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Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

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Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby bbayley80 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:40 pm

hi all.
sorry if this gets wordy but I've been researching/wanting to do a variation on this loop from Onion Valley . I have a basic framework in mind and thought id throw it out for you all to debate on-as I'm sure there are many many many ways to do it.

BASIC INTRO:
level 3.5 experience.
comfortable with class 2-with a little class three sprinkled in.
main interests are lakes, big mountain scenery, fishing, videography/photos, a bit of peak bagging.
**areas that really interest me in this loop- Big Wet Meadow/Whaleback, Colby Lake, Forester Pass, Center Basin.**
looking to complete this in 8days/seven nights from Onion Valley.

I've read through three reports here on HST from Calipidder, Schmalz, and JoshuaCourter and all have done variations of this in anywhere from 6-10 days so i feel based on my experience/general fitness etc 8 days is fairly comfortable. although I'm sure i could spend months out there as theres so much to see..

GENERAL PLAN:
i'd look to do this in mid August once the monsoon and skeeter season is done.

1. Onion Valley TH to Kearsarge Lakes.
2.Kearsarge Lakes to Lake Reflection
3. Lake Reflection to Upper Cunningham Creek, or South Guard Lake-over Longley Pass.summit South Guard from pass.
4.Upper Cunningham Creek down to Cement Table Meadow and on to Colby Lake.
5.Colby Lake to either lake 10660 or Casper Lake-somewhere in the zone.
6. lake 10660 up to Lake South America, over saddle/pass to it's east(not sure on name?) and down to JMT. over Forester to Center Basin area for the night.
7. Center Basin to Kearsarge Lakes.
8. Kearsarge Lakes to TH.

MAIN QUESTIONS:

•are Sphinx Lakes a better call? would this be a better trip should i take Longley/Cinder Col/Sphinx pass? ultimately looping back to the Avalanche Pass trail, and up Bubbs Creek to the trailhead via Kearsarge Lakes? adding Brewer.
• better to tackle Harrison Pass/work west to East Lake/Bubbs/Kearsarge/TH than Forester/JMT/TH ? admittedly the north side of Harrison may be over my head, as it looks a bit sketchy and have read as much here on HST.
• better to head up JMT to Forester rather than Kern Canyon? have not visited either..so totally open. and don't mind so much being on the JMT super highway, or what would surely be the more secluded/wild Kern River Valley.

sorry if this is long/very broad but i figured you all would like to chime in and share your knowledge.
I've read so much on this already from you all.

thanks in advance.
Last edited by bbayley80 on Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:42 pm

What about going to Center Basin and then over Forester Pass, go over the shoulder or use the Lake South America trail to LSA and then use Milestone Pass from the Casper Lake area to cross the GWD, you can then hike down to Gallats Lake area, which is the prettiest section from the Kern to Colby Pass section, and then hike over Colby Pass to Colby Lake, the Milestone Creek to Milestone Pass is gorgeous and Milestone Bowl is pretty cool too.
You could then hike up Cunningham Creek's northern side where there is an old stock trail up, go up to South Guard Lake, continuing over Longley Pass to Lake Reflection and East Lake, and then back down to the Bubb's Creek Trail.
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Re: Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby bbayley80 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:57 pm

Maverick-
thanks for your reply and suggestions-figured youd be first one on it ;)

so you'd pretty much reverse my direction-and add in Milestone.
ok. that sounds great. Milestone hadnt made it onto my radar yet.

i appreciate you suggestions.
does the time alloted of eight days sound reasonable? i know more would be better of course..
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Re: Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:41 pm

Don't know your trail and off trail average mileage, so cannot say. Will you be spending a night in OV or near Kearsarge Pass to acclimate? Have any altitude issues? Milestone Creek>Milestone Pass>Milestone Bowl and the Cunningham Creek to East Lake sections are your crosscountry sections, though there is a faint use-trail between Lake Reflection and East Lake.
Either way, would suggest that you try to get as much time off as possible, an extra day or two for any issues that may arise is always a good thing.
Bluewater has a great write up on Milestone Pass: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=11566&p=87309&hilit=milestone#p87309

PS You can also do this trip in reverse if you think you need a extra day of two to acclimate.
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Re: Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby oleander » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:09 pm

Whichever pass you decide to go over - Forrester, Harrison, or Junction - definitely don't bother with the section of the JMT from Tyndall Creek to Wallace Creek. Compared to the rest of your route it's bound to feel dusty, crowded and not very scenic. Whereas the entirety of the upper Kern is so wonderful. Not just Milestone, but the areas north of there, like the basin east of Thunder Mountain (I think Casper Lake is the one at the foot of that basin), and the Lake South America area. (10,660 is very pretty too.) You could spend days and days just in that area. If you can, don't rush through it.

Avalanche Pass I'd avoid - it's just a slog with no views. So, if you have the skills, I'd go via Cunningham as suggested, instead. I haven't been up/down Cunningham myself, but I'll go that way next time to avoid Avalanche.

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Re: Circle of Solitude variation. thoughts?

Postby bbayley80 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:12 am

oleander wrote:definitely don't bother with the section of the JMT from Tyndall Creek to Wallace Creek. Compared to the rest of your route it's bound to feel dusty, crowded and not very scenic. Whereas the entirety of the upper Kern is so wonderful.


agreed. i'm definitely sold on Kern canyon, Lake South America et al. going to look to add a lay day in there to explore up Milestone- not sure if i'll tackle Milestone Pass into the Basin..but explore YES!

oleander wrote:Avalanche Pass I'd avoid - it's just a slog with no views.


yes! thats the plan. going to cut that whole corner out via Cunningham/Longely.
thanks again
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