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Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

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Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby kpeter » Sun May 16, 2010 2:17 pm

Experience: Level 3 (backpacking 1-2 times a year for 38 years, mostly trails and limited x-country.)
Terrain: Some class 2 scrambling. I don't like river crossings above the knee.
Interest: Photography, scenery, lakes, mountains, streams. I do not fish and don't take a dog.
Length: 4 days, 3 nights, give or take a day.
Snow: I can walk across some snow but don't want to camp on it or traverse snowy passes.
Distance: I don't mind an out-and-back trip. This will be my first trip of the year so I would like to keep the mileage down to 5-7 miles a day, less if there is major elevation gain.

I have a couple of trips organized for late July and mid August already, going in on the east side which I know pretty well. What I need advice on is a lower elevation hike from the West side some time in June. I would like to try out some new equipment and to start getting into backpacking shape.

I really don't know the West side much at all--I have done Roundtop lake from Carson Pass and I did a trip to Lake Reflection from Kings Canyon. That is it--no other experience on the west side.

Obviously I have to look for something low enough to have melted out in June but hopefully pretty enough to reward me.

Any advice or ideas would be much appreciated. I am a long time reader of these forums but I have rarely posted. Thank you!



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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby giantbrookie » Sun May 16, 2010 4:57 pm

When in June do you plan to go? early, middle, or late? This is important with respect to snow.

Low relative elevation in June on the west flank may include: Lakes out of Granite Creek (Ansel Adams Wilderness)--these will be open mid to late June this year. Dinkey Lakes Wilderness (open mid June or so). West flank destinations out of Wishon such as Duck, Spanish, and Geraldine Lakes (open mid to late June). Some of the Sequoia NP lakes such as Seville will be open by mid June or so. Hetch Hetchy offers some alternatives that will be open by early June, but the first day to a destination such as Laurel or Vernon lakes exceeds the 5-7 mi day limit. NW Desolation out of Loon Lake with Buck Island, Rockbound, and Rubicon Res. will be open from early June.
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: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 16, 2010 6:12 pm

The trailheads at Granite Park is often not open in early June. The drive in there is quite long, and early season the road can be in rough shape, as compared to Hetch Hetchy. The trip I did in June from Granite Park a few years back and ran into quite a bit of snow.

How about Hamilton Lake on the High Sierra Trail? I have done this in mid- to late-June, probably would not be open early June. The trailhead is on a year-round plowed paved road. To avoid some of the stream crossings I have gone in from Wolverton instead of Crescent Meadows. Because of all the small ups and downs from Crescent Meadow, the hike up over the pass from Wolverton is not that much more elevation gain. It is just done in one shot. There are bear boxes all along the route. The one at Buck Creek would make a nice first day. This splits the trip into two days approach. Spend on day at the lake. Walk out in one day (long but really not too bad with a lighter pack). There is a bear box at Hamilton Lake too. The trail is beautiful every mile. Wildflowers are great. You may hit some snow but not a lot since the trail mainly faces the sun and melts off early. I would not suggest camping at Bearpaw Meadow - this location tends to be a bit snowy early and frankly is over-used. You would have to wade quite a few creeks. The creek crossing just below Hamilton Lake is the most difficult. There are lots of short day-hikes from Hamilton Lakes. The hike up to Precipice Lake is fantastic (but there would be snow). This is a popular trail so you need to check on permit availability.
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby oldranger » Sun May 16, 2010 7:32 pm

kpeter

As GB suggested Seville Lake is an easy day from the Sunset Meadow TH. Key is when the gate past Big Meadow opens. Check with Hume Lake District of Sierra NF for that info. Ranger Lakes is a little longer but a little more attractive or you can make your camp at Seville and day hike to Lost and ranger lakes if you are comfortable with a little x-country travel with a little snow and a lot of mosquitos. Oh and don't look in Sequoia for these destinations! They are in Kings Canyon NP! Former BC rangers are a bit sensitive about these two parks! :angry:

