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High trailheads - 10,000'

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High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby East Side Hiker » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:15 pm

As I've grown older, I've gravitated to higher trailheads. As a kid, we would deliberately hike the bad trails - like Cotonwood Creek from the valley bottom to the trailhead, then go over New Army Pass into the NP.

Now, being almost 60, and photography being my focus (acutally phenology is my interest), I gravite to the high places. The places like on the Tioga Crest where there are micro-gardens of many species in small colonies (**** of a climb); or Mt. Dana where micro-gardens are scatered among clumps of sky pilot in uncomprehesible rock piles; with small weadows of alpine columbine and Delphinium widely scattered about the trail.

In the Sierra there's just a few places that one can drive to about 10,000' or above. And easily get into the alpine.

Sonora Pass is just shy of 10,000, but I'll count it. Tioga Pass, also just shy, but it counts because I climb Dana every year for the past 12 or so years. Saddlebag Lake (because I explore Tioga Creast every year). Horseshoe Mdw. Mosquito Flat. Virginia Lakes. Mt Rose, though not nearly 10,000', is similar habitat. And there's the White Mtns, not in the Sierra.

Those are the places to go for me.

.



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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby The Other Tom » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:12 pm

Phenolgoy.....I had to look that one up. Thanks for posting this list. It's good to know for us non locals.
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby tim » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:01 pm

Here's a few photos from Rock Creek last Thursday (April 21). The road is plowed to the pack station (9850ft) - its about 4-5 feet deep at that point. We went sledding with the kids rather than hiking, but the snow is reasonably consolidated in most places. The lake had a small patch of open water (right side of photo).

On the East side (Bishop to Mono Lake) the snow level is about 8000ft at the moment (down to ~7500ft in trees/shade). Coming over Carson Pass on the way back the snow was solid down to 6000ft on the West side and very deep high up (20-30ft drifts on Carson Spur).

Rock Creek road.jpg
The end of the road (for now)

Rock Creek pack station.jpg
Pack station

Rock Creek lake.jpg
Rock Creek lake
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby rlown » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:04 pm

a great perspective about now..
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby oldranger » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:28 pm

Interesting! I was just getting ready to post about the snow sensor data for Cottonwood lakes at over 10,000 feet but further s. Only 18" of water with water content dropping about .5" per day. Depending on road conditions Cottonwood lakes could be a Memorial Day destination. Here is the url:

Mike
Last edited by oldranger on Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:44 pm

Thanks Tim for posting these photo's and the 411, it sure shows us what things look
like at these elevations, at least in this particular area.
Cool to see Rock Creek Lake still snow covered.
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby tim » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:50 pm

We drove all the way up the Sierra (as our trip was to Death Valley) - southern destinations are much clearer of snow. The Cottonwood road was basically clear of snow up to the top of the switchbacks that you can see from Lone Pine. Olancha Peak snow level was ~10K feet, Owens Peak (8500ft) completely clear. Southern Sierra may well be a decent destination for Memorial Day. On the other hand the White Mountains were very white...
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:59 pm

Tim,

How about a TR on your trip to DV in the "Beyond The Sierra Nevada" section.
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby tim » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:15 pm

Sadly it wasn't a backpacking trip, but we did see some great flower displays

Wildrose canyon.jpg
Wildrose canyon

Ridgecrest flowers.jpg
Near Ridgecrest
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby quentinc » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:28 pm

Mike, thanks for posting the Cottonwood link. That's the most encouraging thing I've seen about the Sierra this year! I've been sort of resigning myself to backpacking in the San Bernardino mountains in June, but maybe I won't have to.
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu May 05, 2011 7:38 am

You guys are amazing. Tim, etc., your pictures are fantastic. I know that cactus... I've seen it for years. I abandoned my Tehipity Valley trip for this year. I'm going to Sorensen's for 3 days instead, with my darling. I still have the whole month of Aug off. I hope I can go over Lamerk Col and do my month-long excursion. I am having doubts though. But I won't waste my time.
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Re: High trailheads - 10,000'

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 05, 2011 9:55 am

"the white mountains are white" -- that is good! I purposely go to the White Mountains when they have snow so I do not have to worry about water sources since I can always melt snow. I have done several early June backpacks from the east side lower trailheads and found it very wild and wonderful. Never even saw another person, ever. I found the snow more like Rocky Mountain snow (light and consolidates to styrofoam type texture) rather than Sierra cement. I could walk on it early AM but when I broke the crust it was wallowing in very light stuff. This year if I go I am going to take snowshoes. If the ridge road is open, the Whites are a high trailhead area - otherwise, you had better like elevation gain cause it is almost 10,000 feet gain from the bottom!

Another high Sierra trailhead is Onion Valley.

Although not high in elevation, the trailheads around Lodgepole (Wolverton, Crescent Meadow) allow entry into the Sierra with moderate elevation gain. And although Mineral King is higher, trails immediately and steeply gain elevation. So I do not think less elevation gain can directly be correlated with the trailhead elevation. A trailhead as low as Road's End in Kings Canyon is not bad once you get up the initial switchbacks on Bubbs Creek. After that it is easy walking up the drainage.
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