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Looking for a 4-day trip in August

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Looking for a 4-day trip in August

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:52 pm

I plan to do a 4-day trip in early August, and while I have a couple of ideas I haven't really settled on anything...so I thought I'd open it up to suggestions from this well-traveled group of hikers. I have fairly specific criteria, to wit:

1. A goodly percentage of it should be cross-country, including campsites for 1 or 2 nights (minimum);
2. Gotta have lakes and
3. Sharp peaks (i.e., not your basic rounded granite dome country like northwest Yosemite and most of Emigrant--done that already this year);
4. Solitude (i.e., I'd like to have a better than 50% chance of not seeing anybody for a good portion of the trip);
5. <=40 miles (although if the trip is really worth it, I could expand it to 5 days and up the mileage);
6. Not in the areas I already know pretty well (Silver Divide, Monarch Divide, Ritter Range);
7. Preferably westside entry (but will consider eastside); and
8. South of Sonora Pass (I like Mokelumne okay, it's just not what I'm after with this trip; Desolation, not really interested).

And I'm particularly interested in areas where I haven't been backpacking before, e.g., Mineral King, Southern Kings Canyon (Roaring River drainage), Clark Range, Northeastern Yosemite, JMW between Bear Creek and the South Fork San Joaquin.

So...any ideas?



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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:21 pm

I figured a dedicated off trail enthusiast wouldn't need inspiration, but I'll give this a try and see if any of these are of interest:
1. NE Yosemite. Out of Twin Lakes. My wife and I once went in to Doe Lake and Tallulah Lake from Twin Lakes via Slide Canyon. We were hindered by a bad cold I had that really slowed me down. Without such a hinderance, you could make for an even more interesting trip such as: day 1: to Slide Canyon via Little Slide Canyon, the off trail alternative to the annoying trail out of Twin Lakes (more useless switchbacks than...), day 2: to Tallulah, Doe, Smedberg and vicinity, depending on choice. day 3: additional (short)exploration of this area (fishing or peak bagging, depending on tastes), then move into Spiller Canyon. day 4 out via Horse Creek Pass.

2. S. Yosemite, central option. Out of Tuolumne. day 1 to Evelyn and Ireland L., then over shoulder NW of Simmons Peak (say11800) to basin above Bernice. day 2 wrap around corner to Florence Lake. day 3. bag Florence Peak, then head over Vogelsang Pass, past the HSC then over saddle S. of Rafferty to Nelson Lake. day 4. Several alternative routes are available to get you to Elizabeth Lake and environs and back to car. I was originally planning a somewhat truncated version of this as a 3 day trip (day 1 was to go directly to lower Florence Lake).

3. S. Yosemite, western option. via Fernandez trailhead or one of those. day 1 to Slab Lakes. day 2 to Edna Lake, optional peak bag of Merced Peak. day 3. layover and more potential peak bagging. day 4. out.

4. I can think of several options in the btw Bear Creek and S. Fork San Joaquin, but I don't know if any of them are as creative as the three above.
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 SSSdave » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:28 pm

August means the high country and from west side trailheads just getting there means a couple days hiking. If you'd said June I'd otherwise have some ideas. But those mid elevations are likely to be bone dry this year by then and unappealing. Places like Mattie Lake. And if you'd said Eastern Sierra then you'd really be in business. Try and figure out how to reach Spire Lake in a day without going over the snowfields at Peppermint Pass. Or hike out of North Lake up over Lamarck Col. ...David
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Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:50 am

I figured a dedicated off trail enthusiast wouldn't need inspiration

Well, I seem to have used up most of my inspiration planning my 5-day July trip, which is an awesome route if it turns out to be doable: Florence (south arm) off-trail to the lake SE of Ward Mountain; then over via Bonita Lake to the lakes north and east of Mount Henry; then over a couple of ridges to Lake 10632; and out via Goddard Canyon.

Anyway, those are exactly what I was looking for--thanks! I've done very little exploration in Yosemite (for various reasons), so I appreciate the advice.

SSSDave, you're right generally, but there are exceptions--Edison and Florence trailheads will get you into the high country in a day.

For what it's worth, the best idea I'd come up with so far was up Bear Creek then off trail to Apollo and Cirque Lakes, and loop back via Marcella and lower Bear Creek.
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Postby giantbrookie » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:30 am

TehipiteTom wrote:
I figured a dedicated off trail enthusiast wouldn't need inspiration

Well, I seem to have used up most of my inspiration planning my 5-day July trip, which is an awesome route if it turns out to be doable: Florence (south arm) off-trail to the lake SE of Ward Mountain; then over via Bonita Lake to the lakes north and east of Mount Henry; then over a couple of ridges to Lake 10632; and out via Goddard Canyon.

Anyway, those are exactly what I was looking for--thanks! I've done very little exploration in Yosemite (for various reasons), so I appreciate the advice.

