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Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby markskor » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:35 pm

Getting a bit off topic here guys –


Just my 2¢
Mark
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:24 am

markskor wrote:We all have seen them, passed through them often, but to include the entire Tahoe area as one is ludicrous at best…smacks of someone who needs to get out more.
Just my 2¢
Mark

Well, it's all subjective. But I'll stand by my dismissal of the Tahoe area: there are too damn many people, too much of the landscape is too developed, and the mountains around there aren't as spectacular as those further south. Sure, there are spots where you can take a great picture (as Hetchy ably demonstrates), but not so many spots where there's mile after mile of jaw-dropping beauty (as there are in, say, KCNP). The cost/benefit ratio of fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic to drive to a parked-up trailhead so you can hike to a modestly pretty lake just doesn't work out for me.

YMMV, of course.
;)
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby richlong8 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:36 pm

sirlight wrote:I am sure that I will get a ton of flak about this one, Mt. Whitney has been the least desirable for me. Yes, the views are spectacular, but the crowds of "non-backcountry" people made it unpleasant. Everyone at the top was whipping out their cell phones and trying to make calls. It was just not what I had imagined. My entire trip on the HST was a blast. Then I hit trail crest and it was all down hill (so to speak) from there. Still, if you are a hiker, it's a must do at least once.


I have to go along with this post. It is hard to enjoy the the beauty of Whitney- too many people for me....major distraction- in 37 years, I have been there 2x, don't care if I ever go back, and there are many other places I would love to go back to....
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby Timberline » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:53 pm

I'm with you, richlong8,

Although it was many years ago now, I still remember the fact that 200 +/- folks were on the summit the same day I made it up there (I did a count), and that was before rationed permits. It hasn't gotten any better. :\ Still, I can't complain that more people now know and love the high sierra. I was always for that; but I wish we could distribute that excitement a little better? And I don't mean rationing the experience. . .okay, I'm hopelessly naive, but WTH? :D
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby BSquared » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:16 pm

You know, it's funny, but I've been on the Whitney summit just twice, nearly 40 years apart, and both times my party were the only people there, for at least part of the time. Very odd. Nothing strange about the time: mid summer, and we passed gazillions of people on the trail (especially on the MT on the way down; both times we summited from the west side and of course there were far, far fewer people on that side). I guess we were just lucky, eh? I have nothing but pleasant memories of Whitney.
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:07 pm

If you want to do Whitney without the crowds, do the Mountaineers Route, East Face or East Ridge. I have done all and never had to worry about crowds. I also did the trail, but did not climb Whitney since I was doing a yo-yo trans Sierra trip. I camped at trail camp. I found a private site on a sandy spot among the rocks left of the trail. You can find a bit more solitude if you just go away from the main campsites. I could not see the other campers, only hear them. I had ear plugs for sleeping. There were a lot of people going up the trail from the base camp in the morning but all were polite and up-beat. The scenery was spectacular. I never had expectations of a "wilderness" experience. The only thing I would do differently is never pay the price for a reservered permit if going after Labor Day on a week day. It is not that hard for one person to pick up a "no-show" permit. As I was picking up my pricy permit, several first-comers got permits.

I have heard similar comments about Yosemite Valley. I just do not go mid-season. Best trip I had to Yosemite Valley was week before Christmas. I do not think there were 100 people in the entire Valley. I sat in front of the fire in the Awahnee writing my Christmas Cards! I camped at Camp4. And everyone should see Yosemite Valley covered with snow.

In my book, Whitney and Yosemite Valley are still near the top on my highly desirable Sierra destinations.
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:20 pm

I too like the highest parts of the Sierra the best, particularly the trailless parts of the interior of Seki and the eastern front. I can't say I dislike the "lower Sierra", but I don't find it as appealing as Mt. Goddard country, that is for sure.

I guess the areas I don't like quite as much are the western flank of the S. Sierra that are mainly tree covered and not very rugged--say the first few miles up the Rancheria trail with the cattle stirring up the dust and such. The sightlines are short (heavily wooded) and there is not much high topography to see even when one can peek between the trees. In fact, even my beloved Woodchuck Country, as much as I covet it and other western flank destinations is actually less rugged than many parts of Desolation in the "low Sierra". However, the west flank, like the northern Sierra (Desolation et al.) has its payoff because of its less rugged, wooded character which no doubt gives rise to more food for the fishies to eat in those lakes.

As far as not living up to the hype...Now part of this will be because of the date: 1970, but Whitney is close to the bottom in terms of my peak bagging memories, and I did it via the Mountaineer's route, too. Clearly in 1970 they hadn't figured out the wilderness permit quota thing yet. Of the many peaks I've climbed (something like 90ish SPS and well over 100 named High Sierra summits) this is the only one I had to stand in line to sign the summit register. The Mountaineer's route was an adventure, too. There were so many climbers up on the east face that it seemed every 20 minutes you'd hear the distant echoing shout of "rock!" and another (usually large) rock would come rocketing down into the chute. We did some nifty dodging in that chute. Apparently someone on the east face wasn't so lucky that day. Later in the evening as we bivouacked in the talus somewhere below Iceberg Lake (now that's another long story altogether) a SAR party came into our camp with flashlights looking for some poor climber that had been bashed in the chest with a falling rock. The next morning we awoke to the sound of a helicopter flying around the east face.
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: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby SSSdave » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:17 am

There are lots of places in guide books and places people on boards like this may hype up that are really not that remarkable. In that category one can place many of the most famous places that are overrun. Not that those places are unworthy but rather they are not really that outstanding versus other less well know locations. One example is Shadow Lake out of Agnew Meadows. Lots of hyperbole over decades. One has to understand though that most of such writings target not we well experienced enthusiasts but rather those vacationers for which these experiences are new. So that is a fine destination just an easy day hike away from the trailhead that writers play up because they bring ordinary people to a reachable possible destination.

