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A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

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A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SkagetMuir » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:51 pm

So I’ve been playing with the idea of an extensive 14 day trip in the Heart of Kings Canyon beginning in late June and going through early July. I’ve been researching using Google Earth and checking out all the pictures along the different routes. I can only tell so much from topo lines and pictures though and would love some feedback on my route. Any ideas on areas I may want to visit or reroute to would be great, especially if there’s good FISHING to be had. :D
I would rate my level of experience between a 3 and a 4 and am very conferrable with class 3 terrain.
My ideal trips include great views and solitude with the most important being good fishing.
The Trip:
My plan is to begin at Roads End and Travel East along the South Fork Paradise Trail to Bubbs Creek Trail and along to Reflection Lake. From here I plan on making my way over Harrison Pass to Lake South America and then plan on heading down the Lake South America Trail to the Kern River where I can hopefully get some good fishing in. I’m going to then cut over to The John Muir trail and spend a night at Guitar Lake so I can make a day hike summit attempt on Whitney. After fooling around there, I want to head down through Crabtree meadows and back down the creek there, to the Kern where. Once at the Kern again I will head south and soak the bones in the hot springs. After a good soak and the smell :soapbox: of the past 7 days dissipates I plan on cutting over on either the High Sierra trail or Big Arroyo Trail to Precipice Lake. From here I’ve been playing with the idea of heading through the nine lakes basin over Pants pass and back over to Colby pass following Colby Pass trail to Avalanche Pass Trail or taking Elizabeth Pass trail to Avalanche Pass Trail and back out to Roads end. :tear:
I’m planning on this route taking me about 12 to 14 days which I think is the maximum amount of food I can carry and am impatiently counting down the days...
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."



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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:41 pm

The route sounds feasible, but if good fishing is the priority there are a few things to keep in mind: 1. Of the bodies of water along the Bubbs-East L. trail only one lake features fish are decent sized. Note that to get to Harrison you turn off before Reflection; Reflection while very beautiful is full of small fish (I'm assuming "good fishing" means good size, given that large quantities of smallish fish are easy to come by almost anywhere in the Sierra).

2. Perhaps more important for fishing is that much of the latter part of the itinerary traverses areas in which fisheries are scarce. Note that nearly all the lakes of the Kaweah Basin and surrounding basins are fishless. The Kern-Kaweah river and ponds on it has fish but they aren't very big. Only one lake in Nine Lakes Basin has fish (lowest one and they're small). Precipice Lake is stunning in appearance, but fishless. Colby is the only lake in its immediate vicinity with fish: they are very numerous and small.

3. The best fishing for larger fish in the Kern are the more downstream portions, so an optimal fishing route south from the headwaters (which feature quite a few lakes with fish, some of these lakes have fish of decent size) would follow the JMT south from the headwaters from the get go in order to exploit some of the lakes in the basins above.
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: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SkagetMuir » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:03 pm

Thank you for the tips. Any suggestions on what lakes I may want to wander to if taking the JMT?
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby Mike M. » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:45 pm

Not the best itinerary if your priority is fishing, although the Kern is excellent and you would enjoy the hot springs.

Early July is ambitious for Harrison Pass, which is steep and icy on the north side and difficult in the best of seasons. Harrison Pass is not for the faint of heart. You might consider instead continuing up Bubbs Creek (good fishing all the way) and then cutting up to Center Basin, then over Junction Pass (the original route of the JMT before Forester Pass was built). This trail has not been maintained for many years, but the upper portion is in good shape and clearly visible from the lakes in Center Basin. On the Shepherd Pass side, the trail soon vanishes.

Pants Pass is another challenging pass to tackle so early in the season. You'll run into lots of sun cups and are likely to find hard packed/icy snow in the steep chute leading up to the pass. Use great care!

Mike
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:23 pm

I would also like to also stress the point that unless you are good with an ice-axe and
crampons this trip should seriously be reconsidered for a later part of the summer
especially with the amount of snow we are forecasted to get from this El Nino.
Harrison and Pants as mentioned are not for the inexperienced under even ideal
conditions, but adding snow and ice to the mix can turn it into a deadly situation
really fast.
All the areas you mentioned are great by the way.
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby oldranger » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:39 pm

SM
I second Mike's and Maverick'sconcern about your route for early July in what is, so far, a typical El Nino year. If it continues that way you can expect almost 100% snow cover on n. slopes above 10,000 feet.

I also have a suggestion for your route if conditions allow. Rather than follow the trail from Colby Lake to Roads End, consider contouring around to Talus lake (no fish but I did find a porcupine carcass there once) and across the upper reaches of Table and Cunningham Creeks (no fish in South Guard Lake) to Big Brewer. There are some decent size Rainbows (most in 10 to 12" range though) in Big Brewer. Then continue N. to Sphinx Lakes that also contain some nice fish. If you are good or lucky or both you can find a user trail that leads down Sphinx Creek to the Avalanche Pass trail. Remember though that if this is a real El Nino that you will have to do a lot of postholing in early July on this route. (The upside is that if it gets cold enough the snow will hold til late morning and you won't have to deal with as much talus around Talus lake and dropping in to Sphinx Lakes and a couple of other places.)

Mike
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SkagetMuir » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:06 pm

[quote="oldranger"]
I second Mike's and Maverick's concern about your route for early July in what is, so far, a typical El Nino year. If it continues that way you can expect almost 100% snow cover on n. slopes above 10,000 feet.

