Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

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OpenSkiesBeckon
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Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by OpenSkiesBeckon » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:14 pm

Hello, HSTer! I would love some advice on a route I'm taking. I'm, um, uh... middle-aged (sigh), in pretty good shape, solid health, never-give up attitude so I'll push myself, which can be detrimental. I'm not at all afraid of x-country or route-finding, but I really hate large talus and boulder hopping... I'm gettin' a bit too old for miles of that. Landscape photography drives me, so my dawn and dusk locations are very important.

So with that in mind...

Day 1: Wolverton to Moose Lake via Alta Meadow.

Day 2: Moose Lake to Lake 11,200 (*A) with a side excursion to the cool ridge formation on the divide NW of Lake 10,559.

Day 3: Lake 11,200 to Big Wet Meadow. Route will go directly over Big Bird Peak, staying high on the ridge above Lonely Lake, over Horn Col, across to Copper Mine Pass, down Cloud Canyon to Big Wet Meadow to photograph the Whaleback. (B)

Day 4: Big Wet Meadow to Big Brewer Lake either up Cunningham Creek, or up the ridge south of Brewer Creek, or on trail around to Avalanche Pass trail and up the Moraine Creek drainage/ridges past Lake 9,760 to Big Brewer. (C)

Day 5: Big Brewer Lake to Lake Reflection via Longley Pass. (D)

Day 6: Another day at Lake Reflection.

Day 7: Lake Reflection to East Lake.

Day 8: East Lake to Road's End.

*Questions:
A) Is Lake 11,200 worth staying at, or should I get farther along toward Cloud Canyon, possibly Lonely Lake? It just looks like such a great location for photography.

B) Is Day 3 absolutely foolish? It's over 10 miles of x-country. I'm not in perfect shape anymore, that's for sure. If there's a ton of talus up high and bushwacking in Cloud, it may be too ambitious.

C) This is the biggest question mark of the journey. I cannot figure out what is the best route to get to Longley Pass. Everything I read about Cunningham Creek makes me want to watch paint dry outdoors in Fresno in July (hey, I grew up there, I can say it). However, I can't seem to find much about Big Brewer Creek or (we'll call it the) Moraine Ridge Route. Y'all's wisdom would be most sincerely appreciated.

D) Should I stay along the creek heading down the E side of the drainage to Lake Reflection, or should I stay to the NE a bit higher above the creek?

Plan B?
Two shorter trips, one in the Tablelands (Moose, Lake 11,200, Tamarack Lake, out), one in the East/Reflection area with the remote possibility of bonsai'ing up to Kersearge Lakes. I saw the Whaleback 25 years ago, and have always wanted to see it again with a camera in hand. That's the centerpiece that has me looking at joining the two areas, because it's in between Tablelands (never been there, really want to see the area) and Lake Reflection (have wanted to photograph it for a long time). HOWEVER... I have nothing to prove so it's not like I'm dancing the jig thinking about stringing all of this together in just eight days. I can leave the Whaleback for another day (next year). If it is better as one big trip, I could head down Deadman Canyon (via Big Bird Lake) and bypass Cloud.

THANK YOU in advance for any feedback/insight! Yes, I plan on a grand TR when I am done (so maybe I should try Moraine Ridge or Brewer Creek just to add some data... or do you call it beta here?). Yes, I want to do my part to be a contributor to the HST community (I did Rae Lakes loop last year in late September, so I didn't think I had any pertinent insight to offer at that point in time, grin).








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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by wildhiker » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:06 pm

I've stayed at both lake 11,200 and Lonely Lake on the Tablelands, and I would definitely recommend lake 11,200 as the superior site for photography. Just a fantastic view down to Big Bird Lake and up to the Kaweah Peaks. Lonely Lake is a lovely alpine lake, but closed in, with no long distance views. However, in stormy weather, Lonely Lake would be better because it has trees on the northwest side. We camped there on the 3rd night of our first Tablelands trip and I was so happy to see those trees after a couple of days entirely above timberline blasted by the sun all day.

Your first day sounds pretty tough with a full pack. You should at least plan to spend the night before at altitude to acclimate. I'm older than middle age, so I head for Alta Meadow the first night (great sunset light on the Great Western Divide) and then head up to Moose Lake the second day.

-Phil

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by OpenSkiesBeckon » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:37 pm

Thanks, Phil! I live at 5200 in the Sierras, so that will help with acclimation. But I'll keep that in mind if I'm spent by Alta Meadow. 11,200 it is! I maybe need to do 2 smaller trips and skip Whaleback...