Now if your question changes to hyped up places that more mountain savvy people are hyping and promoting to other mountain savvy people then the whole issue changes. It becomes rather involved in what and why each entuhsiast goes into the wilderness. For the fisherman, peak bagger, photographer, naturalist, long trail thru hiker, etc much depends on their enthusiast goals.

One favorite Sierra location I've made many jokes about that might be included in this category is Lake Italy. Its a pretty place, an unusually large Sierra lake. There are many high peaks around it, and has decent fishing. Its a long strenuous effort to reach that location. For many people, a big lake on a map equates to the expectation of a better more impressive lake. That is of course laughable way to judge our lakes. And it is true tall peaks are nearby. Thus for a peak bagger a great place to bag several even though the views of those peaks are from their most bland directions. Yeah the scenery is subpar compared to alot of nearby basins and lakes. The hike from where most visitors stay at Honeymoon Lake passes far better scenery just a little up the trail in Granite Basin. Yet seekers of Lake Italy rush right past that beautiful area typically about 10am. The same way cars race up SR120 through Lee Vining Canyon on SR120 to reach the Yosemite border at Tioga Pass while thinking views along that precipitous road are just orderves and that the real main course will start when they reach the entrance to the famous park. For the fisherman there are better lakes in the region, particularly over in the East Fork of Bear Creek off the trail. And in fact from Honeymoon Lake, the much closer relatively easy route up to Royce Lakes offers far better scenery plus some real fishing. Of course when Wilderness Press Sierra North played up Lake Italy decades ago, they were probably well aware of this but it served a purpose of pointing newbies to a place that was safe and could take the abuse of popularity. And those at the pack station serving heavy use in that area, know so too, with the whole myth well established, their clients so believing in expecting that challenge which was a key part of the trip experience they were sold, that they happily continue to market it so.

David
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby sirlight » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:51 am

giantbrookie wrote:Later in the evening as we bivouacked in the talus somewhere below Iceberg Lake (now that's another long story altogether)

Stop teasing us giantbrookie. Are we rationing threads now? Let’s hear the story.
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby freestone » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:00 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:

I camped at trail camp. I found a private site on a sandy spot among the rocks left of the trail


You have to be careful about finding solitude at Trail Camp. The campers there are also seeking solitude to go to the bathroom! :paranoid:
I would have to take the Whitney trail off the list because of the shear beauty and massiveness of the region. On my visit there last summer I was impressed by all the people on the trail day and night. I would wake up in the middle of the night and see headlamps silently weaving up the switchbacks as if they were on a pilgrimage to some unseen temple or holy place.
Wandering Daisy is right about saving your money on reserving the permit. I was solo and had no problem scoring an overnight permit on a Friday in August.
My least favorable trial is the first 1000 yards of any trailhead. Its hot, dusty, and my pack is way to heavy!
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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:44 pm

sirlight wrote:
giantbrookie wrote:Later in the evening as we bivouacked in the talus somewhere below Iceberg Lake (now that's another long story altogether)

Stop teasing us giantbrookie. Are we rationing threads now? Let’s hear the story.

Well, it's not that much of a story, it simply speaks to some of the party who weren't in the best hiking form. We took awhile to do this trip: In fact we took two days to reach Iceberg Lake. My mom was the slowest of the group that comprised my dad, me (then 11), my brother (then 8), my aunt and two cousins (teens). It was sometime in September (or maybe even later in the year?) and the nights were very long and bitterly cold--things froze pretty quickly and we had non-stop strong winds on top of that. The night at Iceberg Lake was particularly rough and the altitude may have contributed to our discomfort--the night seemed endless. I know the altitude bothered me plenty the next day because I threw up on the summit (this is the only time I can recall ever having altitude sickness problems after the 1st day of a trip) before getting in line to sign the register. In any case we all made the summit after dodging the barrage of falling rocks and I think it was none too early when we started down. My dad, by far the strongest of the group, stayed behind with my mom and she was quite slow on the descent. I recall being at the lake in fading light and watching a real rock-dodging drama in chute as this big boulder rumbled down toward my mom and dad. It seemed that every time they moved one way the boulder seemed to head that way--it missed them by 5 feet or so.

In any case it was dark when they reached Iceberg Lake. Because of the collective misery of the group at Iceberg the night before my dad decided we should descend and sleep at lower elevations. Years later, I'm not too sure about the logic--I suspect I wondered about it the time, too (I was co-leader in terms of route finding and the like). It was dark, it is not too easy to find a class 2 route down steep steps in the dark, and the speed my mom was moving guaranteed that we wouldn't go that far anyway. I recall it was challenging descending the steep step below Iceberg L mainly because we couldn't see. Below were some talus ridges (probably moraines--haven't been there in 40 years, so I'm just figuring this from memory) and we had remembered some very large flattish sandy spots in between. We figured we sleep on one of those soft sandy flats. We groped our way down the drop off and reached the base, but gave up on further progress shortly thereafter. We curled up in our sleeping bags between boulders on a talus ridge--we would find in the morning that we were perched just a twenty feet above one of those nice flat spots we had wanted to sleep in. It is not surprising that the SAR group thought we were associated with the injured climber given the bizarre place we were camped in.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:36 pm, edited 1 time 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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Re: Least Desirable Sierra Destinations

Postby sirlight » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:47 pm

Very interesting situation to find yourself in. With the right attitude, you would call the night an “adventure”. For others, it might convince them never to visit the backcountry again. Obviously you were considered it in the adventure category.

I have had a number of times in my hiking (and travel) career where things became VERY unpleasant. Looking back, mostly fond memories remain. At the time, you ask yourself why you would actually do such a thing of thing just for fun.
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