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High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:22 pm
by dacmill
I have a reservation to do the Rae Lakes loop in a couple of weeks, but my brother doesn't think he's up to a hike this strenuous. I'm anxious to do a high Sierra loop- but maybe without the distance and elevation changes of this trail. We have four trail days, starting on 9/22. I've looked at Mineral King and other destinations in Yosemite. Any suggestions?

many thanks for your collective wisdom!

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:28 pm
by maverick

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:58 pm
by Buford
Most loops people hike out of Mineral King will be tougher than Rae Lakes.

Mineral King has options if a loop is not required. It all depends on what you want to see, how far you are able/willing to travel each day, and how acclimated everyone is.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:48 pm
by AlmostThere
High Sierra loop that's easy? The Saddlebag - 20 Lakes Basin loop.

Mid elevation, there are a lot more possibilities.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:59 pm
by creekfeet
As far as hikes in Sequoia and Kings go, Rae Lakes is actually just about the easiest loop you can do. The elevation is very gradual most of the way until you reach Rae Lakes, but even getting over Glen Pass isn't too bad compared to many other passes in the park. The one loop I can think of that will be easier is what some folks call the "Lollipop Loop". Beginning at the Lodgepole campground, you go over Silliman Pass and descend towards Beville and Ranger Lakes. From there continue the loop and take the short detours to Lost, Seville, and Jennie Lakes. After that you head over JO Pass and complete the loop portion of the hike.

I believe the whole loop is just a shade over 30 miles, so it requires eight mile days, more or less. You can break it up so you camp at Twin, Seville, and Jennie Lakes. Twin Lakes isn't the greatest place to camp, and the trail is fairly ordinary until you get to Silliman Pass, but the view from the pass is one of the most unique in the park. The lakes on the other side of the pass are all really beautiful and pretty warm (by Sierra standards) if you choose to swim. The one drawback of this loop is that aside from Silliman Pass, you're mostly in swampy/forested lands, and miss out on some of those big mountain views you get on Rae Lakes. But on the bright side, considering the time of year you're going, you're probably only going to see a couple other people out there.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:10 pm
by SSSdave
4 trail days? Too short. The notion that loops are are significantly better is small thinking. Learn to enjoy out and back trips for which there are far more choices. Hike from South Lake to Dusy Basin and back. Spend the first day at Bishop Lake or Ruwau Lake, base camp a couple in Dusy well away from the trail, then hike out.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:29 pm
by dacmill
Thanks for the input, and to Maverick for the reminder about providing context:

Backpacking experience: fairly extensive, but my last backpacking trip was two summers ago- a 100 mile loop through Philmont, NM. We have a cabin at 5,000 feet on Hwy 4, so I've done a lot of hiking at that elevation. I've been wanting to revisit the high Sierra area for several years- previous trips have been to Evolution Valley, Ansel Adams Wilderness and thereabouts- approached from the West and the East. I've done many out and back trips and am open to these as well, but loop trails I've found to be more interesting. I've never been to Mineral King, and I've always been curious about that area.

I wish we had more than four trail days, but that's all we can arrange for this trip. Thanks again for the suggestions- I'll look into these and see what might work best for us.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:55 pm
by bobby49
dacmill wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:29 pm
I've never been to Mineral King, and I've always been curious about that area.
I just got home from Mineral King. The trails are anything but easy.

The good news. In one section of trail over two hours, I saw seven deer and one black bear.

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:13 pm
by wildhiker
Late in September you can probably get walk-up permits for some of the Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Road trailheads that are normally very popular. And the park service keeps the road open in September even if there is an early snowstorm. Your car can get snowed in on a minor trailhead road if there is an early storm. Three of us did a really nice 2 night trip in 2013 on the last weekend in September from Tenaya Lake with a walk-up permit. We hiked up to Sunrise Lakes, but at the junction with the trail to Clouds Rest, we hid our packs (taking out the bear canisters so a wandering bear wouldn't tear open our packs to investigate) and did a side hike up to the top of Clouds Rest for a view of more solid granite than you can see just about anywhere else. Back at our packs, we hiked a short distance to camp at Middle Sunrise Lake. Then the next day, we did a loop day hike cross-country to Mildred Lake and then over to Long Meadow, and back on the John Muir Trail and Sunrise trails. Last day we just hiked out to the car and drove home. You can do many hikes like this in the Cathedral Range. One that gets into bigger mountains would be to hike from Tuolumne Meadows up Rafferty Creek to camp in the Vogelsang area. The High Sierra Camp will probably be closed by then giving you more solitude. I would camp 1st night at Vogelsang Lake (on the broad ridge SW of the outlet). 2nd day I would do a day trip over Vogelsang Pass to Bernice Lake and back. 3rd day move camp to Ireland Lake (actually, the best campsites are in the whitebark pine groves a bit down the outlet creek from the lake). Last day is a fast all downhill hike on the Ireland Creek trail to connect with the John Muir Trail in Lyell Canyon and then back on the JMT to Tuolumne Meadows - about 9 miles total.
-Phil

Re: High Sierra Loop Suggestions?

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:24 am
by sekihiker
There are more than 50 trip reports at: www.sierrahiker.com
I suggest a trip to the Red Mountain Basin.
Try: http://www.sierrahiker.com/RedMountainBasin/index.html