Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

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kylekuzma
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Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by kylekuzma » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:55 pm

Hey everyone,

Subject gives the basics. I'm planning a Bubbs Creek, Lake Reflection, Brewer Basin, Sphinx Basin loop, and may have an extra day on my hands. If one gets an early enough start in the day, is it realistic to make it over Milly or Lucy's and jaunt around in the Upper Kern for the afternoon? We'd do this with packs off, returning to camp at Lake Reflection as the sun begins to set. Neither of us have done Milly's, Lucy's, or Harrison before, so factor in first-timer route finding/mistakes.

A little about the hikers: Late 20s and early 30s and will be in good hiking shape. Comfortable with Class 2 and 3 moves. Plan on 10-15 mile days

Thanks in advance!








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c9h13no3
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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:15 am

Anything can be done in a day :)

How much you want it?
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TurboHike
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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by TurboHike » Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:44 am

Based on his posts here, I know sekihiker has done it as a day hike, using Little Joe's Pass:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... f=1&t=6497

Info on Little Joe's:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... hp?t=15485

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:15 am

It can be done, but is it worth it? A glimpse into the Upper Kern does not do it justice. It would be worth it if you were scouting the route for a future trip, but just to go up and look, I would say not worth it. You already are in some fantastically scenic areas, why not do more exploring there? For example, a side trip down to Big Brewer Lake would be much more worth the effort. Better yet to camp near the outlet of Big Brewer Lake. This location is known for its fantastic sunsets. ALL the Sphinx Lakes are great, with some of the upper lakes having the best views. I would also rather scramble up Brewer.

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by kylekuzma » Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:04 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:15 am
It can be done, but is it worth it?
WD: This is actually what I was just as curious about so thanks for the thoughts. I really did want to make a scramble up Brewer but the Upper Kern the trade off. So with the extra day I could probably explore the Brewer Basin and Creek region a bit more extensively. Thanks again

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:00 am

I just re-read your original post. 10-15 miles a day through the off-trail portion of you route is not very realistic. Travel from the Avalanche Pass trail up Sphinx Creek and then over to Reflection Lake is pretty slow. However, blasting down Bubbs Creek on the way out is fast and you could likely do more than 15 miles in a day. Getting to Sphinx Lakes on the first day is pretty tough due both to the elevation gain. rough x-country travel up Sphinx Creek, and acclimating typical of the first day. What I do, is try to get to Roads End early enough to pick up my permit before their deadline (I think it is 3 or 4 in the afternoon- call about their current policy) and then hike up to the Sphinx Creek trail junction and camp there (best camping across the bridge upstream a short distance). Then you can make it to Sphinx Lakes on the 2nd day (which is really the first all-day hiking). I do not know if that fits in with your driving plans.

If you prefer to start early in the morning and do a full first day, reversing the route is better. You then can acclimate going up an easy trail. Junction Meadow is a good stop, and you may well get all the way to East Lake. A bit of a stretch to get to Reflection Lake, but it is all trail. Also, coming down Sphinx Creek is easier than going up. Only issue there is that sometimes getting started from Roads End is slow if you get stuck in the end of the line to get your permit. A few times I have not been able to get on the trail until 9AM.

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by iainmacdonald » Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:17 am

Milly's Foot Pass is fairly difficult. It's about 3 miles and 2,500' over mostly talus up to the pass from Lake Reflection, and then some more (easier) travel to get down the other side. IIRC it took me about 4 hours to get from Lake Reflection to the first lake in the Upper Kern, and I hike fairly quickly. The other passes may be easier, but you're probably still looking at a pretty big day to cross the divide.

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by kursavwilage » Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:45 pm

I have been over Milly's 3 times with packs and 2 times without. In my opinion Milly's isn't that bad, and actually kind of cool, just a lot of boulder hopping that continually steepens until the 100' + class 3 chimney at the top. Without packs down-climbing that chimney isn't that bad, it does get your attention though....
Lucy's foot pass is cruddier than Milly's at the top portion. In one of my trips in 2007 we went into the Upper Kern through Milly's and then back to East lake via Lucy's because we didn't want to down-climb Milly's with packs on. The south side of Lucy's is no sweat but, the north side is steep and fairly loose but not too bad. Lucy's does have a section of icy snow at the base of the steepest part at the top section that could be sketchy and milly's class 3 section could be snow choked and icy in a heavy snow year....

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by hurricaniac » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:54 pm

I would second the recommendation to spend more time at Big Brewer and Sphinx lakes. Super scenic, great views down both drainages and only one nasty scramble up Sphinx Col. On your way to Reflection, Longley Lake is also a cool spot right up against the KK divide.

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Re: Into the Upper Kern for an afternoon from Lake Reflection?

Post by kylekuzma » Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:05 pm

Thanks all. After reading the replies and thinking about it some more, i'm thinking we're definitely going to slow it down in the Brewer and Sphinx region. It's taking every fiber in my body to not be the typical 20s backpacker trying to get to as many places as possible on one trip!

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