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Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

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Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby slade » Sun May 01, 2011 1:06 pm

In another thread I mentioned that two of us are planning a hike in September from Horseshoe Meadow to a loop around the Kaweahs then out Shepherd Pass. The "loop" now is to be on established trails, following the High Sierra Trail from the Wallace Creek/JMT/HST junction to the Elizabeth Pass Trail, over Elizabeth and down Deadman Canyon to Roaring River, up Cloud Canyon and over Colby Pass and down to Junction Meadow.

From the "Copper Mine Pass in September" discussion--

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6102

--and some other reading, it seems to me we can save a day by traversing from Elizabeth Pass directly to Cloud Canyon, and taking the use trail down Cloud to meet the Colby Pass trail below Colby Lake.

Is my suggested alternative class 2 or better, and could anyone please elaborate more precisely on how to do it?



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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 01, 2011 3:06 pm

It depends on where you plan to rejoin the trail below Colby Lake. Are you planning to go straight down Cloud Canyon and pick up the trail there or also cross the Whaleback and meet it there?

It really all depends on what your looking for with this area. Both Deadman and Cloud are very beautiful canyons to hike through but I suspect traversing the head walls will be an amazing journey also.
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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby slade » Sun May 01, 2011 3:20 pm

Thanks RoguePhotonic. I was not thinking of crossing the Whaleback, but rather going straight down Cloud to the Colby Pass trail.
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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 01, 2011 4:13 pm

Well crossing Copper Mine Pass should be a simple matter in terms of navigation. On the other side I have been told it might be best to continue East a bit closing in on Glacier Lake then begin down there but I cannot confirm that. You'll just have to pick and choose as you go but it should not be more then class 2 the whole way.

Mapsource tells me from the top of Elizabeth Pass to just below Glacier Lake it's 2.3 miles. 5.7 miles from Elizabeth pass to where you should meet up with the trail. I don't know if you have been up Elizabeth Pass but it's a steep climb so plan your miles right. If you plan to say camp at Hamilton Lake then climb the pass it's a good 4000 feet.
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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby oldranger » Sun May 01, 2011 10:11 pm

Slade

From Elizabeth just traverse e. to the obvious saddle at the head of Deadman. There may be a small band of snow but it is not super steep. Once at the saddle you will see an obvious trail going up the ridge to the terminus of Glacier ridge. The trail will go down the ridge toward the se a few yards before plunging down into Cloud canyon. After the initial drop (the only place where you might use your hands just angle down and down canyon (I would always lose the trail for the next 500 or so vertical feet. There will be a creek channel and then a grove of foxtails. If you don't pick up the trail before the creek you should find it in the foxtails. Once you get to the bottom of the canyon don't spend too much time trying to follow the old mining trail but stay on the w. side of Roaring River until you meet the Colby Pass trail right where it crosses the river. Within a hundred or so yards downsteam is a restored Shorty Lovelace cabin. It is a great trip!

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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby maverick » Mon May 02, 2011 12:59 pm

Slade,

Old Rangers description of the route is right on.
I would not leave neither Cloud Canyon or Deadman Canyon off my route just to
cut mileage, Ranger Meadow, views of the Whaleback from the Big Wet Meadow
area are all worth seeing.
You could go down Deadman Canyon, than up to the head of Cloud Canyon and then
go over to Colby Lake Trail via Triple Divide Pass.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby slade » Mon May 02, 2011 4:48 pm

oldranger

Thank you very much for a such a detailed description. By "the obvious saddle at the head of Deadman" I assume you mean Copper Mine Pass (Secor) (cf. http://sierrabackpacker.com/Sierrapasses-new.htm).

maverick

Thank you; I hear you. As a former east sider, I have never been to Deadman or Cloud, and now living in Las Vegas, I may never get there again. Perhaps instead of trying to save a day I should spring for a Bearikade Expedition and add a day. BTW, what is your route from Triple Divide Pass to Colby Lake?

Thanks to RoguePhotonic, too. What an excellent and helpful group.

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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby Mike M. » Mon May 02, 2011 5:07 pm

BTW, what is your route from Triple Divide Pass to Colby Lake?


That would be via Colby Pass.

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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon May 02, 2011 6:54 pm

I would recommend you hike through the canyons. After my first trip down Deadman I hiked nearly 80 miles for the sole purpose to hike it again.

08/15/10:

Image

06/30/09:

Image

Cloud Canyon 07/01/09:

Image
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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby oldranger » Mon May 02, 2011 7:28 pm

Slade,

There is something to be said for both routes. However if you choose to do the canyons and if visiting roaring river ranger station isn't important when you get to the ford a mile and half or so below the Grave in Deadman Canyon do not ford but keep on the e. side of Copper Creek (yes there are two Copper Creeks in Kings Canyon) there should be a wire gate in the drift fence. If not it is a simple matter to squeeze between or over the smooth wires. Then you should be able to find a use trail that skirts the n. terminus of Glacier ridge that goes to a ford across roaring river. The ford I used to use when on horseback is pretty rough and would not be safe in high water but should be ok in september even in a wet year. Not guaranteeing how good the route is because the rangers after me haven't used the obscure old cowboy trails on horseback as much as I did. But it will save about two and a half dusty (if it hasn't rained recently) miles. It comes out near Grasshopper Meadow a little below the Grasshopper drift fence. There is a decent campsite just after the drift fence and a couple obscure sites before that and Cement Table Meadow where there are several, a couple near Big Wet and a couple in the Grand Palace Hotel area, near the restored Shorty Cabin.

Whatever route you take you should enjoy.

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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby slade » Tue May 03, 2011 9:13 am

oldranger, your generous and knowledgeable responses are much appreciated.

RoguePhotonic, your pics are beautiful (I believe the 3 are all of Whaleback taken from farther down Cloud Canyon) and have influenced my decision.

maverick, your arguments are influential as well.

While I haven't lost interest in the shortcut (on the contrary), I believe there are attractions in both Deadman and Cloud that I should not pass up just to save a day--maybe keep this shortcut for another trip over there, and combine it with an exploration of Nine Lake Basin, Kawea Basin, the upper reaches of the Kern-Kaweah River, etc., etc.

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Re: Elizabeth Pass to Cloud Canyon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue May 03, 2011 12:19 pm

Actually the first two are around Ranger Meadow in Deadman Canyon. The last is of the Whaleback as you reach Big Wet Meadow.
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