Trip Advice | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Advice

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

Trip Advice

Postby seisner » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:30 am

Sorry to post the primitive "help" request, but need to pick a route on short notice and this is the best resource, so here goes . . . Just decided to do a 3-day, 2-night trip this weekend with the family. I have plenty of experience in the backcountry and my 11-yr old daughter has been out with me a bunch of times, but this will be a first for my wife and 6-yr old son. My wife has done lots of long day-hikes (15-20 mi. round-trip) but has never been out overnight. I want to go somewhere on the Eastern Slope, south of Yosemite, with a strong preference towards something close to Mammoth because we can easily bunk there Thursday night. I suppose I would consider the Western slope also (Dinkey Lakes seems to be a top recommendation for this type of trip), but I just know tho Western slope much less so for the first time taking the whole family I gravitate towards the Eastern slope.

Key objectives are: (1) short hike on trail, thinking 3-6 miles - I figure I will load up and the little one will go pack free and the wife and older kid can carry their share (looking to do out and back); (2) not terribly steep - little guy can handle a solid hike, but less steep would obviously be better than straight up; (3) low on the skeeter scale - I know they will be tough to avoid, but some spots are better than others; (4) good exploring during the layover day; (5) ability to have a fire; (6) decent fishing. I'm sure I am forgetting something, but those are probably the top ones.

So of course the immediate thoughts that come to mind are: (1) Little Lakes Valley - have never done anything but dayhikes - are there good spots to camp? Will skeeters be horribly bad right now (more so than anywhere else)? (2) Shadow Creek above Shadow Lake - don't think we can make it all the way to Ediza or Garnet (but those would make for a good day hike on the layover day). Good legal campsites ? Fires? (3) Something else out of Agnew / Reds ??? (4) Duck Lake (camp at outlet) ???? Was also thinking maybe out of Saddlebag but don't know anything about that area. Or any of the closer lakes out of North Lake, South Lake or Sabrina, but they are all too high for fires.

I guess one other priority would be walk-in permit availability to pick up the day before.

Very tough to decide and I really need to get it right so my wife enjoys it and wants to go back. Thought I would get some feedback from the experts. Thanks in advance.



User avatar
seisner
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:38 am
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:33 am

I've not done this trip, but I always thought that the Big Pine Lakes area out of Big Pine would be an easy trip with some interesting lakes to explore.

If you are willing to drive further north, Leavitt Meadows off Sonora Pass has some great destinations---(Fremont Lake, Cinko Lake, etc)---and it's an area you can self-register at the trailhead, so you don't need to worry about getting a permit.

And you migh also try some of the trails out of Lake Sabrina---including Piute and Humphrey Lakes

One of the big challenges to the East Side is that you will start out with some steep climbing right off the bat--that comes with the territory.

And yes, you will see a ton of Mosquitoes this time of year. Comes with the territory, too.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:12 am

Hi Seisner

As you mentioned Little Lake Valley should be one of the places at the top of your
list, but 20 Lakes Basin at Saddlebag Lake, right outside, east of Tioga Pass should be
the number one place.
Get the permit at the parking area, take the ferry across the lake, and in 30 minutes
you'll be setting up camp at any lake you want, all above 10000 ft, beautiful alpine
country, without breaking a sweat!
Do a day hike up to Conness Lakes or any of the other lakes in the Basin.
Skeetrz will be out just about any where you go now, just go prepared to deal with
them.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby sparky » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:24 am

You might look into the Rock Creek area above Toms Place. Trails are fairly easy compared to a lot of other east side trail heads.

6 year old and wife with full pack....without knowing anything about them, I would suggest you keep your elevation gain under 1,000ft in 5 miles for a more enjoyable experience. Let them get hooked before you bust out the big guns :D
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
User avatar
sparky
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 880
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:01 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Trip Advice

Postby Cross Country » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:55 am

Rock Creek is a great place. It's easy and beautiful. The big question is "is it open (snow)"? If so there should be a lot of people in there. Maybe there won't be tons of mosquitoes. Nevertheless I love the place for easy.
Last edited by Cross Country on Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:56 am

I do not think you can camp anywhere you want when you get off the boat at Saddlebag Lake. I recall a lot of the area is day-use only.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2604
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby rlown » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:15 pm

maverick wrote:Hi Seisner

As you mentioned Little Lake Valley should be one of the places at the top of your
list, but 20 Lakes Basin at Saddlebag Lake, right outside, east of Tioga Pass should be
the number one place.
Get the permit at the parking area, take the ferry across the lake, and in 30 minutes
you'll be setting up camp at any lake you want, all above 10000 ft, beautiful alpine
country, without breaking a sweat!
Do a day hike up to Conness Lakes or any of the other lakes in the Basin.
Skeetrz will be out just about any where you go now, just go prepared to deal with
them.


I think the area around Greenstone Lk is designated a special ecology zone (no camping, fishing, etc)
It is a killer place to go, even if you don't take the boat. The walk around the west shore allows you to fish as you go, and the fishing is good in Saddlebag.

But, I second that area as a place to visit..

