Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions... | High Sierra Topix  

Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby Lea » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:15 am

Hi All

We plan to do some backpacking in Kings Kanyon or Sequoia parks in early October.

Since we do not live in the area, (or the continent for that matter) - we do not have time to do our own exploring, so i would love to hear some recommendations for a 2-3 day backpacking trip.
Interests - The more water - the better! :) Bit of forests and green is nice too.
Skill level - quite a bit of backpacking experience, a bit of it with camping, some x-country but not much (tried once in denali, was kinda tough).
Fitness is OK, but boyfriend is a tad afraid of heights - so trails are preferrable. (but if there are minor x-country crossings, he can deal with it!)

I've read quite a few good things about the Rae lakes loop, but that's 5 days. How about Jennie Lakes area? Mineral King? Parts of the John Muir trail?

all suggestion are welcome!

another question - what about the weather? what will it be like in the higher elevations? will it be awfully cold (below zero Celsius - 32 f) ?



User avatar
Lea
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:58 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:16 am

Kings Canyon and Sequoia are full of trails, but water this late in the season will be less plentiful overall. Lakes make good late season destinations.

It will be cold, and very likely colder than 32F, in higher elevations. High elevation Sierras can be in the low 30s easily throughout the summer. I would be sure you have cables or chains (whatever the vehicle you are driving requires) in the trunk, just in case. The later in the season you are, the more likely snow may actually stick.

If you have not already seen it, there are trail descriptions at http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/traildesc.htm

Jennie Lake loop can be either an easy two night or long dayhike, depending on your hiking preferences. As noted on the above link, many of the trails out of Kings Canyon are hot dusty climbs. The trails in Sequoia, like the Pear Lake or Alta trail, are more forested with some segments (like along Panther Gap) with exposure and great views.

A popular loop is to go to Pear Lake, cross country to Moose, drop down to Alta Meadow, and come out along Panther Gap. I'm planning to do this in October if the weather holds. It's definitely not as tough as Denali.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby Lea » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:56 am

Hi
thanks a bunch!
I did look at the NPS site, but they describe only a small number of trails, whereas on other sites (Kevin Gong, sierra hiker) i found dozens more!
I will consider doing the loop you suggested - how long do you think it might take?

As for the temperatures - are you talking day or night time?

also - any book recommendations for the area, to help plan the trip?

thanks again!
Lea
User avatar
Lea
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:58 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby SSSdave » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:05 pm

Early October is a mediocre time to visit the High Sierra but a great time to visit some special places. Since you are unfamiliar with the Sierra, I have a better suggestion than backpacking. By late September occasional low pressure systems off the Pacific begin dipping down further south from the northwest into the Sierra that can be quite unpleasant including dustings of snow. The nights will be long and days short and cool. Most vegetation will be dried and brown except evergreen trees and many animals and birds that feed on them will have left or not be outside. Water in streams and lakes may be low. On the positive, you are unlikely to see other people most anywhere beyond easy day hiking trails to fishing lakes.

So what is at a peak in early October that brings out a great many Sierra visitors are the dazzingly vibrant fall leaf colors that are mainly quaking aspen and cottonwood. However almost all such areas are below typical backpacking destinations so people generally do road trips staying in motels or campgrounds. The better areas by far are in the Eastern Sierra above the Owens Valley along highway US395. Only small areas of aspen are found along streams of the western Sierra slope so one really does need to drive east. If one is coming in from Southern Californa or Las Vegas, I would suggests driving north up US395 to the Bishop area and then following roads west up into the three main forks of the Bishop Creek drainage. One may certainly find lots of short hiking in those areas so I would not worry about not getting exercise. One trail I'd recommend the Tyee Lakes trail on the South Fork of Bishop Creek road. One can easily get accommodations in Bishop. There is much else to do in that region including a drive up to 11,000 feet in the White Mountains just east to visit the ancient bristlecone pine forest. Also a bit north one might visit up the Rock Creek Road where large groves exist beside the road and one may easily dayhike short distances from 10,200 feet at Mosquito Flat into Little Lakes Valley to see many small alpine lakes.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/

Coming from San Francisco, one ought drive through Yosemite over Tioga Pass and visit the large aspen groves up Lundy Canyon, beside Virginia Creek, and the June Lake Loop areas.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Fall_2007/fall_2007.html
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Fall_2006/fall_2006.html
Last edited by SSSdave on Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:16 pm

Lea wrote:I will consider doing the loop you suggested - how long do you think it might take?

