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Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

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Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby tekisui0 » Mon May 16, 2016 3:09 pm

Hello!

I started hiking in the Sierra Nevada about 5 years ago and completely fell in love. I've been backpacking for about 20 years and have done so all over the world but theres just something special in the Sierras. "Just a little further..." So I need some Trip Advice and am relying on you lovely folks that really know the place (I live in Austin). I will be bringing one of my closest friends and his 13 year old boy for his first real backpacking experience in the wilderness!

What level of backpacking experience do you have?

I'm probably a level 3+ I've done lots of XC, but havent done any significantly exposed high XC passes. My friend has only done trail stuff and his boy's first time out.

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?

Class 2 and/or anything suitable for a 13 yr old

What is your main interest?

High valleys, big trees and forests with lakes and high mountain back drops. We want to go up over a few passes and see the lunar rock landscapes, but spend more time hiking where its green. We'd like to take a down day with a base camp and explore around a beautiful high valley.

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead? How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?


We'll have 6 nights plus a night at the trail head, either coming or going - June 28 (probable trail head night) to July 4 (need to drive out on the 5th). I'm usually happy with around 10 miles a day with some significant altitude change. Its hard to say for the boy - maybe 8 miles/day??? Either way, we want a layover day somewhere amazing. Also, we want to start with a few shorter days to warm up. It would probably be ideal to arrive in the afternoon of the 28th and hike a few miles in to a nice spot for the "night 0"...

Do you have a route logistics preference: loop, out and back, point to point (which may require 2 vehicles or hitchhiking)?


Loop or loopish preferred, but open to a shortish/inexpensive shuttle

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that youre most interested in (Yosemite, SEKI western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?


So far my favorite hike in the Sierras was a less common loop out of mineral king - starting timber gap, around to bearpaw, up through kaweah gap, nine lakes, down big arroyo to little 5 lakes and out black rock pass. I loved this for several reasons - general awesomeness, easier days to start, lots of incredible forest/trees/solitude on the first, less popular part. Precipice lake, upper big arroyo and upper little 5 lakes blew my mind. I probably wouldnt want to do anything much sketchier/more exposed than black rock pass because of the boy. Other favorite trips were shorter and out of rock creek and lundy canyons on the NE side.

I've been reading lots of trip reports and have more questions than answers. I know it will be the heart of mosquito season so thats a concern. We would like to have campfires on most nights, but not all. Also, I know its around July 4th but we'd really like to avoid many people/ heavily traveled routes. I've been thinking of the following areas but am really open to anywhere -

a different loop out of mineral king - i'm not sure if this area in general might be too much for the 13 yr old's first trip. he's really smart and solid, but i want to avoid problems. perhaps something out of farewell gap and up shotgun pass?

something in the emigrant wilderness - maybe a loop out of kennedy, down around the emigrant/buck lakes? here i'm concerned about mosquitos and a lack of more striking mountain backdrops? (maybe totally unfounded?)

yosemite back country - never hiked in yosemite but ive driven through on tioga pass a few times and the scenery on the east side really calls to me. are there some routes without tons of people? maybe out of dana or tuolumne meadows?

and then theres everywhere else... and heres the problem - there are so many amazing places i want to explore!! but i submit myself to your knowing consideration...

Thanks in advance!!!
Jason



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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby maverick » Mon May 16, 2016 3:50 pm

Hi Jason,

Always plan a trip according to the weakest/inexperienced link of your group, in this case your friends 13 year old boy.

"First real backpacking experience in the wilderness" what does this mean, no backpacking experience at all? Has been at altitude before? Has he been on a trip away from civilization for several days before? Has he ever had to deal with carpets of mosquitoes before? Has he experienced a thunderstorm while in a tent before? Is he physically fit to hike with a backpack for several days? Does the idea of bears coming thru camp frighten him? I have backpacked with adults, who have lost it, because they were not able to coupe with one or a couple of these previous variables.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon May 16, 2016 4:07 pm

Thought about the Clark Range loop, but both trailheads are full for June 28-29.

Maybe a loop out of Twin Lakes near Bridgeport? Little Slide Canyon is a not-too-difficult cross-country (use trail, really) shortcut into the Slide Canyon headwaters, which gets you into Matterhorn Canyon--big subalpine valley that sounds like just what you're looking for.

There are also a lot of loop possibilities on the Silver Divide. You could take an afternoon ferry across Lake Edison and hike a mile or two into Quail Meadows, or another couple miles to Pocket Meadow. Possible loops include Mott Lake-->Rohn Pass--Tully Lake Area & then back over Silver or Graveyard Pass, or (shorter) Mott Lake-->Laurel Lake-->Mono Creek valley.

