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Circle of Solitude Length

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Circle of Solitude Length

Postby cmlamber » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:10 pm

Hello,
I'm visiting this area for the first time with some friends and we considering a few routes, namely the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and the Circle of Solitude. We are very interested in the Circle of Solitude route in Mike White's book, but are contemplating whether or not it is feasible. Other topics suggest that a few people on this forum have done the loop before, so we were hoping someone might have some insight.

We have four people going averaging the level 2 experience. We have done quite a bit of backpacking among us, but mostly trails of varying degrees of clarity. We are all in a range from pretty good to very good shape. We are drawn to the Circle of Solitude, because it will not be crowded and from the book's description should have spectacular scenery, which are our two priorities.

The problem is we only have 6 days and 5 nights to hike. The book suggests that this loop can be done in 5-10 days and we are wondering if anyone can tell us if the 5 or 6 day estimate is very strenuous and only for those in tiptop shape or very experienced? Or alternatively, is the 10 day estimate for those opting to add on one or some of the many options. Of course, we have figured the per day mileage and elevation gain, but thought we would see if anyone has first hand experience that they might share.

Secondly, we were wondering if anyone knows if there is a way to shorten the loop at all.

Thanks!



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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:07 pm

Hi Cmlamber

Welcome to HST.
Honestly 5 nights would be pushing it unless you are used to high milage days.
I would advise 7-8 nights.
The climb up from Roads End to Avalanche Trail is long, as is the climb up to
Sphinx Creek area, especially if the weather is hot.
Getting up Cloud is easier, and Colby Lake is a great place to spend the night
as is Gallats Lake area(meadow), from here it is a long way down to the Kern.
Then you have a long climb up to Forester Pass.
If you had the extra time I would go up the Kern instead of the HST route and
visit the Upper Kern Divide (Lake South America) area, and hook up with the JMT.
The Grand Tuolumne is better done in the earlier part of the summer when the
falls are at there best, the waterwheels are at there highest, and the temps are
not as high.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby tim » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:23 pm

You could shorten the loop by taking the Bubbs Creek/Forester Pass route to Lake South America then coming back over Harrison Pass to East Lake. That would fit into your available time, but you might not have so much solitude for the first half of the trip. Not sure how tricky Harrison Pass is, but I'm sure someone here will have done it.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby Cross Country » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:23 pm

I agree with Maverick. There are lots of great places to visit in the upper Kern drainage. If you do this I wouldn't cross Milly's (or maybe Lucy's) foot pass as I did. It's steep and loose near the top and lots of talus below.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:12 pm

Do not do Harrison Pass unless you have done class 2 cross country passes which you
indicated not having as a level 2 backpacker.
It is steep on the northern side at the top and depending when you go snow/ice
can be an issue.
Last edited by maverick on Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby rightstar76 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:39 pm

Isn't it more like semi-circle of solitude? It seems like once you get to the PCT, it would be busy all the way to Road's End.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby cmlamber » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:29 pm

Thanks for the advice. I'm sorry to hear Tuolumne is best done earlier. We were hoping a wet year would mean a longer season, but I gather we are even missing the long season.

Unfortunately, we don't really have much time to extend our trip beyond at most 6 nights and then the last day would have to be a half day. Thanks for the input!!
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Re: Circle of Solitude Length

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:58 pm

How about the route discussed on another recent thread out of Mineral King.
"Best Five Night Backpack Trip" thread in which I included a few photo's.
The lakes are gorgeous, mountain scenery stupendous, and fishing great.
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