As for the temperatures - are you talking day or night time?

also - any book recommendations for the area, to help plan the trip?


Sierra North and Sierra South (south has Sequoia NP trails in it) are good books to look at to get an idea of what's out there. I also like 100 Hikes in California's Central Sierra and Coastal Range.

I anticipate the loop I described will take me two or three days - I am by no means a mileage crazy backpacker and there is quite a bit of elevation gain and travel across open granite involved. I will also be fishing and taking pictures.

I would also consider David's suggestions, it is rather late in the season to head to the mountains and with limited time a drive over Tioga Pass would be a scenic journey to scenic areas. (You can't park overnight on Tioga Pass after October 15 for a very good reason - some years the pass closes mid October due to snowfall and won't re-open until spring.) The hikes out of Agnew and Reds Meadow near Mammoth are also nice, Ediza Lake and the Ritter range are fantastic day hikes or short duration backpacking - if the shuttle is still running, that is.

If you are set on Sequoia, do read up on the area, develop some backup plans, and call the park service regional office before you get on the plane - if conditions change (they often do) higher elevations may be beyond your gear's ability to keep you warm at night. (I was indeed talking about night time temps, daytime ranges from cold 40's to low 60s depending on weather.) You will be outside the quota period on wilderness permitting so a last minute change of plans will not mean a loss of reservation fees. You will find a similar situation in most west side wilderness areas and parks. Yosemite's restaurants, snack bars and hotels shut down in September and the quota period for backpacking permits ends in October due to the oncoming winter weather as well. It all depends on the kind of scenery you are looking for, I suppose - for fall colors there are other regions, as David says.

Another thought - flying into SF will put you within a short drive of Point Reyes, which is another backpacking option right on the coast. There are also lots of opportunities in the Santa Cruz mountains south of the bay area which, while not very high elevation, have their own appeal. It will still be cold at night but you will not run as much risk of snow.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby treadwell » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:45 pm

I always make an October trip to the Eastern Sierra with my family. We have backpacked in October but now we prefer to stay in Mammoth Lakes. Almost all the top sites are within a days drive, including some great hiking. It's a locals time between the hustle and bustle of the summer and winter crowds. SSSDave has described it perfectly. One other thing about October, if your a fisherman this the best time to be in the Sierras.

I might add the hiking around the ghost town at Bodie SP is more enjoyable in the cooler weather and without the crowds.

Have fun where ever you go, don't forget your camera, but be prepared for any kind of weather.
User avatar
treadwell
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:13 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby adam » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:21 pm

I posted a link to photos and a route description of the pear lake-moose lake-alta meadows loop on this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4429&sid=374926a0a8e4523d4a3d4b9b82dd86d3#p26677

I'm certainly not an expert on Sequoia-- aside from trips as a small kid, this is the only place I've been there-- but it struck me as amazingly accessible, and without the huge climb in/steep descent out typical of alot of the other trailheads.

The aspen are certainly nice, but it's not backpacking-- if that's what you want, you should go for it, just bring warm clothes.

