TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by Harlen » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:51 pm

Ze Como Bombele'
Hello there Jim. Michael, what is our friend Jimr on about; it this in Africaans? Zulu? Swahili? I suppose Swahili is yet another language you are conversant in Michael? ... and you mention swearing in Shona in your text--what a fine polyglot you are!

I assume he is saying your's is a great and memorable tale? Ian.








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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by Jimr » Tue Sep 01, 2020 7:26 pm

There were many local languages in Rhodesia. Likely still are regardless of now being Zimbabwe. I'm not sure if my comment is in Shona or not. I think it is. I know it's not any of the languages you mention. My best friend in '78/'79 immigrated from Rhodesia. His brother was still there fighting in the army against Zambia (I think. It was many years ago). I learned exactly two phrases from him. I just guessed at the spelling. It means "Thank you very much".
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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by wildhiker » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:47 pm

MichaelZim, Thank you for a brave and honest report. So sad to hear about the loss of your daughter. Frankly, I probably could not have continued with a backpack trip if one of my children passed. As for the aging thing: yes, it is real. I am finding that I just can't hike as far or as high anymore (at 68), nor do I actually want to. Better to slow down and enjoy where I am.
-Phil

PS - You mention that you couldn't find any trace of trails in this area, not even the main Rancheria trail, on the Google satellite view. My experience is that trails never show up in forested areas on the satellite view. Just too much interference from the forest canopy.

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by michaelzim » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:54 am

Thank you for added replies here...and indeed a few questions for anyone out there about accessing Blue Canyon please?!

1. Does anyone know the current or recent status of that Kettle Dome 'supposed' trail to the south of Coyote Pass? It looks like it could be quite a tangle to find the way down at Randle Corral if it is forested heavily and miss the trail. Google Earth makes it appear near vertical down to Blue Canyon just a tad south of that 'supposed' creek.

2. I would appreciate any comments from anyone who has done the "northern access" via Florence, JMT, Goddard Canyon, Martha Lake, etc. about time it took to get to Reinstein Pass...and whether you are a speed hiker or not when loaded with in-going pack. I know this is highly subjective, but average miles per day on these kind of trails perhaps??? The gradient and trail conditions look pretty mild from Florence until get near the south end of Goddard Canyon, and after that it looks like open granite X-country. However, any quirks anyone can add would be welcome.

3. Gazing down on Hell for Sure Pass trail and into Goddard from the top of Red Mountain in 2018 it sure looked like one very, very long haul in close canyon confines. Actually from Piute Creek bridge it looks like bottom-of-the-canyon hiking all the way. Not my favorite, as I like to see what the weather is doing. However, I have done the alternate west entry to Blackcap Basin upper lakes twice, and was somewhat 'disturbed' to find that it took a lot longer than I thought it would (c. two and a half to three full days). Those map distances are deceptive.
Then there would be the hop over the Divide to get into the Promised Land beyond...Thus for me, potentially four days (if all goes well) to just settle in finally at Blue Canyon. With getting back time, that does not leave much left over to spend there in base-camp mode unless take more food weight, and get a long spell of stable weather.
Unless can find a way to get there quicker, is far too risky for a fall trip when September cold fronts can come in with no pre-warning on 7 day weather forecast. I still want to try again for this destination, though odds on is that it will have to await a late July/August attempt when mosquitoes die down, etc. etc.
Jimr wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:03 pm
Ze Como Bombele'
Ummm @Jimr ...re your friend's comment meaning: "Thank you very much". Perhaps he was having you on? I cannot figure it out even when ignore the spelling aspect and do a phonetic version. Not N'debele, and not Shona - I always used "Tatenda" and "Zakanaka". And no, no Swahili apart from the obvious stuff like "Asanta-sana" which is that "Thank you very much"...And yep, that was the Bush War in late 70s. A civil war really and remarkably close to what was happening in Vietnam with less total munitions.

