Great Western Divide Trip Advice

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GGC23
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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by GGC23 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 6:55 pm

Hi everyone! Yes, I did do this trip and sorry Wandering Daisy for not responding. I meant to write a trip report, but then life got away from me. Here's a very short version: It was an incredible trip!!! But to be a bit more detailed:

- For my question #1, I took Milestone Pass southeast of Milestone Mountain and I would give that pass a 10/10. Navigation is easy because Milestone is such an obvious peak, and it was very fun. I was looking at it from Shepherd Pass and thinking "there is no way in the world I'm getting over that without ropes." It looks completely vertical from afar. But then you just start walking up the Milestone Creek drainage and, lo and behold, there's a solid class 2 route the whole way. I can't report on the pass between Milestone and Midway, but the pass I took was great.

- For my question #2, I ended up doing the Center Basin to Junction Pass route and skipped the Harrison Pass area (so I followed the blue line on my CalTopo link). That was also fun, but others weren't kidding when they said that Junction Pass is vertical scree on the south side. The north side has a beautiful trail (I can't believe it hasn't been maintained in 100+ years for how solid it is), but the south side is basically a huge pile of sand and rocks. I couldn't imagine going up the south side. My entire descent of Junction Pass was basically a controlled fall.

- Going up Cunningham Creek to Longley Pass was the probably most terrible thing I've ever done in the Sierra. It's solid, vertical brush for about 1500 feet. I emerged from that looking like I was attacked by a wild animal from all of the cuts and scratches on my body. The upper parts of Cunningham Creek are nice, but then Longley Pass was pretty dicey because the cornice had *just* melted enough to allow me to squeeze through and I had a pretty sketchy traverse on some sandy, sloping ledges right below the cornice. I'm glad to check off Longley Pass but will probably never do it again!








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sekihiker
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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by sekihiker » Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:07 pm

kylekuzma wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:12 am
1963?? Holy cow that sounds interesting. What was the sierra like back then? Was Bubbs still a highway?
I've seen two big changes on the Bubbs Creek trail since my first time down it in 1959. The phone line has been removed and it's not as shady below Charlotte Creek because of a fire in the area.
It has always been a popular trail but I have never thought of it as a highway - just a deservedly busy trail capable of delivering hikers to some of the most scenic parts of the Sierra.

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thegib
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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by thegib » Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:02 pm

Hey GGC23,
"Going up Cunningham Creek to Longley Pass was the probably most terrible thing I've ever done in the Sierra."
I remember going up, in the heat, chased by mosquitos, and getting shredded by manzanita. But nostalgia you know... in 10 years you'll be like "aw, it wasn't so bad..."

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:29 am

I also had a bushwhack experience up Cunningham Creek, but then our "Old Ranger" said that I went up the wrong side, and that there was somewhat of a trail on the other side. Longly Pass was not bad- when I did it there was a snow-free slot to get down. There is one big step though, that being short, I had to lower my pack and then climb down. Then I took a bad route to reach the outlet of Reflection Lake. Later, others reports showed that it was not that bad. I did not stay high enough and got hung up on the close-to-shore cliffs.

So, lesson learned is that there are easier ways to go, you just have to find the right route. So any one persons evaluation is just that- one person's opinion, based on their good or bad route-finding and under one time-frame for conditions. I have no problem admitting my bad choices of route on that trip.

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by grampy » Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:15 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:29 am
I also had a bushwhack experience up Cunningham Creek, but then our "Old Ranger" said that I went up the wrong side, and that there was somewhat of a trail on the other side ...
Daisy -
would you mind finding Old Ranger’s suggestion on the Cunningham Creek route ? I was considering this as part of a Longley Pass - Avalanche Pass loop, but I may need to think twice after reading your comments (and others). Thanks !

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by bobby49 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:46 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:29 am
I have no problem admitting my bad choices of route on that trip.
They say that we learn a lot from our mistakes. I guess that I've been learning a lot lately.

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by sekihiker » Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:49 am

I just reread my journal for a trip that took me up Cunningham Creek in 1994. A trip report is found at: http://www.sierrahiker.com/RoaringRiver/index.html
I left Roaring River at 9:45 and arrived at the outlet of South lake at 4:40.
I think I went up the north side and at 12:50, I wrote, "Got caught in brush." Watch altimeter elevation [WEL] at that time was 9,580. That was the last mention of brush.
I don't remember the trip as being that difficult and there were signs that stock had frequented the route. One of the strangest things I saw was a couple of graded switchbacks at a WEL of 10,200'.

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:48 am

My memory is not the best, but I recall a post by Old Ranger that there historically was a trail up the north side of Cunningham Creek. He said horses had gone up it in the past. It could now be grown over in places. I went up the south side, and lower down actually ran into an old glass bottle and a tin can, and an old campsite. So I was not the only one taking the wrong side of the creek. Although it was a brushy, it was far from the most difficult or miserable I have done. Compared to going down from Chasm Lake to Goddard Creek, Cunningham was nothing! But I think if you get on the proper side of the creek, you would run into some of the sections of the old trail.

Old Ranger also cited a "trail" up from "Cement Table Meadow"? to the bench above from which you can get to Brewer Creek. I tried to find it but ended just going up on some pretty steep, miserable stuff. I will admit I often lose my patience with trying to find an old trail and simply go up. I did find a come-and-go trail going up Brewer Creek. It is really hard to distinguish an old trail from a game trail. Old trails actually have some logic and going up to a destination; game trails are like a rat's maze, most going to a water source and then stopping. One can however keep going in a desired direction by jumping from one game trail to another, with intermediate bushwhacking.

I think the key to getting on these old trails is to find the start of it pretty low down. There also may be some sections visible on Google Earth. But I find translating what I see on Google Earth to actually being on the ground somewhat difficult.

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by grampy » Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:42 am

sekihiker wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:49 am
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:48 am
Thank you both - your responses are helpful and much appreciated.

Bill - I did read your old trip report, found while searching for info. Super interesting about the cougar encounter, although in the same situation I’d probably just tell it to my kids (swearing them to secrecy) and not to my wife :confused:

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Re: Great Western Divide Trip Advice

Post by maverick » Sun Jan 10, 2021 12:59 pm

search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keyw ... hor_id=473
Next time just click on the persons name, then when you are on their info page, click on “Search users posts”, and then type in some key words into the search feature Grampy. :)
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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