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Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

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Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby DonnV » Mon May 30, 2011 8:05 am

Hi,

I’m hoping to garner some suggestions here for a hike. My buddy and I have done lots of hiking in other areas and usually take a week-long hike somewhere each summer. We have never hiked in the Sierras, really don’t know the range much at all, but would like to come down this summer from the Pacific NW for a 6-day hike. I’m more than ready to do some detailed research on particular trips, but this forum looks like a good way to at least come up with a smaller list of good ideas. Here is a list of everything I can think of that might be relevant. Let me know if any other info would be helpful. And thanks very much in advance for any help whatsoever!

From trailhead to trailhead, we have about 6 days and are looking for something 40-50 miles or so. Hiking about 5-10 miles a day would be nice. Certainly at least 5 but probably not more than about 12. Taking a layover day, or even more, in a nice place with sidetrips available would definitely be an option. We aren’t out to put in a ton of mileage as much as we are out to see some nice Sierra country and just enjoy ourselves. Doing our mileage as day trips from a nice base camp would work just as well for us. We aren’t too good about just hanging around camp, though, so we need to have a few hours of work each day, one way or the other.

Since we would be driving down from the Pacific Northwest with one car, we’d like to minimize transportation hassles. A loop trip would be better than an out-and-back, but anything that gets us back to where we left our car would work (including an easy-to-arrange shuttle if necessary).

Also due to where we’re coming from, something up north is better than something down south just to keep us from having to spend too many hours driving.

Our trip would probably be July 23-28 or within a few days either side of that. And if a great trip took a 7th day, that’s definitely doable. . As our exact timing is a bit up in the air, it would be better for us to avoid any area where we needed to provide specific dates in advance for any required permit or reservation.

There will be two of us. We are both in our early 60’s but in excellent shape. We each do lots of other hiking and climbing in addition to this annual trip. We won’t have any dogs.

We have lots of backpacking and climbing experience, mostly in the Cascades but also have taken longer hikes in the Sawtooths and Wind Rivers.

We are comfortable with cross country travel, including moderate snow crossings, but would prefer not to bring along the gear required for anything too technical.

We don’t have any serious bear issues up in our area and we don’t own canisters even though we have used them in the past. If we needed them, it would be great if we could rent some down there.

We prefer higher alpine terrain to forested terrain. Scenery, lakes, and just generally pretty country is what we are looking for.

Even though we are incredibly nice guys :) , and very friendly and not at all anti-social, we’d prefer to avoid any areas that tend to be excessively crowded.

We have no particular problems with altitude. We hiked for a week last summer in the Wind Rivers at or around 10-11K and we’ve both been up Rainier many times.

We are not fishermen and won’t be carrying fishing gear.

Campfires are not at all a requirement and, judging from just about everywhere else we have hiked, they probably wouldn’t be allowed in the kind of areas we are interested in.

That’s about all I can come up with! Again, thanks very much for any suggestions. Very much appreciated!

Donn



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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 30, 2011 11:50 am

Ah someones from my generation, welcome to the board. Would like to complement you on providing the kind of information in the question that we all like to read.

Since you will be driving down from the north, better to provide advice that isn't needless too far south in the range. But you will need to be at least as far south as northern Yosemite to get a true dose of the High Sierra. There are many good destinations that will meet your criteria and I could make a list from both the westside, eastside, and within Yosemite. However a trip to the eastside will be an easier drive down US395, and you can get a much better quick dose of the High Sierra.

Drive down to Mammoth Lakes. Backpack out of the Mammoth Lakes Basin over Duck Pass with a first night at either Duck Lake or Purple Lake. There will be alot of hikers along the first day. Second day hike past Purple Lake crosscountry up to base camp at the low visited Ram Lake basin where there are several small lakes and craggy alpine crest scenery. As option next day hike crosscountry down to camp at big Virgina Lake camping on the south shores well away from the busy PCT/JMT. Spend last night at Pika Lake that is next to Duck Lake

David
Last edited by SSSdave on Mon May 30, 2011 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby maverick » Mon May 30, 2011 1:26 pm

Hi DonnV

Welcome to HST!
Since you would like to do something in the northern part of the range, and
solitude is at the top of your list, though any off trail hiking or camping will give
you that since most folks stick to the trail, and stay at organized site, my
recommendation would be to do the Yosemite Northern Loop out of Twin Lakes.
You have the beautiful Sawtooth Ridge, and Matterhorn Peak (cool, class 2 climb
from Burro Pass).
Great views from Burro Pass down the glacier carved Matterhorn Canyon.
Pretty Smedburg, Surprise Lake, and numerous other hidden lakes worth visiting
(Doe,Tallulah, Rock Island Lake).
Seavey Pass area with its beautiful flower gardens, and hidden little lakes make
for a great place to explore.
Up Rancheria Creek and Kerrick Meadow to Crown Lake is another pretty area with
not whole lot of people.
The only boring, and tedious part is at the start of the hike up to Barney Lake, but
once past this things get better.
You can bypass this section by climbing up to Ice Lake Pass (class 2 route) and
hooking up with the trail on the western side of the Sawtooth Ridge if you want
to do something different.

