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August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

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August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

Postby acvdmlac » Sun May 15, 2011 9:40 am

Thank you so much for taking the time to post these comments and the link to the CA DWR Snow Water Content graphs! We have been planning to hike the section of the JMT starting August 12, from Upper Kern Basin, entry via Shepherd Pass, or via Kearsarge, north to Dusy Basin and out over Bishop Pass.

We are experienced packers, relish ups and downs, but not snow/ice climbers & don't know how to use rope & ice axe. We've have been trying to determine how realistic it is for us to plan going over Forester, Glen, Pinchot, Mather Passes etc. this year what with the late/heavy snowfall. But this graph makes it look like the actual water content is not that far above average, and at least gives us a way of monitoring conditions as our start date approaches. This website is a great resource, and I really appreciate all who contribute!



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Re: Need advice for JMT this early July

Postby acvdmlac » Sun May 15, 2011 9:55 am

acvdmlac wrote:Thank you so much for taking the time to post these comments and the link to the CA DWR Snow Water Content graphs! We have been planning to hike the section of the JMT starting August 12, from Upper Kern Basin, entry via Shepherd Pass, or via Kearsarge, north to Dusy Basin and out over Bishop Pass.

We are experienced packers, relish ups and downs, okay with some cross-country, talus & scree etc., using trekking poles & lug boots on mildly sloping snow. Last year we went over Muir, Bishop, Table Mountain & Piute Pass in early September, loved it!

But we are not rock/snow/ice climbers & don't know how to use rope & ice axe. We've have been trying to determine how realistic it is for us to plan going over Forester, Glen, Pinchot, Mather Passes etc. this year what with the late/heavy snowfall. But this graph at least gives us a way of monitoring conditions as our start date approaches. This website is a great resource, and I really appreciate all who contribute!


Any of you experienced JMT hikers want to comment on the prospects and difficulties for mid-August for backpackers w/our skill level for this section of the JMT from Upper Kern to Dusy Basin? We'll keep checking here of course...
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Re: August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

Postby maverick » Sun May 15, 2011 10:28 am

Welcome aboard Acvdmlac!
Split the thread so you'll have you own separate one.
You should have no problems by mid-August, enough PCTer's, and JMT hikers will have
been through this section to have worn a trail through any snow on the higher passes.
You will not need any rock, ice climbing experience, especially if you wait till mid morning
to do passes that have any snow, which will allow it to soften, then ice will not be an issue
and trekking poles will be suffice.
Since you sound wary of snow, I would recommend doing the Kearsarge version
opposed to the Shepherd Pass one, since this pass can be difficult, especially with
snow, and Kearsarge is much easier.
Just check back here to see if any TR's have been posted about conditions on either pass
check the SEKI NP conditions update board, and call the ranger station a week
or two before your hike to get info on them.
Enjoy your hike, and make sure you post a trip report when you get back.

PS With the energy, and miles that you'll save with doing Kearsarge over Shepherd go
off trail and spend a day and night at Ladder Lake.
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: August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

Postby SPeacock » Mon May 16, 2011 11:20 am

The upper Kern River basin is well worth visiting and spending time looking at the views from other passes on the west side (e.g., Harrison). That basin is the favorite of several on the forum and they would probably suggest spending a day or so just looking at the lakes on the east and the trail on the west (almost never traveled). The most significant problem you might have is the altitude. You will be going from around 6,000' to 11,000+' (in the basin) in 24-48 hours.

By mid August all of the passes should be passable with no technical equipment with some snow travel on paths or foot prints of the many before you. Probably much like you have seen before.

Shepherd Pass is a long (and spectacular) grind to the 11,800+ pass. You will probably want to make an initial camp around 6 miles in at Anvil Camp. You have a 'surprise' within the first few hours. There is about a 500' decline and then a chance to recover the lost altitude by Mahogany Flats (and first water). The trail is water less the first few miles. Mt Tyndall is available easily from the pass. Well, that is since you are there already. There are bear boxes where Tyndall Creek crosses the JMT. Or you can camp up at the smaller ponds closer to Forester Pass.

Forester Pass at 13,200' is an adventure in just discovering how the trail has been 'plastered' to the rock face. It provides some of the best views in the Sierra and the north side trail is one you will want to stop often to take a look at the lakes and basins being exposed. There will be snow at the top and for a bit (counted in yards) down the north side, but not a technical problem. Just slows you down a bit as you pick your way between deep foot holes. You should be able to make it from Tyndall Creek and PCT to lower Vidette Meadows in a longish day.

The next day will take you to where you would have come in from Onion Valley. Charlotte Lake is not worth the effort as a view along the way. However, If you come in over Kearsarge and plan NOT to visit K Lakes, stay on the upper trail and spend the night at Charlotte Lake - or later that day closer to Glenn Pass. The decision is whether or not you will have enough food that you will need the bear boxes at Kearsarge Lakes or Charlotte Lake. There are bears there and will want any food not secured over night. If you come in from Onion Valley up to Kearsarge Pass, you can expect few hundred yards of snow along the final traverse to the pass and perhaps some across the new trail on the west side. Should not be a problem even this year - well, it all depends on the melt.

Your option for your starting trail head is if you want to spend two more days with views and scenery.

The rest to South Lake will be fairly much what you will find the first couple of days starting either at Symmes Creek or Onion Valley.

Food lockers: http://www.climber.org/data/BearBoxes.html
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Re: August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

Postby maverick » Mon May 16, 2011 11:50 am

Sorry, I should have asked before recommending, but how many days are you planning
to be out?
This will make a big difference when it comes to recommending on pass over the other!
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: August Upper Kern to Dusy Basin Info Needed

Postby acvdmlac » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:03 pm

Hi, and thank you all for your encouraging advice. We were planning about 8 days on the trail to go from Kearsarge or Shepard Pass entrance to Bishop Pass exit. Now, about 3 weeks after my initial post, I re-checked the DWR Snow Pack Conditions, & note that what with the continuing storms and cool weather into June, the snow pack is looking very close to the 82-83 max year! I guess it still depends on how much the weather melts between now and when we were planning to hit trail August 14...but we're working on a back-up plan in case it's a cool, cloudy summer like last year:

We're thinking of exploring the West and Little Walker drainages in the Hoover Wilderness, and we're interested if anyone has any suggestions/experience regarding the pros & cons of the three entry routes we're looking at: Pickel Meadow/Poore Lake vs. Leavitt Meadow vs. Burt Canyon with cross-country route to West Walker River...

The topos make it look like one could head west from Burt Canyon up Piute Canyon, over Piute Pass and down to Yparraquire Canyon, or from Anna Lake to Long Canyon, and avoid the pack station entry of at Leavitt Meadow...anyone have any experience regarding the difficulty of such cross-country routes? Thank you!
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