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5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

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5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby lschen78 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:59 am

Hi all,

We're looking at a couple of options for a 5 day backpacking trip in late August/early September. In 2009, we did the South Lake to North Lake loop (about 50 miles) and are looking for something about that, maybe even a little shorter. We want to do some crosscountry/off-trail since the South Lake/North Lake was largely on the JMT. We went off-trail around the McGee lakes area in 2009 and loved it, so are itching to do it again. We're looking either at the Copper Creek/Granite Pass loop from Road's End or the Cottonwood Lakes area. Any suggestions? We're fine scrambling on rocks but nothing technical at all and are comfortable off-trail with a good contour map and compass.

Any suggestions would be great and helpful. Thanks in advance!

-Lisa



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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:13 am

Hi Ischen78

Welcome to HST!
Please read "SUGGESTION FOR REQUESTING TRIP ADVICE" in top section, so we
can give suggestion according to yours groups experience level, trip length(daily mileage)
and interests.
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: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby lschen78 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:11 pm

Sorry for not seeing that post. Here's the relevant information.

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 3- Numerous backpacking trips, comfortable with x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Big Mountain scenery

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
About 5 or 6 nights

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
6 to 10 miles a day, depending on terrain, probably 1 layover day

Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip?
Loop preferred

Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?
SEKI, generally, but not really wedded to any particular area. Will be coming from the San Francisco Bay Area

Will you be hiking with a dog?
Nope - wish we had one though!
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby tim » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:57 pm

How about Lodgepole to Ranger Lake to Roaring River to Deadman Canyon and come back off trail from Big Bird Lake through the Tablelands? (this covers some of that ground: http://www.tarol.com/tablelands.html)
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:57 pm

Ischen78 wrote "We're looking either at the Copper Creek/Granite Pass loop from
Road's End or the Cottonwood Lakes area.

The Copper Creek Trail is a very steep and long hot trail, but gives you access to some
beautiful places like Granite Lake, Volcanic Lakes, Glacier Lakes, and even more of
an adventure to Kid Lakes.
There is not loop unless you do semi-loop using Lewis Creek Trail as an exit, and you
will have to hitch a ride back to the trail head, or park a car there.
The trail on this semi-loop is almost non-existent in the Dead Pine Ridge area, and
northwestern part of the Kennedy Canyon Trail, it is like going cross-country.
I jumped the ridges at its northern end, but there are a lot of dwarf aspens which
make for slow going at the top on the western side.
Kennedy Lakes area is also quite pretty, and as with most places in the Monarch Divide
you will have a lot of solitude.
Swamp, and Slide Lakes are gorgeous places, and worth a separate trip.
Alternatively you could do the start of the SHT by leaving the trail and go up to
Grouse Lake, then go over the pass (class 2), then over the Goat Crest (Class 1) to
Glacier Lakes, and finally over to the pass (class 2) directly east of Lake 10429, and
spend a day or two in the Kid Lake Basin.
As you come back over the pass from Kid Lakes go east, and hook up with the trail,
go over Granite Pass, and spend your last night at Granite Lake, before heading down
Copper Creek.
You will have a lot more solitude than Cottonwood Lakes, and unless you go on into
Miter Basin, the highlight of the southeastern part of the Sierra, and visit Sky Blue
Lake, Iridescent Lake, and Primrose Lake, and climb one of the easier peaks like
Langley, Mallory, or Joe Devel, than go with the Monarch Divide, in my opinion.
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:20 pm

If you choose the Cooper Creek route, get your permit the day before and leave at the crack of dawn. Last year I left at 5:30 and was very lucky that it was cooler than normal for end of August. It can be very hot in August. If it is hot, I think it is better to just start very early (even with headlamps at 4AM) than to try to go up part way to Lower Tent Meadow in the afternoon or evening. It does not cool down until well after dark. This year should be like last year in that there was plenty of water along the trail. Last year I left at 5:30 (with 9-day ration) and got to Grouse Lake by 1PM. It really is a well maintained, well graded trail. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep a steady pace. I was already aclimated having already been out 20+ days. A few years ago I also took the Cooper Creek trail to Grouse Lake without being acclimated. It took a bit longer! But not unreasonable for a day. I camped at the Moraine Campground the night before - it is a very nice campground - and was nearly empty. The chicken salad at Cedar Grove store-grill is yummy! The store is quite limited, so do not count on it for buying backpack supplies.
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby Cross Country » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:21 pm