I don't know if you're set on SEKI, but for 2-3 day trips, tioga road (hwy 120) through yosemite offers better options (in my opinion), assuming overnight parking is still available. (10 lakes, nelson lake, vogelsang, cathedral lakes, young lakes are all easy and nice trips off of 120 with trails and modest to moderate elevation gain that won't be very crowded this late in the year).
User avatar
adam
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:17 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby balzaccom » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:45 am

Please note that there is a good chance that the Tioga Road will be closed at that date. We were in Yosemite, planning on a trip to Ten Lakes Basin on October 10 of last year. They day we arrived they had closed Tioga Road, and it was snowing at 6,000 feet. We ended up doing some day hikes (Wapama Falls, Snow Creek Falls) and meeting people who were in the backcountry and were leaving in a hurry. And we came back to our tent at Crane Flat (7.000 ft) to find it under a couple inches of snow one day.

By the way, I think the policy is that you cannot park anywhere along Tioga Road after...September 24 or so? to keep cars from spending the winter there.

I would also suggest Hetch hetchy or some of the lower elevation hikes for the fall...just to reduce your chance of getting a lot of snow.

And since your time is limited, I would also explore Desolation Wilderness...which is much closer to SF> You can leave SFO in the morning and hike in to a campsite the same day. That's tough to do in SEKI...and maybe even Yosemite.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1290
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon trip advice and questions...

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:54 pm

Based on your criteria and descriptions, it is a bit tough to eke out a 2-3 day trip in Sequoia-Kings Canyon in October unless one is a death marching fiend. I generally suggest that folks (other than the most experienced) do not get too far from the trailhead by October, owing to the possible consequences of changes in weather conditions. With a 2-3 day trip, this isn't too much of an issue, unless one is in tip top backpacking shape.

Crowds by October are a non issue. I don't recall the wilderness permit quota cutoff date, but my suspicion (someone correct me if I'm wrong) is that there will be no entry point quota by then because so few folks go up by then. What would be a studendously popular hike, such as Wolverton to Pear Lake for an overnighter, would actually not be overcrowded by October. Pear Lake is probably the easiest overnighter I can think of in Seki and you'll want to take the trail that goes by the Watchtower unless there has been a cold snap and freeze (ice on that trail wouldn't be good).

Even more adaptable to cold weather is the High Sierra Trail out of Crescent Meadow, but you it requires quite a bit of hiking to get to the truly awesome part of it which start beyond Bearpaw (which is not the preferred place to camp), which is more than 10 miles from Crescent Meadow. If one doesn't want to go 16 miles (and I doubt you do) on day 1 to Upper Hamilton Lake, the best move is to camp at Buck Canyon, short of Bearpaw, where you have water and then (if you're doing a 3 day trip) you can then do a dayhike up and back to Upper Hamilton or perhaps beyond to experience some of the truly amazing parts of the High Sierra trail.

Hiking out of Road's End or such isn't quite as amenable in terms of destinations without long hikes. Rae Lakes etc. in a 2 day trip would be a total death march (well over 20 miles plus hiking each day) and even a 3 day trip would be pushing it a bit.

Jennie Lakes are OK, but not on a par in terms of scenery with the Pear Lake or High Sierra Trail options. If somewhat "lower country" destinations such as Jennie Lakes are in the mix, then west flank destinations such as Seville Lake and vicinity in Sequoia National Park, or Dinkey Lakes Wilderness and Ansel Adams Wilderness are also fair game and offer more than Jennie Lakes.

As noted by some others, if you are not wed to a Sequoia-Kings Canyon trip, there are other places that would work. You mention coming from another continent, so it seems as if anywhere in the Sierra might work. If you were to fly into Reno, NV, you could try some 2 to 3 day hikes on the east side of the Sierra. The Green Lake to East Lake and vicinity out of Bridgeport is nice. Little Lakes Valley is nice, as are a number of destinations out of Bishop. If you fly into Reno, Desolation Wilderness is nice, although it is not on a par with the east side Sierra locations. If you fly into SFO (San Francisco), your best bets are to target west side entries to the high Sierra, including places such as the two Sequoia National Park trips noted above. If you fly into LAX (Los Angeles), then you have equal access to the west side or east side entries, although you are a bit further from the Sierra.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], lvray, Yahoo [Bot] and 11 guests