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Early season Kings Canyon

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Early season Kings Canyon

Postby Sloop » Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:02 pm

Hello all!

My wife and I are planning an early June trip to Sequoia/Kings Canyon (wanted to go later but, unfortunately, job wouldn't allow) and are trying to pin down our route.

We are very comfortable going cross country and are decent with crampons & ice axe (took a class & 1 trip in the rockies, we're not experts but comfortable enough on anything less than 45 degree-ish), so snow and ice is not much of an issue as long as it doesn't get ridiculous.

We were tossing around the idea of the circle of solitude but a bit unsure of the conditions and how it would affect our timing. Assuming that everything above 10-11k is packed in good with snow, 6 nights/7 days seems like what we'd be shooting for (taking the forester pass on the upswing, harrison's north side seems to be too difficult).

Any thoughts on that length of time or alternate routes that you'd recommend?



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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby gdurkee » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:23 am

The snow, assuming you're comfortable and safe on it, wouldn't be the main problem. It would be the stream crossings in June. I doubt you can get across the Kern at Junction Meadow in June with the amount of snow that's around. Depending on the timing of the melt, even the secondary streams could be a problem.

Examples of bad crossings until mid-July: Bubbs Creek trying to get to East Lake; Wallace Creek on JMT (it's done, but most go much higher upstream); White Fork on Woods Creek as well as Window Creek about a mile away; South Fork on JMT (has log, but marginal. Often have to go upstream quite a ways); Palisade Creek to go down Middle Fork to Simpson Meadow; Middle Fork to get over to Blue Canyon trail; Evolution Creek at Evolution Meadow (can be done, but dangerous at height of melt). Basically any Strahler 3rd order stream and above might be difficult to impossible. Certainly requires caution and the mindset to just turn around if it's dangerous.

I just did a stream map for Sequoia Kings showing 3rd order and above. I'll try to post it a little later.

g.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby gdurkee » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:11 am

OK. Here's a map 'cause it seemed like a fun thing to do. This is beta and (cover my ass message) to be used ONLY to be aware of streams that may be a problem when hiking in spring in Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Don't use this to navigate, don't use this as anything other than one of many pieces of information when planning a safe trip.

Strahler Order is how streams are classified according to how many feeder streams they have. Where two little year-round streams (first order) streams meet, that creates a second order stream; two second order create a third order etc. Obviously each increase in order indicates a larger and large watershed above. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strahler_number)

Let's try the upload thing:

OK. That seemed to work. Need comments on map. I can tweak it more. I've got a better base map, but it's not georeferenced. Have to work on that... .

Hmmmm: Another Disclaimer: Just checking the bridges. I noticed at least one serious mistake. The bridge shown in the area of the JMT/Baxter Creek below Rae Lakes is actually farther down in the swampy area on a minor stream. The spot where it's shown actually has a bad crossing. If anyone sees anything else questionable, send me a note and I'll update it.

g.
SEKI_Brochure_Map_Strahler_20100319v2.pdf
This is version 2 already -- 2/20/2010: Changed incorrect bridge location near Rae Lakes. There may be others that are wrong, though at first glance, everything seems OK.
(1.11 MiB) Downloaded 149 times
Last edited by gdurkee on Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:40 am

George,

I was wondering if there is a map that shows which Seki trail crossings have bridges. Seldom are bridges shown or marked on maps and when planning trips in early season this is pretty important . Needless to say to have an all-High-Sierra map showing bridges would be a very good thing indeed.

John
Last edited by giantbrookie on Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby gdurkee » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:15 am

John:

Absolutely. Bridges seem like a pretty basic thing and a data layer should be publicly available. In spite of a major open government data repository that's been set up, I'm not aware that any of that stuff (including wildlife observations) is being uploaded there. In defense of Sequoia/Kings, it's money and priorities... .

I just checked my data and don't have bridges for Yosemite (though I do have streams & trails for Yosemite and all surrounding forests). I'll see if I can get them. Maybe even Inyo & Sierra. Not impossible.

Even solid log crossings, well marked, might be good though there's serious problems with that. The Sequoia Rock Creek log collapsed and I'm not sure they did anything about it. It's a pretty critical crossing.

I'll be in Yosemite in two weeks and will see what I can get.

A cool project would be to have some sort of online map where people could mark known points (of anything, but bridges would be a good start) and then have someone compile and publish as a unit or just keep it dynamic online. I'll bet Eric, in his spare time, could figure this one out... .

g.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby rlown » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:29 am

gdurkee wrote:A cool project would be to have some sort of online map where people could mark known points (of anything, but bridges would be a good start) and then have someone compile and publish as a unit or just keep it dynamic online. I'll bet Eric, in his spare time, could figure this one out... .

g.


You can do this today in Google Earth with kmz files. Someone did it for Bigfoot sightings across the Sierra, and a myriad of other points of interest (like Panoramio pics that show up on GE.)

Basically, it's a waypoint with a tag and Lat/Lon data. Someone would still need to centrally manage the kmz file. This is my current method in trip route sharing with those i go with. I "cook up" the route, add any important waypoints, and then share it with my fellow backpackers. They can go into GE and see what we're in for.