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by maverick » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:15 am

Welcome to HST! :-)
You did not say when you were planning on doing these trips, which does makes a difference.
Tablelands has easily enough for a 2 weeks worth of photography, capturing a worthy sunrise/sunset piece is not guaranteed in just the two days you are planning to spending there.
As a photographer, my suggestion would be to time your trip around some thunderstorms, or at least have some clouds, so that you have the chance of capturing something special.
My usual MO is to go out during thunderstorms activity, in an area of interest, and spend 4-5 nights there, working on bringing back maybe 3-4 shots that may be of interest my client's.
Go out with a goal of capturing something really special of one or maybe two areas in close proximity, instead of trying to cover a lot of mileage, otherwise you won't be able to give the area the attention or time it deserves.
Trying to capture that special, ethereal quality of the "Range of Light", is not accomplished by a race, but by patience, persistence, and with some of mother nature's cooperation.
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by OpenSkiesBeckon » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:21 am

Thanks, Maverick. I'm heading out past the quota season (ends September 22 this year). My schedule is a bit flexible, so I can work with weather reports. I like the shoulders in the Sierra Nevada because of the increased potential of storm clouds. I really miss the weather patterns of Colorado and the Rockies—the monsoons meant heavier rain gear and a guaranteed soaking, but you could always count on something cool in the skies. :)

I agree that covering a lot of ground means high risk depending on weather. The reality is that, while I take professional shots, I do not do it for a living, so I guess I'm a semi-pro (or maybe extreme hobbyist?). The camera is my excuse to get out there and do it, so I guess I am tricking myself. I say out loud that I'm doing it for the photos, but inwardly I know it's for the joy of the experience—even if the skies are clear every single morning and night. Because alas, I don't really have a ton of days to sit and wait for the right light to unfold, so I have to remind myself to enjoy the beauty of creation for no other reason than it's beautiful and that there's nothing like being in it, especially in the high up, lonely places. Thus it's a toss-up: do I cover a lot of ground to see it all before my body can't anymore, or do I hunker down in a couple spots to try to capture the right moment. It honestly torments me a bit.

Your perspective is definitely in cahoots with something that nagged me even as I typed up my potential itinerary: maybe I should just tool around the Tablelands for a bit (at least 2 days at Moose for different angles, etc.) and then hunker down at Reflection and East for a bit to hopefully capture something special. Definitely not as epic a TR, though! :)

Thanks for your insight, much appreciated!

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by oldranger » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:37 am

Given your timing I would be a bit concerned about the time spent on the Great western divide. Longley pass down past Reflection does have some nasty talus. I would follow the old cowboy trail that is overgrown with brush from Cement Table meadow up to lake 9760 to get to Brewer then down the old trail to Moraine meadow and over avalanche pass. Unfortunately I doubt you could find the start of the trail at Cement table. If you don't want talus I would not go over the pass from Brewer to sphinx lakes. Maverick"s and Wildhiker's advice to stick to The tablelands might be your best choice. Or after Coppermine Pass and big Wet just head down to Roaring river and out over Avalalanche Pass. Or do a loop by going down to Roaring River Ranger Station then up and around Barton Ridge up either of the Fergusons and back to the tablelands which would eliminate the need for a shuttle or hitchhiking.
Mike

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by maverick » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:51 am

Would highly recommend that you time your trip around the full moon, Tablelands is a rare and special place during moonlight, it lights up from the reflection of the moonlight off the granite, no head lamp is needed for travel, and allows for some very unique and creative night photography. :)
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by OpenSkiesBeckon » Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:05 pm

@oldranger Thanks. Appreciate the insight about Longley Pass. Maybe I'll hold off on Big Wet Meadow and split my trip into two. Years ago I went Marvin Pass to Seville / Sheep Camp / Lost / Ranger Lakes to Crescent Lake then up to the divide. Didn't know back then what the Tablelands were or that I was right there. Maybe next year I'll go that way again, head over to Copper Mine, down Cloud then back out Marvin.

Thanks for your help!

@maverick That's a good idea. Love the effect moonlight has on exposed granite. I'll check out the moon phases as well as weather. Thanks!

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by OpenSkiesBeckon » Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:31 pm

So if my goal is Moose on Day 1, should I just go Pear Lake instead of Alta Meadow? Sorry for the additional question, I just want to get to Moose the first night for certain!

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Re: Wolverton to Road's End via Horn Col, Copper Mine, and Langley

Post by maverick » Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:54 pm

So if my goal is Moose on Day 1, should I just go Pear Lake instead of Alta Meadow? Sorry for the additional question, I just want to get to Moose the first night for certain!
Sunset will be at 7 pm around 9/24 (full moon phase), shorter days, and since I don't know your hiking speed, going in via the Pear Lake route might be a better idea if you cannot get a very early start, if you are picking up your permit the day before your hike, then go in via Alta route and exit via Pear Lake.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org

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