4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

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SDTrojan
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4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by SDTrojan » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:17 am

Hi Everyone,

First post for me, although I've gone to this forum many times to read up on useful advice.
I'm looking for recommendations for a four day backpacking trip anywhere in the eastern Sierra for mid-September. My dates are somewhat flexible, as I should be able to shuffle around what days I take off to accommodate getting a permit.
I'll be driving up from San Diego.

I'm an experienced backpacker, have been doing it for about 15 years, and consider myself in good shape.
However, this trip will be with a beginner, who is coming to visit me. She has backpacked once in Nepal and was exposed to high altitude and did well, but doesn't really have multiple backpacking trips under her belt.

As such, I wanted something that's not too ambitious, and with at least one day of not moving camp and just exploring with a day pack, lounging in the hammock, etc.
Interests are mostly scenic lakes, meadows, big peaks and solitude. I don't fish. Some light class 2-3 scrambling would be really fun too (don't want to push her with class 4).

I picked up a permit to Cottonwood Lakes, which I've done before once and loved, but, at the same time, curious to see if anyone has any recommendations from areas that I haven't done. A permit to Shadow Creek was also available, so I was also considering going up to Ediza/Iceberg lakes and scrambling around there, but I already camped at Thousand Island Lake once this year, so was thinking of something different, ideally with fewer people (Thousand Island Lake was the most packed place I've ever camped at in the Sierra).

Here are the backpacking trips I've done so far in the eastern Sierra: Thousand Island, Cottonwood Lakes, Treasure Lakes, North Fork Big Pine, Lake Sabrina to Hungry Packer, Kearsarge Pass. Would have loved to do a trip out of South Lake to Bishop Pass, but it seems like with all the road construction, that area is best avoided this year.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!








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c9h13no3
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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:03 am

SDTrojan wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:17 am
I'm looking for recommendations for a four day backpacking trip anywhere in the eastern Sierra for mid-September. My dates are somewhat flexible
Roflz, I suggest you flex those dates. Have you seen the smoke man? Is this for September 2021? The beaches of San Diego are probably the nicest places to be in the state. I just canceled a backpacking trip this past weekend to lay on the beach in Santa Monica, because it's the only place that isn't on fire.

Tahoe currently has the best smoke free air, but they're closing stuff down. I suppose you could do a 4-nighter in Desolation, without a stove since those are banned. Course, the air quality is changing hourly...
"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by SDTrojan » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:14 am

Yes, very much aware of the smoke, I was up in Mammoth Lakes this past weekend to ice climb North Couloir in North Peak, and had to jet out after a day due to the air quality and smoke. Very much aware of the forest closure and stove ban too. That said, hoping conditions improve in two weeks. My permit is for Sep 17, and I did receive an email about all permits up to Sep 14th being canceled, so I'm not optimistic about my permit sticking. My friend is in town until October 4th, so I'm hoping I'll get a window of opportunity by then, hence my question.

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:41 am

SDTrojan wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:14 am
My friend is in town until October 4th, so I'm hoping I'll get a window of opportunity by then, hence my question.
Yeah, somewhere in the range will be nice by then. But I'd make the call on where at the last minute (a day before the trip).
"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by bobby49 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:11 am

Right now the best 4 day Sierra Nevada backpacking trip would probably be in Hawaii.

I just drove from Needles to Bakersfield, and the smoke was really bad.

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by SDTrojan » Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:28 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:11 am
Right now the best 4 day Sierra Nevada backpacking trip would probably be in Hawaii.

I just drove from Needles to Bakersfield, and the smoke was really bad.
It's a sad state of affairs, for sure. One of my friends' favorite hikes here in San Diego is burning too, big fire up in LA, looking at the satellite pictures, it looks like the entire state is on fire. What a **** year.

I'm still holding out hope that the situation will improve enough to take my friend into the Sierra at least at SOME point this month.

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by kpeter » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:00 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:11 am
Right now the best 4 day Sierra Nevada backpacking trip would probably be in Hawaii.

I just drove from Needles to Bakersfield, and the smoke was really bad.
I chuckled a bit since the smoke situation certainly would be better in the middle of the Pacific.

However, Hawaii has a 14 day quarantine and an exploding COVID rate. If one disaster doesn't get you the other will.

