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Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

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Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby sashe » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:58 pm

I'm planning a loop trip next month from Lodgepole area through the Tablelands, down Cloud Canyon, over Colby Pass, over Pants Pass, and return on the HST. I've seen some info in the Tablelands to Cloud Canyon, but wonder if anyone has input on that section. Looks fairly staright forward when you get to that area of Lonely Lake, and then its a ridge traverse until the head of Cloud Canyon. There's info out there that the Copper Mine Pass trail (or remnants) still exists. Thanks for any input!

Steve



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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby oldranger » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:47 pm

Steve,

The saddle and traverse to Coppermine is pretty easy if there is not a lot of snow and suncups! There are actually two alternative routes. The one I used to use was to head to the obvious saddle that would lead to the Kaweah drainage below lion lake. But do not cross into the Kaweah drainage. You will see the trail going straight up the ridge to peak 12345 that divides Deadman, Cloud, and the Kaweah. On some maps it is labeled Coppermine Pass. As you near the top there is a lateral going to the left (n). It leads to an old mine shaft with the remnants of an old wooden winch. There is also a cool "window" through which you can look into Cloud Canyon. So the trail goes almost to the top then follows the ridge a short distance to the se before plunging down into Cloud canyon. There is one brief section just down from the top where I always had to use my hands to get past whether going up or down. It is my guess that unless you are going late in August you will have to deal with snow and 2-3 ft. deep suncups. If you want to go down cloud canyon either follow the trail if it is visible or (more likely) just move diagonally down the slope veering to your left. There is a grove of foxtail pines down canyon and you want to aim to hit them about 400 ft or so above the bottom of the canyon. If you do it right you should find the trail again. The trail is visible if you try real hard to follow it once you get out of the pines but I found it wasn't worth it and just kept to the w. side of the river taking the path of least resistance until reaching the Colby Pass Trail. Depending on avalanche activity this winter and spring there could still be snow bridges across the river above the Colby Pass Trail. Of course you want to give those a wide birth!

An alternate route would be to traverse around the head of Cloud Canyon to Glacier Lake (again some of this route is likely to involve travel over snow). I have a blank here as to whether the best route is to go to triple divide pass and then up the ridge to the n. or just to go nw. from Glacier Lake. At any rate when at Glacier the route should be obvious. The problem with this route is the large amount of talus you must deal with before dropping into drainage e. of the Whaleback. I've only done this route in the opposite direction and there was no snow to deal with. The sure route is to go down Cloud Canyon.

The second way to do Coppermine is not to do Coppermine and cross Glacier Ridge at the next gap to the N. of Coppermine Pass. This route isn't quite as interesting as Coppermine and If I did that I would head down Cloud Canyon to catch the Colby Pass trail.

Even parts of the Colby Pass trail above Colby lake could be interesting this year! Heading up the Kern-Kaweah is a piece of cake. Pants Pass???? I've been w to e and e to w once each and took a completely different route each time. Neither the most commonly recommended route. Somewhere on this forum there is a pretty extensive discussion of Pants Pass with photos so I would rely on that discussion to make your route decision. Or just go by the seat of your pants :o

Seems like a great trip!

Mike
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby sashe » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:45 pm

Thanks for the info! By what I've read on this site, and other TR, namely someone named Chayden, the Tablelands and the headwall areas of Deadman and Cloud canyons seem to be open areas with good views and starightforward traveling. I saw some info on Pants Pass (posted on another forum) from three 'runners' who did a Sierra traverse in two days, and said that from e-to-w, you march up the lower notch, then traverse to the upper (northern) north, then skid down.

Steve
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:55 pm

To add another alternative, another fun thing to do is to drop off of the Tableland to Big Bird then descend to Deadman Canyon, go downstream then cross Glacier Ridge to Josephine Lake before making the rather tricky descent to Cloud Canyon. This is an exceedingly interesting route with terrific scenery and high quality off trail backpacking that stays at class 2 or below unless one makes a mistake (or takes the more direct route descent down to Cloud Canyon from Josephine--south of the class 2 Arnot route; that particular gully/drainage is all class 2 except for one short class 3 step that I would avoid when its wet, which it will likely be until September this year). As for Pants Pass, I don't particularly like it, either, but I'd would be willing to do it again, which is more than I can say of Kaweah Pass (Kaweah Basin to Chagoopa) a pass I regard as a bit less steep but far more dangerous owing to the very loose but fairly large talus there.
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: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:15 pm

