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Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

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Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

Postby Take-a-Hike » Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:26 pm

I need some input please. Wife 'n I are doing a 4th of July trip up CCT to Grouse Lake then back in the basic area where Roper started his SHR trip...but we're certainly not up to all that...just doing a warm up for some other trips later this summer. We (Wife) has a major concern after reading many accounts of going up the hot switchbacks of getting no farther along than Lower Tent Meadows on day one. Our plan is to stay at a lodge in Cedar Grove (we have reservation) then hit the trail by 6:30 latest, and I say we can be at Grouse Lake by 5:00 pm, elevation gain and all. Now, before everyone starts to wonder...we fall into the majority of this forum readers (at least according to the age poll someone conducted), and fall in the category of early 50 types. Last year was our first year of doing backpack trips, however, we're veterans of about 4 years of some pretty good day hikes throughout the Sierras and down here in SC local mountains. I still say that even people of above average shape, my wife hits the gym 4 days/week and even though she's no Jane Fonda (thank God...), and no speed hiker, we're pretty good plodders, we should be able to make it. I read accounts of youngsters who start out in mid day and can only get to LTM, others who start earlier in the day get all the way up to Granite Lake and beyond. So, can anyone who's been on that trail give me a rule of thumb as to what to expect as far as where we can expect to be after gettin a real early start???
TIA..
Perry



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Postby giantbrookie » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:45 pm

Everyone has their comfort level, but my advice would be not to force Grouse Lake on Day 1. Grouse Lake is something like 5600 feet of elevation gain (net is a bit less but you lose small bits of elevation in a couple of places) and pushes the death march category for most. Unless you and your wife do a moderately difficult backpack trip (including one day with at least 2500' of gain with a full pack at altitude) as a "tune up" a weekend before I think you'll find that hike to be a bear. I dragged my dad and my brother up there in September 1980. If you've read the thread on "Dad" you'll realize that in 1980 my dad was pretty close to Superman on the trail. However, it was his first major Sierra trip of the year, whereas I'd been doing geologic field work in Colorado and Montana all summer long and was really geared up for backpacking and then some. My dad did, however, train relentlessly (harder than anyone I've ever seen) while not up in the mountains: his distance running, swimming (interval training) and bike workouts were incredibly intense. He was a top flight marathoner in his age group. In any case for years after the Grouse L. trip my dad and brother would grouse about that trip as THE DEATH MARCH--they apparently felt it was pretty harsh thing for me to subject them to. My dad accused me of driving them to expend much too much energy in pursuit of a nondescript SPS peak (Goat Mtn) only because I wanted to check out Grouse Lake's fishing potential (this accusation was in fact correct--Grouse Lake is fishless, by the way). My somewhat slavedriving rationale for planning the trip was that I needed to get my dad warmed up for a much more ambitious trip the next week in which the two of us bagged Split and Prater in two days via Taboose (with a 6800' gain day 1 going from the Taboose trailhead into Upper Basin). The Grouse L/Goat Mtn trip did result in my dad being in very fine trim for the Split trip which went off in style, so you could say my cruel warm up for him worked.

Perhaps more applicable would be the example of my wife, who is the toughest woman I've ever seen in the backcountry and someone who accompanied me on dozens of backpacking trips ranging from epic off trail death marches to easy trips, in the course of getting to over 500 backcountry lakes to fish with me. In all the years that we were doing our hardest trips together, my wife's career high in one-day elevation gain with a full pack was 5600' the same as going to Grouse (her day hike career high is something like 7100'). She did this (5600' with pack) twice on day 1's: once from Pine Creek to Bear Basin (going in via an off trail pass from Granite Park) and once going to Sawmill Lake (in both cases the net is below 5600, but the gross comes out pretty close). In both cases she was totally spent at the end of the day and she was in tip top hiking shape for those trips, having been tuned up with multiple High Sierra backpacking trips before the big ones. She was 30 when she did Bear Basin and 36 when she did Sawmill Lake.


In any case, based on how you describe yourselves, I wouldn't go all the way to Grouse L. on day 1.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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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Postby ndwoods » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:02 am

I did it in one day. But, we were very very grumpy by the top!:)
Dee
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Postby Skibum » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:02 am

Greetings,

I worked in Cedar Grove for five summers and have hiked the Copper Creek trail many times. I would dito giantbrookies advice on trying to make grouse in one day. The trail is quite a hump. South exposure, up, up and up. If your in peak condition you could get there in a day, but it would be a little brutal. Also, just an FYI, Grouse lake is a VERY popular destination for the Cedar Grove Pack Station.

Granite Basin and lake is very nice, and has fish. Be prepared for LOTS of mosquitos in Granite Basin in July. The view from Granite Pass is great.

