Page 1 of 2

SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:03 am
by stringbop
Looking to do a SEKI loop from Wolverton TH in Mid- August, Level 3 Backpackers, Class 2 terrain, interest in Big Mountain Scenery, 6 day trip, comfortable with 15 miles a day, This is the tentative route

Wolverton-> Tablelands-> CopperMine Pass-> Cloud Canyon -> Colby Pass -> Kaweah Basin > Nine Lake Basin -> HST -> back to Wolverton.

Now I would like to start by taking the Watchtower Trail passing Pear Lake into the Tablelands. I am having a tough time figuring out the way back. I was originally going to take the HST from Pine Creek to the turnoff for Wolverton but now that doesn't really appeal to me (just looks forested with no views after Bear Paw...maybe I'm wrong???). So I am weighing a couple other options and would appreciate some feedback.

I have included maps of the routes I'm considering. I cut the map off at The Elizabeth Pass Trail to get a more detailed map of the areas I'm concerned with (loop part of trip from CopperMine -> Nine Basin not shown)

Route 1. Not thrilled about taking the HST from Lone Pine Creek back to turnoff for Wolverton.
CopperMine I-page-001.jpg
Route 2. Once I get to the HST/Lone Pine Creek junction (from Nine Lakes Basin) I could take the Elizabeth Pass trail up and then XC over Pterodactyl Pass to the Tablelands and meet back up with the route I took in. This way would have me backtracking from the Tablelands back to Wolverton but I'm thinking that would still be better than taking the HST all the way back from Lone Pine Creek.
CopperMine II-page-001.jpg
Route 3. Another way I could change it up is take the route 2 back but instead of gong back over the Watchtower Trail a 2nd time, I could XC over the Tablelands to Mount Silliman and then back down to Wolverton. Not sure how difficult the XC will be from Tablelands to Silliman though.
Coppermine III-page-001.jpg

Any other ideas how I can make this loop work or what you would recommend?

Thanks

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:33 am
by Wandering Daisy
Six days is short for what you are planning. Even if going out the HST to Wolverton or Crescent Meadow is "boring", it is fast. You may need a fast exit in order to leave time for better stuff. After all the effort to get to Keweah Basin, it is best to spend a day or at least half a day there and day-hike the upper basin. I have walked out from Nine Lakes Basin to Crescent Meadow (about 22 miles) in 11 hours. Easy walk out from Hamilton Lake. There are a lot of trees, but there are also some nice views.

You may want to prioritize your goals. If Keweah Basin is your top goal, you may want to re-think your route, get there quickly, spend some time, and just see how much time is left for other stuff. If, on the other hand, you are just wanting to quickly "skim" all areas for evaluating where you want to go back to in the future, then perhaps your plan is fine.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:03 am
by stringbop
My goal is to quickly skim as many areas as possible. That being said, would Route 1, 2 or 3 have the most ideal alpine scenery (or a different route)? If I am running short on time I could resort to Route 1 as I know I could knock out the remaining miles at a fast pace even through the night.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:00 pm
by maverick
You could use the Route I entry thru Tablelands and use Big Bird Pass to Coppermine instead, and then use Pterodactyl to Moose Lake down to Alta Meadow and out via trail. Are you using Pyra or Pants as an exit out of Kaweah? 6 days is pushing it, especially if the weather goes sideways.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:19 pm
by stringbop
maverick wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:00 pm
You could use the Route I entry thru Tablelands and use Big Bird Pass to Coppermine instead, and then use Pterodactyl to Moose Lake down to Alta Meadow and out via trail. Are you using Pyra or Pants as an exit out of Kaweah? 6 days is pushing it, especially if the weather goes sideways.
Not really following you on Big Bird Pass to Coppermine. I don't see Big Bird Pass listed on HST Map nor know anything about it. I planned on going from Tablelands -> Pterodactyl -> Horn Col -> Coppermine. I am using Pyra as an exit. I am not tied down to 6 days if the weather goes bad. I can stay out longer if need be. Going back through Moose Lake to Alta could definitely be a viable option. Thank you for that recommendation.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:29 pm
by maverick
My bad, I refer to it as Big Bird pass, the unoffical name here is Tablelands Pass. viewtopic.php?f=31&t=15509

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:23 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Big Bird Lake is amazing, but you would have to go back up 1700 feet to meet the traverse from Horn Col. However if the weather gets bad you could drop to Big Bird Lake and then on down Deadman Canyon to Roaring Fork and take the trail to Colby Lake. Not the preferred route, but it can easily be done in bad weather.

Have you thought about Triple Divide Pass to get to the Kern-Keweah? I have not done it myself. I think Harlen put up a late Fall 2018 report that includes this pass. That may shorten the route a bit.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
by maverick
You could also use Triple Divide Pass as WD recommends, and even though I liked that area, would not want to forego Colby Lake and the views of the Whaleback from its northern end for it.
I assume you will be either going up to Picket Lake or ascend from Rockslide Lake into Kaweah Basin, you could use Lion Rock Pass from Nine Lakes Basin, down to Tamarack Lake, go up partway on the Elizabeth Pass Trail, leave the trail and up to Pterodactyl Pass, Moose Lake, Alta Meadow, trail out, another option. :)
Tamarack Lake is very pretty, but keep in mind, the area above it is a maze of ledges, and the meadow above the lake can be a shallow lake or a big mud puddle.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:12 pm
by creekfeet
Honestly given the difficulty of the hike you've planned in the amount of time you've allotted, you might welcome an easy stroll out on the HST when the time comes. While it's maybe not the most exciting stretch of trail in the world, the HST from Lone Pine to Crescent Meadow is still pretty lovely with nice views of the Great Western Divide, Castle Rocks, and various domes. The Moose Lake to Alta Meadow route that others have floated is a great option. Alta Meadow's an absolute gem. The route you showed skirting across that upper plateau of the Tablelands is incredible and to my knowledge very seldom-used, but more difficult to navigate than the map would make it appear. Unless I just missed it, I don't think there's a way to skirt from those lakes at the head of Horse Creek to Silliman Lake without actually crossing over the Silliman Crest and back again. Also the hike from Silliman Lake to Lodgepole is more dull than the stretch of the HST you're trying to avoid.

Regarding your entry to the Deadman Canyon, Tablelands Pass is just about the mellowest x-country pass you'll find in SEKI. Can't speak for Horn Col having never done it.

Re: SEKI Loop Advice

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:07 am
by wildhiker
Horn Col is easy - if you pick your route carefully, I think it is class 1 walking all the way from Lonely Lake to the Elizabeth Pass trail. This assumes, of course, that there is no snow still on Horn Col. The class 1 route right at the pass is on a narrow band between steeper terrain. With snow, you might have to use some of that class 2 terrain to get around.
-Phil