SSSDave, you're right generally, but there are exceptions--Edison and Florence trailheads will get you into the high country in a day.

For what it's worth, the best idea I'd come up with so far was up Bear Creek then off trail to Apollo and Cirque Lakes, and loop back via Marcella and lower Bear Creek.

Funny you should mention the Apollo, Orchid, Cirque, Marcella thing. That would have been one of my two "btw Bear Creek and S. Fork" options I would have mentioned. The other one would be hooking up Chamberlain Lake/Hooper Lake etc. with Three Island et al. I had in fact considered the Cirque Lake etc. trip as one of my own 4 day options for this summer (my slot will be going in June 30). Because of family I have a ration of exactly one backpacking trip a year right now. Going into the summer I didn't know whether I would be "granted" a 3 day, 4 day, or 5 day slot. I had a Marcella-Cirque-Apollo-Orchid-Three Island (climb Gemini) et al. trip planned as the no. 2 alternative for my 4 day slot. My favored 4-day entry didn't qualify under your criteria because it was Silver Divide. It would have gone like this: day 1 Edison to Devils Bathtub, then off trail over saddle to camp above trailless side of Big Margaret. day 2. go to crest of Silver Divide, drop pack and climb Silver Pk, pick up back traverse to Anne L. then eventually to Brave Lake. day 3 to Silver Pass drop pack and climb Izaak Walton, return descend south then leave trail and go westward over ridge to Feather Lake (this would have been very long day). day 4 out. The 3 day option was the short version of that Florence L. trip I mentioned above. I was "granted" my 5 day option, which is a much less exotic version of your Ward Mtn. etc. trip. I'll be doing a relatively conventional visit to Blackcap and Bench Valley. The only serious off trail I'll be doing is to drastically shorten some distances, so that I spend at least as much time fishing as hiking.

Regarding west side entry. For the vast majority of folks I would agree that west side entry tends to take too long to get to altitude for an optimal 4 day trip. However, given your track record, any of the trailheads can work for you. If you hadn't excluded the Monarch Divide, I would have suggested Kid Lakes-Glacier Lakes-Volcanic Lakes, which I figure may be my no.1 target in 2008 for a 4 or 5 day trip. The "Ring around Brewer" East-Reflection-Brewer Basin-Sphinx et al. thing isn't bad, either, but I figured that might be too "conventional". There are several interesting Gardiner Basin options that involve unconventional entrances and exits from the Basin that are feasible in 4 days (especially in this unusually low runoff year)--going upstream up the trunk stream looks like a real cool adventure. They were on my menu for awhile until I received multiple reports that the fish don't get bigger than 12" in there.
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 giantbrookie » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:44 am

SSSdave wrote:Try and figure out how to reach Spire Lake in a day without going over the snowfields at Peppermint Pass. Or hike out of North Lake up over Lamarck Col. ...David

My wife and I did Spire/Split et al. on a 2 day trip in August of 1997. The snow going over Peppermint was negligible (and '97 was a fairly heavy winter). That is a a very scenic route beneath the forbidding face of Bear Creek Spire and it really isn't all that hard. I was hampered because I pulled my groin ascending the pass. The darned thing took something like 3 years to totally heal and forced some modifications to my basketball game (this was the injury that was the beginning of the end of the injury-riddled conclusion to my hoop playing days). We ended up going over the top stopping briefly at Spire (to fish, of course), then camping at Split (next one down) on the first day, then looping out via Morgan Pass on day 2.
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 SSSdave » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:19 am

giantbrookie wrote:...My wife and I did Spire/Split et al. on a 2 day trip in August of 1997. The snow going over Peppermint was negligible (and '97 was a fairly heavy winter). ...We ended up going over the top stopping briefly at Spire (to fish, of course), then camping at Split (next one down) on the first day, then looping out via Morgan Pass on day 2.


As long as the usual snowfields on both sides of Peppermint are melted down it would not be too bad. But at 12.6k, that often is still formidable in early August. If you went out via Morgan Pass without dropping way down to Bear Lake then you discovered the route. In the early 80s there were some nice golden in Spire Lake. For years I've considered an end of summer trip back there after a usual early cold front clears the air out well to the east as it is one of the best Sierra locales for sunrise alpen glow. ...David
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Postby SSSdave » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:26 am

TehipiteTom wrote:
SSSDave, you're right generally, but there are exceptions--Edison and Florence trailheads will get you into the high country in a day.

For what it's worth, the best idea I'd come up with so far was up Bear Creek then off trail to Apollo and Cirque Lakes, and loop back via Marcella and lower Bear Creek.


I thought of giving you an idea to hit Cirque Lake but thought you'd already been up in the Bear Creek areas. Problem with your route to Apollo and Cirque is it would be rather strenuous in just 4 days since it would take two days for most mortals to just get there. Really worth adding a layover. I haven't been to Cirque though one of my brothers has always had that lake on his radar ever since he read the old DF&G description of "large rainbows". ...David
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Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:54 am

Funny you should mention the Apollo, Orchid, Cirque, Marcella thing. That would have been one of my two "btw Bear Creek and S. Fork" options I would have mentioned.

