Trip Advice July 3-10 | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Advice July 3-10

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby papercup » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:04 pm

Hello board,

I'm an east coast resident (sigh), but I try to take at least one trip to the western mountains every year. This year I planned a weeklong trip to the Sierras, July 3-10, before everybody realized how much snow this year would feature. My dates are nonnegotiable, so my plan is to make it work. At this point I'm quite excited about it and looking at the snow as a challenge and an adventure, but I'd love to get some advice so I can have some safe, responsible, outdoor fun. I know that there's no sure way to know how things will stand in a month or so, but I figured maybe you have more insight than I do.

About my group and I:

I am a level 3 hiker. I am traveling with a fairly large group this year. The group includes several other level 3 hikers, and everybody else is young, fairly fit, and has at least a reasonable level of backpacking experience. A few of us-- although not many-- have meaningful experience hiking on snow and ice. I have some familiarity with the Sierras from a complete hike of the John Muir Trail a few years back. We will be out for approximately a week, but have a bit of flexibility to shorten or lengthen our trip by a day either way. Ordinarily I'd say that we would cover about 10-12 miles a day, but given the snow, I'd rather be conservative on the distance. We will have multiple cars, so we can set up a shuttle if need be. My primary interest is to get this group some gorgeous alpine scenery, if at all possible.

We will not be bringing ice axes or crampons, but we will have good sturdy boots and trekking poles. We are not averse to slogging through deep snow for a few hours, and we don't have any problem with snowy and icy terrain, but we will need to avoid any locations that are impassable without ice equipment. We'd prefer to spend as few nights as possible (preferably none) camping on snow, but we have no problem camping on rock.

My ideas:

The trip I originally envisioned was a simple one: Up and over Bishop Pass down to the John Muir Trail, north over Muir Pass with a side trip into the Ionan Basin, through the Evolution region, then up and out over Piute Pass. An alternate route would be heading south on the John Muir Trail, up and over Mather Pass, and out through Taboose, with a few side trips scattered in.

I have several questions about the general viability of this plan and of this area.

First and foremost: Do you expect that we will be able to cross Bishop Pass at this point in July? If not, then this whole idea is moot.

Second: What are the odds that Muir or Mather will be passable? Do you have any sense of which pass would be likely to be easier to cross? If we can cross these passes, is it safe to assume that Taboose and Piute will also be passable?

Third: If Muir and Mather are not passable, do you think we could find enough places to explore in Dusy Basin, the Palisades Lake Region, and potentially up the canyon toward Muir Pass to keep ourselves entertained for a week? Do you think the Ionan Basin would be accessible via the Black Giant, or might that be too high? Any particular water crossings that might be exceptionally hazardous to watch out for?

Fourth: Any other general advice for what we should do if we head into this region?

My backup plan was to hike in the Tuolumne region of Yosemite. I'm no longer confident that snow conditions in this region will be any better than down in the Bishop Pass area, as evidently the north is getting it worse than the south this year. Nevertheless, any counsel you could offer regarding this region would be welcome as well. Do you think it's likely that we could get over Donahue Pass and hang out in the vicinity of Thousand Island Lake for awhile? What about the areas around Vogelsang and Merced? Any more advice in this region?

Finally: If all else fails and neither of these regions are possible, do you have any backup suggestions? I momentarily considered scrapping it and going to the Lost Coast instead, but I would much rather stay in the mountains, even if we have to be a bit lower.

I know that I'm asking for specific information that's impossible to know in advance, but any wisdom you can offer would be great. Thanks so much.



User avatar
papercup
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby Cross Country » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:36 pm

My first thought was that I didn't want to touch this with a ten foot pole because the elevation goals are MUCH to high, but actually there are answers (lower elevations!!). If I had to go at this time this year I would leave from Hetch Hetchy. I would first go to Laurel Lake (6400'). I would then backtrack to the trail to Jack Main Canyon but near the top of the pass would divert cross country to Bearup Lake (7600'). I would then go to Edith Lake at 6500' (cross country). Leaving Edith I would climb to the ridge South which would take me back to Laurel (almost all of this is cross country). You will probably encounter snow on the ridge. I would not do this part of the route if I were you, without first talking to me, being as I am the resident expert for this route (probably on the entire planet). Anyone who thinks they know this route better, please PM me. For me this would be the ONLY good trip under the circumstances (snow!), but then I'm partial to cross country.

