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Solo trip late May- eastside route ideas sought.

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Solo trip late May- eastside route ideas sought.

Postby jimqpublic » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:03 pm

My wife just let me know she's taking the kids for an in-law visit in May. That gives me the opportunity for a backpack trip.

It's been about six years since I've backpacked, but dayhikes with a 30 pound kid in a child carrier keep me in shape. I'm thinking of a mini-epic in the Sierra for a week.

I'll be going solo, so I plan to avoid any passes with high avalanche risks or requiring ice tools. I'm thinking at that time of year I can choose between mud and bugs down in the lower elevations or snow up high- so I'll take the snow. Depending on snowpack I would probably bring snowshoes and ice axe. (Or maybe the 120 cm. firngleiters)

Given all that- any ideas for an eastside trip? I was thinking Horseshoe Meadows, South Lake, or North Lake would be the best trailheads to access reasonable early-season terrain without dealing with steep ice.
Jim



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Postby try » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:24 pm

Several years back I did a great solo trip out of Pine Creek TH, over Italy Pass, down to Lake Italy, JMT to Piute Creek trail, up to French Canyon, then over and out via Pine Creek Pass. Really nice hike. :)
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Postby gdurkee » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:21 pm

If you're going alone in May, I'd be more worried about high water and collapsing snow bridges than avalanche danger. And, especially if you haven't been out for awhile, maybe look for something on a known and used route. Over Bishop Pass and hang out in Dusy comes to mind. Devils Postpile to Yosemite via the JMT would be good (if the road's open by May). Even Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney (though an ice ax isn't a bad idea) would be a nice trip. You could have serious snow above 9,000 feet on all of these.

Anyway, I'd avoid gnarly -- or any -- cross country routes. Check for bridges on streams etc.

Have a great trip!

George
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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:21 pm

I sympathize with your plight of trying to exploit available free time for a big backpacking trip, but I second gdurkee's notes about dealing with early season in the High Sierra. There are few other things to keep in mind. As noted, avalanche dangers are usually not the main hazard in late May, but steep snow, corniced crests, and high water in streams are. Anybody who has ever traversed steep, soft, spring snow knows that there is another hazard involved there. It is commonly very difficult to self arrest on steep soft snow. This has led to many serious (some fatal) accidents in such conditions. Snowshoes will probably be a good idea in the less steep areas, otherwise the postholing up to your thigh will wear you out in a hurry.

There are places in the lower parts of the Sierra that are doable come late May without huge amounts of snow, although one still has to pick routes that avoid big time stream crossings. Trailless NW Yosemite is commonly fairly free of snow by late May and I've been involved in a couple of epics there over the years. I would hesitate to recommend a solo trip to those parts, however, for that is some very rough country that few folks hike in, even in peak season. Another place I know is almost always open as of late May are the first few lakes up the trail out of Leavitt Meadow (E. of Sonora Pass). Depending on snowfall you may be able to make it to the second batch of lakes giving you a few more hiking options. This is probably one of the mellower options. There are also some west side options to drop into some major canyons. Some fairly interesting trips can be put together that way without major stream crossings (without bridges) or overly exotic cross country.
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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Postby jimqpublic » Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:46 am

I guess you guys are right about most avalanche danger being past by then. I was thinking by staying in the high country I wouldn't need to deal with big water (or much mud or mosquitos).

Trails? Why on earth do people differentiate between trail and cross country travel when the trails are buried in snow?
Jim
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blind suggestion

Postby freestone » Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:19 pm

There is a trail out of Big Pine Lakes trailhead that actually treverses east and explores an area called Coyote Flat. This is not a great destination during the summer because of a jeep road that can access the area. The road will not be open this early in the season, which could make the area more desirable for early season backpacking. The view of the Palisades could also be epic. Big Pine quotas fill up fast, but this trail is not part of the quota system and looks lightly used. One days hike to Coyote and Baker Creek is my guess.
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Mono Recesses

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:04 am

MONO RECESSES

Consider the Mono Recesses. We did the trip in late May with deep snow and high water. Pretty soulful adventure. You get a nice variety of low woodlands and high-altitude glacial cirques. Lots of nearby peaks in case you get an itch to bag one.

The road into Rock Creek gets you high in a hurry. Head up through Little Lakes Valley and up over Mono Pass. Camping at Trail Lakes offers a beautiful panorama.

Drop down to Mono Creek. Travel down Mono Creek to the Second Recess. If the water is high, you'll want to stay on the south side of Mono Creek. Otherwise, it will be impossible to cross Mono Creek to get into the Second Recess.

Climb up the Second Recess. Crossing Mills Creek can be very difficult at high water, until you get high into the Second Recess. You may have to ascend into the Second Recess on the east side of Mills Creek. There is a wicked water slide along Mills Creek, where it drains off the upper bench (below Lower Mills Creek Lake). We camped at Upper Mills Creek Lake under Mount Mills, an impressive location.

Cross over Gabbott Pass (about 11,300 feet) into Lake Italy Basin. This place has some super views. You will likely have the place all to yourself in late May. Plan to camp in Lake Italy Basin, you won't regret it.

Cross back over the Sierra Crest just north of Bear Creek Spire (class 3) and drop back into Little Lakes Basin.

We did this trip in five days, including a climb of Mount Mills, Mount Gabb and Bear Creek Spire.
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Postby wingding » Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:02 pm

Is it late or early May?
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Postby jimqpublic » Fri Apr 14, 2006 9:10 am

wingding wrote:Is it late or early May?


I'm just back from three weeks in Baja so now it's time to think more about this trip. Late May/ early June, either starting or ending on the Memorial Day weekend.

The trip to Baja may have readjusted my plans though. Half of me wants to do a kick *ss backpack trip, the other half is inclined to float around Bahia de Los Angeles in a kayak with a cold beverage in my hand.

Snowpack north is looking rather impressive, but South it's looking fairly normal.
Jim
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Postby wingding » Fri Apr 14, 2006 9:38 am

I'm planning on a trip from Mineral King to Monarch Lakes, Sawtooth Peak and maybe Needham or one of the other peaks in the area over Memorial Day Weekend. I think I'll be camping at one of the Monarch Lakes - if you decide on that area stop and say hello. I'm sure there will be plenty of snow on the passes still at the end of May.
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Postby Buck Forester » Fri Apr 14, 2006 9:42 am

Ha! If you want "epic", take the trip Sierra Ledge Rat just proposed. THAT would be an epic trip for that time of year. You'd have to be in incredible shape and quite savvy in early season solo High Sierra travel. If so, you just might make it out alive! :D
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Postby quentinc » Wed May 03, 2006 4:23 pm

Like JimQ, I just found out my partner will be taking the kid to visit the in-laws, first week of June. Anyone have thoughts/guesses as to how Cottonwood Pass would be around then? I have some modest ice axe/crampon experience, but nowhere near the league a lot of you folks are in.
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