Well Thank you for the feedback on Harrison Pass and Pants Pass. Although I do know my way around an ice axe and crampons and knew they would be difficult passes, I’m not too keen on carrying an ice axe and crampons for a trip this long, nor really want to subject myself to a life or death situation. I will take you guises advice and either go later in the year or pick a new route. I’m actually considering another route further north which has been on my list of loops to finish. South Lake over Bishop and Muir Pass through Evolution Valley, and back over through the Humphrey Basin to south lake. I know there is good fishing and some pretty spectacular terrain to be seen.

By the way Mike thanks for the suggestion " consider contouring around to Talus lake (no fish but I did find a porcupine carcass there once) and across the upper reaches of Table and Cunningham Creeks (no fish in South Guard Lake) to Big Brewer. There are some decent size Rainbows (most in 10 to 12" range though) in Big Brewer."
If I end up going later in the year and figure out a route I will definitely consider your suggestion in to it.
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SSSdave » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:00 pm

My first comment is I dislike itineraries that are mostly about hiking to trophy lists of destinations. Usually such is planned out by armchair enthusiasts looking at topos figuring out what is possible with a sequence of strenuous day to day efforts. And am not talking about what I would do on my own trips but rather what I think other backpackers would find more enjoyable than a series of too strenuous efforts where most of the time is on the journey and little at the destinations. As for fishing, there is some rather open threads here about where some great fishing can be found. However I personally tend to be rather cryptic and closed mouthed about some waters I've been to that are not already public knowledge. I'd rather see backpacking fishermen explore lakes on their own like I have in order to find out whether or not the fishing is great. Make the effort like gb has and reap the rewards. If one does not know for sure what lives in given lakes, it often takes more time than a whirlwind tour along a shore each afternoon to know with more certainty. Lakes with larger fish are often tricky to assess because fish are large there often because numbers are low and large fish are less likely to feed on the surface depending on time of year.
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SkagetMuir » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:42 pm

I agree with you on the trial and error of finding good fishing water on your own and was only looking to be pointed in the right direction. This area is new to me and as you can see was right to ask since both Harrison and Pants Pass may not be passable. In my trips I will put together a general plan on where I expect to be or a location I may want to visit. This is only an outline and it can be changed as I go. It's a vacation so why be in a rat race. You never know how you may be feeling one day or find that the fishing or views are incredible in one location. So why leave why not stay for another day or even the rest of the trip. What's stopping you? My rule of thumb when backpacking is why look at your feet when you can look at them resting on you coffee table at home. 20 mile days although good for some are a perfect example of that and I rarely push more then 5-10. Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's just what we do with that reason that counts.
Now people may tell me that a lake is full of nothing but small fish but this won't detour me. I will still try my luck with my presentation my style and whether or not I catch nothing, a hand full of little fish or one great big fish I am just happy being there. It doesn't mean that person that gave me the information is wrong or I don't believe what they are saying I only want to catch what may have been missed.
I have also had the experience that most inexperienced people who catch loads of small fish in one location, fish it for a few hours and move on or are just making a quick few casts in passing. Small fish are caught by the hand full because they don't know any better but big fish are a challenge to find and catch which is why they are the size they are.
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby Ikan Mas » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:42 am

I would agree with the others that early June might be a bit ambitious for this area given the el Nino year we are having. Note on the recent Pass Pants post that we still had to cross snow on Pants (just a little) the first week of August in 2008, a dry year.

One other consideration is can you get enough food for 12-14 days in a bear canister or will you be taking two? You could hike out to Whitney Portal to restock. Also check out the permitting requirements for Whitney.
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby SkagetMuir » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:11 pm

Ikan Mas wrote:I would agree with the others that early June might be a bit ambitious for this area given the el Nino year we are having. Note on the recent Pass Pants post that we still had to cross snow on Pants (just a little) the first week of August in 2008, a dry year.

One other consideration is can you get enough food for 12-14 days in a bear canister or will you be taking two? You could hike out to Whitney Portal to restock. Also check out the permitting requirements for Whitney.


Although not approved in all wilderness areas I like to use a bear bag tied to a solid object or hung in a tree. There is allot of controversy with that but I have never had a problem with a bear even trying for my food and I have had them come through my camp. KNOCK ON WOOD
Thank You, I will take a look at the permitting for Whitney. I was going to call and make reservations for my trip within the next few weeks once my plans have solidified a bit more Whitney being one of my questions. I would assume it’s an additional permit.
As for my route I am definitely reconsidering it and am probably going to push it into mid July.
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."
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Re: A Version of the Circle of Solitude(Kings Canyon)

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:47 am

Lots of good advice here from experienced people. Early season after a wet winter usually means steep snow and ice, postholing and swift dangerous stream crossings. The first encounter with this would be at the Bubbs Creek crossing to East Lake (unless they put in a bridge or got another log over it), for example. Many of us have favorite early season trips that avoid high water and deep snow, and a wet winter complicates this.
If I were a dedicated fisherman, I would enter via Lloyd Meadows TH to Trout Meadows (fishing), on to the Kern River (fishing) to the Ranger Station (fishing on the Kern and at Kern Lakes), on the the Kern Hot Springs (more fishing and you could get there in three days if you were in a hurry). Rattlesnake Creek may not be such a problem by July. From there go up to the head of the Kern for some of the best fishing and most spectacular scenery in the Sierra. From there you can make your way back to Whitney and then various routes back to the TH though the Park and the Golden Trout Wilderness.
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