Edith L, Bearup approach.
tom

PS: I never went low if I could go high but that will be tough this year in July (rhyme intended).
Attachments
Edith,Bearup approach.jpg
Last edited by Cross Country on Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:59 am, edited 3 times in total.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby quentinc » Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:30 pm

If you want Alpine rather than 7,000 foot stuff (no offense CrossCountry), one option would be to go over Cottonwood Pass, then north on the PCT and see how far up in Miter Basin you can get. You could probably also climb Langley, since it is relatively resistant to snow, but you won't be able to get over New Army Pass. Other areas to explore could include the Siberian Outpost (the name is the best part, but I find it interesting in its own right), the Boreal Plateau, Rocky Basin Lakes and heading down the Rock Creek trail. You could also check out the meadows south and east of the PCT (Big Whitney, Mulkey, Ramshaw, etc.). Except they may have cows -- I'm not sure when that annual plague occurs (or in which meadows it still does).
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby papercup » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:14 pm

Thanks to both of you for the advice. The Hetch Hetchy cross country hike does sound beautiful, but I would really like to get some alpine hiking in, even if it's snowy, frustrating, and I end up wandering around a lot. We've got a big group; worst case scenario we could find a nice campsite and play in the snow. I'd think we should be able to get over Cottonwood without too much trouble. If the snow isn't terrible, we could head north from there, and if the snow is terrible, we could check out the lower meadow regions to the south.

I suppose I'll know more in a few weeks.
User avatar
papercup
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby GunnyJC » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:23 pm

papercup wrote:Thanks to both of you for the advice. The Hetch Hetchy cross country hike does sound beautiful, but I would really like to get some alpine hiking in, even if it's snowy, frustrating, and I end up wandering around a lot. We've got a big group; worst case scenario we could find a nice campsite and play in the snow. I'd think we should be able to get over Cottonwood without too much trouble. If the snow isn't terrible, we could head north from there, and if the snow is terrible, we could check out the lower meadow regions to the south.

I suppose I'll know more in a few weeks.


Guess we will likely see each other out there then as this is our plan as well. We hope to summit a couple of peaks in the area (Langley, Pickering & Newcomb), but if that isn't possible then I'll be headed north up into Miter Basin if possible and south into the Rocky Basin Lakes & Funston Lake area. Good luck!
Semper Fi!
User avatar
GunnyJC
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:12 pm
Location: Eastern Tennessee-Great Smoky Mountains region
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby windknot » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:59 pm

Hi papercup,

From personal experience, I can only really answer your first question, and the answer is probably a no-go for Bishop Pass. I went over Bishop Pass on July 6 last year (higher than average snowfall, but not as high as this year) and although the trail over the pass was shoveled, there were parts of the trail on the Bishop Creek side of the pass where the snow was 6-8 feet deep on either side. I imagine that this year has to be worse.

As others are suggesting, my vote would be to look lower (in elevation and in latitude).
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
User avatar
windknot
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1348
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:07 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby papercup » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:57 am

That's useful information, thanks. I suppose I should give up on the Bishop Pass dream and hope that Cottonwood works out all right for GunnyJC and myself.
User avatar
papercup
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby GunnyJC » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:25 pm

Are there any river crossings on the way to Miter Basin or the Rocky Basin Lakes area that I should be concerned about? Anyone been up in either of these areas recently?
Semper Fi!
User avatar
GunnyJC
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:12 pm
Location: Eastern Tennessee-Great Smoky Mountains region
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby quentinc » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:48 pm

Gunny, I just noticed your post on this. There aren't any river crossings on the way to Miter Basin (or Rocky Basin Lakes). Rock Creek is the most water you will encounter and, as of last weekend, had a very solid snow bridge over it, but that probably won't be the case by July 4. Still, it's not a difficult ford.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby GunnyJC » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:19 pm

Thanks again Q for imparting your knowledge of the area on here...very helpful in my decision making process since I don't know the area myself other than what I can find online.

What kind of high/low temps can I expect in the Miter Basin area? Any different for Big Whitney Meadows/Rocky Basin Lakes area due to lower elevation?
Semper Fi!
User avatar
GunnyJC
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:12 pm
Location: Eastern Tennessee-Great Smoky Mountains region
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:47 pm

There ARE creek crossings on the way to Miter Basin! You have to cross Rock Creek and the outlet from the lake under Major General (I think it is called Soldier Lake) if you want to access the lower west side of the basin (hikes to Primrose or Erin Lake). I have done this trip early season and both have to be waded at high flows. You may have to cross the outlet of Sky Blue Lake. Usually you can find rocks to hop. The dry camping is on the southeast side of the lake. There are also several creek crossings on the Cottonwood Lakes side. None are trip stoppers, but be prepared to wade.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice July 3-10

Postby GunnyJC » Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:21 am

Now that we are less than 2 weeks out I am wondering what are the possibilities of being able to reach Lower Soldier Lake & climb Mt Langley via the Cottonwood Pass trail without having to contend with too much snow that weekend? I don't mind a little bit of snow here and there, just don't want to deal with a bunch of post-holing. I actually think snow camping is fun so no issues there. I am trying to decide if we should even try going up into that area at all or just head south towards the Rocky Basin Lakes area from the get go. I really wanted to give my 2 nephews their 1st taste of a high alpine environment, but that just may not be a viable option due to the snow.

Also what kind of High & low temps will we be seeing? I am am thinking highs likely in the 80's and lows possible in the 20's? Thanks for you opinions in advance on this.

Gunny
Semper Fi!
User avatar
GunnyJC
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:12 pm
Location: Eastern Tennessee-Great Smoky Mountains region
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: maverick, starankle hiker and 5 guests