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Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:28 pm

A lot of water comes down the West Walker River and its tributaries. A fun trip out of Leavett would be to xcross country on the north side of the meadow, as far as you want. No one goes there and though your shoes will get wet, it will be beautiful and you will have solitude.

Last 4th of July, I was on/over Sonora Pass. There was a meadow just east of the pass, but above Sardine Mdw, that from the distance looked purple. We pulled over and upon inspection found the entire mdw covered thickly with shooting stars. Never saw anything like it before.



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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby SPeacock » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:51 pm

Generally by mid June anything above 11,000' is still covered, BUT they don't call it Sierra Concrete for nothing. Unless very warm and soft you should be able to stay on top with only occasional 'post holing' up to your thigh. Just don't walk on snow that has to much of a slope without at least crampons to be able to stay upright. If the trail gets too steep and will be an obvious blunder if you slip - stay away from it. This year I suspect July will still have a bit of snow above 11,000. The trails mentioned keep you below 11,000'...except for Bristle Cone Pine area.

Independence? My favorite early(ish) season hike is trail to Shepherd Pass. On road up to Onion Valley take the south leading dirt road at the sign (well before you start up the hill to Onion). You start low about 1000' higher than Independence. That's the good news. The bad news is that you start low. It is a long way from there to the pass if that is a goal some weekend.

You have to cross Symmes Creek early on at its widest and wildest, but once beyond that you will stay dry until you hit snow. More than likely can jump it but plan on wet boots and a change of socks. You will know very early on if it is too much for you. By mid June I'd guess even this year you won't have much snow until Anvil Camp...a good day hike turnaround spot.

Spectacular scenery as you get over the ridge and just before you take a dip down towards Shepherd Creek. It will be a chaos in that creek as it tries to get through a narrow opening. You get to only look at it below the trail. Then it is back up hill to just below Mahogany Flats. If you have energy (and trail) continue up toward Anvil Camp.

Waterfalls cascading from snow melt high up on your left; two 14rs (Williamson, Tydall) doing a slow strip tease as you get higher and closer; an abundance of wild flowers; waterfall almost on the trail; expansive well graded trail - it just seems to go on for ever.

You start low and your back will be in the sun, so good idea to start just before sunrise so you will have a little light as you cross Symmes. Only problem returning is that you have to get up that dip in the trail back to the ridge.

Second favorite June hike is from Bishop on the Bishop Pass trail from South Lake to Long Lake for lunch and if the snow is not too soft, on up to the pass on the snow. Careful it does get a bit steep as you go up the head wall. Lots of water coming off from the 13,000' rim around the drainage.

Cottonwood Lakes (Lone Pine, Horseshoe Meadows) should be nearly snow free by Father's Day. Another lunch at the lakes trip. Spectacular view of a 14r's several thousand vertical feet above you. Lots of lakes to explore. One of those can't get lost if you get off trail (near the lakes).

Onion Valley is at around 9800' and you will probably be the source of trail information about the condition of the trail up to Kearsarge Pass. Usually even with snow the last 1/2 mile or so is still just a long slog with not a lot of snow at the top of the pass (cornice). But just getting up to where you can look down into Pot Hole Lake below you and the big GROAN of the last 1/2 mile to the pass should be open mid June - even this year. It is a nice lunch spot on large flat bolders and a rare flat area to look at flowers.

Big Pine and Glacier Lodge area is a good July (maybe August) trip up to the lakes. In the area is the largest glacier in Calif - Palisades. Beautiful area even with some snow - so long as you can walk on it. Trek poles are great aids for staying upright.

Bristle Cone Pine area and if you have the energy White Mountain is the easiest 14r in the state. Mostly on road. It is a bit in the snow shadow of the Sierra so the road may be open earlier (and higher) than most in the area. Best thing to do is get chummy with the rangers. They will know (and so should Independence) as the roads are cleared.

Try some snow walking and see if you like it. Take along snow cone syrup, cup and spoon. The snow is perfect for bottomless snow cones. Typical cautions about yellow snow.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:32 pm

Early in the season, a lot of water can come down any drainage, on any side early in the season. It can be dangerous. Cross the largers streams in the early morning, not in the afternoon. Plan the stream crossings early. Take your time. Use time when the crreeks are high to explore surrounding countryside.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:10 pm

I would have to have a pretty bad case of cabin fever to consider Shepherd Pass as a pleasurable day-hike option. The reason to go over Shepherd Pass is to get into the mountains! In early season, you would hit snow before you got to the good stuff. Perhaps I misread the original post- I thought the subject was early day-hikes.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:45 pm

I agree with WD. If you're going to Shepherd Pass, keep on going.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby SPeacock » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:08 am

Summer is June 21...early summer is maybe up through mid July? This suggestion was giving the thread different options for day hikes not an assault on a pass. Symmes trail head toward Shepherd Pass up to Mahogany and Anvil would be a late June trip. A few snow berms on the trail, maybe, but probably a trail at least to the big switchback above Mahogany Flats. AND she will see waterfalls. In fact it is the expectation that there will be lots of snow melting to fuel the falls. The trail, except for the 'surprise' after the ridge is unrelentingly up hill, but then so are most trips on the east side. It is just that this is uphill both ways :) She may not just be interested in hiking really low in the Sierra in April and May. By June (perhaps this year July) this would be a good early summer day hike for those wanting to go on the 'ugly duckling' hikes many stay away from because of reputation - deserved or not. She indicated it was a walk, not a destination. As for a late spring hike, not a lot of east side trail heads start that low below the snow line. Easy indication on the Shepherd Pass trail (to some stunning scenery) is if the ridge is snow free so is probably Mahogany - about the same altitude (9200') and which is lower than Onion Valley a few miles away. Much lower than South Lake on Bishop Pass trail. And even lower than First Lake on Pine Creek out of Glacier.

