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Little Joe's Pass?

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Little Joe's Pass?

Postby foweyman » Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:06 pm

I found a reference that called this route above Lake Reflection in southern Kings Canyon Nat. Park Little Joe's Pass. Is this a common name for this route or is it only used by a few?

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A view from near the top of the avy chute looking back at Lake Reflection. South Guard is in the center and Mt. Brewer partly hidden on the right.

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Last edited by maverick on Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: added photo
Fred Weyman



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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:36 pm

Name seems to be used by Bill Finch on this trip http://cvip.fresno.com/~jwf16/hrs.html
and if you scroll to the bottom off this thread it is briefly discussed at viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2689
Also a photo http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~si ... kb207.html
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby sekihiker » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:21 pm

Little Joe Pass was named in the 1950's by campers at the Bob Mathias Boys camp. A dozen or so of the kids who went down the pass signed a paper with that declaration before stuffing it in a band-aid can and placing it in a cairn at the top of the pass. I first went over the pass from east to west in the early 1970's on a day hike that started at Lake Reflection, went into the Kern Headwaters (fishing not nearly as good as in the early 60's) and came out over Little Joe. Subsequently, I went up from the west in a trip documented at http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/Ker ... index.html. I came back home the same way. Some kind soul, making the wilderness more pristine for the rest of us, had removed the band-aid can from the cairn, yet it and a few other cairns remained in the area. The last time I used the pass is documented in my http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/Thu ... index.html report.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby ExploreABitMore » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:19 am

Haven't heard of this pass before. Could it be used to climb Mt Ericsson instead of say Lucy's Footpass, which sounds kinda nasty? Having a hard time picturing where Little Joe's is on the topo map. Thanks!

EDIT: just saw sekihiker's page and I have a pretty good feel where to go. Looks like it may be worthwhile for Ericsson!
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby sekihiker » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:37 pm

granite4brains wrote:Could it be used to climb Mt Ericsson instead of say Lucy's Footpass, which sounds kinda nasty?


Wouldn't an east side approach, like Shepherd Pass, be easier from Ridgecrest? I've always envied folks who could enter on the east side even though I know the going is tough on the first day or two.

Nasty may be an understatement for Lucy's. Lucy and Bolton Brown were really amazing explorers. It's a shame they weren't exploring our mountains a little longer.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby ExploreABitMore » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:58 pm

sekihiker wrote:
granite4brains wrote:Could it be used to climb Mt Ericsson instead of say Lucy's Footpass, which sounds kinda nasty?


Wouldn't an east side approach, like Shepherd Pass, be easier from Ridgecrest? I've always envied folks who could enter on the east side even though I know the going is tough on the first day or two.


It might be, but I like to mix up the approaches and hit the West side too. Plus I gotta see Lake Reflection - have yet to visit that spot ;-)
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby sekihiker » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:20 pm

granite4brains wrote:It might be, but I like to mix up the approaches and hit the West side too. Plus I gotta see Lake Reflection - have yet to visit that spot ;-)

In that case, remember, there are two other, more conventional crossings of the Kings/Kern Divide in the area in case Little Joe doesn't look right; Harrison Pass and Milly's Foot Pass.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby ExploreABitMore » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:39 pm

sekihiker wrote:
granite4brains wrote:It might be, but I like to mix up the approaches and hit the West side too. Plus I gotta see Lake Reflection - have yet to visit that spot ;-)

In that case, remember, there are two other, more conventional crossings of the Kings/Kern Divide in the area in case Little Joe doesn't look right; Harrison Pass and Milly's Foot Pass.


Thanks sekihiker. Nice to have options. We'll have to see what we're in the mood for once we're there. Now to try and patiently wait until summer.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby rlowgren » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:00 am

I'm looking at crossing the KK divide here this summer and am also curious about Little Joe. Little Joe may be only class 2 but looks like a very long, steep slog up talus from L Reflection. From google earth and the topo it looks like Milly's Foot is the better approach but I'm aware that there's some class 3 at the very top. We're a pretty experienced group so the class 3 doesn't really concern me.

Does anyone have some insight between these 2 passes and which one is more enjoyable as long as your comfortable with class 3? I've heard Milly's has endless talus too but from aerials/photos it looks like you can stay on slabs for much of it. The other 2 passes (Lucy's and Harrison) and are too indirect for my route.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby sekihiker » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:56 pm

Having used both routes, Little Joe (up 1, down 3) and Milly's (up 2, down 1), I would pick Milly's for these reasons:
1. easier approach, thus more enjoyable
2. well established route
3. safer with a group.

The only time I went up Little Joe, I got off route and got too far north. I had to do a little class 3 while correcting my route to the top. I suppose with a GPS, staying on route would not be a problem in this day and age. I would be concerned with dislodging rocks on the steep route up Little Joe which could endanger your group. (All my crossings were solo.)

There are several photos of Milly's Foot Pass online.
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby dougieb » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:16 pm

For the sake of reducing clutter, I'm digging up an old thread and asking some new questions. I am planning a route up Avalanche Trail, off trail through Sphinx and Brewer Basins, down Brewer Creek or Cunningham Creek to Big Wet Meadow, up Colby Pass, down into the valley (to avoid Milestone Col), up past Milestone and Thunder Basin and into the Upper Kern where I want to get over to Lake Reflection and then head back down to Roads End. I'm researching passes to get from the Upper Kern over to Lake Reflection. I often see Ericson, Harrison, Milly's, Lucy's, and Little Joe's Pass discussed heading from Lake Reflection. If you were coming from the east side though, which do you prefer or recommend? I'm going solo and I haven't done many passes over Class 2 so I'm looking for an efficient route that avoids heavy exposure. I'm young and fit so I don't mind climbing around a bit but I'm not a rock climber by any means so I'm trying to avoid real technical stuff.

I guess if I did the loop starting by going up Bubbs Creek to Lake Reflection and doing the loop clockwise, that would be an option too... Then I could avoid the abrupt elevation gain of climbing up from Roads End to Sphinx Lake. Maybe my question is a two parter? ](*,)
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Re: Little Joe's Pass?

Postby sekihiker » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:03 am

If you don't mind a short slide down slick, rough rock that can abraid your gear and skin, Milly's is probably the easiest. When I came down it, I lowered my pack with a small rope and the slide down was pretty easy.

Harrison is a more sustained descent, but once at the bottom the remaining travel is easy.

Little Joe is a steep, sustained descent that requires good route finding skills.

Rating them as far as safety is difficult for me. I've only been UP Harrison and the footing was not that great much of the way up. I would guess it would be slow going in places on the way down except where you could slide down on the small, loose talus which requires good balance and leg strength. The steep, somewhat terrifying slide down Milly's isn't so bad if you don't start tumbling. Little Joe is a somewhat exhausting slog with loose footing here and there that could be hazardous.
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