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Sphinx Lakes to Lake Reflection

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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:03 pm

maverick wrote:Oh a fellow 60's man. Which month GB? Im an Oct born baby boomer.
Yes I agree that this ascent should be undertaken by someone with
climbing experience or later in the season!

Actually its August '59 (so I guess it was more like foolish 19-2/3 yr old).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html



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Postby Aviprk » Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:45 am

Why is it that you guys recommend going over Longley pass east to west when there is a cornice? Is it because of the off trail route around Sphinx lakes? Here is my planned itinerary

Wednesday Night: Arrive at Roads End and sleep

Thursday: Start hiking by 10:00am and reach any of the Sphinx lakes by around 5:00pm. Set camp

Friday: Climb Mt Brewer and South Guard. Go over Longley Pass and down Lake Reflection

Saturday: Down to Bubbs Creek

Sunday: Head Home.

Is such itinerary too packed? Too little room for error in navigation?
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Postby giantbrookie » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:29 am

Aviprk wrote:Why is it that you guys recommend going over Longley pass east to west when there is a cornice? Is it because of the off trail route around Sphinx lakes? Here is my planned itinerary
Wednesday Night: Arrive at Roads End and sleep
Thursday: Start hiking by 10:00am and reach any of the Sphinx lakes by around 5:00pm. Set camp
Friday: Climb Mt Brewer and South Guard. Go over Longley Pass and down Lake Reflection
Saturday: Down to Bubbs Creek
Sunday: Head Home.
Is such itinerary too packed? Too little room for error in navigation?


The reasons several of us recommend going up Bubbs then up East Creek to Reflection and over Longley first are: (1) The Bubbs Creek crossing at Jct. Meadow is sometimes very dangerous early season, even following a low snowfall year. If it were to be uncrossable and you don't find this out until you've done 3/4 of your loop and are on your last day out, you'll be in a world of hurt (have to reverse your way to get out). If you do East Creek first, you will reach this key crossing on day 1, and if it is uncrossable, you find out early on your trip and can develop an alternative itinerary, rather than being "trapped".
(2) You can't see that cornice on Longley going from west to east, but you be able to see it well coming up from Reflection and (a) decide not to cross the pass or (b) find the best way around it (low class 3). If you are coming the west-to-east, it will be very difficult to pick out a good route around the cornice, if it does in fact block the class 2 chute.

As to your planned itinerary it is indeed fast paced leaving little time to sit back and actually enjoy the country you traverse, unless you cover the hiking parts at higher than average hiking speed (the itinerary calls for spending most of the day hiking instead of being at a given destination and relaxing). Your itinerary demands an well-above-average (compared to the average backpacker) amount of hiking for each day, but it is by no means impossible--Several of those on this board and I have done trips like that.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby Aviprk » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:41 am

Thanks a bunch Giantbrookie

The only "resting" day for trip will be in the morning we get to lake reflection. It's not very long down to bubbs creek and I was planning to explore some of the area around lake reflection (including milly's foot and lucy's foot pass) and then head down to bubbs creek later on.

I will definitely consider the east - west over Longley route all the more so as the date approaches. Hopefully the rangers and TR's will be able to let me know how the bubbs creek crossing will be by early june. I'm hoping this low snow year will make Mid June conditions similar to a mid july. Much more managable!
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:58 am

Aviprk wrote:Here is my planned itinerary
Wednesday Night: Arrive at Roads End and sleep
Thursday: Start hiking by 10:00am and reach any of the Sphinx lakes by around 5:00pm. Set camp
Friday: Climb Mt Brewer and South Guard. Go over Longley Pass and down Lake Reflection
Saturday: Down to Bubbs Creek
Sunday: Head Home.
Is such itinerary too packed? Too little room for error in navigation?


The giantbrookie advice is good. I would say that unless you are in the shape of say, a marathon runner in peak condition, this plan may be that big bite too big to chew. Getting just from Roads end to the Sphinx Creek camp is hard enough all by itself: by the time you get to the Bubbs bridge you have already gone a good distance and gained a good amount of altitude, and the worst is yet to come. You have to climb a bazillion stairs to get to the Sphinx Creek camp. How will you feel? :puke: And you want to go on and do the cross country to beautiful lower Sphinx camp? Perhaps if you got a really early start, walked very slow, rested often and planned to get there after 6PM, you would have a shot (this style has worked for me). Gettin over Sphinx Pass is a lot of hard work too, and to add a peak bag...well, good luck. :cool: Going from Lake Reflection down to Roads end in a day can be done and is not too bad: I did that. You will be tired but not totaled.

Some references:
http://www.sierra-trails.com/sphinx/stcoverv1n3.htm
http://www.sierra-trails.com/sphinx/stcoverv1n5.htm
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Postby Aviprk » Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:44 pm

Can you point in the map (topozone) where the Sphinx creek camp would be? Is it around the first or second river-meets-trail junction? You say that alone could take the whole day. How many miles is it? Is it all on trail or some off trail as well?
I've done several off trail (mostly really well known and short routes) and have done 15-20 mile days a couple of times so I'm not too worried about mileages but rather the off trail part. Thanks in advance.
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:05 pm

Aviprk wrote:Can you point in the map (topozone) where the Sphinx creek camp would be? Is it around the first or second river-meets-trail junction? You say that alone could take the whole day. How many miles is it? Is it all on trail or some off trail as well?
I've done several off trail (mostly really well known and short routes) and have done 15-20 mile days a couple of times so I'm not too worried about mileages but rather the off trail part. Thanks in advance.


>>Can you point in the map (topozone) where the Sphinx creek camp would be? Is it around the first or second river-meets-trail junction? <<
After you cross the bridge over Bubbs, it is the next spot the trail reaches Sphinx Creek at ~8500 feet.

>>>I've done several off trail ...and have done 15-20 mile days a couple of times so I'm not too worried about mileages but rather the off trail part. <<<

Me too, but it is not the miles, its the first day altitude gain, in particular towards the end going to Sphinx Creek camp. When you get to the camp at ~8500 feet, you have gained 3500 feet over about 6.8 miles. The cross-country to the lowest Sphinx lake is not hard and mostly class 1 travel. The first time I went up there, I too had planned to go beyond Sphinx Creek Camp, but that trail.... I would do it differently today.
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Postby Aviprk » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:07 pm

I will keep those words in minds when I'm up there. In the Sierra-Trails it is mentioned that the so called trail is more like "fiction" and that the so called trail actually starts on the west (Left side) of sphinx creek. Which one is it?
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:38 pm

Aviprk wrote:I will keep those words in minds when I'm up there. In the Sierra-Trails it is mentioned that the so called trail is more like "fiction" and that the so called trail actually starts on the west (Left side) of sphinx creek. Which one is it?


The "trail" that starts at the high Sphinx Creek camp at Avalanche Meadow is on the West side of the creek and soon starts to fade away starting at the end of the meadow, goes up the first headwall and goes away completely at the next (if not before). Still, it is all easy (steep) travel.
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Postby langenbacher » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:05 pm

Last September, Shawn and I went from Road's end, up Sphinx Creek all the way to lake 10514 in about 9 hours. This was a beautiful place to camp. Unfortunately we didn't get very far the next day, and never made the peak. See http://langenbacher.org/Brewer. The cross country on upper Sphinx Creek could be a pain. We found a pretty good route up the south side of the creek on the way up, but on the way down we got on the north side near the bottom and got lost in the brush.

The campsite where the creek left the trail looked pretty nice, at 8600' .

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