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Wishon to Woodchuck Country

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Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:11 pm

Image

I was working on some routes this week from the Wishon Reservoir area up to Crown Lake since my brother Joe is interested in returning to Crown Lake that we had visited in 2001. I've been backpacking over 35 years and am a prolific crosscountry route traveler that makes considerable use of topographic maps both before trips analyzing routes and during hiking when my map is always dangling from a string right in front of my chest. I thought it would be interesting to share some of what I uniquely do here this once at least in vague terms. One will need to follow some of the below on a more detailed 7.5 minute map as per http://www.topozone.com.

While hiking, I compulsively check where I am at versus 7.5 minute topos every short distance and at least in Sierra terrain usually know rather closely where I am at. When I can't see where I am going due to being down deep inside forest, I will also use a compass. I am so familiar with the kinds of geology, vegetation, and topography of the Sierra, that I have a reasonable idea of what to expect on routes beyond what the mere elevation lines show. Regardless once on a route, I use what I see, continually making decisions as to whether to follow my planned route versus vectoring off a bit due to what is actually there. As a large format landscape photographer, I carry an enormous pack usually over 70 pounds carrying weight so am keen not to go anymore uphill than I need to. So often will perform tedious traversing around slopes just to avoid going up. However at times it is better to simply descend and then go back up, but those are decisions I make upon actually looking at what is in front of me.

The difference between using my route on the above map and the trail is huge. To Chimney Lake my new route is only 4 miles and 1710 feet of uphill versus roughly 8 miles and 2930 feet via the trail from the Wishon horse packer trailhead. And that same route to Crown Lake with a first day at Chimney is only 7.0 miles and 2450 feet uphill. My route via Chuck Pass is a bit longer at 8.5 miles but with less vertical at 2040 feet. That contrasts with using the Wishon trail, as Crown via Halfmoon Pass is 11 miles with 3860 feet of uphill. And if one instead uses the new higher Rancheria Trail via Chuck Pass, it is 14 miles and 3710 feet uphill to Crown Lake. Note to sum verticals, I estimate to about 5 feet between the 40 foot elevation lines.

In 2001 a group of 4 of us made a 10-day trip out to Martha Lake from an obscure 8340 foot trailhead east of Wishon Reservoir on forest road 27E05 (?) that is northwest of Hoffman Mtn. Actually the poor dirt road is gated there as it continues another mile plus to where cattle pasture. Sometime before the trip I had spied this dirt road on a map at the Prather ranger station so later investigated how I might use it to better reach Martha Lake that I had visited in 1980 and 1981 via Courtright Reservoir. Note today the dirt road is on the current Sierra NF map. I suspect most that use the trailhead merely follow it up to where it joins the Rancheria Trail on the south side of Hoffman Mtn. as that saves a modest amount of uphill. To me it promised a less painful way into Woodchuck Country and on to Blackcap Basin. On the above anotated map, (100k map in meters) I have colored in the horse trails and my own crosscountry routes. I purposely am displaying this larger scale so it will be too crude to actually use. Thus someone wishing to use my route will need to do all the route finding work on a 7.5 minute topo beyond the vague route shown. Because forest in these areas north of Hoffman Mtn. is quite dense, one needs to be rather experienced crosscountry and make good use of a compass.

A summary of our August of 2001 route follows. We set out from the trailhead downhill 160 feet into a small stream red fir basin, climbed up 25 feet to round a slight nose, went down 85 feet into a smaller basin at 8120 feet, rounded a brushy steeper nose north of of topo point 8155 up 85 feet then dropped down 25 feet to a larger level north facing basin of the mountain at 8180 feet that was about a mile into the effort. A small marshy seasonal pond was there as were squeeters. However we were well clothed and added deet to our exposed hands and face. From that point we had to climb beyond the significant ridge due east. I chose a traversing route that climbed to an easy saddle south of point 9332. On such routes I tend to go methodically slow step by step. That route turned out to be moderately easy climbing without much brush or tedious down logs to navigate through. From there, it was a long mile and one half compass challenge of flat deep often marshy forest towards where we would descend 200 feet and cross Woodchuck Creek at Indian Springs at about 8900. We actually reached the creek a bit downstream from the springs and took a long lunch break. Otherwise my whole route had gone like clockwork.