@wildhiker Ahhh, good to know you have had the same experience of forest trails not showing up on satellite. Puzzling thing is they do quite clearly sometimes and some places. As stated, my conclusion is that ground moisture and "reflectivity" has a lot to do with it. Definitely not something to take too seriously though when in planning mode. A big trail can as you say, be completely unobservable from space yet be a freeway in reality.

Thanks again all ~ Michael (michaelzim)

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by windknot » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:43 am

michaelzim wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:54 am
Ummm @Jimr ...re your friend's comment meaning: "Thank you very much". Perhaps he was having you on? I cannot figure it out even when ignore the spelling aspect and do a phonetic version. Not N'debele, and not Shona - I always used "Tatenda" and "Zakanaka". And no, no Swahili apart from the obvious stuff like "Asanta-sana" which is that "Thank you very much"...And yep, that was the Bush War in late 70s. A civil war really and remarkably close to what was happening in Vietnam with less total munitions.
Not to get way too off-topic from this wonderful trip report, but @jimr's comment sounds a lot like "zikomo kwambiri." This means "thank you very much" in Chichewa (Nyanja), a Bantu language spoken widely in southern/southeast Africa. So it's possible that this is Chichewa, or at least another local language with a similar phrase for thank you. I lived in northern Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) for a couple of years. In that part of the country, folks speak Bemba but as you traveled further south and east, the primary language switches to Nyanja. I was constantly humbled by the fact that seemingly everyone I met was fluent in 3-4 different local languages, while I struggled to learn a few words in any language other than English.

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by Harlen » Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:21 pm

Michael writes:
...2. I would appreciate any comments from anyone who has done the "northern access" via Florence, JMT, Goddard Canyon, Martha Lake, etc. about time it took to get to Reinstein Pass...and whether you are a speed hiker or not when loaded with in-going pack. I know this is highly subjective, but average miles per day on these kind of trails perhaps??? The gradient and trail conditions look pretty mild from Florence until get near the south end of Goddard Canyon, and after that it looks like open granite X-country. However, any quirks anyone can add would be welcome.

3. Gazing down on Hell for Sure Pass trail and into Goddard from the top of Red Mountain in 2018 it sure looked like one very, very long haul in close canyon confines. Actually from Piute Creek bridge it looks like bottom-of-the-canyon hiking all the way. Not my favorite, as I like to see what the weather is doing. However, I have done the alternate west entry to Blackcap Basin upper lakes twice, and was somewhat 'disturbed' to find that it took a lot longer than I thought it would (c. two and a half to three full days). Those map distances are deceptive.
Then there would be the hop over the Divide to get into the Promised Land beyond...Thus for me, potentially four days (if all goes well) to just settle in finally at Blue Canyon.
I should be game for this discussion, having worked on an ecologic restoration project for 3 seasons in the North Fork of the Kings. So I hiked again and again out of Courtright Res. and Florence Lake, and less often in and out of Wishon Res. I've just poured over the various maps, both old USGS, and the newer Harrison Maps, and here's what I get: Mileages:

1. Florence Lk. to Martha Lake= ~24.5 miles, and subtract 4 miles if you can use the ferry across FLK. MLk. to the edge of the Blue Canyon "Promised Land" on top of Blue Canyon Pass looks like about 6.5 more miles, plus the elevation gain over Reinstein Pass of 840', plus the up-down in upper Goddard Creek Basin, and over BCPass = ~1300'... and I guess we should add some more, as FLk is a 650' lower start than C.Res.
Total= 31 miles., with 2,790' gain.

2. Courtright Res. to MLk. = ~23.5mi., and includes ~400' of gain to cross Long Top, and about 1000' for Hell For Sure Pass. MLk. to BC Pass= 6.5mi.
Total = 30 miles, plus the 840'over RPass, and the ~1300 over BCPass = 3540' gain.

