Help me set priorities

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kpeter
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Help me set priorities

Post by kpeter » Tue Sep 22, 2020 5:50 pm

I need to distract myself from all the various slings and arrows of life, and nothing does that better than dreaming about next summer's backpacking season.

Following are some destinations I have never been to, although in a few cases I have tried but had to abort trips. Which would be the highest priority to you?

My own preferences: I do not fish. I do not like spending lots of time above treeline--I like being at treeline--the interface. I like streams, meadows, flowers, and of course crags and mountains. I enjoy amateurish landscape photography. I do some cross country in conjunction with trails but not generally days and days of cross country. No Class 3. Class 2 is is fine provided it is straightforward and doesn't demand tricky micro-route decisions that easily turn into class 3.

1. Kaweah Basin, Island Lake, Picket Guard Lake. I nearly made it here but turned back with a bad knee.
2. Blackcap Basin, Bench Valley. I made it to Red Mountain Basin.
3. Pioneer Basin, the various recesses, Grinnel Lake. I have planned this 3 times and have scrubbed repeatedly for unrelated reasons.
4. Silver Divide, Peter Pande Lake, the "Indian" Lakes.
5. Anything in Hoover, out of Bridgeport. Never been.
6. Northern Emigrant out of Kennedy Meadows and Relief Reservoir. I've been in repeatedly from Crabtree but never the north.
7. NE Yosemite. I have been to the Boundary Lake area and I have been to Lake Vernon--but never the Grand Canyon of the Tuolume nor deep in Jack Main nor anything else N of Hetch Hetchy and East of Vernon.

Also, I am weighing against these 7 opportunities several out-of-state options, back to my old haunts the Sawtooths in Idaho, WD has sparked my interest in the Wind Rivers, and my brother may be planning a trip in the North Cascades.

I can't do them all. What should I set my sights on?








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chulavista
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by chulavista » Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:19 pm

Why wait for next summer? Fall in Utah/Arizona!

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TehipiteTom
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by TehipiteTom » Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:06 pm

I can only speak to the places I've been, so for what it's worth...

2: Blackcap Basin is wonderful, and big enough to spend some real time exploring. Lots of territory right at timberline, nice wide-open vistas. I came over from Bench Valley once, staying a couple nights below Bighorn Lake, and passed through once on my way from Finger Col and points east.

3: Pioneer Basin is probably the easiest to get to. Lot of reward for not that much effort. The views of the Mono Divide from Pioneer Basin are classic. Fourth Recess Lake is worth a detour, just a really gorgeous lake.

4: Done a couple trips on the Silver Divide. Peter Pande is a worthwhile destination, beautiful in its own right plus great views of Mammoth Crest. My other favorite lake on the Silver Divide is Hortense.

5: I've done two trips out of Twin Lakes, one up Little Slide Canyon into Slide Canyon, over to Rock Island Lake, out via Crown Lake; and then this year, up the Robinson Creek trail to Peeler Lake and over to Thompson Canyon. On the whole I prefer Little Slide Canyon to the Robinson Creek trail--it's shorter, more spectacular, and less congested. Rock Island Lake is beautiful, one of those huge lakes in a wide-open landscape with sweeping vistas. Slide Canyon and Thompson Canyon are both beautiful and worth a visit.

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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by LMBSGV » Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:27 pm

I would say my first choice is the one you have at the top of your list, “Kaweah Basin, Island Lake, Picket Guard Lake.” It’s a long way to get there, but worth it. I would recommend going over Colby Pass and then up to Picket Guard/Picket Creek Lake. After a layover day there, go over the pass into Kaweah Basin and plan for another layover day to explore Kaweah Basin. At Island Lake there are great campsites at both ends of the lake. I’m sure Maverick would also suggest going to Red Spur. There's a trip report on my website along with an appreciation of the area.

My second choice is “Pioneer Basin, the various recesses, Grinnell Lake.” Lower and Upper Mills Creek Lake in Second Recess are both great places to camp. I liked Laurel Lake as much as Grinnell Lake.

Whatever place you choose to go will be fabulous.

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CAMERONM
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by CAMERONM » Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:11 pm

Both Kaweah and Ionian are highlights for me, as is Glacial National Park. I think the Sierra High Trail is perhaps the best 5-7 day conventional trail trip offered in the Sierra.

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oleander
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by oleander » Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:04 pm

Been to all of those places!

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a must-see. June or beginning of July in a high-snow year.

Silver Divide is sublime. For an optimal treeline experience, just hang on the north side of the Divide, which is generally the gentler side. Duck - Peter Pande - maybe Hortense - Tully/Cotton/explore - out McGee Pass. Been to this area three times and just can't get enough of it. (Have not actually been to Peter Pande but that's high on my list for next.)

One thing to consider as we all age is that the bucket-list destinations that are long and hard to get to are the ones to do first. Kaweah Basin is by far the hardest on your list. FWIW, you might not like it in a low-snow year. The basin itself (as well as many of the trails that get you there) may seem a bit austere and barren if you prefer lush treeline landscapes.

Mono Pass to Pioneer is spectacular. It's a unique part of the Sierra, with memorable views. That said, you might find that trip a little austere too; mostly above treeline.

