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Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:36 am

I was at the Baxter Pass Trailhead just before the fire, several times after the fire, then on the Thanksgiving Day the Fall before the flood took out the campground. I have photograhed the area recovering since the fire. The black oaks, roses, willows, lupins, rosey penstemons, etc. are all coming back just fine.

Last summer we had a flood similar to the Oak Cr one, down by Olancha. I saw amazing damage by the storm that caused that flood in the very southern Death Valley area this past Sept.

Seeing the area after the flood was a bummer. I used to love spending a week under the last black oak in the upper most camp site. I'd use that as my base for day hikes all over that region. On a hot summer day, that black oak was the greatest umbrella in the world. But you had to dodge all the ants though. Saw a road runner near the bottom of the campground earlier in the year of the fire. Saw a rattlesnake in the trail, about 1/2 mi from the trailhead, last summer.

Oak Cr and the trailhead area are coming back nicely and it just serves to remind us of the ecosystem functions that guide the health of the the Sierra. Hopefully they occur naturally, but somethimes they don't. in any event, the system recovers, we get to see the landscape respond to disasters, and it all goes forward.



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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby hikerchick395 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:54 am

Here's where the road goes over Oak Creek...
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby hikerchick395 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:58 am

Here's the trailhead...looks much like before, but the trees that folks may have camped under overnight, to the right out of the picture are burned.

I didn't go too far out of the way...was on my way home from a BLM led hike in the Alabama Hills.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:33 pm

I found a great secluded place to camp near the Alabama Hills after the fire. It will be so many years before I can use my Oak Creek campsite again, I will be long gone to the heavens... But it will be used again.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:35 pm

By the way, right on the other side of trees in the picture of Oak Creek (2nd picture from bottom) above is where I saw the road runner. Right in front of my face.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby evan » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:44 pm

Eastsidehiker-

That Olancha flood that your speaking of which occured this past summer - is that the mud flood?
My dad was up in the Little Lakes Valley & had a gut premonition that he should cut his trip short, thankfully he did. The next day he heard about the Olancha "mud" flood! About a month, give or take a week, him & I were back up in the Little Lakes Valley; we were still able to see the floods swath of distruction! Your post sparked my curiousity!

-Evan
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby hikerchick395 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:32 am

Yep, that was mud. Took a tractor/trailer right off of the highway in the flow. There are still little hills of rocks and mud in the middle of the highway, left after cleanup.


I went up to the Baxter Pass trailhead and up the trail a ways the October before the fire. I hadn't been there for years.
I was hiking, at the uppermost Treasure Lake, when the thunderstorm that started the fire occurred 6 July 2007.
And was hiking, coming out of Dusy Basin, during the storm that started the flood and mud flow. It rained pretty heavy on 10 July 2008, a bit of rain on the 11th, then on the 12th, the sky was almost black...luckliy got out before the torrents came.

ESH...I found a great secuded campsite in the Alabama Hills last weekend. Walls of rock on three sides, large flat campsite and views of the Sierra...nice!
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:51 am

I love the Alabama Hills and spend quite a bit of time there off and on throughout the year. Its a great base camp area for trips between Horseshoe Mdw and Baxter Pass.

I was there two Augusts ago for a week, at my secret little spot, and it was so nice I just slept on an air mattress with no cover.

Its great to hear that you were there in Dec. Wow. In Apr, when the Evening Snow is blooming, it can't be beat. But in Dec, thats the best (except that the days are so short).
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby texan » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:05 pm

I like Piute Pass the best because its easy to get to the high country.

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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby CI_Seawolf » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:53 pm

It has been many years since I went down it (July 1981) but Sawmill was the worst looking especially coming up from the east side. Since the Inyo complex fire, any cover out on the sandy slopes is very minimal. I used to camp at Oak Creek and have fond memories of catching fish there before whirling disease spores were found. I've seen a few rattlers there and some over at Seven Pines on Independence Creek. I think the best pass would be any that get you into the backcountry. I'm hoping to go into the Humphrey's Basin this summer probably over Pine Creek.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:06 pm

I may have some of the figures slightly wrong, but:

Taboose Pass, 11,400', 8 mi from the trailhead at 5,400' - 6,000' gain.
Sawmill Pass, 11,347', 10.5 mi from trailhead at 4,660' - 6,687' gain.
Baxter Pass, 12,320', 8 mi from trailhead at 6,000' - 6,320' gain.
Kearsarge Pass, 11,823', 5 mi from trailhead at 9,200' - 2,623' gain.
Shepherd Pass, 12,000', 12 mi from trailhead at ~ 5,700' - ~ 6,300' gain.

Taboose Pass is desolate, but beautiful, not many protected campsites, and gets you to Cartridge Pass. Shepherd Pass gets you into the heart of it all, and is absolutely beautiful. They're all beautiful.
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Re: Worst - or Best - Pass in the Sierra

Postby Cross Country » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:20 pm

For the 5 passes mentioned above, here are my comments.
1 Kearsarge: Easy -- that's why I went over it twice with children.
2 Baxter: Difficult -- that's why we only came down it.
3 Taboose: Difficult and hot, with flies -- we (2 kids and I) went over with much difficulty.
4 Shepherd: what an entry to my favorite area, but too difficult -- that's why we went over it (twice) only with help from horses to Anvil Camp.
5 Sawmill: way to hot and difficult -- that's why the closest we ever got to it was Woods Lake.
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