Emigrant Wilderness/Carson-Iceberg/Mokelumne 50m route

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Emigrant Wilderness/Carson-Iceberg/Mokelumne 50m route

Post by scottbirk » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:58 pm

Upon searching the archives, I did not find many suggestions for what I am seeking: a 50 mile route in the Eldorado, Humboldt-Toiyabe or Stanislaus Natl Forests. I know that's a lot of territory, but I haven't done any backpacking there yet.

Can you recommend something around 50 miles and higher elevation?


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Re: Emigrant Wilderness/Carson-Iceberg/Mokelumne 50m route

Post by balzaccom » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:59 am

We just posted a tr last month about a 45 mile lollipop in Emigrant Wilderness, and you could eAsily add miles.

Leave Gianelli and hike East to Bucks Lake. From there you can piece together all sorts of loops through Emigrant, Upper Emigrant, Blackbird, Huckleberry lakes...

You can also access this area from either Kennedy Meadows or Leavitt Lake trailheads.

Carson-Iceberg might work going up Clark Fork Road to Disaster Creek, then up over the ridge, across the PCT and into the Walker River. Head downstream until you're tired of it, then back up to the PCT and home again.

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Re: Emigrant Wilderness/Carson-Iceberg/Mokelumne 50m route

Post by wildhiker » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:32 am

Hi Scottbirk,

Excellent three-wilderness "lollipop" starting at Sonora Pass and heading south on the PCT.

First day is a bit tough because you climb up 1,600 feet elevation with full pack and then run the ridge (literally) with fabulous views for about 10 miles to drop down to a great campsite at the head of Kennedy Creek in the Emigrant Wilderness. But it is the PCT, so it is well-graded. If you can't make all that distance, there are some small campsites at Latopie Lake just below the PCT (short use trail down) at about the 5 mile mark.

Then you start the loop - I recommend clockwise. Backup slightly to the PCT and take it east down Kennedy Canyon into the Hoover Wilderness. Don't get confused. Kennedy Creek is on the west side of the crest and Kennedy Canyon on the east. If you want a short day, detour off the PCT up the West Fork West Walker River and then to Cinko Lake to camp. The trail continues around the lake and then rejoins the PCT to the east. For a longer day, keep going on the PCT to Harriet Lake and then camp at any one of these "sister" lakes east of Dorothy Lake Pass. Most require a little cross-country. I liked Lake Helen. Or, if you are doing shorter days and stopped at Cinko Lake, the next day you could go over Dorothy Lake Pass to camp at the western end of Dorothy Lake. Now you are in Yosemite Wilderness. You are required to use a bear canister if you camp here, but not anywhere else on the loop. That's why I recommend the "sister" lakes east of the pass.

The basic loop continues over Bond Pass to Summit Meadow and then on the abandoned old mining jeep track (gradually reverting to a simple trail) north over Emigrant Pass, past High Emigrant Lake, and then right over the very top of Big Sam Mountain (Peak 10825 on the topo), whose 360 degree views rival or maybe surpass those you saw on the PCT coming in, and then down to your first night's camp at the head of Kennedy Creek. Good campsites that I have used on this stretch are: 1) on the southwestern shore of Snow Lake - take the trail all the way around the lake, and where it starts to ascend toward Bigelow Lake, just follow the lake shore to good camp spots; and 2) on the benches above the east side of Emigrant Meadow Lake. Both of these are short detours off the main route.

If you need more miles, you could loop from Snow Lake past Bigelow and Black Bear Lakes down to Horse Meadow, then up past Maxwell Lake, Blackbird Lake, and Middle Emigrant Lake to Emigrant Meadow Lake. Disclaimer: I have not personally done the stretch from Bigelow Lake to Blackbird Lake - I like to stay high.


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