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Wishon or Courtright Reservoir Entrance Points

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Wishon or Courtright Reservoir Entrance Points

Postby Take-a-Hike » Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:31 pm

My original intent for a early July trip was to go from Courtright to Bench Valley, spend a couple of days there and day trip around Blackcap Basin then exit via Red Mt Basin for the loop out. After pondering some others' plans this summer on this site and pouring over the maps, I see that it's not a whole lot farther to Blue Canyon and/or Upper Goddard Creek areas. Since short term time isn't much of an issue, ie, wife is retired, I have a bunch of vacation, I can extend this trip for a few more days and incorporate those previously mentioned areas if it's worth the effort. Whereas long term time is an issue...ie, sooo many areas, soooo precious little hiking time left (55 and over), we may not get the opportunity to get back into this area again. Hence the need for opinions and suggestions:
1. Whats pros/cons of entering Wishon vs. Courtright? Never been to that area, only external national park west side entrances have been from Edison Lake/Vermillion. Sierra South shows it a few miles shorter to Portal Lake from Wishon then Courtright, but says Wishon is "road less traveled". Must be a reason.

2. If we get to Portal, SS says to head up toward Finger Pk, go through a pass just to the north, then head for the saddle directly east of the Peak to drop down into Blue Canyon. IS that pass commonly referred to as "Finger Col"?

3. Looking at Harrison map, area north of Blue Canyon Peak, the upper Goddard area, sure looks nice, deserted, trailess and a pleasant spot to spend time. We're into granite lakes at or near tree line with solitude. Is there another way out of that canyon to the north which would complete a loop back to Blackcap or Bench Valley? Remember above listed limitations prior to answering. (I'm the one who has to listen to the complaints because I didn't 55-and-over proof the trip.) #-o

And here I was all set for a nice five day Bench Valley/Red Mt Basin loop trip and another weekend storm sytem keeps me inside and a chance to complicate things up a bit. :\ But, input/advice would be appreciated. As a barometer for degree of difficulty capability, we did Lamarack Col, down to Darwin Basin, Evo Lake last summer. Intent was to exit same way, but wife refused to go back up past the Darwin Lakes and up to the Col. She would have if I'd pushed the issue, as I think it's easier to go up that stuff then down, but it was just as easy to go out via Piute pass. Also, two summers ago we did the Copper Creek trail from Roads End to Grouse Lake Meadow in one day on the same weekend we're doing this years' trip, so trail stuff doesn't seem to be the issue. It's the talus! :thumbsdown:
Thanks for the input.

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Re: Wishon or Courtright Reservoir Entrance Points

Postby paul » Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:28 pm

Wishon is a little lower, but a little closer to Blackcap Basin. I f you want to do Blackcap Basin and martha lake area, Wishon is probably the easier entry point; but if you want to take in rRed mountain basin and Bech valley, then Courtwright may be easier. I went in to Portal lake years ago from Wishon, and it's a very nice route. More up and down and more elevation gain in total than from Courtwright, but more scenic as well, since the route from courtwright is up a valley rather than up and over a ridge.
As to the Finger pass question, take a look at
That site has a listing of almost all sierra passes, trail or X-C, with class ratings and notes.
If you can get over the hill to Martha Lake from the upper Goddard Creek area - and it looks like it wouldn't be too bad - the it's easy to go north down Goddard Canyon (the south fork of the San Joaqin) and pick up the trail over Hell For Sure Pass. Great View from the pass, by the way.
It's a beautiful area, you can't go wrong no matter where you go around there.
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Re: Wishon or Courtright Reservoir Entrance Points

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:20 am

2. Yes, that's Finger Col; I was over it in 2002. From the Cathedral side, look for a freestanding rock column near the top; that's where the pass is. The pass itself is a notch, maybe 10 feet wide with granite walls on either side. On the other side, IIRC, you want to traverse a little toward Finger peak to get off the cliff band at pass level; then drop down through a short stretch of annoying talus, and after that it's all ramps and slabs to the lakes.

3. That basin is gorgeous. We camped on a ridge between the lake just above 10,400 and the lake just below 10,280--great site with awesome views. It's pretty easy to get from there into the upper Goddard Creek valley, which is one of the most beautiful valleys I know. We dayhiked as far as the lake at the head of that valley, but I'm pretty sure there are folks here who've done the pass over to Martha and can give you details.
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Re: Wishon or Courtright Reservoir Entrance Points

Postby AldeFarte » Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:28 am

It's very easy to go from upper Goddard to Martha, or BC basin to Martha. The only problems I remember were elevation changes and talus. I recall seeing much sheep poop in the upper Goddard canyon near Reinstein, but no sheep. There is another hidden niche {keyhole} going from BC basin to bench valley north of Blackcap. I remember LeConte divide being an exhilarating place to stradle. :) jls
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