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trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

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trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby bcrowell » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:02 pm

preliminary info:
my level of experience: numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel
comfortable with: class 2, river crossings, snow travel
main interest: big mountain scenery
Trip is 5-10 days (depending on route, which will depend on conditions), probably 20 mi/day in areas where it's straightforward trail hiking.

I'm interested in seeing Tehipite Valley and Blue Canyon this summer, probably solo, in late July. Some folks here have already been very generous with their time by answering my questions about creek crossings. Thanks!

--Plan A--
If this turns out to be an average or below average snow year in the southern Sierra, my plan is to go from Crown Valley trailhead to Blue Canyon, then back out of Blue Canyon, head down to Tehipite Valley, then follow the middle fork of the Kings to the JMT, exiting over Bishop Pass. Folks here have advised me that is is probably doable if it hasn't been a heavy snow year.

--Plan B--
If it does turn out to be a heavy snow year, I've tried to come up with a plan B that still lets me cross the Sierra with visits to Blue Canyon and Tehipite while avoiding some of the higher crossings. What I've come up with is this: Crown Valley trailhead, Tehipite Vy, backtrack to Crown Valley Ranch, Crown Pass Trail, Woodchuck Trail, Blackcap Basic Trail, Portal Lake, "Midway Pass" (named that by Secor, see below), Blue Canyon, backtrack over Midway Pass, Hell For Sure Pass, Goddard Canyon Trail, JMT north, exit at North Lake or Pine Creek.

I'd be grateful for any comments on Plan B. It involves a lot of backtracking, the purpose being to avoid crossing the middle fork of the Kings or Crown Creek, which are supposed to be bad when the water is high.

Has anyone done what Secor refers to as "Midway Pass?" This is a route that connects Portal Lake with the north end of Blue Canyon, going over Kettle Ridge. Secor describes it as class 2, 11600'. It's a cross-country route, almost all above tree line. I'd probably bring an ice ax and instep crampons for use with lightweight running shoes.

Any other comments on the practicability of the plan-B route in a heavy snow year? I'm trying to be conservative, since I'll probably be alone. Am I not noticing any other crossings that would be dangerous?

Re either plan A or plan B, does anyone have any recent info on the conditions of any of these trails? In this era of budget cuts, am I going to find myself bushwhacking at the lower elevations due to lack of trail maintenance?

Thanks in advance!

-Ben



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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:55 pm

I have been over the pass east of Hummingbird Lake. It is class 1. Easy travel but does require some good route-finding on the east side. The pass takes off from Crown Basin. There was a faint off-and-on trail on the west side. I traversed from the two lakes at 10,400 feet in Blue Canyon. I went from Tunumah Lake to Regiment Lake in one long day.

A shorter route to Goddard Canyon is from upper Blue Canyon over the pass between Finger Peak and Pt 11587, and drop through the beautiful lakes to Goddard Creek below Lake 10232 and then over Reinstein Pass to Martha Lake. Instead of going over Reinstein Pass you can also loop through Ionian Basin Lakes 11818 and 11961 and due west to Martha Lake (harder route). Both passes are easy class 2 but do have snow on the north sides. This is a very remote route and you will not like see anyone. But you do miss the lakes on the west side on your way to Hell for Sure Pass and the off-trail travel for this eastern alternative is a bit tricky. You need to be very good at micro-route finding to avoid cliffs, however the macro-route finding is quite obvious. Cannot really get lost- just can get hung up on stuff.
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:00 pm

Oh, forgot to mention - no major rivers to cross either. I did the route with trekking poles only even though there was quite a bit of snow on the passes. A few times I did wish I had an ice axe! There are a lot of steep snow slopes on the sides of the lakes in Ionian Basin. If you do not have a bit of snow experience I would not go into Ionian Basin early season.
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:17 pm

A few photos. Sorry they got cut off on the right - do not know how to avoid this.

Image
Lake 10401 Blue Canyon

Image
Lake 11837 north of Finger Peak

Image
Lake 10232 Goddard Creek

Image
View south from Reinstein Pass

Image
Martha Lake

Image
My route map
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:28 pm

Just an ID correction. The first picture is of Hummingbird Lake, and the fourth picture is of Lake 10232 (Goddard Creek) from your route to (or from) Ionian Basin NE of Lake 10232. Just a helping hand. :cool:
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:07 am

I still believe the photo shown of one of the lakes in Bue Canyon is correct. Here is a photo of Hummingbird Lake

Image

The photo looking down on Lake 10232 was taken as I traversed east from Reinstein Pass towards Ionian Basin, not exactly from Reinstein Pass.
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:26 am

But then, you may be correct. Perhaps both photos are Hummingbird Lake. I vividly remember taking a photo of Blue Canyon lakes. The next time I took a photo was at Humminbird Lake. I really would like a camera that also took a GPS coordinate. Many times I get back home and cannot remember where a photo was taken. It also does not help that I start to take photos then decide not to. But what sticks in my memory is that I took out the camera - I forget that I did not actually take a photo! I can see the older I get the worse this will get- photo dementia!
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Re: Trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:50 am

But then, you may be correct.

No problem. Here is a picture I took of Hummingbird Lake. I think you will see the similarity.
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com/nfkings/nfkr18.htm
That last picture looks more like one of the lakes in the Goddard drainage, but I can't be sure.
I like your GPS camera idea. There is probably one out there.
That is quite a trip you made. Very nice.
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Mike M. » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:21 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
A few photos. Sorry they got cut off on the right - do not know how to avoid this.


To prevent your photos getting cut off on the right side of the screen, you have to resize the images. Something around 552 x 414 seems to be the sweet spot. But after you resize, be sure to sharpen them up, otherwise they will look a little soft (I often forget this last step and you can sure tell!).

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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Mike M. » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:30 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
But then, you may be correct. Perhaps both photos are Hummingbird Lake. I vividly remember taking a photo of Blue Canyon lakes. The next time I took a photo was at Humminbird Lake. I really would like a camera that also took a GPS coordinate. Many times I get back home and cannot remember where a photo was taken. It also does not help that I start to take photos then decide not to. But what sticks in my memory is that I took out the camera - I forget that I did not actually take a photo! I can see the older I get the worse this will get- photo dementia!


You can easily determine where you were by looking at the time of day data associated with your photo, assuming you are shooting with a digital camera.

This is a beautiful area -- makes me want to get up there next summer.

So, has anybody here answered the original poster's question about the pass Secor calls Midway? I've been over "Two Passes" (Secor now gives that a new name), Gunsite Pass and Confusion Pass and would love to try Midway Pass as well. Does anybody have first-hand experience with that pass and a few photos to share?

Mike
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:56 pm

Doyle- the last photo is Hummingbird Lake from the outlet looking back towards the pass.

Here is a photo showing Midway Pass taken from Pearl Lake. It is the hidden notch that is a bit more than half-way across the top of the photo. Finger Peak is to the left.

Image

From Portal Lake I would think it is easier to go over the pass via Hummingbird Lake even though it is longer. Particularly if you are carrying crampons only to do Midway Pass. You certainly can avoid this pass.
Last edited by ERIC on Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed img to rimg so photo doesn't get cut off.
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Re: trip advice: Blue Canyon from the north?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:02 pm

By the way, if you are doing Midway Pass I do not think instep crampons on running shoes are sufficient! In early season this pass is seriously steep snow. Do you know how difficult it is to self arrest with a pack on your back? If you have not practiced A LOT of self arrest with a fully loaded pack on your back, I would avoid this pass.
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