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Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:57 am
by bwd
Hello all!

I am planning a two week trip (starting ~ Aug 22) from Lake Thomas Edison. I am currently planning on this route (157 miles, 13 nights):
I have posted some questions below but would generally be game to get any feedback about the trip that people felt like sharing.

Specific questions:
-I am currently planning for resupplies at MTR and Red's. Given the route I have planned, I could potentially do two resupplies at Red's. This seems like overkill, but I've never done a resupply before (e.g., not sure how long it takes). Should I be planning for maximal resupply?
-As noted below, this will be my first foray into xc travel. I have picked two areas (Humphrey's Basin & the high route between Ediza Lake and 1000 island lake) that seem like good terrain for such a foray. I'm still researching specifics on those areas (the route on the topo is only meant to be suggestive at this point), but I'm open to advice on this front.
-I am currently planning on hitting the Ivo Bell Hot Springs at the end of the trip. My initial recon suggests this might be a well-deserved soak by that point, but I'm not seeing much on hst about those hot springs. Are they worth it?
-I'm fairly confident that a permit shouldn't be an issue if I apply soon, but it'd be good to know if I should think about that differently. I've never gotten a NF permit (only NPS ones) so am making assumptions based on limited info.

Pertinent information:
-I would say I am currently level 2 and using this trip to start to break into level 3.
-Comfortable with class 1 and feeling ready for class 2!
-Interested (primarily) in big mountain scenery & lakes.
-I've done some trips in seki the last few summers (Rae Lake, 5 lakes @ Mineral King, this variation on the Circle of Solitude from last summer and lots of day hiking.
-I'm comfortable with 10-15 miles per day.

Thanks in advance. HST has become one of my favorite little corners of the internet.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 11:45 am
by jhfowler
Hi Ben!

Looks like a great trip!

* Resupply at Reds is extremely easy. Last time I did it it took me maybe 10 minutes in the little store there. If it were me, I would resupply twice to make my bag a few pounds lighter.

* I recommend going west from Ediza rather than east. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in the Sierra is the tarn due east of Mount Ritter. It's super easy class 1/2 to head that way and then up to Whitebark Pass. Your route through Humphrey's will also be super easy, with the most challenging part being Star Col which is no worse than class 2.

Tarn east of Ritter

* Yes, Iva Bell Hot Springs are worth it! We stopped there twice last June, and actually got in the lower springs the second time through. The upper springs were not really big enough to get in when we were there, but it was interesting seeing them.

Lower pool at Iva Bell Hot Springs

* I've never entered at Lake Edison, but at other NF trailheads I have never had a problem getting a permit.

Hope you have fun!

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 11:57 am
by Wandering Daisy
I have not looked in detail at your plan, so the above is just an general observation. 10-15 miles a day as not very likely off-trail, particularly if you are just starting to do class 2. Class 2 is very broad category, and includes some passes that, in my opinion (even as an experienced rock climber and mountaineer) are difficult. A lot of Sierra off-trail classifications are "sandbagged". 7-8 miles a day is a better goal for off-trail travel for the less experienced. If you have not already done this, spend some time and calculate mileage and elevation gain for each day, and use a rate of 1-1.5 mph for off trail. You probably already know what you can do on trails. Depending on the amount of off-trail you want to do, your plan may work, or not.

I would think one resupply for a 13-day trip would be adequate, however as I stated above, you need to re-think the 13-day plan. A week's worth of food is not that heavy. But if you have been used to 2-4 day trips only and your pack is a small volume pack and you only have a small volume bear can, then maybe a second resupply would be needed. Just my opinion, but resupplies are a PITA's and can be expensive too. You could resupply at the store at Reds Meadow but the prices are high. The ferry ride to Edison is also pricey. And for some reason, it is hard to run into a resupply point and pick up the package and quickly return to the trail. I think the PCT hikers call it the "town vortex".

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:16 pm
by davidsheridan
I agree with JHFowler, if yo plan to do whitebark pass, never descend to Ediza, stay high and traverse into the meadows above Ediza and then follow a usetrail along a creek up to the base of Ritter and then over to Nydiver lakes.