3. C. Res. up the N.F. Kings River, to Portal Lake (west of Finger Pk.) = 25 miles (H.Map #'s) P.Lk. on to BCPass= ~3.5 hard miles.
Total= 28.5 miles., plus elev. gains of ~400' over Long Top; ~1000' crossing Finger Col, and BCPass-- so 1400' gain.

Okay, so there is the mileage comparison, and I then added in a pretty rough set of numbers to account for the relative gains in elevation, though I mostly concentrated on the significant rises, not the exact number of elevation gain per route. [The lesser elevation gain for route 3 is interesting; I hope I have that right.]

Others can chime in about the relative attractions, and difficulties of each route. For my 2 cents, I'd choose either of the Courtright Res. routes over F.Lk. The North Fork Kings country is less crowded, unless you run into a big pack-train, and I really like the Red Mtn. Basin high country on the west side of HFS Pass, and also, the view to the south-east from that same pass. That upper half of Goddard Canyon is the nice half for me. see photos:

028.jpg
Hell for Sure Lake in Red Mtn. Basin.

040.jpg
View south-east coming off HFS Pass.

047.jpg
HIking up Goddard Canyon around the foot of the pass, with a view of Mt. Goddard.


Re. route #3, I just like the look of Finger Peak and its satellite peak to the west.... and the high lakes around them. Also, it is a nice, direct path toward that Blue Canyon "Promised Land." Best of Luck to you Michael.

134.jpg
The Finger Peak Massif.


145.jpg
This is probably the look, and the cold feel of that area now.
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Last edited by Harlen on Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by Jimr » Thu Sep 03, 2020 4:48 pm

windknot wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:43 am
...but @jimr's comment sounds a lot like "zikomo kwambiri." This means "thank you very much" in Chichewa (Nyanja), a Bantu language spoken widely in southern/southeast Africa. So it's possible that this is Chichewa, or at least another local language with a similar phrase for thank you. I lived in northern Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) for a couple of years. In that part of the country, folks speak Bemba but as you traveled further south and east, the primary language switches to Nyanja. I was constantly humbled by the fact that seemingly everyone I met was fluent in 3-4 different local languages, while I struggled to learn a few words in any language other than English.
You probably nailed it there. He taught me another phrase and I'll do it phonetically "hakesa skeva" Pass us a cigarette.
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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by SSSdave » Thu Sep 03, 2020 4:58 pm

That's whitethorn and you likely also encountered chinquapin.

I just followed your post using caltopo. Going from Chuck Pass and then over Coyote Pass via upper Crown Creek basin areas was a poor choice as you now understand. If you look at giantbrookie's and my earlier thread reports that starts on Hoffman Mtn, you will find we fully avoided that. However I wouldn't recommend Hoffman Mtn to any but most experienced off trail hikers. Another choice to do what we did also going through Chuck Pass is to use the Little Rancheria Trailhead that people use to go to Duck Lake. That way one also does not end up in the lower Blue Canyon Creek areas but rather stays high. Looking at the topo lines below Coyote Pass shows miserably steep forested slopes to descend that is no doubt why it was abandoned with no one considering going down that.

Always use 7.5 USGS based maps for difficult crosscountry and that especially applies in heavy forest. One can get by with old 15m maps but they provide less clues. In this era, also check out routes on Google Earth as that can show zones to avoid that a topo won't show like brush and talus. Also for more popular routes, alltrails dotcom GPS recordings can be useful, especially for correcting outdated trail routes and mistakes plus provide more accurate up and down vertical info. Actually I do all that manually on Excel sheets.

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... it=hoffman

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by michaelzim » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:42 am

Wow...I threw out a tiddler and got such great replies!

I think we should "Wapedza" (call it a day) on the language aspects as I do believe @windknot nailed it with Chi'chewa or Chi'Nyanja. "Zikomo" seems familiar though did not hear much Chi'Nyanja after the Federation broke up and Nyasaland became Malawi. The free flow of labourers through Mozambique also got much more dicey during the war too.