Was just in Blackcap & Bench this year. I didn't think it was all that. I did like the treeline lakes in Bench Canyon. And the solitude. But the slog to those basins and back is not fun.

Northern Emigrant: Kennedy Meadows to Iceland & Lewis Lakes (an easy off-trail area) could be a casual trip. I wouldn't bucket-list it, personally, as the trail approach is meh, but it is nice for quick access to the mountains if you just have 3-4 days.

Hoover: Green Creek to East Lake is another casual trip. High scenery-to-effort ratio and those are some very, very nice not-quite-timberline lakes :) Personally I like the out-and-back from Twin Lakes to Peeler as well; again a pretty casual trip.

Been to Sabrina Basin?

I have been to both the North Cascades and the Wind Rivers in the past 4 years, and would put them both above most of the above-listed destinations, provided you have good planning resources to get you to some of the more interesting places in those two ranges. In Wind Rivers, I greatly preferred the scenery out of Big Sandy to the very crowded Titcomb Basin further north. WD's book is terrific. I have a route in the North Cascades that I could PM you.

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c9h13no3
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:08 pm

chulavista wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:19 pm
Why wait for next summer? Fall in Utah/Arizona!
Yeah, idk why people move to California, the land of no winter, and then proceed to stay inside 8 months of the year.

FWIW, I think anything around Twin Lakes/Bridgeport is best in the fall.
"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
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wildhiker
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by wildhiker » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:16 am

Hi Kpeter,

You don't say if you are planning one trip or multiple trips, short or long, difficult or easy.

Some of the places on your list are good for shorter trips of 3 to 5 days.

Pioneer Basin is quite beautiful with the timberline meadows you say you like and amazing views of the higher peaks to the south. You can easily explore it on a three day trip, or add other lake basins nearby if you have more days.

Trails out of both Green Creek and Virginia Lakes in the Hoover Wilderness lead very quickly to big lakes and high meadows, with big peaks around. And the red metamorphic rock in this area is quite dramatic. You can see a lot in just 2 or 3 days. We also did a very nice 6 day trip starting at Virginia Lakes and ending at Twin Lakes (our son helped setup a car shuttle), passing through the outstanding Matterhorn Canyon in the middle and viewing the dramatic Sawtooth Ridge from both sides.

You ask about the northern Emigrant Wilderness. Have you been on the PCT south from Sonora Pass? You run along the ridgeline between the Emigrant and Hoover Wildernesses for several miles with the most wonderful views and top-of-the-world feeling. You say you don't like being above treeline, but the views on this section are worth it and so easily accessible on the high-standard PCT. You have to be willing to go about 10 miles the first day, however, to get to good camping back at timberline at the headwaters of Kennedy Creek. There is a great 5 day (or more) lollipop hike here that starts at Sonora Pass, heads south on the PCT to Dorothy Lake in the far northern corner of Yosemite Park, and then returns on high trails at the eastern edge of the Emigrant Wilderness, going right over the top of "Big Sam" mountain on an old abandoned mining jeep road with more fantastic views, and then redoing that high ridge section of the PCT back to Sonora Pass. Outstanding wildflowers in this area right through the end of summer due to volcanic soils. Not a good hike in bad weather, however.

-Phil

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Harlen
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by Harlen » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:18 am

Hi Peter,

Following your quote of the bard, are you sure it might not be "nobler in the mind to suffer [our] outrageous fortune? Since it is not "a sea of troubles" we face, but a forest of fires! How will you take arms against that, and by opposing end them?

Anyhow, assuming you triumph Peter, and get to backpack next fire season-- I mean next summer, I think you would really enjoy some of the routes in and out of Twin Lakes. "Peeler to Snow Lake" is a famous and easy one; and it can easily be extended-- say, by a day hike around the shores of Rock Island Lake, and a cross country path west over to Thompson Canyon... then back eastward over to Kerrick Meadows, and then down the Peeler Lake trail back to Twin Lakes. Much of that would be in the beautiful, flowery, tree-line country you love, with a lot of granite landscape thrown in. Crown Peak is a nice climb with great views, and the upper (west) end of Snow Lake is a great basecamp for a day trip into the Rock Island Lake Basin.

I also really like the entry up the Horse Creek Pass trail for the dark and impressive Twin Peaks you are aimed at, and there are a lot of circular options from there back around via either Matterhorn Canyon- Burro Pass, and on; or even wilder cross country options via Wilson Creek to R.I. Lake, and back, or up Slide Canyon to Mule Pass, and back.

I hope it works out for you "sweet prince."
"Oh, the rest is silence." Ian.

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TehipiteTom
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Re: Help me set priorities

Post by TehipiteTom » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:56 am

oleander wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:04 pm
Hoover: Green Creek to East Lake is another casual trip. High scenery-to-effort ratio and those are some very, very nice not-quite-timberline lakes :)
East Lake is beautiful--lots of dramatic red metavolcanics, very different from the classic Sierra granite--and easy to get to. If East Lake is crowded, a little further on and just off the trail is Gilman Lake, which looks like it doesn't get nearly as much traffic. That's also an easy way into Virginia Canyon, which is lovely.

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