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Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

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Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby Morten » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:43 pm

Was wondering if anybody could share some great trail tips for a 2-4 day backpacking trip in the Sierras this late. Planning on star date October 25. Since I'm European and just moved here to CA this spring I do not yet know where's the best to go this late in the fall. We are two persons going with lots of back country experience. Would love to see some lakes and fall colors in a high route without having to worry too much about snow if possible. Will be driving up from San Francisco and is open to anywhere in the Sierras.
Thanks in advance,
Morten



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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby SPeacock » Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:54 pm

Perhaps you might want to stay a bit lower for this time of year and keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. The eastern Sierra has been getting some snow showers.

A lower trip, sorry no lakes, would be perhaps from Crescent Meadows in Sequoia to BearPaw Meadows. Make that your base camp and then day hike up toward Hamilton Lake, Elizabeth Pass and even Tamarack lake. Take an extra wooly jumper as it will be in the 20Fs perhaps at night. Crescent Meadows does allow campfires still I think and you will have most of the trail to yourself. The best scenery is on up the trail toward Valhala and above Hamilton Lake (where you could make a higher camp) and then up to Kaweah Pass for a day hike.

If they get the site working again you can take a look at the area with:

http://www.topo.com/explore

Dinky Lakes is another idea to look at.

I'd be a little hesitant to send you up into Mineral King as it is a bit higher and will be considerably cooler.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby Wild Bill » Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:46 am

I agree with the "lower altitude idea." The weather is turning cold now. A "freeze" occured last Saturday on the east side of the sierra. It killed the fall colors above 7000' . There could be hope for some colors still lower.
Still not much snow yet. A dusting to a few inches in certain places.
With the right equipment, you could adventure higher. But as peacock said, keep an eye on the weather.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby SPeacock » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:22 pm

http://www.topo.com/trips/1883-50-where ... &type=topo

Map centered on BearPaw Meadow.

The trail to the east gets up to Hamilton Lake, Elizabeth Pass, Tamarack, etc.

The trail west is the trail head at Crescent meadows out of Giant Forrest area. Plan on a full day to get to Bearpaw. Even tho the map shows little altitude gain, you do a lot of 'undulations'. You can camp earlier at creek crossings.

The trail south takes you to the river below and across to Mineral King - could be part of a 7 or so day loop going up to 9 Lakes Basin to Little/Big Five Lakes then out over a pass of your choice (Black Rock is sometimes preferred) and back to Bearpaw via this trail. This is getting a bit late in the season for this trip but it is a good July one if you put in your wilderness pass now.

The east side of Sierra, which is a day trip away from SF, gets you up to lakes and higher country within miles of trailhead. But again, the summer season is pretty much over on that side as well.

Great winter and snowshoe season on its way. On the west side, usually Thanksgiving is about the first big snow that sticks. But weather people have been wrong before.

Another hike that is an in and out is up the river from Roads End in Kings Canyon. Barring a large down pour, the water crossings are about as low as they are going to be for the year. There might be a bit of color left. You can just haul up the creek until you run out of trail or get tired of walking in some very nice scenery as well. A few options for excursions from the main trail too. That will eventually take you up to Rae Lakes, but you are chancing some fairly cool nights and a good weather forecast.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby cgundersen » Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:59 pm

A modest variation on the above suggestions is: with extensive backcountry experience, and if you are reasonably good at navigating off trail, an excellent loop is to leave from Wolverton or Crescent Meadow and aim for Moose Lake. You can do this loop clockwise by visiting Heather, Aster and Pear Lakes and then traversing the Tablelands to Moose or by going the reverse direction. Although Moose Lake can certainly be reached in one day from the trailhead, Alta Meadow (or the little lakes below Moose) are good first night camping alternatives for a counterclockwise loop. You'll get plenty of lakes and open panoramas on this route, but as the folks above noted, you'll need to pay close attention to the weather forecasts. A friend went up to Mineral King last weekend and caught quite a bit of snow on the way to Franklin Pass (and temperatures in single digits Farenheit). Regardless, at this time of year, you'll run into few other people and if the weather cooperates, it can be glorious.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby SSSdave » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:23 pm