Another area, but further south, and not a lot of solitude, unless you get off
trail, is the Minarets.
This place will give you big mountain scenery, and one gorgeous lake after another
something like the Alpine Lakes Wilderness up towards you.
The easy access means a lot of people, and having the JMT/PCT running through it
doesn't help, but you can find plenty of solitude it you don't sleep right near the
water or stay at the most popular camping areas.
Starting at Red Meadow go to Ashley Lake, which is very pretty, and not over used
because it doesn't have a trail going right to it.
Then on to Beck Lakes which are very pretty and again not over run.
On to Minaret Lakes which is a classic, and if you do not stay at the largest lake
but stay at one of the smaller lakes you'll have solitude.
On to another Sierra classic in Lake Ediza, and you will see why.
If there are a lot of people then stay somewhere along Shadow Creek below Ediza
otherwise go around the lake, camp at the southern end without crossing
the creek, up towards the rocks.
You than have Garnet Lake, and the classic 1000 Is Lake.
Staying at 1000 Is Lake I'd recommend staying up in the trees on the northern side
where you'll get more solitude since most folks camp near the lake.
Then head back using the High Trail which will give you outstanding views of the
Minarets, and give you one of the best flower shows in the Sierra.
You can catch the shuttle at Agnew Meadow.
There are variations to the trip above which are either either 2 or 2-3 routes, but I
would recommend keeping it simple, unless you're up to exploring, if yes, than
PM me, and I will give you recommendations.
The Becks and Ashley Lake part of the trip can be dropped, and still be outstanding
trip if you are short on time, though in 7 nights this should be fine.
Both areas will have a lot of mosquito's, so come prepared, and bear canister are
required in both.
Bears are a really big issue in the Minarets because of all the folks that go through
this area, but you can avoid them by just camping away from the masses.
There plenty of trip reports to both areas here, many here at HST, which you
can find by using the search feature above, or just google the place names, and
you'll find plenty of info.
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: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby DonnV » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:15 am

Thanks very much for the suggestions. Very much appreciated. I also received a PM letting me know about the shuttle transportation available and some of the eastside approaches, and it sounds like we don't necessarily need to plan on a loop. This all gives me plenty to start digging into.

Additional ideas are more than welcome!

Thanks again,
Donn
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby tim » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:01 pm

Duck Pass to Reds Meadow in Mammoth, using the shuttle system to return to your car, as noted above gives lots of flexibility and solitude once you get off the JMT. In particular the various lakes up in the Minnow Creek area (south of Fish Creek) are beautiful and very quiet, and you should have time to do a great loop around the trails above Fish Creek if you have 6-7 days (e.g. Duck Pass to Pika Lake, Virginia Lake, Lake of Lone Indian, Peter Pande Lake, Iva Bell Hot Springs and out to Devils Postpile/Reds Meadow).

We did part of this loop (cutting down from Purple Lake to Fish Creek) last summer in the first week of August:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5344
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby East Side Hiker » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:33 pm

What about the Lundy Pass loop out of Saddlebag Lake? Its high, but "flattish." There's also Lundy Canyon, just north of Lee Vining. Or consider going east from Tom's Place - Wildrose Canyon or somewhere out of Adobe Valley (Taylor Canyon).
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:01 am

After all that driving, it is only another hour from Lee Vining to Bishop and only another 45 minutes from Mammoth to Bishop. So, I would not rule out something a bit farther south, such as Pine Creek to Granite Basin, off-trail to Royce Lakes and back out Pine Creek Pass. Could also do a day hike to the Puppet Lake area. If you are coming down I-5 it is really not that much farther to go to Kings Canyon than to cross over Tioga Pass to get to the east side. Check your driving miles for many different areas of the Sierra - I do not think you have to limit your ideas to north of Yosemite. If you want to have solitude, I would definitely AVOID the PCT/JMT.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:41 pm

Late July - did you think outside of the box? What about the Toiyabe Range in central Nevada? They have a great "highland" trail that's a 5 or so day walk. Fremont and Carson said that it was the next best to the Sierra, and I've done it. Its awesome.