With you and Dave both recommending it, that definitely moves it up my list.
My favored 4-day entry didn't qualify under your criteria because it was Silver Divide. It would have gone like this: day 1 Edison to Devils Bathtub, then off trail over saddle to camp above trailless side of Big Margaret. day 2. go to crest of Silver Divide, drop pack and climb Silver Pk, pick up back traverse to Anne L. then eventually to Brave Lake. day 3 to Silver Pass drop pack and climb Izaak Walton, return descend south then leave trail and go westward over ridge to Feather Lake (this would have been very long day). day 4 out.

Something like this wouldn't be out of the question, because it hits parts of the Silver Divide I haven't seen yet (I haven't been west of Peter Pande Lake). Might be a good contender for next year.
I was "granted" my 5 day option, which is a much less exotic version of your Ward Mtn. etc. trip. I'll be doing a relatively conventional visit to Blackcap and Bench Valley. The only serious off trail I'll be doing is to drastically shorten some distances, so that I spend at least as much time fishing as hiking.

Gotta love Blackcap Basin and Bench Valley. Haven't been in there since '94, so I'm due sometime soon.
Problem with your route to Apollo and Cirque is it would be rather strenuous in just 4 days since it would take two days for most mortals to just get there. Really worth adding a layover.

What I had in mind was 2 days to Apollo, a short day over to Cirque, then a day out (basically dropping down to Bear Creek via Marcella). The big question mark is what the X-C droping to lower Bear Creek is like (could be ugly); on the other hand, one of the reasons I thought of this trip in the first place is that this year crossing Bear Creek should be no problem.
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Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:58 am

Oh, one other thing: the Ireland/Florence/Nelson trip would have to be done backwards; reservation quotas for Lyell Canyon trailhead are full just about every day in August.
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Postby giantbrookie » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:50 pm

SSSdave wrote:
giantbrookie wrote:...My wife and I did Spire/Split et al. on a 2 day trip in August of 1997. The snow going over Peppermint was negligible (and '97 was a fairly heavy winter). ...We ended up going over the top stopping briefly at Spire (to fish, of course), then camping at Split (next one down) on the first day, then looping out via Morgan Pass on day 2.
If you went out via Morgan Pass without dropping way down to Bear Lake then you discovered the route. In the early 80s there were some nice golden in Spire Lake. For years I've considered an end of summer trip back there after a usual early cold front clears the air out well to the east as it is one of the best Sierra locales for sunrise alpen glow. ...David

On departing Split wedescended but cutover the spur ridge well above Bear and in fact passed a bit above Finch Lake to hit the notch above Finch Lake and head for the Morgan Lakes. This was a very clean route. Spire had some huge goldens as of 1997. Huge but uncooperative. We had several strikes and had several large fish on but lost them all. Split simply had medium sized brookies, but we ate well. It is a gorgeous pocket basin.
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 giantbrookie » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:58 pm

[quote="TehipiteTom
What I had in mind was 2 days to Apollo, a short day over to Cirque, then a day out (basically dropping down to Bear Creek via Marcella). The big question mark is what the X-C droping to lower Bear Creek is like (could be ugly); on the other hand, one of the reasons I thought of this trip in the first place is that this year crossing Bear Creek should be no problem.[/quote]

OK, all this cross country daydreaming really gets my juices going. Here is the original 2007 game plan for that area (yes, this is a death march schedule, but that's why we call this my annual death march) that was superceded by the Blackcap trip. day 1: To Apollo/Orchid via Marcella, and Cirque. Yes, I've always wanted to do Cirque because I'm betting the fish are big there. And I also have held off on this because of that stream crossing--this is the year. day 2. To Three Island Lake and vicinity (with lots of time to hike around that area). day 3. Over the notch north of Gemini. Bag Gemini (climbed Seven Gables in 1988 but haven't done Gemini--it's a nice looking peak), then head into Bear Basin and do some more serious fishing. day 4. Bail to car.

Option 2 (not on original list)--shuttle trip Hooper Diversion Dam to Bear Diversion. Day 1: to Chamberlain Lake. Day 2 (couple of ways to do this, I suspect) over the divide either through notch or over unnamed peak then to Three Island Lake. day 3 bag Gemini (OK you don't have to do this) then head for Orchid. day 4 out via Apollo and Cirque etc.

Option 3 (also not on my original list). shuttle from Bear Diversion Dam to Florence. day 1 and 2 as per option 1. day 3 will go into the trailless area around Turret Lake. day 4 will descend to trail and get out to Florence.

Ah, you gotta love topo maps and some serious Belgian Ale.
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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