Russ
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby maverick » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:07 pm

Thanks for the map George, interesting, like GB mentioned the bridge locations would
be really helpful.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:31 pm

gdurkee wrote:John:
I just checked my data and don't have bridges for Yosemite (though I do have streams & trails for Yosemite and all surrounding forests). I'll see if I can get them. Maybe even Inyo & Sierra. Not impossible.
Even solid log crossings, well marked, might be good though there's serious problems with that. The Sequoia Rock Creek log collapsed and I'm not sure they did anything about it. It's a pretty critical crossing.
I'll be in Yosemite in two weeks and will see what I can get.
A cool project would be to have some sort of online map where people could mark known points (of anything, but bridges would be a good start) and then have someone compile and publish as a unit or just keep it dynamic online. I'll bet Eric, in his spare time, could figure this one out... .
g.

Thanks George. Yes to compile something online might be a good thing. Regarding log crossings I remember a trip being rescued by one: a crossing over Palisade Creek in the Deer Meadow area in late July 1993. This was following a pretty heavy snowfall and there was no way I would have wanted to try the creek without a bridge. Judy and I were about ready to give up our target (Dumbbell Lakes) when our trip was rescued by a big log across the creek.

I've also had two encounters with bridges shown on topos that didn't exist when I was there. Fortunately, this occurred during low flows later in the season. One was across Fordyce Creek, north of 80. When I was there, the water was low enough for an easy crossing (going to Beyers Lakes from the Eagle Lakes jeep trail). The other time I remember doing some geologic field work in the N. Fork Feather River canyon. After a hard climb and descent to the river I expected to find a bridge (shown on map) to get across. None existed and I didn't really want to reverse my climb. It was a hot day (probably high 80's), and the flow wasn't too bad, so I swam across. Given the weather, this was a refreshing break, although it certainly wasn't in the original plan.

I did have one trip completely rerouted (more or less cancelled) by a stream crossing issue in 1969 (exceptionally heavy winter). I remember going out of Kennedy Meadows (Hoover Wild.) on a Sierra Club trip only get cut off by a washed out bridge and a very impressive display of foaming white water. I don't know where we were going to climb, but I remember the trip went from a peak bagging to a "play in the snow" trip.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby LarBear » Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:04 pm

I agree with the comments. I also think Forester Pass will be very diffcult this year. We were going to go over in July but based on the snow pack defferred until late August. Tip on crossing Evolution Creek. Do not cross at the trail crossing. It is very diffcult and covered with round rocks on the bottom. From the South turn right on a use trail for around 1/2 mile until you come to the meadow across the river. It is very obvious. The corssing there is a snap. Shallow and soft sand. From the North look for the obvious Meadow just before you come to the trail crossing.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby ERIC » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:37 pm

gdurkee wrote:I'll bet Eric, in his spare time, could figure this one out...


Ha! You jest, but I think you know as well as I do that updating a basic point shapefile wouldn't take a whole lot of effort. From ArcGIS the layer could be exported to KML/KMZ for use in Google Earth, for example.

Because something like that would undoubtedly be an ever evolving data set, a thread similar to the fish kill log might be the best way to tackle it (kudos GB, by the way). Just a suggestion.


EDIT: Just saw your post, Russ. Good points.
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby Sloop » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:52 pm

George,

I can't tell you how appreciative I am of your post and really all the information i've found on this site.

We're pretty much heading into our circle of solitude attempt with the full realization that we may get to the first stream crossing and have to flat-out turn around or plan a significant cross-country jaunt. But using your chart, would you say that the below list is accurate as far as areas that we need to be especially concerned about on a counter-clockwise trip on the circle:

1. Around the Whaleback: This looks like it can be possible by staying a bit more to the east and trying to take a straighter line to the colby lake area.

2. Junction Meadow @ Kern & Wallace - Is there really no bridge here? It seems like, even in late summer this would be practically impassable. Any suggestion on an alternate route around this area?

3. Tyndall Creek - Really from Junction Meadow until the Center Basin area the trail seems almost impossible due to numerous creek/stream crossings. Looking at your chart, i'm not sure whether the Forester Pass route is an option.

I had my heart set on the circle of solitude but it looks like we might have to reconsider... or learn to walk on water.

Thanks again for the great information!!
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Re: Early season Kings Canyon

Postby gdurkee » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:27 pm

Continued thanks for comments.

Russ: what's involved in setting up a semi-live feed with Google Earth? I kind of looked at GE stand alone but not clear on how to do it. Neat concept and maybe next Fall when I have time... .

Sloop: This is NO bridge at the Kern at Junction Meadow. There is really no alternative once you get there. The real danger is you get there and try it because you feel it's too late to turn around. The west side of the river all the way up to Tyndall Creek or above is a major thrash.By mid-July, the Kern is maybe possible, but before that difficult to impossible. There is really no alternative to the Whaleback. At that time of year (mid-June) it's a gnarly route -- basically winter conditions if the snow hasn't melted.

Forester itself actually isn't the problem. PCT people are going over that. It's just the streams on your route and especially the Kern.

But for sure think about it and watch the reports on the melt. May not be a good idea in mid-June.... .

John: 1969!!! Yes, The BIG year! One of the classics in the El Nino cycle. It dates both of us that we remember it and have stories... .

g.
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