If not, I's suggest a trip out of Horseshoe Mdw; Cottonwood Pass, etc. Its "flatish" and loses it's snow early.

There's also the White Mtns.; but a good 5 day hike...??? You could do the Inyo Mtn Crest... And what about something up the Blue Lakes Rd. from Hope Valley - again, 5 days??? Takes 1 day to hike down to Markleeville along the Carson Divide... But then you could spend a lot of time at the Cut Throat drinking beer. And the West and East Carson, with their beautiful valleys, are awesome.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby DonnV » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:16 am

Again, thanks very much for all the great suggestions. I've got my google work cut out for me and a few maps to buy. And my buddy is also following this thread and is not at all averse to a couple extra days and more highway time, so some of these southern or non-Sierra ideas are definitely in the mix for us. And if not for this year, one of the next few years. We plan on doing this for a while!

Thanks again to all,
Donn
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:13 pm

Take a look at a couple of the trips on our website. The Matterhorn Canyon loop out of Twin Lakes is exactly what you are looking for, and I don't think that snow will be a problem on that hike later in July. You could also look at the Leavitt Meadows trip up the West Walker River to Cinko Lake...and if you wanted to do it, over the crest for a a day or two to add days and mileage.

And by then I bet some of the trips into Emigrant would also be open---we loved the trip to Pingree Lake and beyond.

All of those are 35-50 miles, with lots of options for added days or layovers. And none of them go over about 10,500 feet....so you might not have the snow issues you'll have on other trips.

And they are in the northern section of the range...off Highway 108, north of Yosemite, so that it would cut your drive down a bit, as well.
Balzaccom

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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby lambertiana » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:58 pm

You say you are comfortable with cross country travel, so if you are willing to drive a little further to Roads End in Kings Canyon there are a couple possibilities for loop trips that get to spectacular areas that see few people.

The first is up Copper Creek to Granite Pass, then cross country to Lake Basin and over Cartridge Pass. Then go up the South Fork Kings to meet the JMT, go south over Pinchot Pass, and exit at Roads End via the Woods Creek trail. This loop is great for seven days, averaging 8-10 miles/day. I did that loop last year, here is my TR on this forum:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5403

The only possible issue will be crossing the South Fork Kings in late July, this is a high water year. You could stay on the north side of the South Fork Kings, without crossing, until you reach the JMT where the crossing will be easier, you will just have to cross some talus on the way.

An alternative would be to take the same trip until you get to the JMT. When you get to the JMT, head north over Mather Pass, and then head down the Middle Fork Kings to Simpson Meadow, and go back up over Granite Pass to Roads End. The Palisade Creek crossing when you start down the Middle Fork will also be a bit challenging this year, but definitely easier than crossing the South Fork Kings, and you would not have to cross the South Fork Kings at all if you stay on the north side the whole way to the JMT.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for a week in late July

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:26 pm

If you want high alpine scenery and solitude, and not interested in fishing, I think Emigrant Wilderness, as pretty as it is, would not be your best bet. There is quite a bit of horse use in Emigrant. The Duck Lake to Purple Lake and continuing on the PCT is scenic, but quite crowded.

Since you are willing and able to do off-trail, consider doing a piece of Roper's High Route. Using YARTS and the local shuttles on both ends, you can easily do a one-way trip between Devils Postpile and either Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows following this route. This section hits the Minarets and the high peaks of Yosemite (be sure to spend time exploring the headwaters of the Lyell Fork and Hutchins Creek, and day hike above Florence Lake).

The suggestion previously of Lakes Basin from Kings Canyon is also part of Roper's High Route. Honestly, the most alpine and highest mountains in the Sierra are south of Tioga Pass. Ionian Basin and Keweah Basin are two very remote places with great mountain scenery and solitude.

You just about cannot avoid people for the first few miles in and out no matter where you go. So at least if you have to deal with people, getting into the great mountain scenery soon compensates. For example, Ionian Basin via Lamark Col gets you right into the good stuff. You do have to go through the sometimes crowded Evolution Basin but then you drop over into Ionain Basin with nobody around.

There really are so many possibilities that I suggest you simply get a guidebook or research on the internet, pick a place, and then do not focus so much on and hour or two longer driving distance. A good book that describes less crowded places is Phil Arnot's, High Sierra Range of Light. Years ago when I first moved here, I got that book and started doing each trip or putting several of his destinations together for a trip and never was disappointed. The book is a bit outdated in that his idea of daily mileage is low (relic of the 60-pound pack olden days).
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