I took 9 trips up Copper Creek. My very first cross country trip was Grouse to Kid to Glacier and out. It's a great trip with spectacular scenery and excellent fishing. On the way out, if you have time, stay in Granite Basin (not at Granite Lake). We hiked out from Upper Glacier over a cross country pass (and therefor not Granite Pass) and to Kings Canyon in one day.

Lower Kid Lake.

tom
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby lambertiana » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:42 pm

As has been stated, make sure you start up Copper Creek early in the day. It provides access to some spectacular areas.

In addition to what has already been said, another loop out of Copper Creek is to go over Granite Pass to Horseshoe Lake, and then cross country to Lake Basin. Then go over Cartridge Pass and up the South Fork Kings to meet the JMT. From there, go south and take the Woods Creek trail to exit at Roads End. This makes a good loop trip, the Copper Creek trailhead and Woods Creek trailhead share the same parking lot. The section from Horseshoe Lakes to Cartridge Pass is one of the nicest I have seen in the Sierras. It is a little longer than your preference for a 50 mile trip, but you indicate that you would consider a six night trip, and this loop is easily done in seven days/six nights.

Some pictures of the section from Horseshoe Lakes to Cartridge Pass:
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P8160097.JPG

P8170200.JPG

P8170228.JPG

P8170206.JPG

P8170252.JPG

P8170280.JPG
Last edited by lambertiana on Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby oldranger » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:51 pm

Lambertiana

You need to be careful about asserting that a trip could be done "easily" in 6nights/7 days. I know the territory and I could not "easily" do that trip in that amount of time. I know there are people that can but blanket assertions that a trip is easy can get others into trouble.

Mike
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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: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby lambertiana » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:31 pm

Mike - Perhaps I should qualify it then. To do that loop in seven days requires an average of 9-10 miles/day. Five of those days are on maintained trails, two are off trail. The hardest day off trail is from Horseshoe Lakes to Marion Lake, with three X-country passes (two are class 1, one is class 2). Plus, the final 200' chute dropping to Marion Lake is steep and loose, and should be approached with caution. The second day off trail, from Marion Lake (or Lake Basin) to the JMT junction at the South Fork Kings requires going over Cartridge Pass, which is class 1/class 2 depending on how you approach it, and some bushwhacking for a couple miles up the south fork Kings. Other than that it is straight trail walking.
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby Cross Country » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:52 pm

I agree with Old Ranger wholeheartedly. I've done most of that during parts of 4 trips and would say it's strenuous at 9 days, 8 nights, because it's just a strenuous trip period. I think most would agree with me that the trip I suggested is a nearly ideal 5 day trip and my trip is moderate to strenuous.

PS: lambertiana, I loved your pics.
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Re: 5 day backpacking trip in High Sierras in late August?

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:53 pm

Lambertiana wrote "The section from Horseshoe Lakes to Cartridge Pass is one of the
nicest I have seen in the Sierras. It is a little longer than your preference for a 50 mile
trip, but you indicate that you would consider a six night trip, and this loop is easily
done in seven days/six nights."

Lambertiana your absolutely right, this is a wonderful section of the Sierra.
Granite Basin/Lake area is pretty, the Windy Ridge to Marion Lake is spectacular
and one could spend at least 3 night in this area alone.
Then you have Lakes Basin, the pretty lake on the way down from Cartridge Pass
and a night, or two, at Bench Lake is a must, and even one at the Muro Blanco is
fun, so yes it could be done in 6 nights, but why rush.
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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