical shape. We'll do a shake-down overnight nearby to get her gear in order before this trip.

That said, I don't want to push her too far. Having done some traveling in the Southern Tablelands (Moose Lake to Pear Lake), I'm sure she can handle that sort of cross-country without a problem. I think the route I outlined would be totally reasonable for us later in the season, but if there's going to be a significant amount of snow on the passes I'll want to make some changes.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby maverick » Fri May 13, 2016 4:04 pm

Hi Mitchell,

Thanks for supplying the additional information. Your trip is way to early, especially in the sections near Elizabeth Pass.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby mitchellisdumb » Sat May 14, 2016 1:00 am

Ok, thanks. I'll shelve it for later in the season and do something at a lower elevation this June.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby oldranger » Sat May 14, 2016 7:50 am

no fish in Lonely Lake.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 16, 2016 8:47 pm

I wrote a trip report, late June 2014. We came from Hamilton Lake through Tablelands and out a similar route you are going in. This was just the end part of a trip to Nine Lakes Basin and Big and Little Five Lakes. We simply left the Elizabeth Lake trail and followed the creek (from Lonely Lake) to just below the lake (10,200) and camped. Next day we went over Perodycdral Pass and then up onto the rim, to the tiny tarn on the top of the ridge, that flows into 10435 below. There actually is a grassy spot you could camp on up there, if no threat of lightning. Then we dropped to Table Meadows.

On another trip I went over the pass by Lonely Lake into the upper bowl of Deadman Canyon. The year I did it was a high snow year and it was first part of July, and there was a big cornice on the pass. I had to lower my pack and slither down a melt-out next to a rock. I doubt there would be a cornice this year, but one never knows. If you cannot get down, just go back to Lonely Lake and drop down the outlet.

Going from Pear Lake to Table Meadows can be very tricky. A bit of bushwhacking if not on a good route. Getting up the rock slabs north of Pear Lake can also be intimidating to some.

The walk out from Hamilton Lake is not bad at all. The trail is well maintained and although it has a lot of small ups and downs it really goes fast.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby Ska-T » Mon May 16, 2016 10:56 pm

You could modify your trip to avoid the Elizabeth Pass area. Specifically, from the Tablelands go east over Pterodactyl Pass and wander down to the lower part of the Elizabeth Pass trail (on the south side of the pass, of course). Then take the trail up Lone Pine Creek to Tamarack Lake for an overnight stop. Go back down the trail the way you came in and turn south at the Elizabeth Pass trail. Continue on your stated route, that is, go to Hamilton Lakes, then out to Crescent Meadow.

The potential sticking point is travel through the Tablelands in mid June. I have no experience with that.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby AlmostThere » Tue May 17, 2016 6:54 am

I guess I don't think of going to Table Meadows as bushwhacking. We usually go over the ridge from the ranger's cabin and wander up the river, crossing it at some point then wandering up the slabs on the other side to the meadows. The trick is to stay high and off the waterway, in the granite.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue May 17, 2016 8:52 pm

I have done the route with snow on it (July 4th weekend 2006). It does slow you down, and you do post-hole often. Going down the east side of Paradactyle Pass is steep and snowy, but was more of a problem with sinking in than falling down the slope. Lonely Lake was totally snow bound so I carried water up on the ridge where it was dry and camped with a great view of Big Bird Lake. That said, I would not take anyone up there who has not been on snow if there is snow on the passes. I only had trekking poles and long gaiters and my shoe has a pretty aggressive tread. The snow did not start until above Table Meadows.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby mitchellisdumb » Tue May 17, 2016 10:45 pm

Thanks everybody for the replies! I hadn't even noticed the possibility of following the stream down from Lonely Lake until it meets with the Elizabeth Pass trail, that's a good backup plan.

We've decided to replace this trip with a shorter one out to the San Gorgonio Wilderness. I don't want to take a new hiker out into any snow conditions that involve more than a few patches here and there. But I'm going to try to get at least a few of us to try this route later in the season, maybe sometime in August.
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Re: Critique My Route (& Need Snow Advice) - Tablelands in J

Postby maverick » Wed May 18, 2016 7:09 am

I don't want to take a new hiker out into any snow conditions that involve more than a few patches here and there.

Wise decision Mitchell. :nod:
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