I did a similar route early season and just above Longly Lake you go over a "class 1 pass" - sorry cannot remember the name of it, but a significant cornice was built up on this pass. I ended up doing all sorts of contortions getting down this short section onto the large snowfield. I also had quite a bit of soft snow up on the Tablelands. The passes to Cloud Canyon were steep snow - steeper than I wanted to do, so I went down to Deadman Canyon for two days then up over Elizabeth Pass and on to Tamarak Lake and day-hike to Lion Lake (totally frozen). I also had a difficult time crossing the creek to get onto the High Sierra Trail. I expect you will have similar conditions. The snow was icy in the morning. The suncups on the upper Deadman drainage were really tedious. It was not all that bad. I just did not move very fast. PS mosquitoes in Deadman Canyon were some of the worst I had ever been in.
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:18 pm

Oops! You said "next month" - I think by August most of the snow problems I encountered may be gone. Cornices do build on north sides of these passes, just a warning - if not melted they can be a problem.
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby oldranger » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:49 pm

Steve if you decide to follow GBs suggestion pm me and I'll tell you how to find the trail down from Josephine (it is much easier finding going up). The lake basin on the west side of Glacier Ridge is really incredible because most people just pass through because there are no fish in the lakes.

The view from the ridge to the w. of the lowest lake into Deadman is one of my favorites. When I was younger I wanted my ashes spread there after I died. Then I did the trip again in 2000 and decided my family would hate me for making them do that! :(

Mike
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby rcymbala » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:57 pm

Hi, Steve,
Would you like to go together on the first half of that trip? I am planning to solo in Tableland in August 2010 if I must go alone & for the first time. Please send an email to this id at yahoo.com if you want to discuss. I'd rather go with someone my first time through the Kings-Kaweah Divide. So far this year I did a solo trip up Long Meadow Creek into the snow to Trail of 100 Giants long before the snow melted and the road opened.
Have you seen the Tableland article in Sierra Trails? The main site is
http://www.accesscom.com/~ddonehoo/sierratrails.html ... it has good photos and descriptions.
Google with: site:www.accesscom.com "elizabeth pass" ... or with "lonely lake" or with "pterodactyl pass" which seems to be NW of Elizabeth Pass. (Yeah, funny that "com" is repeated.)

-- Robert C.
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby ERIC » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:47 pm

rcymbala wrote:Hi, Steve,
Would you like to go together on the first half of that trip? I am planning to solo in Tableland in August 2010 if I must go alone & for the first time. Please send an email to this id at yahoo.com if you want to discuss. I'd rather go with someone my first time through the Kings-Kaweah Divide. So far this year I did a solo trip up Long Meadow Creek into the snow to Trail of 100 Giants long before the snow melted and the road opened.
Have you seen the Tableland article in Sierra Trails? The main site is
http://www.accesscom.com/~ddonehoo/sierratrails.html ... it has good photos and descriptions.
Google with: site:www.accesscom.com "elizabeth pass" ... or with "lonely lake" or with "pterodactyl pass" which seems to be NW of Elizabeth Pass. (Yeah, funny that "com" is repeated.)

-- Robert C.


http://www.sierra-trails.com/sierratrails.html works, too.
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby oldranger » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:22 pm

Steve,

I was in Woodchuck country last week and could see across Monarch divide to Upper Deadman. The entire upper end was still filled with snow down at least 800-1,000 ft from Elizabeth Pass. Conditions will probably improve rapidly over the next couple of weeks.

Mike
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby DrWho » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:12 pm

Does the route: Silliman Creek --> Silliman Lake --> Notch directly south of Mt. Silliman --> Crescent Lake area work for a route to eventually make it to Tablelands? Is the "Notch" class 2 or is it something horrendous for an older and wiser backpacker? This “notch” seems to be the crux of getting to Tablelands avoiding the obvious cattle routes. Thirty years ago we did a winter snow camp at Big Bird Lake coming from Pear Lake and I always wanted to come back in the summer.

John
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Re: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon Info Needed

Postby sashe » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:06 pm

Thanks everyone for the valuable info. We're leaving Sunday. Could have done the route with no problem, but it's helpful to get some info. I'll post a TR when I return.

Steve
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