Just a couple top-of-the-head suggestions, for whatever they're worth.
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)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 16, 2016 4:19 pm

I would not suggest Little Slide Canyon for a 13-year old with no experience. First, the creek crossing could be difficult. It was waist deep on me (I am short). Second, I disagree that it is easy cross country. Maybe if you are an experienced off-trail hiker, but not for a newbie.
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Re: )

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon May 16, 2016 4:30 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I would not suggest Little Slide Canyon for a 13-year old with no experience. First, the creek crossing could be difficult. It was waist deep on me (I am short). Second, I disagree that it is easy cross country. Maybe if you are an experienced off-trail hiker, but not for a newbie.

Good point about Robinson Creek (I did it in early August of a relatively wet year, crossed on snags).

I think of Little Slide Canyon as easy because when I did it there was a use trail almost the whole way, and because the pass itself is a breeze (no steep talus fields or anything like that).
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby tekisui0 » Mon May 16, 2016 4:37 pm

A little more about my friend's boy -

He's been camping plenty, been on some backpack overnights, but first multiple day backpacking high in the mountains. He's been up in the rockies camping. No worries about thunderstorms or animals or general freaking out. He's 5'8", fit, mature, quite intelligent and solid. Mostly concerned about significant exposure/cliffs. I understand that we're planning for him, but i can handle whatever navigation.
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby maverick » Mon May 16, 2016 5:25 pm

Would also recommend the Northern Yosemite Loop, it has beautiful peaks (Matterhorn Peak), canyons (Matterhorn Canyon), wildflowers (Seavey Pass area), lakes (Smedberg, Benson, and Peeler), and offers relative solitude, but mosquitoes will be fierce, and stay strictly on the trail.

Another great trip would be Agnew Meadows>Lake Ediza>Iceberg Lake>Garnet Lake>1000 Is Lake>High Trail>Agnew Meadows, but there are fire restrictions around the lakes, and getting a permit is not as easy.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby tekisui0 » Mon May 16, 2016 8:13 pm

Thanks for the ideas so far!!

The northern yosemite loop out of twin lakes sounds pretty good! I hope some more folks will chime in :D

I am concerned about the mosquitoes but this is the time that worked out... I'm nuts for plants and flowers so maybe the wildflower trade off is alright :-k
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby balzaccom » Mon May 16, 2016 9:10 pm

That loop out of Twin Lakes is a popular 50-mile hike for scouts, so lots of young hikers have done it. And there is always a trade-off between flowers and mosquitoes....they seem to flourish at the same time.

I have a trip report on that very hike on our website--link in our signature line. Matterhorn Canyon is one of my favorite spots in the Sierra;

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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby Ska-T » Mon May 16, 2016 10:32 pm

The Rae Lakes Loop with a side trip into Sixty Lake Basin would satisfy most of your goals except solitude. The north side of Glen Pass will have snow but there will be many going before you that will beat a path.

Wherever you go you can reduce your exposure to mosquitoes by wearing lightweight long pants and long sleeved shirt that have a tight weave so mosquitoes can't bite through the material. For example, 2-ply Supplex nylon (w/o DWR). Take a mosquito headnet and 3M Ultrathon or Sawyers Controlled Release mosquito repellent. Consider treating your clothing with permethrin.
Shirt example - https://www.railriders.com/men-adventur ... th=104_111
Size small and color yellow is on sale.
or https://www.railriders.com/men-new-eco- ... th=104_111
Size small is on sale. I don't know if small is too small for the 13 yr old.
Pants example - https://www.railriders.com/men-adventur ... th=104_110
These are just examples, I don't work for that retailer.
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby wildhiker » Tue May 17, 2016 12:17 am

If you are able to do a car shuttle of about 1/2 hour, I would suggest Virginia Lakes to Twin Lakes through the northern part of Yosemite Park. You start at a high trailhead (about 9000 feet) with a nice campground to acclimate the first night. The first couple of passes have less than a thousand feet elevation gain. Then you work your way up to higher passes. Matterhorn Canyon is in the middle of the trip and really spectacular - worth a layover day to explore the high basin at the head. Finally, you come out to Twin Lake as a long downhill hike, instead of a big climb. My wife and I did this hike in our late 50s in 4 nights, camping at upper Virginia Canyon, Miller Lake (on the short section of the Pacific Crest Trail that you use), the upper basin in Matterhorn Canyon, and Crown Lake. We saw a family in Matterhorn Canyon with two children about 10 and 12. This all-trail trip gives you the feeling of going deep into the wilderness, with lots of side trails if you have extra time, and not many people. Many campsites are low enough to have campfires (below 9600 feet elevation). The only problem is the car shuttle between the trailheads. I got my grown son to shuttle us because he wanted to borrow our other car for a climbing trip :-).

-Phil
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Re: Please share your Sierra Wisdom!

Postby tekisui0 » Tue May 17, 2016 12:09 pm

Thanks very much for all the great info! Matterhorn Canyon sounds like it.

I was wondering if anyone had anything more to say regarding which direction to do the peeler lake/burro pass loop or more thoughts about coming from virginia lakes?
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