Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

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cmon4day
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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by cmon4day » Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:11 pm

I always like your TR's. I visited Bench Valley this past year. Did a 10-day basin hop along the LeConte Divide. Started at Courtright and went to Blackcap then to Bench and finally to Red Mountain Basin. I've been BPing for along time and this trip was one of my all-time favorites. Like Bad Man From Bodie said, "Don't let the old man in".








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sekihiker
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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by sekihiker » Sat Feb 06, 2021 6:40 pm

cmon4day wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:11 pm
Don't let the old man in
Thanks so much for the encouragement.

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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by erutan » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:27 pm

I did a loop a few summers back coming in from hell for sure pass into red mountain basin, over hutton col (bypass), into bench valley then stumbled across an old packer trail from fall creek to meadow brook which was neat. Explored the rest of RMB then dropped down to MTR via Mosquito Pass.

Hutton Col + that old packer trail was a nice loop as you can see all the lakes in Bench Valley (though Horsehead and above were more interesting IMO).
old packer trail.png
Goddard canyon has some really cool features - there's a great waterfall and below it a really interesting gorge. Instead of taking the trail up canyon and then doing down to the good stuff there's a solid shortcut down to the falls from the HFS trail.
hfs goddard shortcut.png
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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by sekihiker » Wed Feb 10, 2021 9:45 am

Thanks for the maps, erutan. It's always fun to see old trails that have been rediscovered and new routes with details. Those falls in Goddard Canyon sure are worth visiting. There is a photo of one of the falls in a report at: http://www.sierrahiker.com/DavisLakes/index.html

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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by erutan » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:36 pm

It'd be really interesting to have map layers of trail systems over the last century or so, in roughly 20 year intervals. It's really interesting stumbling across old packer trails, modern climber approach routes, old cavalry trails etc (or even just looking at the old USGS maps and seeing how trails have died down or expanded since then - they're often useful for finding a solid class 2 route). Finding one by just reading terrain is rewarding - that's how I stumbled across the lower one from bench canyon.

It's surprising how old some of them can be, the former trail from moose lake linking to the alta peak trail was very clear in places for not even showing up on USGS maps etc, vs some abandoned trails from that era that follow valley floors (whatever fork it is between bench lake and cartridge pass for instance).

Finding old blazes on certain trails, or bent trees by native americans gives a real sense of history to the place (along with the occasional large obsidian shaving pile near a currently off-trail lake).

I've gone from Davis Lakes to Martha twice, but have never cut early up Goddard like you (I'm going E to W vs the other way around I guess), it's a neat area up there.
davis.png
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Re: Bench Valley 1989 Trip Report

Post by sekihiker » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:23 am

erutan wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:36 pm
It's surprising how old some of them can be
I've taken a few trails on the old Starr's Guide maps that have been abandoned. One of them was built by the CCC during the depression and connected Redwood Meadow with Paradise Valley. Significant parts of that trail were impossible to follow because of stacks of deadfall as many as five treetrunks high. This morning at breakfast, I reminded my wife of the Redwood Meadow/Paradise Valley trip. She said I griped about the deadwood on the slope the whole trip and that I was sure it was ripe for a massive fire.
I said, "I wonder why it hasn't burned?"
She replied, "A fire couldn't get there. It's too hard."

Another intriguing trail connects Cloud Canyon and Lake Reflection via Cunningham Creek and Longley Pass. Some of the switchbacks and rock work still remain but most traces of it have disappeared. It's shown as a dotted line on the map.

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