Even this year, I suspect Cottonwood Lakes (10,700) will have a trail visible to them by mid to end of June. That is a very early summer trail head at 10,500'.

Besides its in her back yard and she might even have some need for a small adventure in her blood.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:52 pm

I will have to somehow agree with a lot of the above. There are a lot of times when I just want a great hike/wander in a day. There doesn't have to be a destination. It can be a hard pass, an easy meadow. If your goal is to take your time and look at flowers or rock formations or whatever you want to look at, what does it really matter how high, low, or far you go? Many times, most of us are trying to get to a general area from which we can get to another general area, to climb a peak or whatever (fish) because of time constraints. There's nothing better than finding a nice low base camp and spend a week just wandering around. That was a great thing about being a ranger - you had a summer-long base camp from which you could explore from. There are so many creeks and swales and gullies and hills and peaks and plateaus and meadows in every direction...
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:25 am

I will stay with my opinion that Shepherd Pass is not something I would do as a day-hike if I had just moved to the area. There are a lot better choices. Maybe this is something to do after you have lived there a while and simply want to try something new. Walking up to Third Lake is by far a better hike than Shepherd Pass.

Another option that has not been mentioned is to hike the Owens River Gorge. It is real pretty in the spring and there is also fishing. I have not been there in a while, but I was under the impression that some trails are being developed. I have also done a day climb up Black Mountain. It certainly is not a trail, and you have to walk over snow, but the views- east to the White Mountains and west to the Sierra are fantastic.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby SPeacock » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:34 pm

I agree with Daisy that not many would consider all the way to Shepherd Pass (and back) a 'day hike'...nor did I suggest it.

4-6 miles one way on a trail is a good day hike for those who are able. Acclimated to 4,000'-5000' is a plus.

Most of the options you get from forums are for trails well traveled, and probably the more scenic and easy to get to will be suggested. BUT! Almost every wide spot on US 395 have some access into the Sierra or White Mountains. There were two generations of mining and prospecting there. You can plan out a long week of day hikes just checking out some of the historical mining areas. Starting out at Sierro Gordo east of Lone Pine is a B&B (or was) and it is interesting just to visit the mine area and steep in some of the history. They were taking so much silver out of that mine at one time that they couldn't transship it to Olancha and then to Mojave fast enough. Olancha made barracks to house people out of the 70pound ingots. Careful walking around the old mine areas alone.

There are similar stories all up and down US395 that you can do some research (connect with historical society people in Independence and Bishop) while it is spring and plan on later discovering some long forgotten areas that consumed hopes and broke bodies. Get a good map of the areas (TomHarrisonMaps.com) find a spot that you might think interesting, and check it out. Then keep a list of your favorites you can pass on to somebody else. High on Kearsarge Peak is the Kearsarge mine that was closed by avalanche and finally plugged with ice (and now dynamited shut). There is the old unmaintained trail up from the east parking lot at Onion Valley that you can still follow. Later in the summer take the trail up to Golden Trout lakes on the south side of Kearsarge and on the north find your way on the old 4 wheel road up to Sardine Lake. August or so take a lunch to eat at Bulfrog Lake on the other side of Kearsarge Pass.

There are hot springs a many in the area. Some are a drive up - to a few you can hike into.

There is a reason for almost each trail and road built into an access to a pass. You can find relics of that past, old shepherds low ceiling mud and log shacks, foundations of once booming cities, ore processing supports (all of those structures just below Onion Valley). The Shoshone (probably) have left untold thousands of pictographs out farther east near trails that are still being used by 'tourists'. You are in a rich area of history as well as scenery. Doubt that you will be bored if you keep kicking over old rocks to see what the dust says.

If you have lots of time, hang a map on the wall and mark off all the trails you go on. And write up a descriptive note for each. A lot of people collect stamps. Some collect trails and the pictures to help document the memories that will fade before the pictures do.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:04 pm

I have a beautiful camp spot on the edge of the Owens Gorge, east ot Tom's Place. I've spent may memorable lay-over days there. And its close to the bar. Great views up toward Mammoth, Banner, etc. But at my spot, there's just an old abandoned road that goes down slowly toward the dam. No trails to speak of. I'm probably just not in the right area. But there are nice day trips once you cross the dam, and head up into Wildrose Canyon and on to the Adobe Valley.

And there's no doubt, as WD said, that Shepherd Pass, or any of those east side passes, exept maybe Kearsarge, that would be fun for a novice.

What about the trail from Sonora Pass over Wolf Lake Pass? Good fisshing on the East Carson. Or Emigrant
Pass (long hike though). Or Saint Mary's Pass? Or drive up to the plateau above the town of Walker?
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