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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby Cross Country » Sun May 16, 2010 8:08 pm

I vote for Laurel and Edith (Edyth) lakes. Read the Edyth Lake string. As of this minute it's on page 2.
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby kpeter » Mon May 17, 2010 4:37 pm

Thank you all for your suggestions. This is just what I needed to help me launch more research. I will be pouring over the maps in the coming days now that I know where to begin.
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby kpeter » Thu May 20, 2010 11:11 pm

I now have the dates narrowed down to sometime between June 23-30. After looking up maps and photos of all the various recommendations you folks have made, I am leaning toward Hetch Hetchy. The first day would be tougher than I had initially wanted but I can get myself ready. I've read with interest the Edith Lake threads but that might be a bit much for my first trip into this area.

Given the snow this year and a starting date of June 23 from HH, what would be your advice? How difficult is Bearup to get to? Easier than Edith? Will there be tough water crossings I should know about?
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby oldranger » Fri May 21, 2010 7:28 am

I don't think "easy" is an appropriate term for either trip. Maybe the questions is which is "less difficult?" With the huge hot 1st day climb out of Hetch Hetchy and given the low elevation even at the high points hiking is normally quite warm that time of the year. I don't know if I would have done that either trip as a 4 day 30 years ago when I was, well, 30 years younger. And that was the last time I visited those lakes. As for snow I think you won't have a significant problem due to low elevation but expect both Frog and Kendrick Creeks to be running pretty high.

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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby giantbrookie » Sun May 23, 2010 2:09 pm

kpeter wrote:I now have the dates narrowed down to sometime between June 23-30. After looking up maps and photos of all the various recommendations you folks have made, I am leaning toward Hetch Hetchy. The first day would be tougher than I had initially wanted but I can get myself ready. I've read with interest the Edith Lake threads but that might be a bit much for my first trip into this area.Given the snow this year and a starting date of June 23 from HH, what would be your advice? How difficult is Bearup to get to? Easier than Edith? Will there be tough water crossings I should know about?

I would agree with Old Ranger that Bearup is hardly easy, although it is certainly much easier than Edyth. You note that your desired day 1 is vastly harder than your original 5-7 mi per day limit. Laurel Lake, which is the most logical day 1 camping spot, is about 8.5 mi (I recall) with over 3k elevation gain, and as Old Ranger noted, it can be quite a hot grind up the trail that switchbacks up a south-facing slope with little shade. If you choose your routes right, you will not need to do major stream crossings to reach Bearup.
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: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby kpeter » Sun May 23, 2010 8:33 pm

Thanks again, Giantbrookie and Oldranger. That first day is daunting, but I am making a concerted effort to get in shape for a change. I did Pine Creek to Honeymoon Lake last summer which has a similar elevation gain, and I am shedding pack pounds with lighter gear. So hopefully this 51 year old body can make it to Laurel Lake in a day.

Is the longer but more gradual approach to Laurel from Lake Eleanor preferable to the HH approach, in your opinions? Lake Eleanor looks to be 850 feet higher in elevation than Hetch Hetchy....not sure exactly where the trailhead is though. And this route would also mean crossing Frog creek below Laurel Lake.

From Laurel Lake is the best way to Bearup to take the Morraine Ridge trail and then contour left around peak 8467? It looks like it could be brushy in there, but it does keep me away from all stream crossings as you say. The only alternative I can see is up Frog Creek, but I believe elsewhere on these boards people remarked about the brush in the Frog Creek drainage.
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby miked » Wed May 26, 2010 12:21 pm

Will anything in Sequoia or Kings canyon be doable to in early june (june 4-6)? I'm capable of hiking 10+ miles a day, but I don't mind making it a leisurely overnight trip and cutting some distance if I have to.
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Re: Need advice for June Packtrip Western approach

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed May 26, 2010 2:46 pm

Check out this website.

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm

There appear to be a few trails open -more so if you do not mind walking on snow. Paradise Valley is really nice.
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