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Plan B and B-yond

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Plan B and B-yond

Postby balzaccom » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:39 pm

Another post from our blog...

We're always just a little amazed at the way some people approach backpacking routes and itineraries: as if they were written in stone, and must be obeyed to the letter, come hell or high water. Yowza, that's a bad idea! Particularly in the case of high water...if the water looks too dangerous, go somewhere else!

Of course, if you are trying to do the whole PCT in one season, you better keep moving, and in the same direction. But otherwise, we're big believers in taking it as it comes.

We start every trip with a clear idea of how we'd like to start...and maybe where we'd like to go. But we always know, in the back of our minds, that we don't really have to follow the plan. In fact, we've had some of our best trips when we decided to do something different. And we look for ways to get off the main trail just for a little adventure.

Heck, in some cases, we didn't have a choice. We ended up exploring Cherry Canyon and the Boundary Lake area of Yosemite (you'll find that in our favorite lake section!) because our initial permit was for the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne--and a major forest fire there closed the area for weeks. So we went to plan B. We had to buy a couple of extra maps at the wilderness center---and then had a great time.

This last summer we decided to hike the generally trail-less lakes of southern Emigrant Wilderness: Pingree, Big, and Yellowhammer Lakes. We didn't have a strict day-to-day plan, and we thought we'd just play it by ear, and see how far we'd get. First day, to Resasco Lake, was a tough climb but a great hike. And the second day we found the going so easy (and the route-finding so clear) that we made it all the way to Big Lake by lunch, and Yellowhammer soon after that.

Perfect! Who knew it could be this easy?

Except that Yellowhammer Lake wasn't our idea of a great campsite, for lots of reasons. So we looked at the map, and decided that we could probably climb right up the ridge to Leighton Lake from Yellowhammer. An hour later, high on the granite cliff with our water supply dwindling quickly, it became clear that we weren't going to make it to Leighton Lake. It was hot, dry, dusty, and we were discouraged. We didn't want to go back to Yellowhammer, and we couldn't make it to Leighton.

But below us, like a blue-green jewel in the forest, was little 5 Acre Lake. We slithered down the cliff through the Manzanita, and set up camp at what turned out to be our favorite spot of the whole trip. And the next morning, after more work with map and compass, we found another, easier route to Leighton Lake that worked perfectly.

And if it hadn't, we had a plan B for that day, too. Now THAT'S good trip planning!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:45 pm

I hear you about Plan B. In my estimation folks have become more and more "follow the recipe" in everything they do the past couple of the decades, and this includes backcountry trips.

Improvisation has always been a big part of the part of the fun for me. For example, Judy and I first went into Ram Lakes from Convict Canyon because we were quota'd out (first come first serve) to go to Bear Basin out of Pine Creek. There have been numerous examples of calling such audibles for other reasons. Once on a trip, I have seldom followed the original game plan and I have never been on any trip that followed the original game plan to the last detail. I will usually draw up a preliminary game plan if only as sort of a feasibility check to figure out the range of 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
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby Cross Country » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:02 pm

Once on a solo trip I was going to Cecil (South of Mammoth) because it was off trail (I thought). Before embarking I found out that it had a trail to it and if fact was a common destination for pack trains.
I changed to plan B and hiked out of north lake, up and over piute pass (a beautiful hike) and into Desolation and other lakes in the area. It turned out to be a beautiful area and I had lots of (albeit a little to much) solitude which for me is always better that pack trains. It was another nice trip into the Sierra.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby markskor » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:11 pm

Once, in Tuolumne started out solo for the Valley...
Ended up at Whitney Portal...
Chit happens...
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby Cross Country » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:14 pm

Once I was hiking with Gregg and we stopped at the top of a pass on a trail. We were ready to do the last 40 minutes of out hike which was almost easy x - country to a lake with great fishing. Just before leaving along came a solo hiker. We began talking. He and I hit it off well. He said he was heading to a lake an hour ahead to do some fishing. He said he had wanted to go x - country but lacked the expertise. He also said he hoped to have good fishing on his trip. I told him that the lake he was headed for has poor fishing.
If I ever heard of a perfect plan B, this was it. I, of course invited him to come along with us. It was perfect --- really perfect.