On a side note since we are in this area (and I kind of hate to divulge this) for you fisherpersons out there, the fishing at Volcanic Lakes is great. The middle lake is best. The fish are huge and have pink meat. The coloration on the fish was diferent than the norm as well. They almost looked like a landlocked salmon or something.
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Postby Take-a-Hike » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:37 am

Thanks for the responses. I've been the grumpy route myself. I'll plan on a contingency stop somewhere, hopefully we can find some level ground up there somewhere. But the good news is once we get there I've got nothing definitive planned other than to just roam about, do some route finding, practice map reading, off trail stuff and explore some of the lakes between Grouse, Glacier and maybe as far up as State lakes prior to making our way back down. My wife is still of the opinion that if we're off a trail we're subject to being lost and never found again. Never mind the fact that I show her on a map, look there's a mountain here, a stream here and here and a trail over here...so if we can't walk here, but hit a stream here and here and a trial here, we aint lost. It's just a matter of time before we get to where we want to be.
Also, we both hate horses on trails, so that helps, hopefully we'll beat the posse there and get out. I don't fish either, so all secrets are good w/me. I do have buddies who try to convert me and think I'm nuts for going to those lakes and NOT fishing, but, to date, I don't.
By the way....came to work today and got an email from the Glacier NP reservation system and confirmation on my first choice for a 3 nite trip late July. Still have another 2 nite trip that was in same package they've not responded to. Pretty happy about that. Found out they received about 800 reservation requests for back country campgrounds when they first start their process on April 17. Their lottery/reservation system is a nightmare compared to the Sierra stuff. Today I have to call the Canadian folks to reserve some sites there. What a night mare.
Thanks again.
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Postby Buck Forester » Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:34 am

A summer or two ago we started at Cedar Grove Roadend for our big loop hike around the Cirque Crest. We had to wait for the ranger station to open to get our permits so we didn't get an early start. Our packs were fully loaded for a 9 day trip. We made it to Granite Lake by evening, but it was a long, tough day. There's not a whole lot of nice places to camp on the way up. In fact, there's pretty much zip. Water is rather scarce and it's a continuous slope the whole way up until you reach the final ridge. We didn't go to Grouse Lake because we continued on over Granite Pass. I'm not sure it would be my first choice for a weekend in and out trip, but it's still nice scenery and a great workout.
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Postby sierra cyd » Tue May 02, 2006 12:50 pm

I did it a couple years ago with a 9 day pack (and bear canister) and I was a 125 lb female, 32 years old at the time and hit the gym about 3-4 days per week- as fit as possible with a desk job. We were headed out to through-hike the High Route. We started hiking around 7 a.m. and made it to Grouse Lake at 4:30, and were totally wiped out and feeble, and ready to lay down for the evening. I was pretty worn out the next day, too. It was tiring and steep, and we only stopped for a couple short breaks the whole day and it took that long, but we made it without any real gripes, knowing in advance that it would be tough. We had one fat rattlesnake greet us on the trail after mile 1, and reports of a bear on the trail too but never saw one.

Pretty tough for a short weekend trip, but a beautiful area! Just pace yourself early on and you can probably make it if you are determined and eat and drink a lot. As others have mentioned, there aren't many spots to camp along the way.
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Postby Shawn » Tue May 02, 2006 8:32 pm

I did the trail about six or seven years ago. What occurred to me from the start was "gee, I didn't know it could get so hot in the Sierra". This was my second outing in Kings Canyon for a mere three day jaunt.

When I arrived at upper tent meadow I sought some shade for a nap since I had left the house at two o'clock that morning. Just off the trail I found some shade under a tree, a little slanted for a nap, but usable.

Well, about an hour later I awoke to the redening pain from the sun burning down on my legs below my knees. Arrg. While I dozed the shade rapidly moved away. On I marched "mr. red legs" and made it up and over the top for a nights rest with that damned sunburn on my legs. Guess I should've used copper tone!
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Re: Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

Postby ndwoods » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:04 pm

Uh....lower tent meadows is it. No other flat spot to the top that I can recall.....anybody else remember something different????
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Re: Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:44 pm

Upper Tent Meadow is supposed to have a few site that are hidden and not
easy to find.
TehipiteTom makes reference to it on his site writing:
"Had last camped here 26 years ago, and had very little memory of the place.
The ranger told me she had never found it, and it isn't obvious; you have to
follow a faint use trail off the end of a switchback, cross a steep stream on
wet rocks, and thrash through mud or alder (your choice) to get there. It has
just a handful of tiny flat sites scattered over the slope; finding space for a
large group would be a nightmare. But I was alone, so it didn't seem to be a
problem. Wildflowers were in abundance; so, alas, were mosquitoes."
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

Postby fourputt » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:50 pm

Bit late for Take-a-Hike, but there are a number of tent sites at Upper Tent. Follow the use trail across the water source to the opposite slope where flat(ish) platforms are cut out of the hillside.

Recently returned from a trip where we got to top of Copper Creek by noon; pooled resources and hired mules from Cedar Grove Pack Station (very nice people) to drop our packs, "loaded for bar" (fish actually), at the Granite Basin lip.
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Re: Copper Creek Trail -- Kings Canyon

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:45 pm

Geez, for as many times I have been on the Copper Creek Trail (in all conditions), Lower Tent Meadow is far enough for the first day! The camping there is fair, there is water, and you just need to think of it as a way station before heading further the next day. Look around and you will find some obvious tent spots near the stream.
That trail is an old Indian trade route, and was even used by John Muir. Near Upper Tent Meadow (see the "tent" rock?), on the right going up you see a low ridge going upward: if you have the energy, go over to that ridge (where the trail nears it) and you will find the old trail shooting up the ridge.
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