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Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

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Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby Surfer Bill » Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:31 pm

I have a group of extended family including 5 adults, 5 teenagers (ages 14-22) who want to do their first backpacking trip in the Sierras (live in Orange County). I have a moderate amount of backpacking experience, including two 50 milers. We're planning on going July 29-Aug 1 this summer. Want to get them excited about backpacking, not scare them off.

They have done a lot of car camping, but never backpacking. My brother and I thought of Onion Valley-Kearsarge Pass-Kearsarge Lakes but I am wondering if that's too difficult and they may not like above timberline their first time out. Should we shoot for a lower elevation with meadows, a little easier? Any suggestions?

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Re: Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:06 pm

- Little Lakes Valley has beautiful peaks and a valley sprinkled with alpine lakes.
- 20 Lakes Basin is beautiful alpine country which takes minimal effort to reach, and has
pretty lakes and rugged mountains(Mt.Conness) as your backdrop.
- South Lake area numerous lakes worth visiting and exploring(Green, Brown, Ruwau
and Treasure Lakes) with the Sierra Crest as your back drop.
- Sabrina Lake area has several lakes to use as a base camp to explore the
numerous other lakes in the basin (Baboon, Emerald, Hungry Packer and Midnight Lakes).
- Big Pine Canyon is also a great to place set up a base camp at one of the lakes and
explore the other lakes and glacier on day hikes.
With this one you get several 14000 ft plus peaks (The Palisades) as your mountain
delight, and emerald green lakes(glacier feed).
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Re: Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby Andrew Skibo » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:03 am

I agree with all Maverick's suggestions. However, if the folks aren't used to climbing at altitude they might find Big Pine Lakes quite a grind.

There are a couple options at Little Lakes. Driving to the end of the road to Mosquito Flats trailhead gets you to Gem Lakes -- this is the classic, and for newbies to the Sierras I think this is a must. But two nights would be the max for this trip.

For backpacking I prefer the lesser known option of using the trailhead by Rock Creek Lake. Then one night at Dorothy Lake and a second at Tamarack or Francis Lake. There are two trails to Dorothy. The one on most maps goes by Kenneth Lake (more properly Kenneth mud puddle); this is the one that gets you to Francis or Tamarack also. There is a much pleasanter trail off the north end of Dorothy Lake; although it doesn't show on all maps. If you trust your map reading this trail is a good choice, and it is very easy to find on the return trip from Dorothy.
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Re: Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby hawkfeather » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:23 pm

Cottonwood Lakes may also be a good destination for you. The hike in is not that big a climb, although it starts out at around 10,000' (but so does Little Lakes), and teenagers probably should have no trouble with it, especially if they've day-hiked. Once in, there are various places to set up a base camp with lots of day-hike possibilities. Depending on the energy level of your group, you might even climb Langley--a head-down slog, no special skills required, but the view from on top (including Whitney) will knock their socks off. Do it on your last full day in, after everyone has acclimated.
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Re: Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby markskor » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:48 pm

The ability to have a campfire and sit around it at night is always a big draw for the first timers I take.
I like the Onion Valley - Pass suggestion, but perhaps taking an extra day to get there...detour to Heart/ Matlock allows for an easy first day shake down. This strategy negates the Cottonwoods, though pretty and easy...too high for a first trip.
Sabrina area also nice...Also Rock Creek area too.
Then there is Yosemite...nuff said.
Nothing wrong with a three day trek - Yosemite Creek down to the Valley, with a night atop the big falls. Also an out-and-back to North Dome has possibilities.
Cathedral Lakes loop to Tenaya?
Whatever you choose, with a party that big, wilderness passes should be looked into now.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Sierra Trip for Family, Three Days Alpine Scenery

Postby KC JED » Wed May 13, 2009 10:16 am

Can you elaborate as to this "more pleasant trail near the north end of Dorothy Lake?? Also do they allow dogs in the Little Lakes Valley??? I think it's Inyo NF, so it should be okay, but I'm not sure.
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