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by mort » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:50 pm

SDTrojan wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:17 am
Here are the backpacking trips I've done so far in the eastern Sierra: Thousand Island, Cottonwood Lakes, Treasure Lakes, North Fork Big Pine, Lake Sabrina to Hungry Packer, Kearsarge Pass. Would have loved to do a trip out of South Lake to Bishop Pass, but it seems like with all the road construction, that area is best avoided this year.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
The problem since today is that the eastside entries in Inyo N.F. are now closed. But might open again.
I love Cottonwood Lakes, and to the west over Cottonwood Pass, but I expect the Golden Trout Wilderness is going to be smokey, and is closed anyway.
A long drive, for sure, and just not quite east side - in Yosemite, you can get a permit for Young Lakes. Second day x/c to Roosevelt Lake or McCabe Lakes. Or climb Mt. Conness. Both are easy class 2. Check the Yosemite wilderness permit availability page. There may be openings on other Tuolumne Meadows trails that you'd like.
Also west side, but maybe consider Sequoia N.P. From Lodgepole: Twin Lakes trail. You can get to Clover Creek the first day, and over Silliman Pass to Ranger Lake and have a rest day to explore, for instance, Lost Lake or Crescent Lake on Day 3. Or just hike to Silliman Lake the first day, it's quite steep that last half mile,the trail isn't maintained. From there you can climb Mt. Silliman easily, and get the same view the Brewer Party had in 1864, except for smoke.

If Inyo reopens in time...
North Lake off the South Lake road is a nice place to start. Either Lamarck Col, to Darwin Bench and back. Or over Piute Pass to Humphries Basin and back.
Further north, the Lundy Canyon climb up to Helen Lake and 20 lakes basin is a wonderful, if steep route. The last 1/2 mile or so the trail is washed out so it's either a scree chute, or talus hopping.
Or if you want to take it easy, Saddlebag Lake to 20 lakes basin. The geology is mind bending.
-mort

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by rlown » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:54 pm

I would spend time planning an early 2021 trip. This year sucks. Right now where I live the AQI is 349.
My 2020 trips are off. Might have to do a Winter trip.

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Re: 4 day eastern Sierra backpacking trip recommendation

Post by SDTrojan » Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:40 pm

mort wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:50 pm
The problem since today is that the eastside entries in Inyo N.F. are now closed. But might open again.
I love Cottonwood Lakes, and to the west over Cottonwood Pass, but I expect the Golden Trout Wilderness is going to be smokey, and is closed anyway.
A long drive, for sure, and just not quite east side - in Yosemite, you can get a permit for Young Lakes. Second day x/c to Roosevelt Lake or McCabe Lakes. Or climb Mt. Conness. Both are easy class 2. Check the Yosemite wilderness permit availability page. There may be openings on other Tuolumne Meadows trails that you'd like.
Also west side, but maybe consider Sequoia N.P. From Lodgepole: Twin Lakes trail. You can get to Clover Creek the first day, and over Silliman Pass to Ranger Lake and have a rest day to explore, for instance, Lost Lake or Crescent Lake on Day 3. Or just hike to Silliman Lake the first day, it's quite steep that last half mile,the trail isn't maintained. From there you can climb Mt. Silliman easily, and get the same view the Brewer Party had in 1864, except for smoke.

If Inyo reopens in time...
North Lake off the South Lake road is a nice place to start. Either Lamarck Col, to Darwin Bench and back. Or over Piute Pass to Humphries Basin and back.
Further north, the Lundy Canyon climb up to Helen Lake and 20 lakes basin is a wonderful, if steep route. The last 1/2 mile or so the trail is washed out so it's either a scree chute, or talus hopping.
Or if you want to take it easy, Saddlebag Lake to 20 lakes basin. The geology is mind bending.
-mort
Thanks so much for the incredibly helpful and detailed response, Mort.

Yeah, for now I was banking on the eastern side reopening sometime later this month. I know that's far from a sure thing and will depend a lot on how the Creek/Slink and other fires progress and what the weather conditions dictate. It's truly tragic to see all the damage that's being caused.
I was just backpacking Bear Lakes Basin two weeks ago, and shudder to think about what would have happened if we were there when this fire broke out.

Thanks a lot for including the West Side/Yosemite options also. The reason I was leaning east side is purely because that's where I have the most experience getting "walk up" permits, and the situation is fairly streamlined with COVID on recreation.gov. It seems that with many of the west side areas, you have to email the rangers with an itinerary, so I was worried "last minute" permits would be tougher to get.

Assuming the fires/smoke eventually peter out this month, which of the options would you recommend as your favorite in terms of views/fun terrain factor?

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