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New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

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New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby hiker00 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 7:42 pm

Hi...I am fairly new to this forum.

I am looking for advice on a loop hike in the Southern Sierra Nevadas.

Myself and a couple of other backpackers from Central Arizona are interested in looking for a high country hike and due to travel distance we are interested in an area as far south as possible.

We are between a level 2-3 backpackers, experiences range from 20+ years to 2 years. We are ok with having to do passes. We are looking for some great scenery, lakes and forest. We are planning on a 3 day/2 night trip on the trail, with the option of increasing this by one more night on the trail.

I have been going over maps and trip reports of the New Army/Cottonwood Pass area and was hoping to get input from others that have been there.

A rough plan right now is to spend one night at the trail head, head out towards the 5 lakes spending our first night there saving Army pass for rested legs and one more night to ensure everyone has no issues with the altitude. I figure if anyone is having a problem we have a fairly easy hike back out without having to go back over a pass. The second day go over New Army Pass and hike over to PCT to Cottonwood Pass, and hike out the third day. If we feel that we want to spend another night we would like to spend two nights between New Army Pass and Cottonwood Pass.

Any advice would be great.
Thank You
Patty



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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:50 pm

I would rather spend the three days in Cottonwood Lakes. I am not sure going up over New Army Pass just to loop right back out is worth the effort when there are so many lakes and sights to see right within the Cottonwood Lakes basin. Now if I had 4-5 days I would go up to Sky Blue Lake- then the trip over New Army pass would be worth it. If you simply want the view up top, why not climb Mt Langly from a base-camp below New Army Pass.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby markskor » Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:06 pm

Agree with Daisy - long trip for 3 days, but do-able...if in good shape and you like hiking 10-12 hour days. You realize that you are at 10,000 ft elevation? Sort of a long way from the Cottonwoods - up either Army to the next good campsite and water...Lower Soldier?

Better to spend the day fishing/exploring at the Cottonwoods and perhaps do another better loop - up Old Army, do Mt Langley, and then down New Army Pass... Stay at Long lake and out back same way to Horseshoe Meadows.
Also agree about how spectacular Miter Basin is...amazing place. Nice country.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby maverick » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:00 pm

Hi Hiker00

Welcome to HST!
As WD and Markskor mentioned, the time you have available is a little on the short side.
Miter Basin is the highlight in the south eastern part of the Sierra, but you'd
need at least 5-6 days to get a decent taste of it.
Whitney would be the next area up, but personally I am not a fan of this area, and there
are way to many people.
Wallace, and Wright Lakes is next highlight, but this would take even longer to reach.
I would recommend the Big Pine area, which will give you great wild flowers in July
beautiful emerald green lakes, the largest glacier in the Sierra.
You can reach First Lake easily in a day, and use it as a basecamp, or do a circuit
visiting the other lakes.
There is a crude trail that heads up to the glacier on the ridge that has some great views
from it.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby hiker00 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Thanks for the welcome and your recomendations. Looks like we will need to add at least one more day to get a great experience, not a problem, sounds much better!!! I agree with the Whitney area, I have been in the area three time, would like something different.

I do have a couple of questions:

In getting to Blue Sky Lake would it be easier/better to get there using Cottonwood Pass rather then New Army Pass???

The Big Pine Lakes area looks great, I looked at Tom Harrisons Maps, anyone know which map works best for the area. I have bought from them but nothing I have includes the area and want one that covers the area the best.

Thanks for all your help...part of the fun is the planning.

Patty
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby maverick » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:53 am

"The Palisades Trail Map" by Tom Harrison covers that area the best Hiker00.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby quentinc » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:24 am

Hiker00, if I had 3 or 4 days, I would do the Miter Basin loop. North Fork Big Pine is beautiful, but unless you're going to climb one of the peaks I don't think there's enough to do there for 3 days.

Definitely a good idea to extend to 4 days. My traditional first High Sierra trip of the summer is to go in over Cottonwood Pass and into Miter Basin on day 1. That's more miles than most people would enjoy, but you can stop at the intersection with the New Army Pass trail (there's a stream and good camping), or at Rock Creek/Soldier Lake (more crowded). The best way into Miter, if you don't mind some off-trail, Class 2, is over the "pass" just south of Soldier Lake, which takes you up to a ridge that you can follow into the basin. There's a also a trail up to Miter, which starts from further down Rock Creek. That's a great route if you like mosquitoes :)

Going over Cottonwood is easier than NAP, and personally I prefer it. The views of the Great Western Divide are terrific. Of course, I've spent a huge amount of time in the Cottonwood Lakes basin, so maybe I'm a bit jaded. You could always come back out over NAP, for a loop. Personally, I would do the loop even if I had only 3 days, because I like to see as much country as I can. As others have suggested, hiking up to the top of Langley is a great idea, and not all that difficult once you've made it up to NAP.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby East Side Hiker » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:57 am

Stay in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin, as Wandering Daisy suggested, there's plenty to do, especially if you like to explore x-country routes. You cuold have a great time just following the crest south.

One suggestion I have would be to climb Mt. Langley or Cirque Pk.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:37 pm

I agree, if you have more than 3 nights available go with the Cottonwood area, but
if less you can visit the North Fork of Big Pine, and then use Contact Pass to descend
and check out the South Fork on the way back to the car, which would make a fun trip.
By the way the Tom Harrison "Kings Canyon High Country" map will work fine to.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby markskor » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:50 pm

FYI, You never say if you fish...
But if you do, there are Goldens in the Cottonwoods, all only barbless hooks and only one lake (changes yearly) lets you keep 5, but...
I could spend 2 days there easily and not get bored.
Make it a week trip and after Cottonwoods, up Old Army, maybe bag Langley (I did) and then to the Basin (Sky Blue) and back out by another/ either one - loop route - CP or NAP.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby East Side Hiker » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:23 am

The Cottonwood Lakes area offers so much to see. There are so many nooks and crannies, creeks and streams, peaks and hills, and flowers, during the right time. You can go over one of the numerous passes and walk down into Kern aways. There are many loop walks to be made. And if you get to the right place, the Foxtail Pines. Cottonwood Pass and that area is really a trip.

You can't go wrong with a trip starting from Horseshoe Mdw. Its a playground.
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Re: New Army/Cottonwood Pass Loop

Postby arundodonax » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:27 pm

So if you were just exiting from one, which one would you pick - New Army or Cottonwood?

Thanks!
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