Russ
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5325
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:07 pm

Here is what they write on the the official site:
"Just east of Yosemite National Park, Saddlebag Lake is popular for day hikes, fishing
and backpacking. A loop trail goes around the lake for fishing and hiking. There is
also a water taxi from the marina at the Saddlebag Lake Resort that goes to the far
end of the lake. Trails extend into what is commonly called the 20 lakes basin.
Backpackers must go past the end of Saddlebag Lake, to Greenstone Lake or farther
into the 20 lakes basin area in order to stay overnight. Camping around Saddlebag Lake
is limited to the campground near the resort."
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:27 pm

Several of the above are good short backpacks, however campfires are not allowed at almost all of them. I would suggest to anyone that is making a transition from car camping to backpacking that they change their desire to make campfires. Most areas backpackers visit in the Sierra during summer are at or above timberline. Although one can make campfires at some such areas, the consensus of both those managing such areas and we in the backpacking community is to continue to phase out campfires in remaining areas because it tends to encourage those who damage those environments. And there has been considerable damage done in the past and such continues today illegally by those selfishly inconsiderate. Thus if making campfires is more important than the timberline scenery at least on your first visits, you might consider changing your plans for a backpack into mid forests wilderness where wood is plentiful and fires will always be permitted. For instance in Yosemite NP, Poly Dome Lakes out of the Murphy Creek Trail with trailhead at Tenaya Lake. Or Johnson Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness out of Devils Postpile National Monument.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby SPeacock » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:50 am

Family's favorite June hike (Father's Day) with 6 and 8 yo was Cottonwood Lakes area - camping at Muir Lake.

About 6 miles in with under a 1000' gain from trail head at Horseshoe Meadows above Lone Pine. It would be snow free now. Early start will help insure late lunch near the lakes. Plenty of things to explore from there with a trace route between Lake 1 and Lake 2 to the other side to check out Long Lake and even perhaps a day excursion to top of New Army Pass if any energy left in the parents.

Leave the lakes before 4PM to get to LA before midnight with pizza half way home.
User avatar
SPeacock
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:50 pm
Location: Pasadena area, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:05 am

Regarding Saddlebag camping, several maps show the outline of the Monroe Natural area in which camping is prohibited: this includes Conness Lakes, Alpine, Green Treble, Spuller, Bighorn, Fantail etc.. The lakes north of Saddlebag are open to camping except Wasco. Beautiful scenery and reasonable fishing prospects (ie high probability of catching--this means the fish aren't too big, though) in lakes such as Steelhead, Z, and Hummingbird.

For general debut backpack choices there are many. Here are a few suggestions, roughly from N to S. All of these destinations should be accessible as of now (ie no issues with snow blocking key access).

1. West Flank Desolation Wilderness out of Wrights Lake. Twin Lakes area. 3 miles of mellow hiking to a base camp with lots of dayhike options. Reliable fishing (plenty of brookies to 11") in Twin Lakes with somewhat more exploratory fishing available in some neighboring lakes.

2. Green Lake (ca 3 mi) East L. (ca 4 mi) West L (ca 4.5-5 mi), Green Creek drainage, east side S of Bridgeport. Beautiful scenery and good fishing. Less crowded than premier east side drainages to south. East is probably the prettiest of these destinations and West is the most secluded, but is sort of off by itself. East and Green are most centrally located for dayhikes. East has the most reliable fishing with an odd combination of quantity (ease of catching) but with some impressive top end sizes (over 14") for brookies and rainbows.

3. Virginia Lakes. Very flexible with hiking distances starting under 1 mi (Blue Lake) a few in the 1 mi or change range (Cooney, Frog Lakes) and plenty of dayhike options from an easily established base. Fine east side rugged scenery with added color (similar to Green Creek area) from metamorphic rocks. Reliable quantity (smallish brookies to 10") fishing from many lakes.

4. Saddlebag area (see above)

5. Mammoth Lakes area. Somewhat like Virginia Lakes for chain of lakes starting with Arrowhead along trail up to Duck Pass. The fishing isn't quite as reliable but the fish are bigger and there are far more crowds than Green or Virginia. Still, one can find elbow room by hanging out on side of lakes opposite the trail.

6. Little Lakes Valley. Probably the premier "first backpack" destination in the Sierra. I took my wife there for her first trip in 1986 and she's been hooked on the Sierra ever since (although it was fishing out of Bright Dot Lake in Convict Cyn the next year that really did it). Utterly stunning scenery and easy hiking from a trailhead at over 10000 foot elevation. Although justifiably popular and crowded, there are hideaways if one locates a camp away from a trail in various cul-de-sacs, and across lakes from the trail.

West flank, south.

7. Ansel Adams Wilderness, Granite Creek drainage. Lots of options but the area with the most tightly clustered destinations would be out of the Walton and Fernandez trailheads near Clover Meadow. Vandeburg, Lillian Lake and many other options are easy pickings with the closest lake being a bit beyond 3 mi from the car. Plenty of dayhike options, reliable fishing and almost too many lakes to choose from. Good views of the Ritter Range and higher peaks to E and SE.


8. Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. Dinkey Lakes trailhead. Classic easy access location. Surprisingly few folks considering how easy the hikes are. 3 mi and something like only 500' of gain to First Dinkey which can provide reliable small brookie fishing (to 11"). From an easily hiked-to base there are several short dayhike options although not nearly as many as in the Granite Creek area above.

9. Upper Twin Lake area, Kaiser Wilderness. Another favorite for first time backpackers and justifiably so. 3 mi and under 1k gain from Sample Meadow (Potter Pass is a bit longer). Fairly reliable fishing for medium sized brookies and rainbows with several short dayhike options.
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], playero1 and 4 guests