I found the going slow along Cecile (slow talus maze) and the descent to Iceberg somewhat dangerous for an inexperienced xc hiker. people die here, so make sure you are equipped with crapons axe if there is still a lot of snow.

The meadows above Ediza are a heavenlt place to spend the night. Also, 10K lakes is an awesome place, starring st Banner Peak at sunset.

if you wanted to elimnate some of the xc, you could skip Minaret Lake and head straight for Ediza. good thing about yhis area is you can always drop down to JMT to makeup time.

Looks like you have an awesome trip planned.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:52 am
by c9h13no3
Yeah, I'll just echo Daisy that you'll hike about half the speed you do on trail when going cross country, especially at first. 15 miles of XC travel with a pack can be a big day if it's all talus hopping. Just make sure that's what you want.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:27 am
by GGC23
Looks like an amazing trip, and I would second everything said above.

A few other thoughts:

1. I can't remember whether it's Cecile Lake, Iceberg Lake, or both, but when I did that stretch of the high route, I remember that camping was sparse, if not impossible on the shores of either or both of those lakes. I'm pretty sure that they have nothing but microwave to refrigerator-sized talus along their shores. So just a heads up that you may want a different option for your Camp 9. Also watch the descent to Iceberg Lake. That's probably the toughest section of that bit of the high route, but still comfortably class 2. As mentioned above, traversing around Iceberg Lake can be dicey because it tends to hold steep snow. However, this is looking like a dry year and you're going late in the season, so I'd be very surprised if you ran in to anything sketchy.

2. I will always vote for as many resupplies as possible, as long as it doesn't require extra miles. But that's personal preference, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

3. In addition to where your map shows you crossing Star Col to get to Humphrey's Basin, you can also cross above Puppet Lake at Puppet Pass or directly above Star Lake, at the point I've always called Star Col. Any one of those crossings is no more than class 2.

4. Don't sweat the permit, particularly if you're solo. If you're applying this far in advance and you're a group of less than 5 people, you should be fine absent some crazy situation where a group of 15 boy scouts has already reserved permits to start on the same day as you.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:04 pm
by bwd
Hi all,

Thank for the feedback! A few responses:

@Wandering Daisy, Excellent point re mileage. I think the vast majority of the route is on established routes so most of the high mileage days would just be plugging away up and down, for example, the JMT. But, I should probably double check some of the spots where routefinding may prove to be more of an adventure than anticipated (For example, I am assuming the trail from the JMT up to Lake Italy and then onwards to Pine Creek Pass is fairly well traveled. But, I could be wrong about that!). And, I'll definitely keep your comments in mind when I get more serious about planning the days with xc portions.

@davidsheridan, Thanks for the note re the xc sections. I'm hoping that there will be minimal snow by my trip, but very helpful to have an idea of where trouble may lurk.

@GGC23, My thoughts exactly re snow.

Again, thanks all around. I may have more questions downstream about the xc parts.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:20 pm
by kpeter
The only camping at Iceberg I can remembers was on a hummock on the north side near the outlet stream, and it tended to always be taken. But if you just walk down the trail to the north a bit, cross the streams to the west, you will find the meadows above Ediza where there are many options.

At Cecile I don't remember any campsites, but there may have been possibilities to the east where it overlooks Minaret. I'm drawing on vague 30 year memories for that.

As others have mentioned, by far the easiest approach to Whitebark Pass is to follow the inlet streams west from Ediza to the pond, then from the pond take the gentle climb ENE toward Nydivers. Whitebark will be on your left as you look down on the uppermost Nydiver.

Re: Looking for feedback on 2 week trip from Lake Thomas Edison

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 7:58 am
by c9h13no3
Cecile has some flat spots to camp. It’s probably one of the worst campsites I’ve spent the night in and we had to hunt around for it on the E side of the lake. Camp 9 is definitely not optimal, either continue down to Minaret, or stay at Ediza/Iceberg.