I would not advise a novice hike out on any of those trails from Wolverton at this time of year. Simply too much a gamble on getting caught in a snowstorm. in fact the Bearpaw Meadow destination is too far for novice backpacker breaking in their gear even in summer. Several times in the last couple decades there has been one to two feet of snow at such elevations when a big cold storm roared down from the Gulf of Alaska. You certainly would not see any fall color because trees that have leaves that turn color tend to be no higher than Giant Forest or below 7000 feet. Even if you had made a trip a month earlier, there really isn't much fall color to visit from backpacking trailheads because such trees tend to grow at or below trailheads. Everyone serious about chasing fall leaves car camps at this time of year. If you are determined to do a backpack, I would suggest staying below 6500 feet. Doing so you can certainly see some modest fall color of black oaks, cottonwood, bigleaf maples, and willows, and Pacific dogwood. All but the oaks tend to be along streams. One choice would be out of Mather to Cottonwood Meadow. You could dayhike from there up to Smith Meadow.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.89206,-119.82728&z=14&t=T
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby rightstar76 » Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:07 am

Late October is a bad time of year to go backpacking. That's because a snowstorm could trap you making it impossible to hike back. Even if the weather is good when you begin your trip, it could change overnight. Were you planning on taking snowshoes and backcountry skis on your trip? That is what you will need if it snows.

A much better and safer option is to car camp at Lodgepole Campground in the park. Then go on a day hike. SSSDave is right about there not being any fall colors on the High Sierra Trail. The most fall colors you are going to see, if any, will be in Giant Forest.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby markorr » Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:27 pm

according the NPS website there's no longer any piped in water at Bearpaw meadow for the year. its about 3/4 of mile to water in any direction.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby Zoltan » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:05 pm

I'll throw in Hetch Hetchy (in Yosemite NP) as an option. It's the forgotten sister of Yosemite Valley. Base elevation is 4000', with a lot of good options for how high you want to go. I have backpacked there twice in late fall, once last weekend and a five-day trip over Thanksgiving a couple years ago. Last weekend was in the teens at 8000', so yes it will be cold. There was some fall color, nothing spectacular though.

If the forecast is good for several days, I suppose you could go up pretty high, as there was no snow up to 9500 ft. There are several loops that will keep you no higher than 7000 which could be accomplished in a few days' time.

It's a 3-1/2 hour drive from SF to Yosemite, that's one of my favorite things about it as I'm in the area . There is the dam though, it is a crime, I wish SF had found a better way to get their water. Nonetheless, it is very dramatic granite country, I have never been disappointed. If it sounds good a Harrison or Nat'l Geo map will give you all the info you need.

Good luck out there.
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby markorr » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:57 pm

current forecast is for clear skies for the foreseeable future and warmer than normal for the next 3 days. I talked to the Bishop Ranger Station yesterday and they said there's not really any snow in the mountains. I guess whatever fell 2 weeks ago has melted off. they did say that the fall color is pretty much gone. I'm driving over this afternoon (hopefully 880 won't be on fire again) for 4 days around Pine Creek/Granite Park/Italy Pass/ bear lakes basin. no skis or snowshoes, but plenty of down for the frosty evenings. will post conditions next week

cheers
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby wannabp » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:18 pm

One year, I hiked out of Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake at the end of October. First night at Moraine Dome, second at Merced Lake, and third at Little Yosemite Valley (best avoided unless you like crowds). A simple hike with classic Yosemite scenery. If I did it again, I would add Cloud's Rest on the return.

Two weeks earlier, I hiked out of Tuolumne to Vogelsang along Rafferty Creek. To my surprise, Rafferty Creek was dry, something to consider wherever you decide to go. A blue line on the map is no guarantee of late season water in the Sierras. Have fun!
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Re: Good trail for a 2-4 day backpacking trip 25 to 28 october

Postby markorr » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:54 am

Just got back from 4 days around the Mono Divide area. Up to 12400' there's not really any snow, other than a few inches hiding under steep NW facing slopes. Daytime temps were in the high 70's and night time was around 15 (camped @ 11,500 most night). Looks like storms are going to be rolling in later this week so maybe this was the last summer-like trip of the season. I'll post a more detailed report and some pics soon.
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