Across the stream we found the Chuck Pass trail, then followed it a couple miles before once again leaving crosscountry in order to traverse northeast towards Crown Lake. Unfortuantely we were quite weary at that point as crosscountry is always more tiring than using a trial. About one-half mile around the nose of the pass, the 7.5 topo shows a narrow bare unforested zone coming down from the ridge north of the pass that ends in a marshy area at 8350 feet. That proved to be a painful spot that wasted us. It was a shallow rocky ravine head high in dense brush. Crosscountry is always a gamble and sometimes bad stuff appears that cannot be expected from mere map work. We tried to cross it but had to backtrack only to end up going steeply all the way down to the marsh. From there we stumbled northeast to near BM9411 where we made camp. An 8 mile, 2000 foot day one, we were too weary to bother reaching Crown Lake.

The next morning we found the nearby Scepter Pass Trail and followed that a minor ways before climbing crosscountry to a saddle due east where we climbed down a rather steep loose slope to reach the Blackcap Basin Trail that saved us both considerable uphill and mileage. At the end of that weary day we had gone another 8 miles and 2000 feet to reach Pearl Lake. A couple days later, crosscountry via Confusion Pass, we were at Martha Lake to base camp. On the way back, we went back over Gunsight Pass into Bench Valley for a night, then descended crosscountry to the North Fork of the Kings River for an afternoon and camp playing about bedrock cascades. For our last night we climbed up to Sceptor Pass and Crown Lake. And on the way out reversed our above crosscountry route of the first day that went smoothly.

Also shown on my above map in red is what I think is a better route than we used in 2001 that from the above noted north facing basin at 8180 feet, climbs north of point 9332 to 8900 feet and then traverses down 300 to reach Woodchuck Creek at 8620 feet at the trail crossing. Instead of taking the trail from there to Chimney Lake, my new route is more directly up the creek's south canyon wall. Thus would reach Chimney Lake after just 4.0 miles 1710 feet up and 560 feet down.

...David



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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:33 pm

Dave, thanks for the interesting and timely post. It certainly gives food for thought, given that Chimney in 4 mi puts it and Woodchuck in reasonable dayhike range for me (including time to do some serious fishing). I seriously considered using your high take off point last year when doing a loop that went from Rancheria to Woodchuck to (lots of cross country to cut the corners) Crown to (lots more cross country shooting the gap east of Scepter Pass) Blackcap then coming back via Chuck Pass (more xc to cut from Scepter L. to Chuck Pass) then xc to Duck L. then out. The only thing that gave me pause for cause was how much faster we'd be getting to a common point (original plan was to shoot for Maxson on day 1 before I ended up sick with fever on day 1) toward Chuck Pass vs the Rancheria route which is mighty fast, even though its longer. Based on abundant cross country, including across other north facing slopes in the area suggest that the cross country travel in that area is actually pretty fast, so I think I could in fact save time over the "standard" Rancheria entry. I'd be very tempted to use the high trailhead to aid my "Blue Canyon on day 1" scheme, were it not for the fact that I hope to loop back out via Tehipite (by way of Tunemah outlet, Goddard Creek and the Middle Fork), which makes a finish at Rancheria much more convenient. In any case, I'm almost certain to use your higher trailhead as a kickoff the next time I head for Crown, Woodchuck et al.--prime destinations that I will return to repeatedly.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby SSSdave » Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:59 pm

Well I obviously know why you have a keen interest in some of those ignored places. A couple decades ago I met a former horse packer for that area that moved to the San Jose area and worked at one of the sportings goods places of the day. He was fascinated by all my offtrail wanderings in his old trail region and shared a few whopper lake tales I would not have otherwise known about.