He just couldn't do it. He just had to stick to plan A. He had no explanation as to why.

I have found that most people are just like this man. Asi es como va! Se la vi!
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:26 pm

On any trip where I was forced into plan B, there was generally a plan C. I'm not a big fan of plan C. :(

On my Trinity trip in Sept 2009, I was forced all the way into a Plan E. Required 3 different routes to get in and out of the same lake with the two trailheads 25 miles apart. Again, not by choice, but I saw a lot of neat country that I wouldn't have otherwise seen.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:55 pm

If your Plan A is well thought out and you have done your homework, you should not use a lot of Plan B's. The Plan B's and C's also need to be well thought out before you leave home. Now if you have done a LOT of backpacking in the SIerra, you will have many well thought out alternate plans in your head. Just be sure you also bring the maps!

Sticking to my Plan A has gotten me into a lot of spectacular places where my initial reaction was to back off. Maybe I am more of a fearful solo hiker than others, but I have been sitting under a number of passes thinking OMG, I will never be able to do that. Then I realise I did my homework and the pass should not be as scarey as it looks. I go forward and get to my destinations. My Plan A is really where I want to go so I try to follow through. My plan is like a little guy sitting on my shoulder saying "yes" you can do it!

I do back off and do Plan B if conditons are downright unsafe or my first choice is closed, or there is a nearby fire. A lot of these conditions can be checked on the internet before you leave home.

As many times as going to Plan B turned out to take me to nice places, it has taken me to horrible places (like no water! or significantly less scenic than my original plan).
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:17 pm

You have to be flexible, and be adventurous, who wants to follow the same route
into the same place ever time, that is just another version of staying on a set road
to a given place like back in civilization.
I do not want set routes to go by when alternatives exist because a trail leads to a
certain area does not mean I have to take it, unless I am afraid of getting off-trail, just
lazy, or in some cases when coming in/out of the back-country, for speed.
I have most every pass marked in any given area on my maps so I can change coarse
if I please, or in case I have to get out fast I can locate a quick exit.
I have class 1's marked with a green dot, class 2's marked with a red dot, and class 3's
with a blue dot, so have my choices according to difficulty.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby dave54 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:33 pm

Plans? What are those? :D

Some of my most memorable trips involved no itinerary, but deciding enroute.
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Log off and get outdoors!
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby quentinc » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:29 pm

Yeah, let's hear it for flexibility and adventure!
In summer of '09 I planned a North Lake - South Lake trip, via Lamarck Col, with excursions through Ionian Basin and Black Giant Pass. By the time I got to Sapphire Lake and climbed Mt. Spencer, for some reason I decided to head the exact opposite way on the Muir Trail, and go back to North Lake via Gemini, Feather, Puppet and Piute passes. It was a wonderful trip (except for when I yelled at the kid who wouldn't stop whooping it up by Merriam Lake -- see post in the "Psycho" thread).

I suppose these flights of fancy are inconsistent with the notion that you should leave someone an itinerary of where you are going. But then so is life.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby evan » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:11 am

@ Dave54 - Im liking the sound of your planless plan!

As for me, Im still relatively new to the Sierra; as Im only comfortably familiar with three zones: McGee Creek, Little Lakes Valley and Bishop Pass. In future years I will most certainly utilize these zones as "Plan B" options as they are comfortable and enjoyable to me. I know my dad always has at least a Plan B & undoubtedly a Plan C in the back of his mind for our Sierra outings. Must say though that Im truly on the fence about planning out trips to the detail: one hand, it pays to be thorough and know exactly what will lie ahead; on the other hand, having trips planned out to the T is well, too predicable and the elements of "surprise" and adventure is gone. Some of my lifes best memories have been those spontaneous adventures!

-Evan
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby sirlight » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:39 am

He just couldn't do it. He just had to stick to plan A. He had no explanation as to why.
I have found that most people are just like this man. Asi es como va! Se la vi!

Since this guy did not have x-country experience, maybe he was worried about finding his way out if you got injured or separated.

It's great to have a plan B and plan C for that matter. For me when going solo, these must actually be "plans", and not a spur of the moment thing. I consider this rule number one of solo hiking. Make your plan(s) and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. This is especially true when going off trail.

I have had many great trips where I had to resort to alternate destinations.
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