OK back to the Promised Land access... @Harlen thank you so much for that stellar work figuring out the key aspects of distance and elevation. That saved me a bunch of calculations, though one more I would do is the Mantle Pass option going over from Crown Basin / Hummingbird Lake as that may be the easiest in the end.
I agree that Red Mountain Basin is a really nice place, but going down Hell for Sure (and if return same way) seems like a lot of very steep elevation loss and gain to do. Your 3540' total reflects that. However, it puts one at the top end of Goddard Canyon which looks like the best part of that narrow confine. Thanks for the photos of that also as it looks more open that I imagined it would be.
The N.F. Kings River is indeed really pretty with abundant overnight camping opportunities and rushing water sounds. That haul in from Maxson Meadows via Long Meadow / Post Corral, then finally the Kings River is deceptively long! It seemed to take me forever.
I have also done the more direct route from Wishon via Crown Pass, then that through the woods run after Half Moon Lake to the Kings. It too seemed to be a helluva long way with starting pack weight and no acclimatizing before that steady altitude gain to Crown Pass.
Hence my look at the Florence Lake route as the altitude gain is long and slow, with some chance for acclimatizing before hitting the steep stuff. Downsides are JMT zoo and being penned up in the bottom of steep canyons for so long.

In the end, no matter which way I look at it, getting to Blue Canyon Basin is a plain long haul for me these days! The few photos I have seen of it and its isolation give it quite a pull though. Ah well...will have to see in due course.

@SSSdave Yep, Whitethorn is another name for that "obstacle-bush", often mixed in with Manzanitas. Don't recall any Chinquapin offhand, though maybe because it all became something to get through rather than look at more closely!

Ummm...Not sure @SSSdave why you think I went to Coyote Pass via presumably overland X-country from Chuck Pass??? I indeed started at the Little Rancheria Trailhead and followed the designated trails (on maps) pretty much eastwards all the way. The problem was the trail was not there any more once onto that north-eastward leg junctioning off the Crown Pass trail in Crown Valley.
It gets a bit confusing describing the scenario due to so many versions of "Crown" this and that. There is Crown Valley and Crown Valley Creek, Crown Creek Valley and Crown Creek, Crown Basin, Crown Pass, and so on. Whoever named that lot could have done a better job as there are considerable distances and variability between these places.

Have to add too, that I am becoming less confident in judging much from Google Earth. For instance, when I look down on the imagery at that area where the USFS sign said "Not Maintained for Stock" or whatever, in the meadow alongside Crown Creek where the supposed trail is meant to cross it before heading north to Mountain Meadow...That whole area is a mess of stuff! Going north right there up Crown Creek Valley looks like a smart move from the satellite, but that is where you can hardly walk ten yards without a big dead log in the way and all that brush I photographed. It looks quite open, yet it took me ages to even find a clear enough space to pitch my tent. Very deceptive. Also the "freeway" I found going NNE along that spur is hardly visible to me unless I knew it was there...I could go on, now that I know that ground more intimately!
Top-down vertical views from space may look reasonably open, but on the ground it can be socked in trees with zero 'lateral visibility' at all.

Thanks for the alltrails.com site ref. though initial glance looks like it may be better if I had a GPS device or smartphone, etc. - which I do not.

Best ~ Michael (michaelzim)

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Re: TR - A Ridge Too Far (Upper Blue Canyon via Wishon)

Post by Harlen » Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:21 pm

Hey Michael, you will enjoy Wandering Daisy's extensive TR re. the area you're interested in, including Tunemah Lake: "http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... ap#p152370

Crown to Blue Canyon via Mantle Pass is a great option. When I was headed that way, my plan was to enter via Finger Col, and exit via Mantle.[http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =1&t=19667] Entering at Wishon may be the shortest route yet. I had my planned trip stymied by high river flows, and guilt over entering KKNP with my big red coyote. You're certainly not the only one who has had to amend (read: "bail out of!") a too long route.
Last edited by Harlen on Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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