As you mention Blue Canyon, I've also carefully drawn a route from my trailhead over Chuck Pass, across the upper Crown basin, over Mantle Pass then down to the twin 10,400 lakes in Blue Canyon that is only 16.0 miles with 4115 feet up and 2025 down. The long crosscountry section in what I suspect is mostly granitoid slab country, goes across considerable modest gradient slopes if correctly followed, so looks like it would be less effort for me than the heavily forested section near the trailhead. Although I might still be capable of carrying my huge load all that way in two days, there is no doubt I would instead spend 3 days to do so more leisurely including a second night about the headwaters of the Crown Creek fork. Then would go over Mantle in the morning to frame some landscapes south and southwest. On the return, I would just take the two nights, so on a 9 day trip that would allow 4 days to base camp about the upper Blue Canyon zone.
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:38 pm

...
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby Jaeger » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:36 pm

Thanks for fixing the map Dave. I just completed a trip to a few lakes from the Rancheria TH this past weekend. Had a great time up there. I'm hoping to do another trip to the area and get a little further north and east next time. I'm trying to plan a route for this trip right now. Thank you for the invaluable info. I'll enjoy figuring out the rest from the 7.5 and on trail. Afterall, what fun is it following someone elses route step for step? ;)
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:45 pm

Jaeger,

Just as an aside related to this thread. I did in fact go out of Hoffman Mtn and come back to it for the trip that was discussed in this thread (in early July 2008--see thread called something like Tunepite becomes Tunechuck). Only lousy conditioning and a very poorly formulated trail drink that messed up my GI tract kept me and my buddy from going all the way to upper Blue Canyon on day 1. In the shape I'm in this year or in 2007, I'd have Blue Canyon made easily on day 1. In any case my route was closer to the orange route Dave has except that our takeoff stayed a bit higher (more or less followed contour before climbing to the little saddle above Round Corral Mdw. It was very useful to know that Dave had done this takeoff before, because although it certainly looked good on the topo there are a lot of factors that can make off trail travel much worse than it appears on topo. Brush and deadfalls are chief among them. Fortunately off trail navigation in this area is pretty benign--not too much brush, no steeplechases of lots of deadfall, and no little cliffs that are too small to show up on the topo.


GB

P.S. If you don't mind, please send me a PM about where you ended up going out of Rancheria and how you did.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby BSquared » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:26 pm

It appears from the text that there's supposed to be a map of the route somewhere in the thread, but I don't see it. Is it buried in one of the links, or has it somehow disappeared? I'd love to look at it, if it's still around.
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby rlown » Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:14 pm

BSquared wrote:It appears from the text that there's supposed to be a map of the route somewhere in the thread, but I don't see it. Is it buried in one of the links, or has it somehow disappeared? I'd love to look at it, if it's still around.


This is an old thread, so maybe SSSDave needs to either repost a current shareable link? The generic link to TOPO appears to now be for pay. Maybe.

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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:58 pm

B2 wrote:
It appears from the text that there's supposed to be a map of the route somewhere
in the thread, but I don't see it. Is it buried in one of the links, or has it somehow
disappeared? I'd love to look at it, if it's still around.


It seem Trails.com now owns Topozone.com, which requires one to be a member to
access the data, which is why you cannot see the map.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby BSquared » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:55 pm

maverick wrote:It seem Trails.com now owns Topozone.com, which requires one to be a member to access the data, which is why you cannot see the map.
Right, so it was the Topozone map that had the data; didn't realize one could store personal tracks on those old Topozone maps. Oh, well. It's no big deal, just my inveterate map-freak speaking up. :D

Thanks, Maverick.
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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby rlown » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:03 pm

ok.. i'm assuming at this point i have invisible powers. Here is (not a 7.5) map of the area. there are two roads up towards hoffman. Anyone care to take the map and mark a route to Chimney and then Crown for B^2? Click on the map to enlarge, or save, or mark it up with your favorite tool.

Capture.JPG


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Re: Wishon to Woodchuck Country

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:29 pm

Rlown wrote:
ok.. i'm assuming at this point i have invisible powers.


Yes you do Russ, but we can use the magic word too, "Puppet". :D
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